Talk:Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Archive 8

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Crime aginst humanity

I have removed the unsourced speculation that that use of the bombs could have been tried as a crime against humanity. See archive Talk:Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Archive 3 and Talk:Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Archive 5#Crime against humanity and a war crime for more on this topic. --Philip Baird Shearer 13:21, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the removal of the poisonous weapon paragraph (below), since it's speculative and un-sourced, as you say. I disagree with removing this section however. I'm not sure it should require a "source" to see that any bombing of civilian targets can be seen as fitting the Nuremberg definition of a crime against humanity, and that definition is both quoted in the article and sourced. Rather than just revert your change however, I'll look for a citable source for that argument when I get some time. KarlBunker 15:45, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Bombing cities (i.e. civilian targets) was of course not a war crime in the period 1936-1945. Otherwise all the world's gallows would have broken under the strain. There were quite literally tens of thousands of aviators who spent the best years of their lives doing just that, from Guernica in 1936 to Kokura in 1945. --Cubdriver 16:03, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

The fact that it was done doesn't say anything about whether it fits into the Nuremberg definition of a crime against humanity. However, AFAIK, neither Nuremberg nor any other international court has enforced such a definition against anyone in any war. So on second thought I'll agree that this passage should have been removed, pending the addition of some credible source. KarlBunker 16:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Please read Judgement : The Law Relating to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity:
"With regard to crimes against humanity... from the beginning of the war in 1939 war crimes were committed on a vast scale, which were also crimes against humanity; and insofar as the inhumane acts charged in the Indictment, and committed after the beginning of the war, did not constitute war crimes, they were all committed in execution of, or in connection with, the aggressive war, and therefore constituted crimes against humanity." (My emphasis)
As the American bombings of Japan were neither a war crime or a crime against peace (Japan started the war), they were not involved in a crime against humanity. It was not a war crime to bomb cities according to Javier Guisández Gómez writing in the (International Review of the Red Cross no 323, p.347-363 The Law of Air Warfare (1998)):
In examining these events [Anti-city strategy/blitz] in the light of international humanitarian law, it should be borne in mind that during the Second World War there was no agreement, treaty, convention or any other instrument governing the protection of the civilian population or civilian property, as the Conventions then in force dealt only with the protection of the wounded and the sick on the battlefield and in naval warfare, hospital ships, the laws and customs of war and the protection of prisoners of war."
See the article and section Area bombing: Aerial area bombardment and international law for more details on the inter-war treaties which never came into effect. --Philip Baird Shearer 17:36, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Further Karl Dönitz was found guilty in the Nuremberg Trials of a breach of the Second London Naval Treaty when he ordered unrestricted submarine warfare. As evidence was presented that the British and the Americans had done the same thing, "his sentence was not assessed" on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare. Given this, it is reasonable to assume that the Allies would have tried Germans for bombing "Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places" if they had thought a breach of international law had taken place. To the best of my knowledge they did not, presumably because such aerial bombardment breached neither the customary laws of war or any treaty obligations. --Philip Baird Shearer 17:51, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
"the sentence of Doenitz is not assessed on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare." Can anyone clue me in as to what that phrase means? KarlBunker 18:23, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
The Proceding sentence and the full text of the sentence paraphrased above is: "The orders, then, prove Doenitz is guilty of a violation of the Protocol. In view of all the facts proved and in particular of an order of the British Admiralty announced on the 8th May, 1940, according to which all vessels should be sunk at sight in the Skagerrak, and the answers to interrogatories by Admiral Nimitz stating that unrestricted submarine warfare was carried on in the Pacific Ocean by the United States from the first day that nation entered the war, the sentence of Doenitz is not assessed on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare."(Judgement : Doenitz: War Crimes) AFAICT this means he was guilty of a breach of the protocol but as the Allies were too, nothing was tacked onto his sentence for it. --Philip Baird Shearer 19:07, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
When Total War is in the midst, the idealists should be more concerned with the bombs lingering above the coffee shop in which they sit. Quote me on that. Haizum 10:27, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Since this discussion is quite old, and that my recent inclusion of the sole term "war crime" has been deleted, this might be the place to recense a variety of sources which accuses both bombings of being a war crime or/and a crime against humanity. The point, IMO, is not to "attack the US" on something that's more than 50 years old, but rather to balance this article, which manages the incredible feat of talking about Hiroshima & Nagasaki without even lifting the subject of "war crime" or "crime against humanity" (much less insert these terms in the intro). Whatever our opinions on the matter, it is clear that some have argued and continue to argue that it was at least a war crime, many in Japan, but also some in the US & in Europe. What I want to point out is, as the [ BBC says], that there is a "continuing controversy over whether the bomb constituted a war crime", which should be adressed in this article & cited in the intro. Tazmaniacs 11:52, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
PS: I should add that, if I understood well Shearer's argumentation, these bombings may not be considered as war crimes or crimes against humanity because treaties didn't forbide them yet. Fair enough... But maybe he would be interested in refering to Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, where she criticizes this reasoning, which would have blocked any Nuremberg Trials or even Eichmann's trial. In other words, Shearer criticizes a retroactivity of the law or a reading a posteriori of the events, which would make it a crime. Refer in particular to the "Epilogue" of Arendt, where she argues that the principle of nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege is respected in its inner essence since the crime in question (genocide) wasn't known beforehand.

List of sources alleging it was a war crime and/or a crime against humanity

Non-exhaustive list. Please add to it, including off-line references.

  • [1] (Peter Kuznick, director of Nuclear Studies Institute at American University in Washington D.C. (see List of American University people)
  • Green Left Weekly (about Peter Kuznick and Mark Selden, whom both studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR.
  • "Hiroshima, Historians Reassess", in Foreign Policy, Summer 1995
  • 1995 Peace Declaration from Takashi Hiraoka, Mayor of Hiroshima (he's not even quoted in the article!)
  • November 1995 Public Sitting, in the Case of Legality of the Use by a State of Nuclear Weapons in Armed Conflicts (The Hague, International Court of Justice)
    • "The dropping of the nuclear weapons is a problem that must be adressed globally. History is written by the victors. Thus, the heinous massacre that was Hiroshima has been handed down to us as a perfectly justified act of war... It is clear that the use of nuclear weapons, which cause indiscriminate mass murder that leaves survivors for decades, is a violation of international law" (Takashi Hiraoka, mayor of Hiroshima)
    • "It is said that the descendants of the atomic bomb survivors will have to be monitored for several generations to clarify the genetic impact, which means that the descendants will live in anxiety for decennies to come. I have shown from the above that, with their colossal power and capacity for slaughter and destruction, nuclear weapons make no distinction between combatants and non-combatants or between military installations and civilian communities, and moreover that the radiation released by these weapons cannot be confined to specific military targets. It can only be said, therefore, that nuclear weapons are inhuman tools for mass slaughter and destruction... The use of nuclear weapons... therefore is a manifest infraction of international law." (Iccho Itoh, Mayor of Nagasaki)
  • "The Risks and Weaknesses of the International Criminal Court from America's Perspective", John Bolton (current US ambassador to the United Nations, in 1998): "A fair reading of the treaty [the Rome Statute concerning the International Criminal Court ], for example, leaves the objective observer unable to answer with confidence whether the United States was guilty of war crimes for its aerial bombing campaigns over Germany and Japan in World War II. Indeed, if anything, a straightforward reading of the language probably indicates that the court would find the United States guilty. A fortiori, these provisions seem to imply that the United States would have been guilty of a war crime for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.16 This is intolerable and unacceptable."
  • "Penser l'impensable: Massacres & Génocides" by Jacques Sémelin, director of research at the CNRS and professor at Sciences-Po, in Le Monde diplomatique, April 1995 (French, available in Portuguese here)
  • "Even worse, the intensive bombings of cities and, more than anything else, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted, in all evidence, war crimes in the sense of the The Hague Convention. And if the bombings of German citis had been provoked by the enemy, with the bombings of London, Coventry and Rotterdam, one couldn't say as much concerning the atomic bomb, unpreceded and all-powerful weapon which existence could have been announced, or even manifestated (demonstrated?), by a lot of other means. Clearly, the most evident reason for which the Allies' violations of The Hague Convention were never discussed on the juridical level is that the international military courts had of international only the name and that they were de facto winners' courts". Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Epilogue, 5th paragraph. That was written in 1963: the debate is nothing new!

Tazmaniacs 11:52, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Comment. So, to answer Shearer's previous questions concerning the deleted (a long time ago) statement "It has been argued that the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings constituted war crimes & crimes against humanity" (Shearer asked: "Who has argued that? Without sources this should be removed"), well, I hope I've shown enough here (and I haven't listed many websites which would have been accused of being either environmentalists or left-wing, but there is a large part of these people who do argue so): Hannah Arendt for one has argued so, as well as the mayor of Hiroshima, and even John Bolton justify the US refusal to enter the ICC by stating that if it had been previously in force, than the US would have been judged for Hiroshima! Tazmaniacs 12:14, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Tazmaniacs -- You've done some good research. I haven't read through it all yet, but I'd say that a good addition to the article can probably be distilled from it. Note that "war crimes" is already mentioned in the article once (for the sake of rebutting it) in the "Support" section and again in the "Opposition" section. I removed your reference to war crimes from the introduction, since it stated that it was the general opinion of the public in Japan that the bombings were a war crime. That may well be true, but a source should be given for a statement like that. KarlBunker 13:51, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Hi there! Thanks for feedback & inclusion in the article. I've included Hannah Arendt, as I don't think she's irrelevant here, and that Eichmann in Jerusalem, although clearly Hiroshima wasn't its principal subject, deals with international law & the question of war crimes and what the mayor of Hiroshima calls "history of the victors". She is far from having extremist views, and her book is a classic of political science. All in all, it just gives more precision to the assertion : "A number of notable individuals and organizations have criticized the bombings", by including a name. I don't think these two proper nouns (Hannah & Arendt) will give undue weight to the opposition's criticisms, nor get the article undue lenght! Cheers! Tazmaniacs 14:17, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Rewrite to "Opposition" section

I've rewritten this section, although mostly I just rearranged the existing content for (IMO) better organization and clarity. There is some increased emphasis on the terms "war crime" and "crime against humanity", as those terms have often been used by opponents of the bombings. I included a small amount of new material, taking advantage of Tazmaniacs's research above. KarlBunker 18:01, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

poisonous weapon

I have removed the unsourced paragraph:

The use of atomic bombs, due to the effects of the particle radiation, may have made them poisonous weapons under international law in 1945, in which case their use would have been a war crime. Some have argued that Americans should have done more research into the effects of the bomb, including radiation sickness and the terrible burns that followed the explosion.

Because the ICJ made clear in paragraph 55 and 56 of their 1996 advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons that "The terms have been understood, in the practice of States, in their ordinary sense as covering weapons whose prime, or even exclusive, effect is to poison or asphyxiate. This practice is clear, and the parties to those instruments [(Hague IV and Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925)] have not treated them as referring to nuclear weapons. In view of this, it does not seem to the Court that the use of nuclear weapons can be regarded as specifically prohibited on the basis of the above-mentioned provisions of the Second Hague Declaration of 1899, the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV of 1907 or the 1925 Protocol (see paragraph 54 above)." --Philip Baird Shearer 15:30, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Pacifistic propaganda. The same argument could be used with bullets and heavy metal poisoning. Likewise, any weapon designed to kill that doesn't always kill outright could be said to cause "undue suffering." Oh, but I'm sure these same propagandists will stop complaining when a weapon is developed that has a kill probability of 100%. Haizum 10:34, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Trolling is really quite unnecessary here and there is plenty enough of it as it is from all sides in this. Please knock it off. It does not help you argument and it does not help those of us who actually would like to come up with a good article. --Fastfission 16:29, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
The unsourced and biased paragraph was already removed. I'm merely commending that action, so an accusation of trolling is clearly unwarranted. Pipe down, shall we? Haizum 02:28, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
No, you're trolling -- posting little rants about "pacificist propaganda" and making sarcastic comments about what you presume people to think or believe is not just "commending" an action. It doesn't help anything and we have plenty of it already. So just knock it off. --Fastfission 02:53, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I can deduce what a person thinks when they use fallacious logic. Sure, I spiced it up a little, but the same argument could be used with bullets and heavy metal poisoning. Likewise, any weapon designed to kill that doesn't always kill outright could be said to cause "undue suffering," is still applicable. Haizum 05:33, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

controversial where?

The bombings of Axis cities were most certainly NOT controversial in the U.S. That's ridiculous: who in the U.S. opposed them? I doubt they were controversial in Japan either! (Who in Japan was arguing in favor of them?) That's to misunderstand the times, which I concede is a very popular activity 60 years down the line. The perspective here pretends to be August 1945 but is actually that of March 2005. Further, the bombing of Axis cities cannot be understand without mention of the bombing of cities BY the Axis air forces. Wiki is ridiculous enough without this sort of one-eyed hindsight. The bombings were devastating, destructive, whatever adjective along that line you prefer, but they were not controversial; and they were two-sided. In Asia the die was cast eight years previously at Shanghai by the JNAF; in Europe, nine years earlier by the German Condor Legion. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, as was said at the time. --Cubdriver 17:01, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the conventional bombings of Axis cities probably weren't particularly controversial at the time. But there's no question that there is some controversy around them now. Likewise, the atomic bombings weren't particularly controversial when they happened, but this article is being written for today's readers, which is why much of it is about the controversy around the bombings. I don't see how the perspective of the article either pretends to be 1945 or anachronistically projects today's attitudes onto the past. (An example of the latter would be to expect the people of that time to regard nuclear weapons with as much horror as we do today--I don't see that the article does that.) As for the existence of contemporary controversy around the Allied bombings of Axis cities, I'm assuming I don't have to convince you of that. KarlBunker 17:35, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Is the paragaph supposed to be about Truman's decision in particular or conventional bombing in general? Shouldn't there be a connection between the first and last sentences and what is sandwiched in between? EricR 17:57, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I see the main purpose of the paragraph and the following one to provide some context, both in terms of the military situation and the scale of the death toll that was being suffered by civilians and military. The mention of Truman in there may not be ideal, but personally I find that the paragraph flows okay. KarlBunker 18:32, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if you can just dimiss the idea that it was controversial even in its time so easily. Our page on Bombing of Dresden in World War II seems to indicate that even amongst the British who ordered the mission its utility and morality were soon questioned. I think we'd need something a little more tangible either way before either dismissing or emphasizing a controversy. And if we discuss one at all, we should talk about with whom there was controversy: the utility of firebombing was certainly controversial amongst many of those who were in charge of arranging them, if not with the general public. --Fastfission 18:57, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Good point about the controversy at the time. I don't know that we're really discussing the controversy of the conventional bombings at the point in the article. I think just referring to them as "controversial" is another part of putting the atomic bombings into context--Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't the first time that the Allies had bombed Axis cities, nor the first time that such bombings had caused huge numbers of civilian casualties, nor the first time that such bombings were (or came to be) controversial. KarlBunker 19:32, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
We could probably insert "controversial" in nearly every statement in the article. If the intent of the paragraph is to put the bombings into context, why not get rid of Truman and be clear about the matter:
Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't the first time that the Allies had bombed Axis cities, nor the first time that such bombings had caused huge numbers of civilian casualties, nor the first time that such bombings were (or came to be) controversial. For example, the March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo may have killed as many as 100,000 people. About 60 Japanese cities had been destroyed by then through a massive aerial campaign, including large firebombing raids on the cities of Tokyo and Kobe.
Just inserting "controversial conventional bombings" in a paragraph about Truman probably leaves the reader guessing. EricR 13:18, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Maybe the Bombing of Hamburg would be a better comparison than Dresden? Earlier (July '43), and killed more people (50k); possibly less controversial.
—wwoods 19:33, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

The point I tried to make was that city-busting was routine from 1936 to 1945. It has only become controversial (which implies widespread condemnation as we now understand the term) postwar when we were graced with the opportunity to sit down and survey the wreck of much of the world. To say *follow* is to imply a logical progression, and to say *controversial* is to imply that the plan was widely condemned, and to mention only *Allied* bombings is to imply that this was all a devilish invention of Churchill and Roosevelt. What the Hiroshima bombing *followed* was an eight-year history of destroying whole cities, and not just by aerial bombardment. A truly neutral discussion would cite Nanjing and Warsaw here (Wiki gives death tolls of perhaps 200,000 and 250,000 for these two events) as well as Guernica, Chongqing, Rotterdam, Dresden, Hamburg, and Berlin (which was largely destroyed in May by block to block fighting). --Cubdriver 10:24, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think "controversial" implies widespread condemnation--I think the term for that is, well, "widespread condemnation." And for putting Hiroshima & Nagasaki in context, obviously the whole of the war is part of the context, but what's relevant are similar actions that had similar effects in terms of civilian lives lost. That means Allied bombings of Axis cities. If the Axis had ever executed bombing raids on a similar scale, then mentioning that might be a valid part of the context, though it would also run the risk of sounding like a schoolboy-ish "well, he did it too!" KarlBunker 15:11, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think it matters much whether "controversial" is in the paragaph or not, but surely there have always been questions and arguments concerning aerial bombing of cities. The League of Nations and US denounced Japanese bombing in 1937, Roosevelt was a staunch opponent before the war and called on Britain and Germany to bomb only "fortified areas". The british, out of principle or fear of offending the US, would be very careful of targets until 1940. Things changed, Marshall could talk about "paper cities" before Pearl Habor, Roosevelt would start pressuring for attacks in the "Heart of Japan" and LeMay would say flat out "there are no innocent civilians." But i don't think all the controversy is based on hindsight.
I like the paragaph because it helps put the destructive power of the weapons into perspective and goes to show that maybe Japan had already been defeated. In my opinion the "Prelude" section needs to be balanced by showing the determination of some to continue the war despite the consequences. If Chinese casualties need to be brought in to balance firebombing casualties, i would rather get rid of the whole thing and just state that Japan's navy, merchant marine, industry and rail transport were all but destroyed or soon would be, w/o nuclear weapons. EricR 23:03, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Archive 7

"This page is 149 kilobytes long." I'll make a new archive page of the discussions from early March, which are apparently no longer active. Does anyone want any of them kept on this page? Casualties? Radiation sickness? Soviet invasion? Obviously these subjects haven't been settled for good and all...
—wwoods 08:23, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Done. —wwoods 01:17, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Choice of Targets

Re: a recent revert: The "intelligent" part of Kyoto in the original document (of the 2nd meeting of the Target Committee) seems to me rather clearly to list it as a reason for bombing it, not against it (it lists it as a psychological advantage, whereas on the other targets when it lists detriments it is very clear about them being reasons not to bomb them). The fact that the document itself still lists Kyoto as the top target seems to back that up, as well as the fact that Stimson himself later got Kyoto removed from the list. I also think that I better summed up the reasons for the selection of Hiroshima than the version you reverted to, if you look at the document itself.[2] But I'm happy to defer to the opinions of others and have no interest in a revert war. --Fastfission 03:09, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Just to clarify:
  • "a large urban area"' – Urban area was mentioned re: target surveys, the committe agreed on "located in a much larger area subject to blast damage...", i don't think it's right to add quotes to urban area, and maybe shouldn't be there at all.
  • having its civilian populations destroyed – not in the minutes.
  • devastating power – not in the minutes.
  • Kyoto as intellectual center – agreed. mentioned twice in the minutes as advantage.
  • Hiroshima, army depot, focussing effect – i should have left this in, will put back.
Wouldn't it be better to find another source for this section. I see Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed... cited quite a bit re: target selection. EricR 19:21, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Skywriter, mention of Hague Conventions probably needs some other source than the documents themselves, such as: Boyle, Francis A. (2002). The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence. Clarity Press. p. 58. 

"The Shimoda court found that the act of dropping an atomic bomb on cities was governed in part by the international laws and regulations respecting aerial warfare. These could be found in the Hague Draft Rules of Air Warfare of 1922–1923, the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907, and by analogy to the 1907 Hague Convention on the Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War. Although no nation had formally adopted the comprehensive Hague Draft Rules, the court noted that they were authoritative with respect to air warfare and were consistent with international laws, regulations and customs at the time. In the opinion of the court, therefore, the Hague Draft Rules constituted customary international law on the subject of air warfare as of 1945.

Though there a probably some POV problems w/ this source (it's just the first one i found), especially when inserted into the "Choice of Targets" section. EricR 16:03, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

I moved and edited Skywriter's addition before I read the above comment. I think the quote from Hague that I added stands nicely on its own, but I also think there's a lot more that could be said on the topic of was/wasn't a war crime. KarlBunker 18:57, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Maybe balanced by something from Newman, pp 121-122, Hague rules worked to German advantage in Spain and Warsaw--but "no longer any pretense of following" for London and Coventry? EricR 22:39, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

I vigorously protest the move of "The United States selected Japanese cities as targets for nuclear bombing without regard to international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1902 and 1907. [3]" to the subheading Opposition to use of atomic bombs without prior discussion.

This one sentence was established international law, not opposition stated soon before or after the bombings. I intend to return it to "Choice of Targets" because that is exactly where it belongs. Further, the treaty wording is plain English and does not require interpretation by secondary source.

Nor do the treaty wordings require the addition of the "everybody does it" defense. The dropping of nuclear bombs on civilian populations is unique in history. skywriter 23:47, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

I ask you to reconsider reverting that change. The bombings may have been a violation of Hague (the vague wording "which are undefended" makes it arguable), but Hague had long since been utterly ignored by both sides in the war. There was, unfortunately, nothing in the least unique about the atomic bombings in this regard. The entry as you worded it and in the place where you entered it strongly suggested that there was something unique about Hiroshima and Nagasaki with regards to Hague, and that's just inaccurate. KarlBunker 02:13, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Karl, it is apparent you have an axe to grind, called sugar-coating. The dropping of weapons of nuclear weapons on civilian populations is unique in the history of warfare, and violated at least two Hague conventions in ways that had never been done before or and so far has never been done since.

As previously stated, the "everybody does it defense" is neither moral nor persusasive. Each combatant is responsible for its own actions without regard to war crimes of others. That precept follows directly from Nuremburg.

That the U.S. was not nailed for violating treaties it had signed and ratified was only because it was one of the two primary victors to emerge from WW II, and it is well-known victors are not punished, only losers. The difference here between our two positions is I trust readers to make up their own minds based on facts and you do not. You would obfuscate it or move it to an area where readers would not necessarily make that connection. You have moved it to an area where it is a pro and con issue, which is itself false. This was established international law. These 25 words --- "The United States selected Japanese cities as targets for nuclear bombing without regard to international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1902 and 1907. [4]"--- are factual, and derive from the same source (dannen) and same page where the rest of that section comes, (except for the honeymoon business came) yet you want to pretend it is unrelated.

What is the evidence the four target cities were defended against atomic warfare? What is the evidence the U.S. warned the population what was about to occur?

In one of the histories of Nagasaki, it was stated there were bomb shelters in the hills that would have protected civilians, had they had prior warning. skywriter 03:47, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Long before 1945, the rules had changed, de facto, if perhaps not de jure. Like unrestricted submarine warfare, dropping bombs on military targets in cities, with the expectation that civilian populations would bear the brunt of the damage, was universally established practice. The use of the atomic bombs broke no new ground in this respect.
Anyway, a treaty covering the use of artillery in an era when aircraft were barely getting off the ground seems of dubious relevance. Bombarding an undefended city can be banned because it's superfluous—the attacker can send in his infantry to do the job. There's no such alternative for an air force.
—wwoods 04:48, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps you know of a law or treaty (de jure) that I don't. Identify one example where the U.S. government has ratified an attack on civilian populations. After the fact, it is usually denied that it was intentional. In the case of the Japanese cities, it was an intentional attack on an urban i.e. civilian population. skywriter 05:10, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

My point is simply that you could save yourself a couple of your 25 words (Japanese and nuclear). The use of the atomic bombs was innovative in technology, but not in legality or morality. From other articles:
Aerial bombing of cities:
The legal defence for this action can be found in the "Laws and Customs of War on Land "(Hague IV); October 18, 1907
It can be argued that (1) allied strategic bombing was a bombardment of defended towns because of immense German air defences, (2) as an aerial assault no warning was required, and (3) that All necessary steps as far as possible were taken.
... because none of the Axis leaders tried for war crimes were charged with "participating in the decisions on, or execution of aerial bombardment on enemy territory," it is not possible to state categorically that aerial bombardment of cities during World War II was or was not a war crime or crime against humanity.
Strategic bombing during World War II:
"Bomber" Harris, who ran the bombing campaign, said that for want of a rapier, a bludgeon was used. He felt that much as it would be far more desirable to deliver effective pin-point attacks, as the capacity to do simply did not exist, and since it was war, it was necessary to attack with whatever was at hand. He accepted area bombing, knowing it would kill civilians, because it was a choice of area bombing or no bombing at all, and area bombing would mean dropping large quantities of bombs into an area full of activities and industries being harnessed for the German war effort.
This change of policy was agreed by the Cabinet in 1942 after a paper was presented by Professor Lindemann, the British government's leading scientific adviser with a seat in the Cabinet, ...
from Richard Frank's description of the firebombing campaign (Downfall, p. 62–67):
According to the record, LeMay was hesitant to adapt his operations to urban-area attacks. It took direct orders ... to compel him to attack Hankow with incendiaries. In eight missions from the Marianas, only Kobe on February 4 and Tokyo on February 25 were planned as incendiary attacks on urban industrial areas ... But the results on February 25 had exceeded all expectations. ... LeMay took the thread and began to spin it: not only a single fire raid, but a campaign against a series of Japanese cities. ...
LeMay sought out Norstad: "You know General Arnold, I don't know him. Does he ever go for a gamble?" ... Some saw in the plan a revolutionary breakthrough; others saw in it a prescription for a bloodbath [among the American aircrews]. Norstad carried another message LeMay understood very well and later described as: "You go ahead and get results with the B-29. If you don't get results, you'll be fired. If you don't get results, also, there'll never be any Strategic Air Forces of the Pacific. ... If you don't get results it will mean eventually a mass amphibious invasion of Japan."
[After the March 10 raid on Tokyo] From Arnold first came a terse message: "Congratulations. This mission shows your crews have the guts for anything." Ten days later Arnold elaborated:
... I want to commend you and your Command on the superb operations you have conducted during the last month. ... [With nearly 1,000 B-29s available by July 1,] Under reasonably favorable conditions you should ... have the ability to destroy whole industrial cities should that be required.
LeMay understood very well that he now possessed such an ability. ... As he said in his memoirs:
We were going after military targets. No point in slaughtering civilians for the mere sake of slaughter. Of course there is a pretty thin veneer in Japan, but the veneer was there. It was their system of dispersal of industry. ... I'll never forget Yokohama. That was what impressed me: drill presses. There they were, like a forest of scorched trees and stumps, growing up throughout that residential area.
—wwoods 09:35, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

As I've stated several times already, destruction of cities was routine in this era. Perhaps the United States did it less overtly than the Japanese, Germans, and British, but no one could pretend after Dresden and Tokyo that the USAAF didn't target cities. It was the concept of strategic bombing that was the veneer. How can one possibly speak of a war crime that is standard practice? Destroying Hiroshima was no more a war crime than shooting a soldier in combat was homicide. One can argue that war itself is a crime, but that's an argument for another venue. --Cubdriver 10:51, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

As long as viewpoints are being aired on this matter, let me say the bombing of civilians is never routine and never morally justified. The examples Wwoods proffers are military justifications (and ceelbrations) for a tactical decision, not a defense in then existing international law of the strategic decision. That there was international law then on this topic is ignored in the article and on this talk page, and a continuing rush to defend the US 1945 position. 1,810,000 pages include the words: Hiroshima moral. That suggests the matter of the nuclear bombing of civilian populations is hardly settled.

The Allies were roundly condemned throughout the world for bombing Tokyo and Dresden. I am surprised you view that not as widely debated but widely agreed upon.

As to Wwoods argument that the US went after military targets, that also is not true for several reasons. The military activities were provably on the periphery of Hiroshima where the bomb did the least damage. The most damage was done to civilians at the center.

If the US were seriously interested in destroying the Japanese war machine, then Richard Frank provides the best rationale for doing so in his description of the buildup of Japanese troops on the island where their commanders correctly assumed they could expect a homeland invasion. The US had the choice of taking out the gathering Japanese armies or taking out its civilians, and chose the latter.

Drill presses prove nothing but the existence of industry, and are not justification for nuclear bombing. The article tilts in the direction of defending US justifications for what it did, and the edits are inflexible in the prohibition of facts on this matter in the target section.

Much documentation has been provided concerning radiation illness that persisted over the decades and there was much discussion here, yet nothing has been added to the article, which reads as if there were no longterm residual effects. skywriter 04:06, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Skywriter -- The notion that there were troop concentrations in Japan that might have provided "effective targets" for the atomic bombs is an interesting one. If you can find a quotable source who makes that argument, it would be a valid addition to the "Opposition" section, IMO. KarlBunker 11:04, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The strategic bombing community just wasn't that in to tactical operations. They wanted to strike further back, aiming for the heart rather than the hand. IIRC, there were even some objections to bombing targets in France to support the Normandy invasion. I don't think anyone would have seriously considered bombing the defending forces in Kyushu in August—several months before the planned invasion. I doubt they could have hoped to get more than one division per bomb. And they'd have given up most of the shock effect of bombing a city.
By August, George Marshall was considering using atomic bombs to support the invasion—two or three for each of the three landings. He was advised that, for safety, the American troops should not enter the affected zones for at least 48 hours ... a poor estimate of the danger of fallout.
Drill presses proved the existence of industry in residential areas, which was sufficient to make them military targets ... by the standards of the time.
A section on the long-term effects of radiation on the survivors might be useful, either here or in Hibakusha. Or a separate article, which could be broader, e.g. including the crew of the Lucky Dragon and the American downwinders.
—wwoods 09:07, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

"cultural" notes

I'm pleased to see that someone had the courage to delete this noxious section, and I'm sorry to see it reverted. Why don't we call the section "Trivia" and be honest about it? Maybe we can even come up with some sick jokes to round it out and give it the right tone. Cultural! (Dr Atomic is cultural, I suppose, but perhaps to include an opera would lift the level of discussion too high?) --Cubdriver 23:02, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

I honestly don't understand the point of your diatribe. The bombings have had a profound influence on culture, as have nuclear weapons in general. To ignore that fact would be to leave the article incomplete. I think the Cultural notes section could stand a lot of improvement, but I don't see anything noxious about its current state. KarlBunker 23:17, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, we do have a Nuclear weapons in popular culture article we could shuttle that off to if one wanted to streamline this article. --Fastfission 22:30, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with the cultural notes, I agree with Karl. --A Sunshade Lust 00:29, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Opening section

Added two citations for the opening section, but they are both fairly weak support. Maybe we would do better to just to list important viewpoints rather than an "American" and "Japanese" outlook? EricR 21:19, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Sounds right to me. It's more than a bit questionable to say "this country feels this way and that country feels that way." KarlBunker 11:56, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Any idea where the 90% civilian figure comes from? It used to have a {{fact}} attatched when further down in the article. EricR 16:40, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

I added that. Frank cites, "... total estimated military fatalities to possibly as high as 20,000."
Citing the orthodox American and Japanese viewpoints seems okay to me, for the opening section. Trying to cover the range of opinion risks overloading the intro, and we've got a whole section on the subject further down.
—wwoods 22:02, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Someone had thrown a {{fact}} tag at the end of that paragraph, and the references i added are pretty questionable. After reading the 1997 Asada essay, i would summarize the public opinion as: decreasing support for the use of the bombs in the U.S. In Japan the prevalent view would be "that the bomb was used to intimidate the Soviet Union in the emerging cold war" and more extreme views where "the sense of victimization prevails over reasoned analysis." That's just one author, but based on this essay we should probably add something about the soviets if we talk about Japanese public opinion. EricR 03:08, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Casualty table

For reference, ongoing discussion, and possible future additions I'm copying this table of various casualty estimates from Archive 7

Source Hiroshima casualties Nagasaki casualties Total casualties
Encyclopedia Britannica Online at least 70k dead 60k-80k dead 130k-150k dead
RERF[5] 90k-140k 60k-80k 150k-220k
Richard Frank's Downfall (1999), p. 285–7
Imperial General HQ official history [added 15:16, 17 September 2007 (UTC)] 70k – 120k
Manhattan Engineering District 1946[6] 66k dead, 135k total 39k dead, 64k total 105k dead, 199k total
USSBS, March 1947 80k dead 45k dead 125k dead
Japan Economic Stabilization Board, April 1949 78,150 dead 23,753 dead 101,903 dead
OSW (Japan) and USNR , April 1966 70k dead 36k dead 106k dead
Frank's summary: 100k-200k dead
Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1979/1981), p. 113–4
Special Committee of the Science Council of Japan, 1951 ~100k dead (in 1945)
Joint Commission
(Does not include military: 15-20k dead in H.?)
58,580-68,670 dead (1945) 29,398-37,507 dead (1946) 87,978-106,177 dead
Hiroshima City Survey Section (August 1946) 118,661 dead, 82,807 injured and missing
Nagasaki City A-bomb Records Preservation Committee (December 1945) 73,884 dead, 74,909 injured
Hiroshima and Nagasaki report to Secretary-General (1976) 140k ± 10k 70k ± 10k 210 ± 20k
Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1979/1981), p. 363–9 (dead+missing)
Hiroshima Prefecture, Governor's report, 20 August 1945 42,550
Hiroshima Prefecture, public health section report, 25 August 1945 63,614
Hiroshima Prefecture, police department report, 30 November 1945 92,133
Hiroshima City, "official report," 8 March 1946 64,610
Hiroshima City, survey section report, 10 August 1946 122,338
Joint Japan-United States survey report, 1951 64,602
Japan Council against A- and H-bombs: "White paper on A-bomb damages," 1961 [military personnel not included] 151,900–165,900
Nagasaki Prefecture, report, 31 August 1945 21,672
Nagasaki Prefecture, external affairs section, 23 October 1945 25,677
Private estimate by Motosaburo Masuyama, January 1946 survey 29,398–37,507
British Mission report 39,500
Nagasaki City, A-bomb Records Preservation Committee, 1949 73,884
Joint Japan-United States survey report, 1951 29,570–39214
Joint Japan-United States survey report, 1956 39,000
 ?, November 1945 130,000, including 20,000 military deaths
Yuzaki and Ueoka, 1976 60–70,000
United Nations, 1967 [based on H. police report, N. ext. aff., above] 78,000 27,000 105,000
estimated populations - 283,508 known survivors in 1950 200,000 140,000 340,000
Source Hiroshima Nagasaki Total

Since there is no estimate in this list lower than 100,000, I'm returning that minimum figure to the opening paragraph. KarlBunker 21:31, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Look again! If you add the Hiroshima prefecture and the Nagasaki prefecture estimates, the total is 64,222. That's a whole lot lower than 100,000. Kindly explain why you don't use 64K or 65K. --Cubdriver 21:42, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Probably because I added that section after Karl's comment... And they're awfully low. I wouldn't want to use numbers from August '45 as anything better than a first guess. —wwoods 22:50, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
What are any of these figures but WAGs? Indeed, the higher the are, the more WAG is sure to be in them. Just because a figure seems low to you is no reason not to use them. The 220,000 figure seems awfully high to me! Or is it only lowball figures that are suspect, and the higher the better? Surely the Nagasaki and Hiroshima governments had a better handle on casualties in the 1940s than we do sixty years later. The text says that estimates range from ... to. It doesn't say estimates approved by Wiki editors in 2006! That's why I changed the text in the first instance, because it was so misleading. You have established a floor that isn't a floor. --Cubdriver 13:54, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
An estimate that departs from any other estimate by 35% can legitimately be called suspect. Nevertheless, if no one else objects, I'd be willing to set the low-end figure in the article at 65K. KarlBunker 14:20, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't think we should start trying to evaluate any of these studies or estimates, it seems like original reseach. For most all we have is a row in a table, and no idea of the methodology or even if they are in fact estimates of total deaths. Yet if we include everthing we can find the range will end up being 65 thousand to 1/2 million. We have an author who has done all the work for us, set the range at 100-200k and warned that there is reason to be skeptical of higher and lower estimates. How could we do better than either directly quoting Frank, or HN's "caused the deaths of 140,000 in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki" for the opening section? In my opinion Frank is the better quote and accomodates the HN numbers. EricR 16:23, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
What about putting in the introduction something like "In his 2001 book Downfall, Paul Frank analyzed the many widely varying estimates of casualties caused by the bombings. He concluded that "The best approximation is that the number is huge and falls between 100,000 and 200,000." [footnote]. This basically goes back to where the intro was about a month ago (seems like longer!), but with the difference that some background is being given to explain why Frank's quote and estimate is being used, so it doesn't seem like the choice is arbitrary.KarlBunker 17:28, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
Well i object to quoting an a clothing designer in the article, but other than that i'm all for it. Where should we put the information from the above table? In a new section or on it's own page? EricR 18:01, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
Heh. I must have been thinking of Frank Paul. I wonder if The Poobahs of Wikipedia would allow the creation of a sub-page to the article, like the talk/archive pages, and then putting the table into that sub-page and linking to it as one of the reference links at the end of the article. KarlBunker 18:43, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
Having appendices would sure be nice, but looks like it's frowned upon: WP:NC#Do not use an article name that suggests a hierarchy of articles EricR 14:21, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Why is Frank being quoted as the expert on fatalities when that is not what he studied and that point has been made before. Encyclopedia Brittanica is also not authoritative in that we do not know where their figures derive. The Manhattan Engineering District are clearly lowball early numbers by the bombers who had demonstrated interest in keeping numbers low. Frank's low ball (minimum numbers) come from there. What is the credibility more than half a century later when the after effects of radiation are well-know and documented? RERF (and the two affected cities) studied it. Why not acknowledge that and quit beating around the bush? It is pure propaganda to rely on Frank for what he did not study. It is his opinion as a journalist. That is it. skywriter 00:06, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Frank didn't do any original research on the subject and didn't claim to have done so. His book is handy because he lists a bunch of studies, from various sources—notably from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His own conclusion is the actual number is "huge", but can't be stated with any precision. Do you disagree?
By the way, why do you say Frank is a journalist? I don't know what his day-job is; the bio on the cover of Downfall implies, but doesn't quite say, that he's a lawyer.
—wwoods 08:48, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

When Frank was awarded the Truman book award, the press release was headed: MILITARY HISTORIAN WINS 2000 TRUMAN BOOK AWARD. It gave this description: "Richard B. Frank was born in Kansas in 1947. Upon graduation from the University of Missouri in 1969, he was commissioned in the United States Army, in which he served almost four years, including a tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam as an aerorifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. In 1976, he completed studies at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. The following year he began research on his first book, Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Campaign, which was published in 1990. He lives in Annandale, Virginia." So he graduated university, did an army hitch, and went to law school, finishing (not necessarily with a degree) at the age of 28 or 29. By 30 at least he had become a historian, or if you prefer, a writer of history books. I would call him a historian; no doubt a PhD historian wouldn't, but that's just job protection. The man writes histories; what else but a historian can he be? --Cubdriver 21:35, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

That's the same bio that's on Downfall. (You've got to be impressed by a guy who can title his first book a "Definitive Account".) I picked up Guadalcanal from the library, and it adds, "...and the following year [1977] initiated research for this narrative, including extensive work with a Japanese translator on the massive Japanese Defense Agency War History series. Mr. Frank is currently [1990] a member of the Board of Veterans Appeals and lives in Virginia..." —wwoods 22:50, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

The last row in the table is a bit confusing, here's the full quote:

Details of deaths since November 1945 remain unclear, but the death rate of A-bomb victims is easily inferred to be higher than that of the general Japanese populace. The October 1950 national census, supplemented by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission survey, for the first time clarified the number of A-bomb survivors throughout the nation: 158,597 plus 10 from the Hiroshima bombing, 124,901 plus 10 from the Nagasaki bombing (the "10" are those who experienced both bombings). Measured against the numbers physically present in the two cities on bombing dates, deaths in the five years from the bombings to 1950 amount to some 200,000 for Hiroshima and over 140,000 for Nagasaki.

It looks like (estimated_city_pop - bombing_casulties_1945 - reported_survivors_1950 = deaths_1945_to_1950) EricR 17:27, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

I think that's city_pop - survivors_1950 = deaths_{9/5/1945-1950}, with the immediate deaths included. This is the estimate that Frank criticized: "these extremely high revised figures are at least equally subject to challenge. {footnote:For example the 1950 total of identified survivors was 283,498,... In March 1995, no fewer than 328,629 living Japanese qualified [as survivors]}". (I think Frank made an arithmetic error; I read H+N as saying that there were 283,508 survivors in 1950.)
—wwoods 09:50, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
That formula makes more sense. Maybe i can blame the translation for my confusion. EricR 14:54, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

It is not surprising Frank received the Truman award as his book is sympathetic to Truman. Frank is an author, the writer of two nonfiction books. He is a freelance journalist to the extent that the Weekly Standard published an article by him. Anyone wanting to embelish his credentials for the purpose of inflating his importance in this Wikipedia article can of course continue to claim he is a "historian". skywriter 18:50, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

You mean "Why Truman Dropped the Bomb"? Frank may not have a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, but it seems to me that writing two prize-winning books in military history gives him a better claim to be a historian — amateur historian, if you will — than writing an article in military history for a magazine gives him a claim to be a journalist.
Anyway, do you disagree with Frank's conclusion: that the actual number is "huge", but can't be stated with any precision?
If the only problem is Frank's '100k-200k' numbers, what about citing RERF's '150k-220k'?
—wwoods 09:50, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't matter whether the estimate is suspect or not! Good grief, what could be more suspect than an estimate of 220,000 deaths "with many more"? The estimate of 64,222 exists. The statement as phrased is that estimates range from XXX to XXX. So the lower number has to be 64,222 or the sentence must be changed (as I earlier changed it, so that it merely said "ranged up to XXX"). Otherwise Wiki simply becomes a propaganda vehicle for egregious numbers. Why don't we just make it 500,000 and be done with it? Or we could use the entire 1940 population of Japan: 70 million. Or perhaps the 1940 population of the world: 2 billion. After all, everyone alive in August 1945 will eventually be dead. --Cubdriver 13:41, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

We don't really have much assurance that 64K is in fact an estimate of total deaths. The reports are very soon after the bombings (Aug. 20 and 31) and may well be peliminary estimates. Why should we try and evaluate all these primary sources which probably no one has access to, when we have a good quote from Frank who's done all the work already. We can blame him if it's wrong. EricR 14:41, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

I've put back the Frank quote about casualties as discussed above. The discussion above is a little cluttered with unconstructive comments (from both ends of the political spectrum), but there appears to be no substantive objection to this change. BTW, I refer to Frank as a "historian" because according to the definition I checked, the word isn't restricted to people with a Ph.D. in history. KarlBunker 14:13, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
The opening paragraph seems cluttered with ". In his 1999 book Downfall, historian Richard Frank analyzed the many widely varying estimates of casualties caused by the bombings. He concluded "The best approximation is that the number is huge and falls between 100,000 and 200,000."[1]"
We just need low-high estimate from recent sources (clearly, the first estimates that came out are not credible), which should be linked to. But we don't need to give the source of the numbers in the opening paragraph, a bibliography link would do.
--A Sunshade Lust 00:22, 22 April 2006 (UTC)


In view of the chronic vandalism, I'm thinking about semi-protecting this article. Any opinions? —wwoods 19:41, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Should be semi-protected, this article is a major vandalism target. I don't mind Jaranda wat's sup 19:48, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely; please do! KarlBunker 02:47, 3 May 2006 (UTC)


I suggest changing all instances of the widespread but incorrect "atomic" to the correct "nuclear," except in book titles and so forth. All nations possess atomic bombs; we typically call them chemical bombs. They release energy by rearranging atoms. The bombs detonated above Hiroshima and Nagasaki released energy by rearranging nucleons. Hence, they were nuclear bombs. Thoughts? 13:32, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

"Atomic bomb" is correct and standard usage. Conventional (chemical) explosions release energy by "rearranging" molecules (molecular reactions). Atomic bombs release energy via fission ("splitting" atoms). Thermonuclear bombs (aka hydrogen bombs) release energy by triggering a fusion reaction (fusing of hydrogen atoms) using the heat from an initial fission reaction. "Nuclear" is a broader term that includes both fission and fission+fusion weapons. --Toms2866 14:58, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
In most common speech, "Nuclear" is used with "weapons" and "atomic" with "bombs", the latter especially when referring to specifically fission-based weapons. When talking about a historical even in particular, though, "atomic" is generally favored. "Atomic bomb" was how the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were framed by the participants (to the irritation of a number of the scientists, who did agree that "atomic" did not specify specifically that one is talking about nuclear reactions), and the phrase "atomic bombing of Hiroshima" is far, far, more prevalent in English than the phrase "Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima". You'll notice though that our first sentence refers to what was dropped in the more precise terminology, though. I don't think it's worth losing sleep over either way -- the current version is fine to my ear. --Fastfission 16:06, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Article 25

The bombings, along with other attacks on civilians, were arguably in violation of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 which were ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1902 and 1908. The 1907 Hague Convention, Article 25, states: "The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited." [7]

I have removed this because it is original research. The Japanese home islands were defended. Before the legality or otherwise of Hague is used in this article there should be a reliable source which says that the use of the bomb contravened treaty obligations (see Area bombing#Aerial area bombardment and international law). Here is one source which says that that it was not a contravention of treaty obligations to bomb enemy cities:

In examining these events [Anti-city strategy/blitz] in the light of international humanitarian law, it should be borne in mind that during the Second World War there was no agreement, treaty, convention or any other instrument governing the protection of the civilian population or civilian property, as the Conventions then in force dealt only with the protection of the wounded and the sick on the battlefield and in naval warfare, hospital ships, the laws and customs of war and the protection of prisoners of war.(International Review of the Red Cross no 323, p.347-363 The Law of Air Warfare (1998))

--Philip Baird Shearer 00:11, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

There was a short discussion about this in the Choice of Targets section above. EricR 01:11, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
The language of Article 25, although vague, is almost childishly simple, so at first blush it seems silly to say that some quotable scholar is needed to apply an interpretation to it. However, the degree to which the Allies were legally bound to abide by Hague is a more complex issue. On that grounds I'll agree with your removal of that section, pending the addition of some citable source. KarlBunker 01:22, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
KB, where you going to add anything here? If not i will add a quote from the court in the Shimoda case. EricR 18:19, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
By all means, go ahead. KarlBunker 19:08, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Are you referring to: Shimoda et al. v. The State, Tokyo District Court, 7 December 1963? --Philip Baird Shearer 20:34, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

In 1963 the bombings were subjected to judicial review in Shimoda et al. v. The State. On the 22nd aniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the District Court of Tokyo refused to rule on the legality of nuclear weapons in general, but found that "the attacks upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused such severe and indiscriminate suffering that they did violate the most basic legal principles governing the conduct of war." Falk, Richard A. (1965-02-15). "The Claimants of Hiroshima". The Nation.  Check date values in: |date= (help) reprinted in Richard A. Falk, Saul H. Mendlovitz eds., ed. (1966). "The Shimoda Case: Challenge and Response". The Strategy of World Order. Volume: 1. New York: World Law Fund. pp. 307–13. 
I'm still looking for a source critical of the decision, everything i have found so far praises the court's arguments. EricR 22:24, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
You don't need a criticism of the court's arguments, do you? It's not like every opinion in the article (on one side or the other) has a specific rebuttal by someone who disagrees with it. KarlBunker 23:26, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but i guess i can live with failure. EricR 01:51, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

It seems to me from reading the transcript above that the arguments are the work of two (three?) experts and perhaps the best way of phrasing it would be as they do in the case: 'in the "Expert Opinions of Shigejiro Tabata and Yuichi Takano"'.

Were there no expert witnesses brought and bought by the State to defend the position that there is a contrary view? Or are Japanese cases like this more magisterial than adversarial?

A major indirect criticism of part of this particular ruling can be extrapolated from the the ICJ judgement given on July 8, 1996 on the "Legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons"

55. The Court will observe that the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV do not define what is to be understood by "poison or poisoned weapons" and that different interpretations exist on the issue. Nor does the 1925 Protocol specify the meaning to be given to the term "analogous materials or devices". The terms have been understood, in the practice of States, in their ordinary sense as covering weapons whose prime, or even exclusive, effect is to poison or asphyxiate. This practice is clear, and the parties to those instruments have not treated them as referring to nuclear weapons.

To paraphrase: It can be taken as indicative that, in the practice of States (during World War II), was to consider that all enemy territory was under defended air space, {because of integrated national defence systems like the Kammhuber Line}. So the practice is clear and the parties to those instruments have not treated them as referring to aerial bombardment. --Philip Baird Shearer 08:48, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The Article 25 argument is is a fiction. Its terms are so broad & vague, it's impossible to know what "undefended" means, & since Japan's cities had AA guns & fighter protection, they weren't "undefended" in the strictest sense. Trekphiler 10:51, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Allied war crimes cat?

What's with this cat? ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 21:23, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Aftermath Picture

When you click the picture that shows the aftermath of the bombing, it links to a different picture. How and why? And you can also see some logo ("National Library of Medicine," I think) shining through.--The Ninth Bright Shiner talk 19:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

  • It doesn't seem to have updated the cache. I think I fixed it. --Fastfission 20:15, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

New casualty sources

The Spirit of Hiroshima is an often used title, but i think the new citation is referring to this; there are much better sources available if we want to put the 140k and 70k numbers in the intro. Mikiso Hane, Modern Japan: A Historical Survey has all of two paragraphs on the bombings–citing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can find no mention at all of Korean survivors or casuaties. EricR 20:13, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

For Were We the Enemy? i find this:

"The number of American hibakusha -- some three thousand were in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped, and between eight hundred and a thousand survived and later returned to the States..."

on page 3 of the introduction, but so far nothing that states 3k of 4k were killed. EricR 20:26, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Apologies for not explaining my edits earlier.
I felt that the Spirit of Hiroshima book combined with the Mikiso Hane book were much better sources than the Richard Frank book, considering that 1) His reporting of the numbers does not make a clear distinction between the numbers of people killed in the blast itself and those killed by its aftereffects in his discussion of different sources; 2) He does not interrogate these sources and how they derived these numbers; 3) After discussing much of the controversy, his conclusion of 100,000-200,000 offered no rationale for how he chose those numbers; 4) his book cites only English language sources, suggesting an unbalanced outlook; 5) His lack of academic credentials as a historian suggests that his work has not properly undergone peer review; and 6) His own political position as an apologist for the nuclear bombing suggests that he may have an interest in deflating the numbers to make nuclear bombing more palatable as a viable military option.
I feel that the 140,000 number by December 1945 in Hiroshima has been verified as very accurate as an average figure, and cited in multiple respected academic sources, given the conditions that I had mentioned before. The 70,000 number is ridiculously low, has its origins in early U.S. military figures that sought to minimize the numbers of those killed so as to not shock world opinion, and if used should be sourced properly and separately from the other reference, and should then include the highball figure as the upper end for balance. That the 70,000 continues to be used is akin to holocaust denial in trying to ignore what is very well understood truth today. I will be reverting the 140,000 figure as an average, unless someone can cite and explain the lowball 70,000 figure properly. There has to be a distinction made between whether certain sources are referring to the number killed in the initial blast or in the aftereffects or a combination of the two. There are several considerations regarding this to keep in mind: 1) That the U.S. scientific occupation authorities (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) were supervising the initial treatment and documentation of the bombing in conjunction with local Japanese authorities and that the two jointly set the standards for determining radiation deaths and radiation-related mortality; 2) That yes, there may be a desire to inflate the numbers at the local level in order to drive home the point of the horror of the bombing; 3) That on the other hand, considering that local authorities often discouraged classification of survivors as official hibakusha, in order to limit the number of people that would have access to the lifetime medical care available to survivors, the numbers are probably lower than the actual numbers; 4) Additionally, one must bear in mind the immense social stigma that became associated with the hibakusha in Japan, which meant that in many instances families, especially in far-flung places that survivors would flee to, would hide radiation-related deaths in the family out of shame; 5) Concurrent with that, Korean victims of the bombing were often not counted properly and did not receive proper recognition as hibakusha until 1978 and were not properly included in the total.
In terms of the Korean victims cited in the section added, please refer to page 413 of the Hane book for a discussion of the Korean survivors.
In terms of the Sodei book, you are correct that page three states that 3,000 Japanese Americans were in Hiroshima and 800-1000 survived. Later, the Sodei book notes that there were an estimated 1,000 hibakusha living in the U.S. can be found on page 70. What may account for the number increase may be that some women were pregnant at the time of the bombing, but this does not fully account of the number difference. The book cover for the hardcopy of this book contradicts these numbers with what I had previously written and I can't account for the discrepency. Your comments on this are much appreciated and have been changed to reflect this oversight.
I reverted the Nagasaki number unless someone can cite a verifiable current academically reputable source that contradicts this number. I have also added the Sodei citation, since he also confirms this number as well.
Please note that changes and removals of properly cited information should also be properly cited and not removed just because someone "thinks" they are dubious. Please cite all conflicting information properly, so that we can verify and properly peer review. Otherwise I appreciate this discussion and look forward to developing a properly neutral and balanced page.
Roninred 21:48, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

This article's casualty figures are a contentious issue, as can be seen above and in the talk archives. There has been much effort expended chasing down numbers and citations, and deciding on an appropriate statement for the introduction. As the one seeking to undo all that effort the burden of providing a convincing argument should lie with you. Another editor challenged the use of Frank as a source but did not find any support.
For my part, i disagree with your changes to the article introduction–you replaced the citation of two scholarly works dealing specifically with the bombings with a museum guide, an AP article, and a general survey of Japanese history since the nineteenth century. ::EricR 00:18, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree with EricR's opinion here, though I congratulate Roninred on the his(?) articulate and relatively dispassionate comments. While reading this debate, it occurred to me that something missing from the article introduction was a mention of how political agendas have had an influence--one way or the other--on the various casualty estimates that have been published. I've tried to correct that with my own addition to the introduction paragraph. Improvements are welcome, of course. KarlBunker 00:49, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate the comments and discussion. The points are well taken. The added text to the introduction is appropriate. Not to belabor the issue, but the Spirit of Hiroshima book is much more than a museum guide and is actually a very balanced, extensive, scientific, and self-critical work in my humble opinion. I actually highly recommend it as a reference and wish it was more available in the U.S. Just to back up the 140,000 Hiroshima and 70,000 Nagasaki numbers, please note that they are also used in Sodei's work which does focus directly on the bombing and aftereffects. Also, another general history of Japan by Brown University Professor James McClain, titled "Japan: A Modern History" cites these figures as well, though he doesn't explain where he got these numbers. Yet as a professor, he must be somewhat comfortable with their use (he says 130,000-140,000 in Hiroshima and 60,000 to 70,000 in Nagasaki on page 514.). To go into the highball figures, Saburo Ienaga (known for his supreme court challenge to Japanese textbook revisions), in his work the "Pacific War: 1931-1945" cites the Specialists Committee of the Japan Council Against Atom and Hydrogen Bombs with numbers of 200,000 in Hiroshima and 122,000 in Nagasaki (pg.202). Again, these numbers need further interrogation. Roninred 02:52, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Alright, I've taken a quick look at Takaki's book, and found it quite unreliable.
Hiroshima: "The United States Strategic Bombing Survey confirmed that only 3,243 troops were killed. Seventy thousand people were killed instantly, and many more would die--60,000 by November and another 70,000 by 1950. Most of them would be victims of a new method of killing--radiation."
Nagasaki: "Some 70,000 people were killed by the explosion, and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years."
Actually, the SBS reported 6,000+ fatalities in the Second General Army. Counting all the units and organizations in the area, "the number of military deaths rises to 20,000" (H+N). And Takaki's totals, 200,000 and 140,000, are obviously based on that naive analysis that (estimated populations on the days of the bombings) minus (the registered survivors in 1950) equaled (the numbers killed). Though I don't know where he got the breakdown.
And before that, he wildly underestimates the cost of invading Japan, apparently mistaking an estimate of casualties for the first 30 days for a complete conquest of Japan. Furthermore, he quotes the usual military non-fans of the bomb, without noting that they were all backing other strategies. It's true that they said, 'Dropping the bomb was unnecessary', but he doesn't seem to realize that they meant, '... because we could also have won the war if we'd done things my way'. For various values of 'my way': invasion (MacArthur), blockade (Leahy), or conventional bombing (Nitze).
  • I.3) I take Frank to mean that the correct number is large, but can't be determined with any real accuracy; i.e. only to one significant figure.
  • I.4) Frank's main source for this subject is Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1981); it's an English language source only in the sense that it's an English translation of Hiroshima—Nagasaki no Genbaku Saigai (1979).
  • I'm not sure what 70k figure you think is "ridiculously low", but I changed 140k to 90–140k. The RERF figures are 90–140,000 for Hiroshima and 60–80,000 for Nagasaki. 140k seems to be the high-end for Hiroshima, so "perhaps as high as 140,000" seems a fair characterization.
  • I commented out the number of surviving Japanese-American, figuring that that figure belongs in the section on survivors, not in with the number of casualties. I still think it odd that this group suffered 75% 67% fatalities. Were they all living downtown or something?
  • Have you a good source that 70k in Nagasaki were killed "instantly"? If Nagasaki's fatalities were ~1/2 Hiroshima's, the numbers of immediate fatalities ought to be in proportion. I haven't found a breakdown for Nagasaki, but H+N (Table 10.12, p.365) has figures for Hiroshima: on the day: ~40%, unknown: ~25%, the rest of 1945: ~35%.
—wwoods 09:04, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
So what is our status here? If we are going to dump Frank and use 140k and 70k in the introduction, then i would like to quote and cite H&N: "caused the deaths of 140,000 in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki" from page 115. EricR 18:16, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't understand the rejection of Frank's work. His total of 100,000 to 200,000 is iffy, but he provides sources for the estimates he bases these off, and they aren't all US. I added these estimates (Hiroshima prefecture police, Manhatten Engineering District, USSBS, Japan Economic Stabilization Board, and OSW/USNR) to the article, using Frank's book as a handy reference. Nor do I understand referring to him as an apologist, unless somebody is prepared to show why he is unreliable. Unless somebody is willing to show why these estimates are invalid, I'd suggest keeping both sets. Dht 21:50, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Bad Truman speech link

The link to the Truman speech now directs to an archive of MLK Jr. videos. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs). is right, and the only working source I could find for this audio was this, which has only 25 seconds of the speech, and is preceded by a commercial that's longer than the valid content. Consequently, I've removed the link from the article. KarlBunker 10:18, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Casualty figures visited once again

The following is currently in the introduction: "This number does not include the thousands more in Hiroshima that died in the months and years after December 1945 because of the aftereffects of the bomb." Further into the article, there's a section titled "Post-attack casualties." The reference in this section[8] actually doesn't support a figure of thousands, but rather hundreds, and that's for both cities combined. Unfortunately, the figures are for 1950-1990, leaving a 5 year gap after the December 1945 figure quoted in the introduction for Hiroshima. Still, with no cited source, the figure of "thousands" of post 12/1945 casualties in Hiroshima should be removed, IMO.

There are other problems with the "Post-attack casualties" section. The first sentence refers to effects among "those who survived the initial explosion" (that includes most of the world), and the last sentence refers to "everyone who was in the city when the bomb exploded or was later exposed to fallout who has since died" (since died, regardless of cause of death?) I'm going to try to clean up that section. KarlBunker 12:23, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

The 1997 numbers are 440 cancer and 250 non-cancer deaths associated with radiation exposure,[9] but that is still not an estimate of total deaths, but an estimate within the study group. An older version of the article placed the number at about one thousand based on the fact that the Life Span Study included about half of those significatly exposed. IMO "thousands" post 1945 may be a reasonable assumption–but agree that the article is not justified in saying that. On the other hand, the naked RERF numbers seem to de-emphasize the effects of radiation and the long-term medical problems of the survivors.
Any thoughts on creating an "Effects of the bombings" section and expanding it to include a descriptive account of what actually happended to the two cities and their citizens? I've suggested this a couple of times–but never followed through; partly because it's such a morbid task. The RERF data could then be fully explained in a "Long-term effects" subsection. EricR 02:01, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
So the text should get away from specific numbers in this regard and I guess refer to "hundreds" of additional deaths. An "Aftereffects" section sounds like an excellent idea. But a dreary one, as you say, and personally I'm a little Wiki-pooped at the moment. KarlBunker 10:23, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Leaflets Dropped Before Hiroshima

I have seen the reference from the Article that leaflets were dropped BEFORE Hiroshima. please elaborate. how many days, what was the full content of the leaflets?

"U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who was unaware of the Manhattan Project until Franklin Roosevelt's death, made the decision to drop the bombs on Japan. His stated intention in ordering the bombings was to bring about a quick resolution of the war by inflicting destruction, and instilling fear of further destruction, that was sufficient to cause Japan to surrender. On July 26, Truman and other allied leaders issued The Potsdam Declaration outlining terms of surrender for Japan:

"...The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland..." "...We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction." The next day, Japanese papers reported that the declaration, the text of which had been broadcast and dropped on leaflets into Japan, had been rejected. The atomic bomb was still a highly guarded secret and not mentioned in the declaration."

...please note the last line.... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

It seems to be saying only that the statement of the Potsdam Declaration was dropped on Japan in leaflets. There were many leafletting campaigns against Japan before Hiroshima, but they didn't warn about atomic bombgs. (See, i.e. Image:Firebombing_leaflet.jpg). --Fastfission 23:56, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

existing fallout

What's the existing rate of fallout for the cities? I mean, if Chernobyl supposedly will take hundreds of years to recover from, is it the midair explosion that disperses most of the fallout, or something? Elle vécut heureuse à jamais (Be eudaimonic!) 07:06, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Short answer: "Although the levels of residual radioactivity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were initially high, they declined quickly and are now far less than the dose received from background radiation. Hence, there is no detectable effect of present-day residual radiation on human health."[10] Follow the link for a longer answer, with a comparison to Chernobyl. —wwoods 09:13, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Ah, so it was gamma radiation that caused the primary radiation poisoning effects and that's why secondary ionisation doesn't seem so prominent? Elle vécut heureuse à jamais (Be eudaimonic!) 14:33, 27 June 2006 (UTC)


There is a sentence, toward the beginning of the article, which reads:

"the Battle of Okinawa resulted in an estimated 50–150,000 civilian deaths, 100–125,000 Japanese or Okinawan military or conscript deaths"

I read this as: between 50 and 150,000 civilian deaths, and between 100 and 125,000 military deaths. That is quite a range. I imagine the intended range is between 50,000 and 150,000, then 100,000 and 125,000. It is not appropriate to abbreviate in this fashion, should this be the case, as it is thoroughly confusing. I'm not going to make changes until someone clarifies.—Kbolino

The meaning of the abbreviations was obvious, but I've corrected them anyway. KarlBunker 00:38, 7 July 2006 (UTC)


I've moved this article up to "Top"; I think this is one of those cases where you'd be shocked if a random person didn't recognize it. Kirill Lokshin 04:38, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Military History Project?

I should note that the inclusion of this article as a project of the "Military History" group is disturbing. Most military historians are not especially noted for their objectivity or academic rigor. This is especially an issue in something as complicated as the nuclear bombings. There should be a bias alert posted on this article to deal with such concerns. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

"Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject." Do you not agree with this statement? Do you not see the correlation between the documentation of military history and the documentation of the bombing of Japan during the Second World War? If you do agree that the bombings were a part of WWII, carried out by military personnel, then I don't see why it should prove so disturbing. You've made very broad characterizations about the editors working within the MilHist project (I'm assuming we fall within your definition of "most military historians"), something I don't feel we deserve. We have gone to great lengths to maintain NPOV in the articles we contribute to. If you disagree, please point out specific examples and they will be given immediate attention. Please try not to allow your personal bias to interfere with your contributions and ability to work with other groups of people within the Wikipedia organization. We will do the same. Many thanks. --ScreaminEagle 16:21, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Being part of a Wikipedia Wikiproject doesn't necessarily mean very much (anybody can sign up for them, and it doesn't necessarily reflect a certain viewpoint or not), and neither does having an article labeled as within their scope (it doesn't mean that anyone will actually pay any more attention to it), and in any case, such a labeling certainly has no effect on whether the content will be biased or not. If you have actual bias concerns with the content, bring those up, but don't disparage based on something as silly as this. --Fastfission 22:59, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

First, your comment is cloaked in anonymity. Not good. Second, your allegation of bias without reference is an intended slur. There are aspects within this article that deal directly with the military project and they are best addressed by those versed in the field. They can be reviewed and edited to address any concerns of POV. If you are arguing that these aspects should be eliminated altogether, then the article must be divided up into "what happened" and "what it means" segments. In the "what happened" aspect the expertise of those familiar with military history still applies.--Buckboard 23:08, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Along this same line, this article needs to be reorganized. It wasn't an isolated event, it was the culmination of a military campaign by the Allies against Japan beginning with the initiation of formal hostilities with the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Therefore, the article should be organized like:
  • Intro
  • Background
  • Action
    • Prelude
    • Bombing of Hiroshima
    • Bombing of Nagasaki
  • Aftermath
  • Subsequent opinion and debate on the bombings

Something like that so that the article will be in the generally utilized format for presenting military history topics. It was a military event and should be presented as one. All of the discussion about the long term effects on survivors, etc may need to be placed in a separate article like the Hibakusha article if the "aftermath" section becomes unwieldy. I'm sure this has been discussed before in prior, archived discussion pages, but it doesn't seem like anything's been done about it. I'll eventually get to this article, but I currently have others much higher on my "to do" list. Cla68 05:01, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Two pictures of the same thing

There are two pictures of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall / "Peace Dome" in this article. Should the captions be merged and one of the pictures deleted? Arx Fortis 05:20, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Upon Reflection

I remember something about how some curators at the Smithsonian got into serious trouble for an exhibit about the bombings. Does anyone have any info on that? I think it would make a perfect footnote to this article. Wandering Star 21:19, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Nothing is stopping you from adding it--go for it! Asking others to add information to an article almost never works. Travb (talk) 21:20, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
We have information on that at the Enola Gay article which might be useful as a base, and there are some links there to sites about the controversy. --Fastfission 21:35, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

radiation fallout

I was under the impression that once an area is exposed to radiation from a nuclear blast, that area becomes, for all intents and purposes, poisonous to life. For example, 50 years after the Bikini Atoll blasts, some of those islands are still uninhabitable for humans. How were Hiroshima and Nagasaki different? 23:01, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

There is a distinct difference between radiation received from a blast itself and radiation received from fallout deposits. I am not as up to date on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiation studies, but for the Bikini atoll blasts they are of the latter sort: they are uninhabitable mostly because the soil and the plants on them contain fallout products, which move through the ecosystem. You can still go there and not suffer, you just can't eat anything or drink the water. All of the shots during the Bikini tests which had the most fallout were either on islands or underwater—fallout is generally created when you take a large amount of dirt (or coral, or buildings) and subject it to an atomic blast (it becomes radioactive dust, so to speak). In the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both explosions took place far above the ground, which is a more optimal place to detonate from a military point of view (better use of the energy). This also likely cut down on the fallout dispersal and would make it considerably less than if had gone off upon contact with the ground. My guess is that the fallout was not significant and, if it was followed by a few days of rain (as it seems to have been), most of it would have washed away. There was likely considerable irradiation of civilians and people who consumed food products from the area, but the land would not be permanently uninhabitable.
Keep in mind also that the Bikini shots which were a problem were much larger than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki shots; the biggest, baddest of the Bikini shots (Castle Bravo) was around 800 times more powerful than the Hiroshima blast. Additionally, these were hydrogen bombs which have a final natural uranium fission stage (see Teller-Ulam design), which creates a very large, especially "dirty" explosion. --Fastfission 00:10, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Amount of plutonium converted to energy

The "matter/energy" conversion for the Nagasaki bomb is incorrect; the article says "grams" when actually it should say "kilograms". Sorry for my ignorance as to protocols regarding editing. Cheers. 23:49, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I made the change to match the source. However, the source seems to state that about 1/6th of the plutonium was converted to energy, which seems absurdly high to me. I believe around 1/10,000 of the mass is converted to energy in a typical nuclear reaction. Perhaps they meant to say that about 1/6th of the plutonium underwent nuclear fission, with only 1/10,000th of the mass of that 1/6th being converted to energy, or 1/60,000th of the total mass of plutonium. If we take the source literally, using E=mc^2, we get E = (1.176 kg)(300,000,000 m/sec)^2 = 106,000,000,000,000,000 kg m^2/s^2 = 106,000,000,000,000,000 J = 106,000,000 GJ. Using the conversion factor to tons of TNT (1 kiloton = 4.184 GJ), I get 25 kilotons of TNT. This is on the order of the 21 kilotons of TNT the article states, so maybe it's correct that 1/6th of the plutonium was converted into energy. Would any physicists care to comment ? StuRat 18:39, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
I just removed the whole description of how much matter was converted into energy from the article, and removed the reference too, since it was clearly mistaken. KarlBunker 19:11, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
And I put it back, since intuition that it is "clearly mistaken" is not evidence that it is. I had my doubts, too, but the math above seems to show that it's correct. StuRat 19:26, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Call me an idiot but wouldn't have much of the energy have come from fission of the uranium tamper? --LiamE 19:36, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
The mass-to-energy figure was incorrect (I removed it again). See the pages turned up by this search. KarlBunker 20:27, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Please list a specific page and/or show calcs, don't just use a general google search results page as evidence. StuRat 21:26, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Looking at the maths above all looks good till 106,000,000GJ per kilo. From there if 1kt roughly = 4GJ, 1Kg would give 106,000,000/4 Kt of energy... roughly 26,500,000 Kt or 26,500 Mt. Anyway - my question about the tamper stands. --LiamE 21:42, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Ho hum - after checking the Kt to J figure its actually 4.184 TJ = 1KT........ so divide my last answer by 1000. 1kg roughly = 26.5 MT not KT. --LiamE 21:50, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Does it matter how much plutonium fissioned? Frankly I don't think if it is on the Fat Man page it doesn't need to be here, where all that really matters is yield and maybe the total mass or size of the core (people seem to like the "grapefruit's worth of plutonium killed X thousand people" sort of thing)... --Fastfission 21:52, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I think the amount of mass converted to energy is interesting info. Let's redo the calcs starting from the stated yield of 21 kilotons of TNT:

(21 kilotons) x (4.184 TJ/kiloton of TNT) = 88 TJ

E = Mc^2

88,000,000,000,000 J = M(300,000,000 m/s)^2

88,000,000,000,000 kg m^2/s^2 = M(90,000,000,000,000,000 m^2/s^2)

This gives me about a thousandth of a kg, or a gram, as the mass converted to energy, which is what the article (but not the source) originally said. Does this look right ? StuRat 22:12, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Yup its certainly in the gram range not the kilo range. E=mc2 page agrees. --LiamE 22:35, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
The Pu article says 20 kilotons of TNT energy output per kg of Pu239 which I compute is the same as 207 MeV energy output per atom of Pu239; which is consistent with what it says at Nuclear fission ("Typical fission events release several hundred MeV of energy for each fuel atom that undergoes fission..."). 207 MeV mass equilvalent is 0.2 atomic mass unit, compared with the Pu239 mass of 239 a.m.u. The energy output of Fat Man , 21 kilotons.of.TNT /c^2 = 0.98 gram of binding energy.
21 kilotonTNT / (207 MeV per atomPu * avogadro atoms/mole) = 4.4 mole of Pu
4.4 mole of Pu * 239 g / mole = 1.05 kg of Pu that actually reacted. Article says ~6.4 kg of Pu-239 were used. The excess was blown apart before it had a chance to react; this was expected and taken into account by the designers. This is consistent with what StuRat says above "Perhaps they meant to say that about 1/6th of the plutonium underwent nuclear fission"
In summary: of 6.4 kg of Pu in the bomb, 1.05 kg of the Pu actually reacted, 0.98 gram of that plutonium's binding energy got converted into 21 kilotonTNT of energy output. --GangofOne 04:27, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
I sent an email to the authors of the original source, hopefully they will correct it. Shall we repost the original "one gram of mass was converted into energy" statement ? StuRat 04:57, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
I'd suggest something along the lines of ".... about 1kg of Plutonium underwent fission with about 1 gram of mass being converted to energy ...." --LiamE 08:42, 9 August 2006 (UTC)


Please explain your revert.

- Bolton's comments about the ICC were predicated upon his support of the bombings. That makes his quote irrelevant to the Opposition section. Why do you believe it belongs there?

- Also, the state terrorism paragraph is necessary -- touching it is tantamount to censorship. Why did you delete it in the first place? Why are you deleting it again now?

Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 19:14, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

I also find the Bolton bit a little odd. Bolton clearly means that he thinks that the ICC definitions are simply wrong. To then hold up what he meant as an ad adsurdem in support of that which he is offering as absurd seems like a very wrong-headed approach. Personally I have nothing against the state terrorism line — it is undeniable that it was a clear part of the US targetting decision that a maximum "shock" effect be obtained. If people have used this to validate the accusation of terrorism, that sounds relevant to me, even if they are doing it in order to say that terrorism is sometimes worthwhile. --Fastfission 21:45, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm not the author of the Bolton text, and I don't particularly care for it either. The point of the text however, is to demonstrate that the bombings fit some definitions of a war crime, including the Rome Statute, as interpreted by John Bolton. This is tolerably obvious from reading the text.
It's interesting that you also mention state terrorism paragraph, since it does precisely the same thing. It argues that the bombings fit the definition of state terrorism by noting that Robert Newman, a supporter of the bombings, accepts that definition. I removed that text because I thought the "opposition" section was getting a little heavy, and this seemed to me the weakest part of it, as it lacked any reference.
I'm not strongly invested in the inclusion or removal of either of these sections. The only thing I would strongly object to is moving the Bolton text back to the "Support" section, which is in direct contradiction of the point the text makes, even if it's not in contradiction of Bolton's own beliefs.
Lastly, it is incorrect, and arguably downright silly, to claim that "touching" some part of an article is "tantamount to censorship." Refer to Wikipedia:Assume good faith and also anyone can edit. -- KarlBunker 22:07, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
You're right, I didn't assume good faith. I apologize for my knee-jerk reaction.
First, it won't be at all difficult to find a reference to the thinkers Newman was at pains to rebut. Surely the verification of such allegations would be a more constructive priority than the deletion of this point, which I think is of vital and earnest import to contemporary debates.
Second, the difference between the two is of emphasis and phrasing, which is why I have problems with one and not the other. In the Newman paragraph, the appropriate part of his argument is emphasized and lucid. Meanwhile, the point of placing Bolton's remarks in the category is NOT clear, since his de facto conclusion was very much in the "support" category. We can call the whole Bolton paragraph a special case of an amphiboly of conclusion: what the reader comes away with is different from what you want them to come away with. It would have to be rephrased, with emphasis added, in order to keep the reader from being derailed. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 16:05, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
One example of a scholarly mention is Luigi Bonanate's essay, "Some Unanticipated Consequences of Terrorism", in the Journal of Peace Research, 1979 Sage Publications, Ltd. Where he writes (in footnote 2) "...the atomic bomb on Hiroshima can be considered in many ways terrorist". Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson }
edit conflict: Concerning your first point, Thomas Schelling may provide the best quote for the article:

Thomas Schelling, in Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), maintains that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acts of political terror, since the U.S. intent was not to eliminate civilians but to send a message of terror and shock to the decision-makers in Tokyo and Kyoto. Schelling’s more recent rumination on nuclear weapons, "Thinking About Nuclear Terrorism,” International Security 6, no. 2 (1982), goes even further. He argues that he cannot conceive of any use of nuclear weapons which would not be considered as terrorism.

Lopez, George A. (1988). Terrible beyond Endurance? The Foreign Policy of State Terrorism. pp. p. 338.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help) EricR 16:31, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
I was aware of the similarities between the Newman/Bolton usage, both of which superficially look like they are instances of using critiques in ways other than they were intended. But there is a big difference, I think. With Bolton, he uses the application as an example of why this definition would be absurd, because he clearly does not think that the bombings were war crimes. With Newman, he does not challenge the application, but instead says this indicates that state terrorism can sometimes be justified. I think that's a meaningful distinction between the two; Newman's is not meant to say that the charge of state terrorism is ungrounded—he accepts the definition, he just wants to change the moral valence. Bolton rejects the definition and the moral valence completely. Anyway, I'm not sure all of what I've written should have any effect on the article, but I wanted to point out that I had thought that over a bit already. :-) --Fastfission 01:55, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

sec 7 debate on bombings

I would like to suggest moving the 1st 2 factors or arguments under 7.2 'opposition' to 7, before the pro 7.1 and con 7.2, and add discussion of the strategic decison itself: That the decision of the US to use the bomb was to demonstrate to the USSR that US had the bomb, and would use it. The immediate threat from Japan was already gone, and the future threat to the US was from the USSR in both Europe, and in Manchuria and Japan. This stopped the USSR advancement, more important than accelerateing Japan's surrender. Comment? Reference? Bcameron54 01:30, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

PS nice to see reference to "Racing the Enemy' by Hasegawa ISBN 0-674-01693-9

Wasn't there some earlier discussion about merging text from the support/opposition sections into subsections? I can't seem to find it in the archives.EricR 16:48, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Hague Convention IV / Geneva Convention

I didn't read all of the discussion, but there seems to be the impression that the question if the nuclear attacks on the cities were war crimes (at the time) couldn't be answered clearly. But there's no major difficulty: the United States signed the Hague Convention of 1907 (IV) as well as the Geneva Convention (1928 if i recall correctly) - both conventions designating indiscriminate or deliberate killing of civilians illegal, which makes the actions necessarily a war crime in time of war. If you wish i'd be glad to search for the precise sections, but as i said there's no real problem there.

That's why i was surprised that the article doesn't contain that as simple objective information, but depicts that more as some sort of opinion...? Cycling fan22 02:34, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to see the precise sections. I tried to look them up myself but there are so many different Hague and Geneva parts that I had a hard time finding the ones you are talking about from that time period. --Fastfission 01:11, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry for the delay. Here's a source in english for Hague IV, October 18, 1907:

1. non-ambiguous violations of the treaty:

- axiomatic Art. 22 "The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited." --- as in:
- Art. 26 "The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commencing a bombardment, except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the authorities." [mainly to allow evacuation/ at least warning of civilians]
- Art. 27 "In [...] bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes." [obviously impractical by making use of a strategic nuclear weapon against a city]

2. in all probability, although some may not accept:

- Art. 25 "The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of [...] dwellings or buildings which are undefended is prohibited."
- Art. 23 - this one's not so obvious, so forgive me for giving some more background:
To get the coverage of the constraints of Art. 23 one first has to know "Martens Clause", common law at the time, written down in the preamble of Hague IV:
"[...] Animated by the desire to serve, even in this extreme case, the interests of humanity and the ever progressive needs of civilization [...] the High Contracting Parties clearly do not intend that unforeseen cases should, in the absence of a written undertaking, be left to the arbitrary judgment of military commanders. Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the dictates of the public conscience.
They declare that it is in this sense especially that Articles 1 [constitutes amongst others the above-quoted Art. 23] [...] of the Regulations adopted must be understood.
ok, now the therefore applicable parts of Art. 23: "[...] it is especially forbidden a) To employ poison or poisoned weapons; d) To declare that no quarter will be given; e) To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering [...]"
now taking into account Martens Clause, with the unforseen disposability of nuclear weapons in 1945 it is rational to refer to a) the toxic effect of plutonium and uranium fallout d) to state that "no quarter will be given" equals/comprehends indiscriminate annihilation of soldiers and a fortiori civilians e) to state that fallout and long-term effects besides short-term lesions like radiation burn or blindness equals or exceeds injuries caused by poison gas (that were exemplified as "causing unnecessary suffering" in 1907)

3. Conclusion: There were at least 2 violations of Hague IV (also common law at the time) and therefore the laws of war. The article should state that for the sake of NPOV in one sentence, maybe somewhere in the introduction? Cycling fan22 22:00, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Interesting, but the nuclear weapons didn't uniquely violate any of those. I mean, the entire Allied and Axis strategic bombing campaigns as a whole clearly violate those for the most part. As for poisoned weapons, I don't know if the first nuclear weapons counted as "poisoned", but it should be noted that the scientists did not, at the time, think fallout would be substantial. --Fastfission 23:32, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if the first nuclear weapons counted as "poisoned", but it should be noted that the scientists did not, at the time, think fallout would be substantial => irrelevant in the domain of legal evaluation
but the nuclear weapons didn't uniquely violate any of those. => again, irrelevant in the domain of legal evaluation.
Do you have other objections? Cycling fan22 16:28, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
The relevance of a treaty restricting the use of artillery against a beseiged city, written before the development of military aircraft, is questionable. And if you want to argue that all strategic bombing campaigns—which before the development of smart bombs amounted to 'dropping bombs in the general vicinity of military targets'—were war crimes, go ahead, but the practice was tacitly sanctioned by universal adoption. (See also unrestricted submarine warfare.) But you can't argue that only the atomic bombs were war crimes; there's nothing in principle distinguishing them from all the preceding bombing campaigns.
(And even if you consider radiation to be "poison", the use of chemical weapons against Japan was under active consideration, with some feeling that there was sufficient justification.)
—wwoods 21:58, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with WWoods; because the nuclear bombings didn't technically violate Hague IV etc. any more than any other bombing of any other city, it would be rather absurd to mention this violation any more prominantly than it already is. This may be "irrelevant in the domain of legal evaluation", but it's quite relevant in the domain of an encyclopedia article. KarlBunker 20:00, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

See further up this page #poisonous weapon and Area bombardment#Aerial area bombardment and international law and Talk:Area bombardment#Atomic Bombs--Philip Baird Shearer 17:33, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Destruction vs Interesting image

The image caption A Japanese report on the bombing characterized Nagasaki as "like a graveyard with not a tombstone standing." used to point to Image:AtomicEffects-p4.jpg but was changed to point to Image:Nagasaki temple destroyed.jpg with the explanation this the latter was a more interesting image. The previous image has flatter rubble, while the latter has in the foreground a pile of rubble with some statues. I think the previous image better illustrates the caption, and don't know if a more interesting image is better nor appropriate. (SEWilco 02:02, 15 August 2006 (UTC))

As someone who has contributed many images that were sorely lacking I would like to weigh in, because I have an image here (one that I consider relatively superfluous), and so I noticed this change. I think it is distasteful and uncourteos to remove another person's image. However, one (or many) may sometimes judge it is merited. In those cases of opinion, I think one, or all, of the followng should be adhered to (out of a simple matter of respect): 1. always contact the image author/the person who uploaded the image; 2. place a notice on the talk page of the entry, preferrably with both images so that others do not need to work to judge for themselves; and/or 3. solicit opinion. Typically, if I think one of my images are better than another person's, I will not remove the image but instead relegate it to a small size, or to a gallery, or to another area of the article that is not as prevalant. I'll leave it up to somebody else to remove it. My photograph of Lettuce cultivars provides an example. But I rarely, if ever, remove an image. There's my two cents. --DavidShankBone 02:17, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Good Wikipedia etiquette. In this case, I'm more concerned about a situation similar to a picture of a prairie being replaced by a picture of an oak with prairie in the background. On the American prairie, the occasional oak by a stream was expected (oaks chemically fight grass and are resistant to prairie fires), but featuring an oak does not represent well the surrounding thousands of acres of grass and associated plants. (SEWilco 04:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC))

The problem with the caption is that regardless of the Japanese report, the new image indicates that there were still scattered structures and portions of structures standing. I suggest the caption be changed to reflect the reality of the situation as photo-documented, not the contemporary (and likely emotionally charged) report. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 00:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

As the person who was responsible for putting the original "uninteresting image" on the page as well as uploading the "interesting image" to Commons not too long ago, I don't think it matters much which one is chosen, and I certainly take no offense at people wanting to try out different image possibilities (I consider this a pretty easy way to be bold with striking effect). Personally I like the "interesting" image more because it features foreground structures, allowing you both to get a scale of the damage on a human scale and also emphasizing that despite the appearances of the "totally destroyed" images, much of the damage was not of the "vaporized" sort but the "burned to death" sort. I personally find much of the "barren" imagery deceptive—there are no corpses, no indication of anything but a quick and instant obliteration. However this was not the actual experience of Hiroshima, it is just the pictures that the U.S. Army agreed to release immediately after the bombing (the more gory ones were not released until later). I think the caption still works with the "interesting" photo—sure, there are a few things standing, but it isn't exactly paradise. --Fastfission 01:05, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, I did try to get a scale of the new photo but I have no idea if the statues are as tall as my thumbnail or as tall as a ten-story building. There is an archway and bricks on the right side which provide some size clues, but sizes can vary for symbolic objects and temples. For seeing how widespread the damage was there are maps and aerial photos elsewhere in the article. (SEWilco 04:18, 16 August 2006 (UTC))
You're referring to a literal measurement of scale, I'm talking more about the intuitive assessment of it—an understanding of what it would look like if one were standing there, versus seeing it in a plane or seeing an abstract and barren landscape. Again, it's a purely aesthetic choice.
I personally do not find it very hard to estimate the scale here, making reasonable assumptions about the height of the statue in relationship to its surroundings, the two-story building in the distance, and the many visible roads. One could assume that everything in the picture is at a much larger scale than it appears on first glance but I don't see any reason to do so... --Fastfission 00:06, 17 August 2006 (UTC)