Part 2 The Atomic Bomb
Section 1 August 9, 1945
Chapter 2：August 9
On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki became the second city in history to suffer an atomic bombing, Hiroshima being the first.
It was a hot summer day. Records kept by the Nagasaki Marine Meteorological Observatory state that the wind direction changed from southeasterly to southwesterly that morning, with temperatures later rising to typical mid-summer levels (see the following table).
A thick layer of fog covered the city in the early daylight hours, but by 7:00 a.m. the clouds lingering over the Urakami district, the hills of Shiroyama and the shores of the harbor were dissipating. The sky grew gradually clearer, revealing the entire outline of the city and its factories. On the surface, it seemed to be a calm uneventful morning, with few reminders of the ongoing war or the threat of air raids. Thus began Nagasaki’s long and historic day.
The citizens of Nagasaki were nevertheless suffering from a lack of sleep because several air-raid alerts had been issued during the night. According to the Nagasaki Civil Defense Force’s Daily Records of the 9th Fire Prevention Unit, the fourth alert of the night was issued at 10:10 p.m. and lifted at 0:55 a.m. This was immediately followed by another alert that remained in effect from 1:10 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., and by an additional alert issued later in the morning.
Many details remain unclear regarding the events of August 9, including the circumstances of the morning air-raid alerts. At present, the standard reference source on this subject is the document entitled “Damages Suffered in the August Ninth Air Raid on Nagasaki,” the tenth volume of Nagasaki Prefecture’s official report on the atomic bombing. 104 All alerts were issued from the regional headquarters of the army’s western division. The following are further details from the report:
●At 7:48 a.m., air-raid alerts were issued for Nagasaki and Sasebo.
●At 7:50 a.m., an air-raid alarm was issued for Nagasaki.
●At 7:55 a.m., an air-raid alarm was issued for Sasebo.
●At 8:30 a.m., the air-raid alarms issued for Nagasaki and Sasebo were lifted.
●At 11:09 a.m., an air-raid alarm was issued for Nagasaki.
●At 11:10 a.m., an air-raid alarm was issued for Sasebo.
●At 12:05 p.m., the air-raid alarms issued for Nagasaki and Sasebo were lifted.
●At 4:00 p.m., the air-raid alerts issued for Nagasaki and Sasebo were lifted.
This information was published in both the Sixty-Five-Year History of the Nagasaki Municipal Administration and Air-Defense Strategy for the Home Islands a volume published by the Ministry of Defense Office of War History. 105 However, The Daily Records of the 9th Fire Prevention Unit mentioned previously lists somewhat different times, as shown below:
●At 6:30 a.m. an air-raid alert was issued.
●At 8:14 a.m. an air-raid alarm was issued.
●At 8:53 a.m. the air-raid alarm was lifted.*
* No mention is made in this account of the alerts issued after the atomic bombing.
Personal diaries and memoirs written later provide even more divergent accounts as to the air-raid alerts and warnings issued on August 9.
Other documents that list times closely corresponding to those given in The Daily Records of the 9th Fire Prevention Unit include the previously mentioned Yasunaka Diary written by Yasunaka Shōkichi of the Mitsubishi Steelworks and the diary of Ezaki Eiichi, a bank employee at the time. Some minor differences can be seen in these sources as well, the Yasunaka Diary citing the time of the morning air-raid alert as 7:00 a.m. and that of the air-raid warning as 8:10 a.m.
In his memoir entitled Chika bōkū honbu (Underground Air Defense Headquarters), Fukuzawa Senri, former sub-section chief of the General Affairs Section at the Mitsubishi Arms Factory, provides the following times:
6:40 a.m.: air-raid alert issued
7:20 a.m.: air-raid alarm issued, lifted at 9:40 a.m. 106
Nagasaki Medical College personnel also kept records. In Genbaku nikki (Diary of the Atomic Bombing), Professor Shirabe Raisuke states that the air-raid alarm was issued at 7:00 a.m. and lifted at 9:00 a.m. On the other hand, Assistant Professor Mori Shigetaka claims in his memoir entitled Genshi jigoku wo miru (Witnessing the Atomic Hell) that an air-raid alert was issued at around 7:30, changed to an air-raid alarm around 8:30, and lifted around 9:40. 107
Still another account comes from Fujino Shigeo, former managing director of the Nagasaki Prefecture Agriculture Association:
Woke at 6:30 a.m. Worked on neighborhood association matters after breakfast. Arrived at the Nagasaki Prefecture Agriculture Association office at 10:00. As I commuted from my house at Irabayashi 1-chōme to the office in Kabashima-machi (approximately 30 minutes on foot) the sirens forced me on two occasions to flee for the air-raid shelters in Tera-machi. 108
Three means of communication were employed to convey air-raid alerts and warnings. The first was through a chain of command that began with the regional military headquarters and extended to the governor, mayor, security units, household air-defense unit leaders and finally individual residences. The second method was the employment of radio broadcasts issued on orders from the regional military headquarters. The third was the sounding of municipal sirens.
These three methods were used to ensure that citizens were informed of every air-raid alert, without exception. Ordinarily, radio broadcasting was the quickest way to disseminate air-raid information. On the other hand, the relay of information from the mayor (at Air Defense Headquarters) to defense units, each of which had to be contacted by phone, was a time-consuming process.
Direct telephone lines between major munitions factories and military headquarters provided yet another way to dispatch air-raid alerts. However, this process undoubtedly gave rise to discrepancies in the time at which each unit or factory received word. Time discrepancies are also apparent in individual diaries and memoirs, with lapses of memory being another factor. At present, it is almost impossible to ascertain the exact time at which the air-raid alerts and warnings were issued, or to say for certain just why so many variations exist in the records. The differing accounts nevertheless provide an insight into the state of confusion on the unprecedented day of August 9, 1945.
As outlined above, a sense of impending danger gripped the people of Nagasaki during the days and weeks leading up to the atomic bombing. Air-raid alerts startled the city every morning, and enemy planes made frequent runs through the sky overhead. Citizens referred to the air-raid alert with stoic humor as the “public time announcement” or “regular service” and went about their daily business in the interim. This was the state of affairs in Nagasaki on the morning of August 9. Commuters made their way to Nagasaki from the outlying towns of Himi, Yagami, Mogi, Fukuda, Shikimi, Mie and Togitsu, and many others arrived here on trains from Nagayo and Isahaya.
Although no exact figures are available, the daytime population of Nagasaki is thought to have been about 300,000, a figure adjusted to include the daily influx of people from the towns mentioned above. More than half of this daytime population was concentrated in the districts of Urakami, where the Mitsubishi munitions factories and other facilities were concentrated, as well as Akunoura, site of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard and other factories.
The reason for the air-raid alert issued on the morning of August 9 is attributed to the American weather observation airplane that flew from Tinian and circled in the airspace over Nagasaki in advance of the bombing unit. Support for this theory comes from comments made by the governor of Nagasaki, which will be referred to later in this work.
In any event, the air-raid alert issued on the morning of August 9 passed without incident. As soon as it was lifted, the city once again bustled with the movement of people, machinery and trains. In some districts people had already started forming lines in front of food distribution centers, while in others, members of the neighborhood associations were busy collecting vegetable rations. At Nagasaki Medical College, lectures and medical examinations had begun. Security and guard units were now relaxing on stand-by, released like everyone else by the lifting of the air-raid warning. These were the circumstances in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb suddenly exploded over the city.
According to U.S. military documents, two B-29s from the 20th Air Force 509th Composite Group, including the airplane carrying the atomic bomb, reached Kokura around 9:55 a.m. (Japan local time). The aircraft circled the city for about 45 minutes while crewmembers tried in vain to visualize the aiming point. Finally, the B-29s abandoned Kokura and headed back across Kyūshū toward Nagasaki, the secondary target.
By this time, the sky over Nagasaki, clear just a short time before, was also clouding over.
The first mention of enemy aircraft on the ground was a radio transmission, the wording of which was something like, “Enemy aircraft proceeding west over the Shimabara Peninsula.” Witnesses recall this terse statement differently, some remembering it as “Enemy aircraft proceeding north over Shimabara” and others as “Two large enemy aircraft circling over the Amakusa and Shimabara peninsulas.” Recollections of wording may vary, but it is certain that the approach of enemy aircraft was announced over the radio before the atomic bombing.
The number of people who heard this announcement, either at offices, factories or homes, was quite large, and it was the last they would hear. The explosion of the atomic bomb generated a brilliant flash of light, ferocious blast, and clouds of dust and debris that blackened the sky. As the enemy aircraft made their retreat, the city below descended into a state of complete chaos. Heat rays scorched human beings, animals, plants and inanimate objects, the blast wind sent everything flying, and fires began to break out in the ruins. Tens of thousands of people were killed or wounded, all of this death and destruction occurring, significantly enough, after the lifting of an air-raid alarm.
The following is a brief account of the radio broadcasts issued in neighboring prefectures.
The Radio Broadcast: “All Nagasaki citizens evacuate at once!!”
The Nagasaki Broadcasting Company lost all transmission capabilities at the moment of the atomic bomb explosion, making the above update on the approaching enemy aircraft the last broadcast in Nagasaki. However, a number of people living in neighboring prefectures at the time have testified to hearing reports calling for the immediate evacuation of all Nagasaki citizens. The following is a statement made by a woman who had evacuated to a village on the Uto Peninsula, Kumamoto Prefecture:
Suddenly the radio announcer started exclaiming over and over, in a voice that bordered on a shriek: ‘All Nagasaki citizens evacuate at once!’ This was followed a little later by the message, repeated over and over, ‘Citizens of Nagasaki: the enemy aircraft have gone. Please join in firefighting efforts.’ 109
Wrote Fujii Kyoji, who was in Takeo-machi, Saga Prefecture at that time:
At around 11:00 a.m. I was looking up at the sky from the entrance to the air-raid shelter in my aunt’s backyard. Suddenly a flash of light like a bolt of lightning illuminated the sky in the direction of Nagasaki. Then I heard a thunderous explosion, soon after which a radio announcer began screaming, ‘A new-type bomb has been dropped on Nagasaki! Everyone in Nagasaki, evacuate immediately! Evacuate immediately!’ After a while, the following message was broadcast: ‘Fires have begun to break out. All Nagasaki citizens are asked to join in firefighting efforts.’ I was dumbfounded; something extraordinary had
Many people in the neighboring prefectures of Fukuoka, Saga and Kumamoto heard these broadcasts. The origin of the transmission order remains unclear, but the following passage in “Air-Defense Strategy for the Home Islands” offers a possible explanation:
The headquarters of the 16th Army Group had surmised that the approaching enemy aircraft would target Nagasaki. Through radio and various other communication organs, headquarters personnel repeatedly issued the warning, ‘A small number of B-29s are approaching Nagasaki - all residents evacuate immediately.’ 111
This suggests that the 16th Army Group, which was actually a combat force, may have identified the emergency situation and issued a rare warning of its own because there was insufficient time to inform the Army’s Western Force Headquarters.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that the call for the evacuation of all citizens came too late.
The message asking citizens to “join in firefighting efforts” apparently originated from a source other than the headquarters of the 16th Army Group. By the time of its transmission, however, mass panic had already erupted amid the death and destruction caused by the Nagasaki atomic bombing.
As noted earlier, wide discrepancies are evident in the documents pertaining to the air-raid alerts and warnings issued on the morning of August 9. The following information may shed some light on what actually took place that day.
The Mysterious Air-raid Alarm of 10:53 a.m.
The following is another passage from the publication Air-Defense Strategy for the Home Islands:
On August 9, immediately after the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, the second atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki. That day, the weather in Nagasaki was fine, with little wind. The army’s Western Force District Headquarters issued an air-raid alert at 0748 [7:48 a.m.], followed by an air-raid alarm at 0750 [7:50 a.m.]. The alarm was lifted at 0830 [8:30 a.m.], after it was determined that no enemy aircraft were present.
Two B-29s were later detected flying over Kyūshū from the direction of Kunisaki Peninsula, prompting the Western Force District Headquarters to issue another air-raid alarm at 1053 [10:53 a.m.]. As the circumstances seemed similar to those observed at the time of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, it was determined that these B-29s might also be carrying an atomic bomb. The enemy aircraft had reversed direction in the airspace above Yahata and were now flying back over the southwestern part of the city. 112
The official report by the governor of Nagasaki Prefecture is consistent with the above, stating that the air-raid alert was issued at 7:48 a.m. and that the air-raid alarm was issued at 7:50 a.m. and lifted at 8:30 a.m. However, there is no mention of an air-raid alarm at 10:53 a.m., and, in fact, no such alarm was issued in Nagasaki at that time.
These facts give rise to the following question: If indeed an air-raid alarm was issued at 10:53 a.m., to what region did it apply? U.S. military documents clearly show that the two B-29s reached Kokura around 9:55 and circled for about 45 minutes before heading to Nagasaki. This means that the airplanes would have left the airspace over Kokura by 10:53.
The aforementioned official report of the governor of Nagasaki, touching on the route of the enemy aircraft, states that, “a single B-29 approached from northern Kumamoto city around 10:53 and proceeded west over the Ariake Sea and the northern part of Shimabara Peninsula toward Nagasaki.” This suggests that the bombing unit had reached Kumamoto by 10:53 a.m. If this is true – and if the air-raid alarm was issued for the area including Nagasaki – it is possible that a further urgent warning could have been issued before the arrival of the bombing unit over Nagasaki. This alarm, however, never amounted to more than a comment in a document entry. For this reason, it can only be called the “phantom air-raid alarm.”
Weather on the Day of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing
(Nagasaki Marine Observatory)
|Atmospheric pressure (sea-level)||mb||15.0||15.3||15.3||14.0||13.9||13.6||13.3||13.0||12.7||12.7||12.8||12.7||13.0||13.2||13.5|
|Cloud cover||7. K||7.k||9.KC||10KN||10KN||6.KN||8.KN|
|Duration of sunshine (Jordan)||1.00||1.00||0.70||0.69||1.00||1.00||1.00||1.00||1.00||0.88||1.00||0.30||0.00|
|Duration of sunshine (Campbell)||1.00||1.00||0.78||0.45||1.00||1.00||1.00||0.82||1.00||0.52||0.00|
Report = (Thick fog) 4:40 – 4:50
으 a.m. (Modest amount of dew in the morning)
KN a.m. (Development of cumulonimbus clouds in the morning)
Outbreak of fires
Smoking (Development of doughnut-shaped clouds)
으 p.m. (Slight amount of dew in the afternoon)
Notes: S: Sunny, C: Cloudy, F: Fair, H : High cloud overcast
1,000 mb should be added to above atmospheric pressure figures. For example, the atmospheric
pressure at 9:00 would be 1015.3 mb.
Cloud type: K
KN: Cumulonimbus cloud
CS: Altostratus cloud
KC: Altocumulus cloud
Cloud cover figures refer to how many 10ths of the sky are obscured by cloud.
A number of memoirs and interviews provide valuable insights into the situation in Nagasaki in the hours leading up to the atomic bombing.
The following are the words of Nagano Wakamatsu, the governor of Nagasaki Prefecture at the time of the atomic bombing, taken from an interview conducted by the Nagasaki Broadcasting Company (NBC).
An Interview with the Governor
I will start by describing the events of the previous day. When I was about to leave my office on the evening of August 8, Nishioka-san (Nishioka Takejiro, chairman of Nagasaki Shimbun Co. at the time) came hurrying in. He had just returned from Tōkyō, and he rushed directly to my office to tell me about the ‘new-type bomb’ dropped on Hiroshima. The authorities were still trying to conceal news of the bombing and Nishioka risked arrest by the military police for talking about it, but he felt that I should be informed as soon as possible.
When he arrived I was in tears over a letter my daughter had sent from Fukui City, where she was residing. To digress slightly from the topic at hand, the contents of the letter pertained to the Great Air Raid of Fukui [that killed or injured 3,100 people and destroyed 90% of the city on the night of July 19]. My daughter had strapped her baby on her back and taken flight with a group of mothers from the neighborhood, but she had lost them along the way and found herself disoriented amid the flames. In her bewilderment she jumped into a reservoir to escape the fire. The next morning, her baby was dead, as were some 35 or 36 other people in the reservoir. As fate would have it, my daughter was the only one who survived. Her letter expressed her grief about the death of her baby, but that wasn’t all. She also wrote that the air-raid measures I had instituted during my term as department chief at the Home Ministry, the job I had held before coming to Nagasaki, had been wrong. 113 She said that it was a mistake to focus on extinguishing fires during air raids and that the prefectural authorities and police should focus on saving people’s lives by issuing immediate evacuation orders and directing people to safety. In short, the contents of the letter amounted to what you might call a condemnation, or maybe an accusation, in which she frankly claimed that her father’s way of thinking and doing things was mistaken. That was what I was reflecting on when Nishioka came rushing into my office.
I had read about the new-type bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the newspapers, but I found myself completely taken aback by Nishioka’s description of the damages.
It seemed that he had been forced to get off the train at Kaidaichi or some other station before Hiroshima and to walk along the tracks through the city, which he said had been like a sea of fire. He described how trees were broken at the roots, great rocks were lying about, reinforced concrete buildings were crushed, and even the telephone poles and ties along the railroad were burning. He said that he had seen people wandering about with burned skin hanging from their faces and arms. It was such an appalling description that I asked him if he had actually seen all these things or just heard about them from someone else. He then became angry and shouted, ‘I told you at the beginning that I was going to relate what I saw with my own eyes!’
In any case Nishioka's descriptions were hair-raising. Convinced that I should inform the police as soon as possible, I called the police administrators and city police chiefs to my office that evening and held a two-hour discussion based on what Mr. Nishioka had told me. We concluded that Nagasaki might soon undergo a similar bombing attack, because it had not suffered terribly from air raids thus far. But Kitakyūshū and Hakata were also relatively intact, and so we felt there was still time to make preparations. I suggested that we hold another meeting the next day and in the meantime think about what measures could be taken. The others left my office agreeing on that point.
The following day, the day the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki, I arrived at the Prefectural Office at the usual time. Having concluded the previous evening that the best thing to do was to issue an evacuation order, I asked my secretary to call the police administrators and police chiefs to my office for a meeting. Just then an air-raid alarm was sounded. It had been a custom since the term of my predecessor Governor Tanaka for the police leaders to gather in the cave shelter at Suwa Shintō Shrine whenever an air-raid alarm was sounded. Equipped with rooms for the governor and department chiefs and with a police telephone, the shelter automatically became the prefecture air-raid headquarters and was capable of serving as a base for police activities.
For that reason, the police administrators replied that they could not attend the meeting until after the lifting of the alarm. The clock struck nine. I heard later that this early morning air-raid alarm had been sounded after detection of the two spotter planes sent out prior to the airplane carrying the atomic bomb. I had no choice but to sit and drink tea until the alarm was lifted.
As soon as sirens announced the lifting of the alarm, I asked my secretary to again contact the meeting participants, but this time the police leaders replied that, according to regulations, they could not leave the shelter for at least 30 minutes after the lifting of the alarm. The wait was so exasperating that I decided to go to the shelter myself, concluding that with the strong possibility of further alarms it would be the only way to convene this important meeting.
It took no more than five minutes by car from the Prefectural Office to Suwa Shrine. Entering the governor's office I said to the police leaders, ‘I want to suggest a drastic measure (an evacuation order). This is extremely important, so I request your frank personal opinions.’ However easy it sounded, an evacuation order would bring a major upheaval to a city the size of Nagasaki and would involve various difficulties.
Just as our discussions got underway, a message came that the mayor of Sasebo [a port town and naval base north of Nagasaki] was waiting outside and wanted to speak to me immediately. I answered that I could only exchange the briefest of words with him. He came into the room talking about the terrible disaster that had been visited upon Hiroshima. ‘Wait a moment,’ I said. ‘Where did you hear about that?’ ‘I heard it right from the mouth of the chief commander of the naval station,’ answered the mayor of Sasebo. ‘Well I’m glad to hear that,’ I said in relief. ‘We were just about to discuss the issue. Please go ahead and tell us what you heard from the chief commander.’ Just as these words left my mouth, the lights in the shelter blinked out.
I thought it was a normal blackout; I could never have imagined that the explosion of the atomic bomb over the Urakami Valley had been the cause. I asked if there were any candles in the shelter. ‘Yes there are,’ answered one of the other people in the room. But just as he got up to fetch them, the lights came back on and a thunderous ‘boom!’ shook the shelter.
My first thought was that a bomb had exploded at close range. But someone who had gone outside came back and reported that there was no apparent damage. Nothing else happened, so we assumed that enemy aircraft had perhaps conducted a hasty attack on the Mitsubishi Shipyard. ‘There was a flash of light and a booming sound outside as well,’ someone commented. ‘Perhaps it was another new-type bomb.’ But I said, ‘No, how could that be so? The new-type bomb is said to blow everything off the face of the ground, but people are chatting away outside.’ The idea seemed preposterous.
It was impossible to know immediately what had happened in Urakami, because Suwa Shrine huddles at the foot of the mountain on the other side of the valley. But it was only a matter of time. The meeting was cut short, and we continued on with what was going to be the grimmest day of our lives.
At around the same time, members of the Air-Defense Section, Police Division were reviewing air-defense plans in one of the rooms at Katsuyama Elementary School, their temporary relocation site. The purpose of the review was to improve communications with surrounding municipalities, especially Sasebo, in light of the news about ‘new-type bombs.’ At exactly the same time, department officials and officials from the local defense unit gathered at the Isahaya Police Department to receive emergency updates on Hiroshima and to hold deliberations on appropriate air-defense countermeasures. 114
Nishioka Takejiro, who had informed Governor Nagano about the devastation at Hiroshima, happened to be in the mountain resort of Unzen the day of the atomic bombing. From that vantage point he probably experienced the “fierce flash of light and enormous explosion” reported by the meteorological observatory at Mt. Kinugasa. Mayumi Morisaburo, an employee of Nagasaki Shimbun Co. at the time, recollected as follows:
By now even people at the newspaper company were whispering about ‘the final battle on the home islands,’ which made me realize just how desperate the situation had become. The Special Police Section had ordered us to make preparations for the publication of small tabloids in the event that it became impossible to release full-size newspapers. In response, we dug a shelter in the hillside on the grounds of Gokoku Shintō Shrine in Shiroyama-machi and transported a small rotary press and several rolls of newsprint. Four or five staff members worked tirelessly throughout the night to complete the typesetting procedure and conduct a test-run of the printing machine.
Chairman Nishioka, President Watanuki, Managing Editor Ōishi and a few staff members from the prefectural police station were to attend the first test printing, scheduled for August 9. However, President Nishioka was called off to Unzen on urgent business, and it was decided to postpone the test for a few days. We were truly lucky. If we had been in the makeshift factory at Shiroyama for the test that day, all of us, including President Nishioka, would have been killed by the atomic bomb.
Unfortunately, some staff members did happen to be in the shelter when the atomic bomb exploded nearby. They lost their lives in an instant, leaving behind only white ashes. 115
Nagasaki City officials were already discussing the “new-type bomb” the day before the atomic bombing. On the afternoon of August 8, Mayor Okada Jukichi, Deputy Mayor Morita Kijiro and Defense Headquarters Chief Naruse Kaoru held a meeting at City Hall to consider countermeasures.
A rumor was circulating that a bomb the size of a matchbox with enough power to destroy a battleship had been developed, but no one could possibly know the nature of the new-type bomb. All that could be said for certain was that the bomb was unlike any one before it, a fact that had been reported in newspapers that day. After relaying the announcement that a new-type bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, one newspaper continued as follows:
Enemy forces used a new-type bomb for the attack on [Hiroshima]. They used a parachute to drop the bomb [this was a common misunderstanding at the time]. The bomb exploded in the air. The explosive is presently under investigation, but in any case should not be underestimated.
The enemy’s use of this new-type bomb reveals a cruel intention to kill and wound innocent citizens. We cannot help but note that, behind this inhuman atrocity, there lies a lack of resolve to carry on with the war effort. Now that the enemy forces have perpetrated such horrible, heartless cruelty, they can no longer speak of righteousness or humanity.
Since it is likely that the enemy forces will use this kind of bomb again, authorities will undoubtedly issue instructions very soon, but in the meantime it is necessary to continue promoting conventional air-defense measures such as the emergency evacuation to the countryside and the digging of tunnel-type shelters. It is dangerous now to make light of enemy aircraft, even in small numbers.
Along with the use of the new-type bomb, the enemy has launched various exaggerated forms of propaganda. Truman has also made an announcement regarding the use of the bomb, but it is important for each person to avoid confusion and strengthen air-defense measures with an unrelenting sense of antagonism toward the enemy forces. 116
The participants in the meeting at Nagasaki City Hall on August 8 decided to investigate the actual damage to shelters, buildings, waterworks and other facilities in Hiroshima and to devise actions in Nagasaki on the basis of that information.
A number of city employees were immediately enlisted to form an observation group that would depart for Hiroshima the following day, that is, August 9. Hamaura Mitsuyoshi, a laboratory chief in the Waterworks Division at the time, was one of the employees ordered to join the observation group, and he later recalled his experience as follows:
As soon as I arrived in my office at the Waterworks Division in Fukuro-machi that morning, Headquarters Chief Naruse surprised me by suddenly telling me to join the observation group leaving immediately for Hiroshima. He said that City Hall had already arranged for train tickets. He continued that two more persons would join the group, namely Watanabe Shigeyoshi, the headquarters sub-chief in charge of air-raid shelters, and another person, perhaps a member of the Nagasaki Prefectural Police. Whether or not our trip had been announced to officials in Hiroshima remained unclear, but we decided to catch the 12:45 p.m. train. There was no time to go home to prepare for a business trip. All I could do was call my family and let them know that I would be going to Hiroshima. I was about to leave my office without spare clothes, shaving kit or lunch when I experienced a tremendous flash of light. I inadvertently huddled under a table. The ensuing chaos eliminated all thoughts about an observation trip.
Naruse Kaoru, who was serving as chief of Defense Headquarters at the time, later recalled the events leading up to the Nagasaki atomic bombing as follows:
I have many impressions of events after the atomic bombing, but I can remember little about the days leading up to it.
The staff at Defense Headquarters was extremely busy at the time dealing with intensifying air raids, maintaining shelters and encouraging citizens to evacuate to the countryside. We gave priority to evacuation measures over routine administrative tasks. Many municipal employees and members of student labor cooperation units were stationed in the gymnasium at Shinkōzen Elementary School, which served as evacuation headquarters. The staff members checked the notifications presented by people seeking evacuation. The staff also handled procedures for the demolition of houses. Volunteer construction workers were deliberately pulling down wooden buildings to check the spread of fire in case of air raids. The evacuation of citizens to the countryside and demolition of houses continued until the day of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
We became even busier after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. As it turned out only two or three days would elapse before the second atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki, but we hurried to strengthen defenses, prepare for evacuation and encourage women and children to leave for the countryside. We focused on publicizing the need for such efforts and working on related measures. One of these measures was the plan for an observation trip to Hiroshima by the sub-chief.
When an air-raid alarm or alert sounded, all Nagasaki City employees had to gather in their offices. On the day of the atomic bombing, an air-raid alert was issued early in the morning, and all employees were in their offices. The alert was followed by an air-raid alarm but this was soon lifted, much to the relief of the employees.
When the atomic bomb exploded, I was talking about air-raid shelters or some related topic with Kimoto, an engineer, in my office at Defense Headquarters. The fierce blast shattered the large windows and threw me across the room to the corner of the office. Around the same time I felt a brilliant flash of light and then, a few seconds later, a thunderous explosion and rumbling noise, and I fled to the next room and huddled under a desk thinking that a bomb had exploded right outside the windows.
After a little while, I found that my head was covered with blood. Kimoto said that I should go to Shinkōzen Elementary School for medical treatment. The bleeding was so severe that I actually thought I was going to die. Kimoto accompanied me to the school. I imagined that I was the only one to have suffered such a severe injury, but I found the school crowded with people seeking medical treatment. Kimoto then insisted that we should go to nearby Katsuyama Elementary School. When we passed City Hall on the way, I told him that my wound, although bleeding, was not life threatening and that I would be fine. Instead of going to the school, I rushed to the relief center in the City Hall basement.
The only person I found there was Mizoguchi Sukesaku, a pharmacist. He kindly applied a bandage to my head. None of us was aware as yet that a new-type bomb had caused the explosion. 117
Takeda Tomosuke, chief of the Defense Management Section at the time, later remembered the events of August 9 as follows:
On August 9, several air-raid alerts were issued on the heels of those issued the previous night. The air-raid alarm at 7:50 a.m. was finally lifted at 8:30. I returned to my home in Shiroyama-machi by bicycle, had breakfast and then went back to work at 9:20.
I was scheduled to have a meeting with the Nagasaki Police Chief at 9:30 to discuss special evacuation measures for the elderly and children. I arrived at Nagasaki Police Headquarters at 9:30 in the company of two colleagues, Mr. Miyabe and Mr. Hirano. However, the Police Chief was still engaged in an instructional speech to his staff, so in the meantime we went to the Harbor Unit Defense Headquarters in Hagoromo-machi to check on the results of their evacuation survey.
When this was finished we returned to Police Headquarters. However, the Police Chief was still in the middle of his speech. We went to the Nagasaki Defense Unit Headquarters, located behind the Police Headquarters, and talked with Mr. Sakimura while waiting for the Police Chief.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the room. I heard a loud roaring explosion and felt a painful flash of heat on the right side of my face and my right arm, as though someone had struck me. We all shouted, “Bomb!” and huddled under tables. The roar continued. Judging it dangerous to stay inside, we rushed to a vacant lot behind the building. After a while, the roar finally subsided. 118
At 10:00 a.m., August 9, 1945, a meeting was underway in a conference room in the No. 2 Office at Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard. The protection unit chief of each section was in attendance. At the meeting, sub-manager Shimamoto Nobuoki announced that, although it had been the custom to evacuate all factories immediately after an air-raid alarm, from now on production would be continued until the manager issued an evacuation order, even when an air-raid alarm was in effect.
News of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima had reached the shipyard relatively quickly. A shipyard staff member who happened to be on a business trip to Mitsubishi Hiroshima Shipyard at the time confidentially reported that the city had suffered devastating damage. For the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, however, the top priority was the earliest possible recovery in production, which had been suspended due to damages suffered in the air raid of August 1. The remains of the 124 employees who had died in the air raid had been returned to their bereaved families, and now the staff hurried to restore the damaged facilities.
An hour later, just when the meeting was coming to a close, the second new-type bomb exploded over Nagasaki.
While the above meeting was underway, Koga Shigeichi, chief of the Shipbuilding Division, was visiting the Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters to confer with officials there. The following is an excerpt from the memoir of Mine Yuichi, who accompanied Koga at the time:
On the morning of August 9, 1945, Mr. Koga and I took a small-roofed launch from the pier at Tategami to the Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters in Naminohira. When we arrived we were taken to a shelter behind the headquarters. Mr. Koga and Mr. Toyoshima, headquarters chief, held a meeting in the shelter for about half an hour. By the time the meeting ended, an air raid alert had been issued. At Mr. Toyoshima’s urging, we remained in the shelter for a while. Approximately 10 minutes later, the alarm was lifted.
Around 10:30 a.m., we took a launch from the Kosuge Factory pier back to Tategami. Also aboard the launch were Mr. Sagayama, steel material warehouse group leader, and a few women workers from the Kosuge Factory on their way to the Tategami cafeteria to get their lunch boxes. On the way, the launch stopped at a mining company office in Matsugae-machi to tow four or five lighters. Mr. Koga and I sat on the engine casing at the stern and looked out toward the entrance of Nagasaki Harbor. We were wearing military caps, boots and gaiters, with steel helmets on our backs, water bottles slung over our shoulders and lunch boxes dangling from our belts.
The launch was nearing the center of the harbor when the atomic bomb exploded, generating a thunderous roar. I felt intense heat on my neck, and from my experience on the battlefield I assumed that I had been attacked from behind by a flamethrower. When I turned around, I saw a huge column of fire rising up into the sky in the area of the Mitsubishi Electric Works. It seemed as if the entire city of Nagasaki was instantly engulfed in flames and black smoke. Suddenly, something pattered on the roof of the launch, and I shouted ‘machine-gun fire!’ and jumped into the sea, followed by Mr. Koga.
The launch accelerated. Swimming, I tried unsuccessfully to catch onto the back of one of the lighters. I looked around but Mr. Koga was nowhere in sight.
I floated on the surface of the water for a while. The sky was shrouded with black and white smoke like clouds. I assumed at first that the bomb had been dropped near Mitsubishi Electric Works, but I would learn later that the hypocenter was far from that area. Two or three objects like white parachutes were floating in the sky in the direction of Mitsuyama. I headed toward Tategami, treading water with my heavy clothes on. Although I was worried about Mr. Koga, there was nothing I could do.
After about an hour, I finally arrived at a pontoon chained to the No. 1 building berth at Tategami, but I was too tired to pull myself out of the water. I wanted to call for help, but there was no one near the building berth. Everyone seemed to have fled to shelters. I somehow managed to climb up the pontoon and to go off in search of a shelter. When I arrived at the shelter, Mr. Ōmiya rebuked me for coming back alone. He asked me what happened to Mr. Koga, but I could not answer. Soon news came that Mr. Koga had managed to swim back to Kosuge, which was a great relief.
I heard later that the purpose of our visit to Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters had been to discuss the possible relocation of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, but I have never been able to confirm the rumor.
The Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steelworks had also suffered severe damage during the air raid on August 1. The employees were busy restoring the 3,000-ton horizontal press at the No. 2 factory, which had suffered the most severe damage. Fukahori Kiyoshi describes the situation as follows:
On August 7, an air-raid alarm interrupted our negotiations to obtain restoration materials from Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard for the 3,000-ton press. The negotiations resumed on August 8 but were interrupted again by the air-raid sirens. Judging that it would be impossible to continue the discussion, the shipyard representatives gave me the key to the storehouse at Kosuge and permission to go there directly on August 9. I asked the Transportation Section to arrange for the departure of a lighter at 6:30 a.m., so that I could reach the storehouse early in the morning. However, an air-raid alert and then an air-raid alarm were sounded on the morning of August 9. All employees at the steelworks were required to immediately leave the premises at the time of an air-raid alert or alarm. Together with my coworkers, I evacuated to a bamboo grove in the northern part of Mezame-machi. After a while, I saw a white flag raised on the roof of our main building, indicating that the air-raid alarm had been lifted. I left for the sub-office, while my coworkers headed to the No. 2 factory to restore the 3,000-ton press. I could not have known that this would be the last time for me to see them alive.
After arriving at the sub-office, I also decided to go back to the No. 2 factory. Then I heard a strange sound, like the noise of sparks on a high-tension wire, and just when I saw a brilliant flash of light around the producer at the No. 1 factory, I was thrown under the tables in the office and lost consciousness. When I regained my senses, I found myself trapped under a pile of debris. I struggled free and ran to the window, but no one was there and I decided to go to the machine factory. On the way, I met Mr. Tatekawa who told me that although he had asked headquarters to provide help, he had been told to deal with the situation himself. 119
Yasunaka Shōkichi remembered the events of the morning of August 9 as follows:
On August 9, I got up at 4:50 a.m. and went to the factory at 6:00 a.m. after finishing my routine morning work.
On the way to the factory, I suddenly felt uneasy, for no definite reason. As soon as I arrived at the factory, I asked the security staff to order all student workers to go home. Immediately after the air-raid alert at 7:00 a.m., I also ordered the college trainees to leave the factory, but three of the students told me that they wanted to stay until they finished their work. They were melting iron in an electric-furnace and expected to finish before noon.
At 8:00, I commenced my work. At 8:10, an air-raid alarm was sounded and I ordered all my staff to evacuate immediately. I told them to evacuate to shelters outside the premises, if possible, but instructed the factory security staff to evacuate to those on site. I evacuated to a tunnel-type shelter at the old foreigners’ cemetery in Sakamoto-machi. At 8:55, the alarm was lifted.
In the shelter, the director of the Mitsubishi Arms Factory ordered his staff to return to their work place and urged me to do the same. But I was not in favor of making them return and suggested that we wait patiently a little longer. I for one had to attend a meeting at 9:00 in the naval office in Mizunoura, where I was scheduled to report on the work to repair damages caused by the air raid a few days earlier. I asked him to stay in the shelter with my staff members and then departed by car for Mizunoura. I was a little late for the meeting but managed to finish my report on the recovery work by 10:40.
Colonel Saito, chief of the naval office, wanted to discuss issues regarding the recovery of each factory. I asked Mr. Hirai, who had accompanied me, to send for Mr. Imada, chief of the Engineering Section. A car was sent to the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steelworks to pick him up. Around 11:00, I received a telephone call informing me that he had left the factory.
I returned to the room where I had been and resumed my conversation with Colonel Saito. It was then that I saw a brilliant flash of light like a huge cone-shaped electrical spark over the harbor-side canning factory at the shipyard. Colonel Saito shouted ‘new-type bomb! Get down!’ and we instantly huddled under tables and chairs. The windows of the office were shattered by the blast, but we fortunately escaped injury and immediately evacuated to a shelter dug into the hillside behind the shipyard. 120
Around this time, the Mitsubishi Arms Factory was working furiously to solve an immediate problem, that is, the relocation of important facilities from its seven munitions plants to avoid air-raid damage. The factory had not suffered any damage as a result of the past five air raids and had already relocated machine tools to the Sumiyoshi Tunnel Factory (see (2), 4, Chapter 2, Section 2, Part 1). Plans were underway to construct another tunnel factory to protect important facilities. However, the war situation was rapidly worsening, and the factory could not expect to continue avoiding air raids. Under the circumstances, the factory staff had no choice but to immediately relocate important facilities to neighboring valleys, as instructed by the navy.
Kusano Sueshirō, sub-chief of the First Engineering Division, was responsible for the relocation work and later remembered the events of that day as follows:
I was devoting all my energy to the relocation of facilities to neighboring valleys. On August 7, I went to neighboring valleys with naval supervisor Mr. Izumi and the engineer Mr. Miyata to check the conditions there.
With Mr. Miyata, who was around 30 years old, I spent the entire day checking the conditions of neighboring valleys, including Michino’o, Togitsu, Nagayo and Ōkusa. I was confident about my stamina; I had been mountain climbing since my youth. We climbed up and down the valleys and rode three-wheeled vehicles over the flat land. After hurriedly checking the prospective sites, we chose a valley that could accommodate the seven factories.
On August 8, I summoned the representatives of the seven factories to a meeting room at the factory in Ōhashi. Using the big map made by Mr. Miyata, I explained the conditions of the valley to the representatives and urged them to visit the site on August 9 and quickly make their relocation plans.
On the fateful day of August 9, the factory representatives followed my instructions and visited the site. All of them escaped the atomic bombing as a result, but in their absence the factories were destroyed.
On August 9, I went alone to Kawatana to check on the relocation of the navy arsenal. While I was in Kawatana, the factories that I had been trying to protect from air raids were completely destroyed by the atomic bomb. It was truly regrettable. 121
Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Arms Factory was also busily engaged in building weapons to prevent the enemy forces from landing on the Japanese home islands. One of those weapons was the Type-5 Torpedo. Yokouchi Giichiro, chief of the Design Section and supervisor of the building project, remembered the project as follows:
What was the Type-5 Torpedo? In those days, the war situation was becoming increasingly serious, and there was a demand for weapons to prevent enemy forces from landing on the Japanese home islands. In 1944, the Fleet Command Headquarters designed a 28-cm torpedo that could be loaded on a No. 4 motorboat developed by the navy or on a small submarine and used in large numbers to defeat the enemy. The prototype was created at the Yokosuka Arsenal, where firing tests were also performed. In 1945, however, the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Arms Factory was ordered to add improvements to the torpedo and to prepare for mass production. Initially called the ‘Type-4 Torpedo,’ this was remodeled into the Type-5 Torpedo. The performance characteristics were as follows: bursting charge of 570 kg, 20 knot range of 1,000 - 1,500 m, and weight at firing of 225 kg.
In June 1945, the first prototype reached completion. Firing tests were performed at the Dōzaki Factory in Nagayo Village on more than ten occasions, but the torpedo still did not work as smoothly as expected. The staff at the Morimachi Plant had already finished final preparations for mass production of the weapon, along with the Type-95 Torpedo. Nothing could be worse than the malfunctioning of a torpedo, which of course could not tell anyone what was wrong with it. After a while, a solution was found for the malfunction. A final check was to be performed on August 9.
On the morning of August 9, Mr. Matsuoka, the engineer in charge of developing the Type-5 Torpedo, told me that the weapon had finally worked properly the previous day. He went on to say that he would conduct firing tests that day at Dōzaki. I told him that I would also go there to see the tests. Since he had something to do at the Morimachi Plant, I suggested that we meet at Dōzaki. That was the last time I saw Mr. Matsuoka, who shared with me his anguish over the malfunctioning of the new torpedo. 122
As usual, the air-raid alarms sounded in Nagasaki on the morning of August 9 were not followed by air-raid attacks. As soon as the sirens fell silent, people, machines, trains and everything else resumed their daily functions. In some places, people formed lines in front of rice distribution centers; in others, they gathered to collect vegetable rations. At Nagasaki Medical College, lectures and medical examinations resumed. At guard units and defense stations, the warning level was reduced from air-raid alarm to air-raid alert.
Around the same time, the two B-29s of the U.S. 509th Composite Group had abandoned the primary target of Kokura and were now flying over the center of Kyūshū toward the secondary target, Nagasaki. The Japanese 16th Army Headquarters issued information via radio that a few B-29s were heading west over northern Shimabara Peninsula toward Nagasaki.
Shortly thereafter, the people of Nagasaki heard the engines of B-29s flying over the city from streets, factories, homes and other locations. The next moment, a brilliant flash of light and thunderous explosion instantly destroyed the city and pushed its population to the brink of life and death.
104 8/9 Nagasaki chiku kūshū higai jōkyō ni kansuru ken (Damages Suffered in the August Ninth Air Raid on Nagasaki) ^
105 Ministry of Defense (ed.), Hondo bōkū sakusen (Air-Defense Strategy for the Home Islands)(Asakumo Shinbunsha, 1968). ^
106 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Co. (ed.), Nagasaki seiki genshibakudan ki (Nagasaki Precision Machinery Works Atomic Bomb Report)(Nagasaki, 1949) ^
107 Committee for Publication on the Tenth Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing (ed.),Tsuioku: Nagasaki ikadaigaku genshibakudan giseisha no rei ni sasagu (Remembrance: A Tribute to the Souls of the Victims of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing at Nagasaki Medical College) (Nagasaki, 1955), p.1, 90. ^
108 Fujino Shigeo, Nikki (Diary) ^
109 Shirai Hideo, Genbaku zengo (Before and After the Atomic Bombing), Vol.55. ^
110 Shirai Hideo, Genbaku zengo (Before and After the Atomic Bombing), Vol.13. ^
111 Ministry of Defense (ed.), Hondo bōkū sakusen (Air-Defense Strategy for the Home Islands)(Asakumo Shinbunsha, 1968 ^
112 Ibid. ^
113 Before assuming the position of Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture in April 1945, Nagano Wakamatsu had headed the General Affairs Department, Air Defense Headquarters, Home Ministry. ^
114 Hibaku wo kataru (Speaking of the Atomic Bombing) (Source: interviews with Toyoshima Tokuji and Shikata Kameyoshi) ^
115 Mayumi Morisaburo, Genbaku niju-nen no omoide (20 Years of Memories of the Atomic Bombing) ^
116 (Source: Japanese History through Asahi Shimbun, 1945-1946) ^
117 (Source: [paraphrased from] Speaking of the Atomic Bomb recorded by NBC) ^
118 (Source: the Witness of Nagasaki, Vol. 5.) ^
119 Construction and Atomic Bombing, Genbaku no omoide ^
120 (Source: Before and After the Atomic Bombing Vol. 19). ^
121 (Source: Before and After the Atomic Bombing Vol. 21). ^
122 (Source: Before and After the Atomic Bombing Vol. 7). ^