Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Great Tokyo Air Raid - More Victims than the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb

The Great Tokyo Air Raid
The Great Tokyo Air Raid on March 10, 1945 from Wikipedia Commons public domains

On the day following my business trip to Tokyo, I visited The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. I learned the following.

The scale of the Great Tokyo Air Raid

According to the contents of The Center, the US carried out its bombing raids on 120 of Japanese cities. The death tolls were 410,000 including atomic bombs / 200,000 excluding atomic bombs / 100,000 in one night of the Great Tokyo Air Raid, on March 10, 1945. That means the amount of the victims of the Great Tokyo Air Raid accounted for a half of all victims of normal bomb air raids in Japan.

cf. TIME - A Forgotten Horror: The Great Tokyo Air Raid

The contents of the Center

The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage

Many photos are displayed in the Center. The most shocking ones were as follows; (from Wikipedia Commons public domains)

-burned bodies
-burned bodies of a mother and her baby. Mother's back wasn't burned because of having carried her baby.

The Center has a good collection of data, chart and maps. I appreciate that the collection includes not only Tokyo but also ther places in Japan, as well as victims of non-Japanese.
- The records of air raids all over Japan
- The records of air raids in other countries, for instance, Dresden, Berlin, Hong Kong and Guernica.
- The records of air raids that Japan did (Chongqing, China)
- The records of Korean victims in Japan

Other Exhibits
- goods for air defence among regidents
- burned cap of a baby
- melted dishes sticking a roof tile
- a miniature of a room of standard home at that time
- leaflets of the US airborne propaganda (The Japanese government prohibited to pick such leaflets out, however, some of them remain. The contents of them were interesting. They were well-informed about Japan and Japanese history but too logical for Japanese people, I think. I think that Japanese people have tendencies to feel strongly logical explanations as offensive pursuits.) ( To be clear, personally I love logical explanations.)
- Things related children education, for example textbooks, magazines and posters. You can see a big change at the end of the war.
- many others

Curtis Emerson LeMay

At a small video booth, I watched the TV program about the Air Raids, which was broadcast by NHK (Japan's public station) in 1978/

The TV crew visited the mansion of Curtis Emerson LeMay, who was the planner and the commander of the Great Tokyo Air Raids. When I saw the scene, I remember the movie "13 days" describing the 1962 Cuban Crisis. In the movie, LeMay (of course an actor played as him) appeared as the top of the US Air Force. I presumed that one of the reasons why he got to the top was the success of the Tokyo Raids. (By the way, LeMay insisted on the air raids to Cuba at the Cuban Crisis. If President Kennedy accepted LeMay's argument, WWIII would have broke out, I think.)

LeMay said to TV crew of NHK, "I have nothing to say for Japanese reporters","No interviews" and "You may film my medals."A glass cabinet appeared. It is the showcase of his many medals. One of them is the one from the Japanese government in 1964. Why did the government give the medal to the man who commanded the massacre its citizens? The reason why was his cooperation to build Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

After watching the program, I checked this award out. When the government decided on the award, many diet members and citizens, including victims of the Air Raid, were against that. The Prime Minister Eisaku Sato (Liberal Democratic Party) gave an account to them, "Now, Japan has a friendly relationship with the US. If a US person earned an achievement, it is natural to reward for that, in spite of the past." I think that this incident is one of the symbols of the LDP's policy of "subservience to the US".

cf. Related Post; Why is the US military in Japan?

Meanwhile, the Showa Emperor didn't give the medal to LeMay directly, despite in the ordinary course of decoration events the Emperor gave medals directly to receivers.

The couse of the damage spreading

After learning above in the Center, I looked over the fire protection policy at the time of WWII as follows;

-In 1937, the Japanese government released the Guideline of Air Defense. It contained the principle "In the event of an air raid, never evacuate except for old people, children and sick people.
-In 1941, The Air Defense Law released, including "prohibit to evacuate" and "duty to fire extinguishing" This law was never changed till the end of the war.
-After the Great Tokyo Air Raid, newspapers said, "Never Run, Guard", "Protect Our Homeland"

Why did the government release such a policy? Was it better a policy of evacuation in order to keep soldier power and labor power than the "non-evacuation" policy? The committee of The Air Defense Law answered on Nov. 20, 1941, "The damage won't be massive. We have to be more afraid of confusion among citizen and corruption of people's will to accomplish the war than the real damage."

My opinion

The leader of the Great Tokyo Air Raid was the US Air Force. Therefore, the US Air Force at that time had direct responsibility for the Air Raid. However, the Japanese Government also had a big responsibility because of its decision to provoke war with the US and its policy not to protect its citizens' lives. I, as a Japanese citizen, must bear watching the current Japanese Government intending to do some of the same actions.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Visiting The Residence Restriction Area in Fukushima

"Road Restriction: Difficult-to-Return Zone"

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake had a death toll of 15,894, 2,561 missing and 6,152 injured (Natinal Police Agency (in Japanese) as of March 10, 2016). What's more, 171,000 evacuees from their devastated homeland as well as radiation from Fukushima nuclear power plant.(Reconstruction Agency (in Japanese) as of March 29, 2016)

Fukushima, located in northwest Japan, is far from my home in central Japan. Many people may think that Japan is small country, it is true, but it takes several hours to go from my home to Fukushima. Therefore many people in central Japan including me don't have chances to go there. So I didn't realize the reality of Fukushima. A friend of mine who lives in adjoining prefecture of Ibaraki invited me to go around "The Residence Restriction Area" in Fukushima. I accepted his invitation.

The Three kinds of Limited Area in Fukushima

Limited Area in Fukushima
Quote from Fukushima Revitalization Station (Fukushima Pref. Official)

In order of the amount of radiation;

-Difficult-to-Return Zone (pink); Off limits. The government made the barriers and the gates with help from the police. Residents cannot return their homes for the foreseeable future. Tokyo Electronic Power Company (TEPCO - the owner of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant) compensated 14,500,000 yen (136,100 dollars or 119,700 Euro) for residents' suffering.

-Residence Restriction Area (yellow); The government permits residents to come to their homes (staying for the night is prohibited). TEPCO compensated 2,400,000 yen (22,500 dollars or 19,800 Euro) for the residents' suffering for two years.

-Zone in Preparation for the Lifting of the Evacuation Order (green); The government permits residents to come to their homes (staying for the night is prohibited) and operate their agricultural or forestry businesses. It proceeds with preference reconstruction and decontamination. TEPCO compensates 1,200,000 yen (11,250 dollars or 9,900 Euro) for the residents' suffering for one year.

No-Restriction (Normal) Area

Hisanohama area. Compared with my first photo (taken in 2011), all debris was demolished.

Zone in Preparation for the Lifting of the Evacuation Order

Tomioka Station
Tomioka Staion in 2008.

Tomioka Station in 2016.

Residence Restriction Area (Tomioka)

A Poster advertises The Cherry Blossom Festival of This Town in 2011, is still here in 2016

A crashed Police Car from when policemen guided people evacuees.

Driving in Residence Restriction Area

Cherry Blossom Road

This Signboard which says "Plesase view the cherry blossom from your car due to the high radiation levels in this area."

Beyond this point "Difficult-to-Return Zone"(Off-limit)

Return way

The Sign telling "No Bikes" in order to prevent direct contact from radiation.

Monitoring Posts. The Japanese Government tells to avoid to working outside if over 3.8 microSV/h

Changing my perception

Before visiting, my understanding about the area was merely limited to "map" and "data". However, driving throughout the area, I have physically realized the real size of the restriction area. Walking in the abandoned town, I imagined the ex-residents' whose everyday lives were destroyed. When I hear the news about people who evacuated from the area, I always recall scenes from this trip. Now I think that all the people who discuss the nuclear power plant issues, regardless whether pros or cons, have to visit the area.

Other Fukushima Towns outside Restriction Area

After visiting the restriction area, I took a trip to Aizu in Fukushima, which is over 120km from the area. Aizu and many other cities located in Fukushima but they still have normal everyday lives in these cities.

Related Posts

-A Day in Fukushima Nov 6, 2011, 8 months after the Big Earthquake
-My second trip to Fukushima June 02, 2013