Whether this is or isn’t a strong argument is out of scope for this article, but it is just worth keeping in mind what work the “low” numbers do, for they pale in comparison with the highest estimates of the Tokyo bombing dead, and with the estimates for a land invasion of Japan. The immediate efforts to account for the dead and injured at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were part of a broader project to understand the effects (and effectiveness) of atomic weapons more generally, with an eye toward the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki might not be the last time they would be used. Neither those in the airplanes that observed the attack nor those on the ground experiencing it could get more than a qualitative sense of the destruction in the immediate aftermath; the smoke, fires, and carnage were too great. To be sure, the people who did this felt that there was something unjust about undercounting the dead, and so there is a clear political angle to having higher numbers as well. This symposium, which is also where the Japanese term hibakusha was brought into broader international use, involved the creation of an International Investigation Team, of which a Natural Sciences Group was tasked with assessing the number of casualties from the bombings. Looking south on the first anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1946. Remains of more than 800 have been identified but remain unclaimed. The decision was taken in 1940 that civilians in axis cities were legitimate targets because civilians support a country's war effort. Their skeletons could be seen in the debris and ashes for almost 1,500 meters from the center of the blast, particularly in the downwind directions. A Buddhist temple destroyed by the Nagasaki bombing, pictured here on 24 September 1945. “I am embarrassed by the fact ... that we could not come back with any definitive figures that I would be able to say were more than a guess.”, Col. Stafford Warren, Chief Medical Officer of the Manhattan Project, Looking east toward the bomb hypocenter in Hiroshima from approximately 700 meters away, before and after the explosion. It is not unlikely that the estimates of killed and wounded in Hiroshima (150,000) and Nagasaki (75,000) are over conservative. Beginning in the late 1960s, several efforts were taken to reevaluate the total casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, spearheaded by the Japanese. In the popular imagination, the atomic bomb’s major effects have been on a much longer time horizon, with fears of cancer and mutation being closely associated with the exposure to radiation. Neither the estimate of the Joint Commission, nor these later, higher estimates, can be easily dismissed with aspersions that they were deliberately trying to under- or over-count the data. The normal sources of information on the trend of populations — statistics of births and deaths — were of no value, because in Japan these vital data are not legally registerable. At no time during the period between 1943 and 1946 were facilities allotted, or time provided, for the Medical Section of the Manhattan Engineer District to prepare a comprehensive history of its activities. To note this is not to undercut their effort: They recognized the deficiencies of the data they had access to, and of their methods, and appear to have been trying their best. When Japan invaded China? The “high” estimates are those that derive from the 1977 re-estimation: around 140,000 dead at Hiroshima, and around 70,000 dead at Nagasaki, for a total of 210,000 total dead.

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