On the morning of August 6th, in 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, Japan; three days later a second bombing occurred in Nagasaki, Japan. These bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only changed the physical and emotional health of the Japanese people, they also changed the world. In my essay, I’m going to be discussing in what ways the dropping of the atomic bombs was significant and which of these is the most important My first paragraph is going to be about the massive impact the atomic bomb had on Japan itself.
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki around 700000 Japanese people died, the majority from radiation poisoning. About half an hour after the atomic bomb of Hiroshima was dropped ‘black rain’ began to fall. This rain contained the radio active fallout and spread across the whole of Hiroshima – even some places beyond it. Those affected by the ‘black rain’ were exposed to radiation, which caused the same health-effects as radiation poisoning; the ‘black rain’ caused a lot of deaths to people who thought they were safe.
Many of the people who were not killed immediately upon the blast later died from radiation exposure, this has been shown for up to three miles from the bomb site. Vomiting, diarrhea, swollen mouth and throat including bleeding from these areas were the first symptoms that appeared within hours of the explosion. Strange bluish spots began to appear on survivors as well. Little was known about the full effects of radiation, but soon doctors began describing patients that showed no outside injuries started falling sick and showed many of the symptoms noted above, this strange disease became known as ‘Disease X’.
The bomb carried on effecting Japan as for years after babies were born deformed and breast cancer was extremely common. Not only were the military killed by the atomic bomb but innocent citizens also perished, although this was not the USA’s first plan in benefited them as Japan was deeply broken. One source that shows this is an extract from BBC’s children at war, in 1989. This source is a description of what happened to one school boy when the atomic bomb was dropped. This boy obviously suffered but luckly managed to survive.
This is a very significant factor of the dropping of the atomic bomb as the whole of Japan was effected not just the minority. The bombs didn’t only effect Japan on the days of the explosions but many months and years to come. In fact many people believe Japan was never tha same again. An extract from the New York Times indicates that the are many victims still living in Japan that have regular break-downs and live in fear; it also states that many of the people that were exposed to the radiation live with the threat of ‘delayed radiation effects’.
Many others live with the worries of medical expenses, decline of ability to work, economic instability and discrimination against them by people not effected by the bombings. Overall, one of the ways in which the dropping of the atomic bomb is significant is because of the major effect it has had on Japan causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and causing Japan to be a more undeveloped country as it spent the time repairing Hiroshima and Nagasaki when it should have been developing as a whole country, this causes Japan to not be as strong as other countries.
It was the economic and human disaster in Japan, both short term and long term that made the dropping of the atomic bomb so significant. My next paragraph is about the bomb’s impact of WW2. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki greatly impacted WW2 as they did in fact stop the war completely. If the atomic bombs had not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki it is likely that the war would have continued for a much longer period of time. This could have caused the deaths of many Japanese anyway, as well as many deaths to various different countries.
An extract from the Secretary to the Japanese war cabinet speaking in1974 states that the atomic bomb provided the world with an excuse to stop the war, it says ‘if the A-bomb had not been dropped we would have had great difficulty finding a good reason to end the war’. This source shows that the war would of gone on for quite some time and the atomic bomb was seen as necessary action to stop the war and save many more lives. Another extract, this time from Winston Churchill describing a conversation with president Truman of America, states practically the same thing: ‘To bring the war to an end… t the cost of a few explosives, seemed after all our toils and perils, a miracle! ‘ This clearly states that the atomic bomb was nothing compared to the war, therefore was very significant.
My third paragraph is going to be about the bombs contribution to the cold war. At the beginning of the cold war two conferences were held between the UK, USA and Russia leaders. The second of these conferences was called the Potsdam Conference; this was in July 1945, one month before the atomic bomb was dropped.
The atomic bomb increased tensions at this conference because Stalin feared the USA, because of their threat to drop the atomic bomb. Stalin was worried that if he did anything to agitate the USA they would just drop an atomic bomb on Russia. Another reason tensions were high at the Yalta Conference is because of the bombs symbolisation of USA’s power and wealth. Stalin envied the USA because they wanted to be a more powerful super power than what the USA had become toward the ending of WW2; Stalin wanted to overcome the USA.
The bomb also displayed how advanced the USA was in relation the nuclear weapons, this added to the tension. With all these points taken into account, the tension at the Yalta conference was extremely high meaning cold war had just got a lot colder. Another way the atomic bomb contributed to the atomic bomb was because of the way Truman’s attitude was changed. It is argued that Truman became a lot more aggressive at the conference and some people say, Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in order to get Japan to surrender quickly, before Stalin had a chance to enter the war on the Pacific.
This annoyed Stalin as it meant he did not have a chance to ‘help out’ in that time of the war. This added to the tension between Stalin and Truman, therefore adding to the cold war. Overall, the bomb helped cause the cold war making it a very significant event. My last point is about the bombs impact on modern warfare. The atomic bomb has impacted modern warfare by preventing the escalation of wars to larger scale conflicts.
For example, in the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, without the threat of nuclear weapons and the knowledge of what had happened to Japan in the past, it could have scaled into a full nuclear war – destroying many big parts of important countries. All in all, the atomic bomb has prevented whole world wars because of the fear that it could potentially trigger a nuclear war. For countries who have nuclear weapons, they use the fear of a repeat of Hiroshima to prevent attacks against them whereas countries without nuclear weapons are trying desperately to obtain them before they are attacked after being looked at as ‘no threat’.
The bombs impact on modern warfare is a very significant factor of the dropping of the atomic bomb because it did (and still does) prevent another full scale war. In conclusion, the main reason the dropping of the atomic bomb was significant was because of it’s impact on modern warfare. I think this is the strongest factor because the bomb has prevented another full scale war, I believe this is the case as super power countries such as America and Russia do not go to war against each other as a nuclear war would be global suicide.
The other reasons are not as important as the impact on modern warfare. For example, the bomb may have ended world war two but the Japanese were on the verge of surrender and the Germans would have easily been beaten so, although this point is significant, the impact on modern warfare is more so. Also, the impact on the Japanese is only talking about one country whereas a nuclear war is about a global disaster.
The bombs contribution to the Cold War, however significant still wasn’t about a global nuclear war- which is plenty more important that a fight between Russia and the USA. In addition, impact on modern warfare is slightly linked to the cold war as the two super powers America and Russia didn’t want to start a full scale nuclear so they were careful when talking about using nuclear weapons and never got round to actually doing so. So, to conclude, I believe that the biggest way that made the atomic bomb significant was it’s impact on modern warfare.