The Hiroshima leaflet

by Alex Wellerstein, published May 2nd, 2013

Last week I went over, in painful detail, the question of whether leaflets had been dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki warning them about bombing, atomic or otherwise. Some of the information was in Japanese, which is not one of my languages (and not even one of my Google Translate languages). A few readers responded with some helpful translations that I thought I’d share in a brief update.

A copy of the final "atomic bomb" leaflet, I think? I don't read Japanese, but this was attached to the above memo. If you do read Japanese, I'd love a translation...

First, there is this one, which clearly shows the classic picture of the “bent” Hiroshima mushroom cloud. The text below says:

This photo shows the destructive power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. This photo was taken from B-29 in the air after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6. The atomic bomb’s horrendous destructive power can be understood by viewing this photo. As you see, this atomic bomb blast extended to a radius of 8 km, and the height of the bomb cloud reached about 14,000 m into the sky. The Japanese government said that Hiroshima was completely destroyed by the atomic bomb.

Masako Toki, who I had the honor of meeting last week when I gave at talk in Monterey, notes also that:

Please note that these numbers may not be accurate, especially, the radius. In this document, it is using a Japanese old measure which we are not using now “ri”. In this document it said 2-ri, and if we convert it to meter, it should be approximately 8000 meter. (1-ri is about 4000 meter. But usually, when you describe the Hiroshima bomb effect, usually, is is said that the atomic bomb destroyed almost every building in 2 km radius. But I guess this point is not so crucial here.

Masako also gave me a good idea for a particularly chilling feature to add to NUKEMAP in the near future — a listing of how many hospitals, schools, and other grim facilities your “detonation” has destroyed, as a way of emphasizing the humanitarian impact of the bomb. Watch for it in the forthcoming update in the next few months…

LeMay leaflet, 1945

Masako also noted that on the leaflet above, none of the atomic targets (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kokura, Niigata) are featured. That doesn’t mean they didn’t receive leaflets, but it’s an interesting bit. I wonder if there is any hard evidence that these cities received LeMay leaflets? Given that LeMay had agreed to take them off of their target list, one wonders if that inadvertently meant they got less warning than any other major cities. But I really don’t know. The only source I’d really trust on this would be some sort of document from the time which listed the various propaganda drop runs, and I have not sought such a thing out, if it exists.

One Response to “The Hiroshima leaflet”

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