Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Hiroshima: Japan's top officers knew a bomber was approaching Nagasaki, 5 hours before the bomb was dropped, and did nothing

In August 1945, according to a Japanese (!) documentary which EXSKF's Ameravirpal has painstakingly seen and translated, "the Japanese general staff knew the B29 headed for Hiroshima was carrying the atomic bomb, they knew the B29 headed for Nagasaki was carrying the atomic bomb[, they] knew hours in advance, and… they did nothing.

Atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been described (at least in Japan) as "beyond expectation" (just like the Fukushima nuclear accident) and "surprise attacks" with no pre-warning by the US, who used to dump leaflets in Japanese from the planes to warn civilians of impending attacks.

But [an NHK documentary titled "Atomic bombing - top secret information that was never utilized (原爆投下 活かされなかった極秘情報)" which aired on August 6, 2011] says the top military officers in imperial Japan [did know], and did nothing. The military essentially was the government during the war.

I had never heard of such a thing. [Neither has anyone else.]

… Summary … :
Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been considered "beyond expectation", "surprise attack". However, the General Staff Office of the Japanese Imperial Army knew about the secretive US activities on Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands since June 1945. The special intelligence unit directly controlled by the General Staff Office had been monitoring the code signs of B29s on the Northern Mariana Islands, and it noticed the peculiar code signs of about a dozen B29s that suddenly appeared on the island of Tinian in June 1945, two months before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The intelligence unit sensed these planes were on some unknown, special mission. The information was quickly shared with the top military officials.

Japan had been aware of the US efforts to develop atomic bombs, and it had started its own efforts to develop atomic bombs in 1943. But when the government had to abandon the effort in June 1945, it convinced itself that uranium extraction was impossible for anyone, including the United States. The Japanese government had information on successful detonation of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico, but it again convinced itself that it couldn't be an atomic bomb.

The intelligence unit continued to monitor B29s with V600 call signs and kept informing the top officials. They did not connect the dots, and the mysterious B29s on Tinian Island remained mysteries as the fateful August 6, 1945 approached.
 … So far, the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is considered to have been utterly "beyond expectation" for the Japanese, "surprise attacks". However, in fact, the Japanese military intelligence unit had known in advance the US activities surrounding the atomic bombing. They were monitoring the US military communications.

NHK has uncovered what little information left on the matter, and found eyewitnesses, diaries, audio tapes of the deceased officers in charge of intelligence. What NHK has found out is the fact that the military knew the danger was imminent but nothing was done.

  … In case of Nagasaki, the top officers of the military knew the bomber was approaching Nagasaki, 5 hours before the bomb was dropped.

 … There was no air-raid siren. People were exposed to radiation and heat from the atomic bombs, without any protection. More than 200,000 people died in 1945 alone in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why was nothing done, when they had intelligence surrounding the atomic bombing?

For the first time in 66 years, here's the truth.

 … After the war, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs compiled the history of the war. A person who served as secretary to the Minister of War wrote a memo on the incident:
"We had the report of a new weapon tested in New Mexico that had large explosive power. But no one thought it was an atomic bomb."
Mr. Kigoshi, who was involved in Japan's effort to develop atomic bombs, says it was impossible for the top Army officers not to know it was an atomic bomb.
"Of course, even at that time, they must have thought the bomb was utilizing nuclear fission, I believe. Japan's development effort was just too small-scale. I thought it would be the US who would succeed."
The Imperial Army refused to recognize that the US had succeeded in developing an atomic bomb. Mysterious B29s on Tinian Island, dubbed "special task planes" by the Japanese intelligence, remained mysterious. The fateful day approached

EXSKF's Ameravirpal pursues his translation of the Japanese documentary:
In the early hours of [August 6], neighboring cities had been attacked by large formations of B29 bombers - Nishinomiya [in Hyogo Prefecture], Imabari [Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku] and Ube [in Yamaguchi Prefecture]. The General Staff Office in Tokyo had had the information of the impending attacks in advance, so it had contacted the regional headquarters which then issued air raid alerts for the residents of those cities.

 … Voice of Lieutenant Guggenbach, who was on board a B29 following "Enola Gay" to document the bombing:

"...none of our planes were ever shot at. Never saw a flight.. Prior to getting to Hiroshima, I did get out of my seat and I did stand behind the bombardier and the pilot. So I did have a look straight at the front of the plane."

… If only there had been an air raid alert. Ms. Oka is chagrined even today.

"We were working in this underground vault, and we were saved, with no injuries. If there had been an early air raid alert and people had taken shelters in the underground vaults, many people wouldn't have had to die, many more people would have survived."
Ms. Oka tended her injured classmates after the bomb dropped. But all she could do was to watch them die, one after another.

"A mother was holding her badly injured daughter and cried. But the daughter said, 'Don't cry, mother. I am dying, serving the country.' And she made a smile on her badly burned face and died peacefully. Every day was like that. It was hard. All we could do was to watch."
 … August 7, the day after the bombing of Hiroshima. Even after the news of destruction of Hiroshima reached them, the Imperial Army wouldn't admit it was an atomic bomb.

Shigenori Togo, Foreign Minister, demanded the affirmation of the fact. To that, the Imperial Army staff answered,

"The US is saying it was an atomic bomb, but it is also possible that it was just a conventional bomb with large explosive power."
Minister Togo said the Army, who denied the existence of an atomic bomb, was trying to minimize the effect of the bomb as little as possible.

However, the General Staff Office admitted, among themselves, that it was an atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

  … Before dawn on August 9. The same call sign came in - V675, exactly the same as in Hiroshima. It was coming from Tinian Island, just like before.

We found someone who was monitoring this very call sign. Mr. Arao Ota, 90, was a lieutenant in the intelligence unit. He spoke about the day for the first time on camera.

"It was the same special radio wave used by the B29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was coming from the airfield on Tinian Island. We didn't know what it said, all we knew was the radio wave was emitted. But it was me who caught the call sign. I knew it was out of the ordinary, I felt fear. I thought there was a high probability that within a few hours an atomic bomb would be dropped somewhere in Japan."
This information did reach the top officers in the military.

 … Mr. Minoru Honda, 88, was a pilot there. Mr. Honda and his fellow pilots flew "Shidenkai" (Purple Thunder). Shidenkai was one of the few fighter planes that could go as high as B29, to 10,000 meters. Mr. Honda says he was determined to take out B29 with the atomic bomb if it came again, even if that meant a suicide attack.

Mr. Honda happened to witness the atomic bomb explosion in Hiroshima from the sky two days earlier. He was on his way from Hyogo to his base in Omura.

"Just as I was flying over the Hiroshima Castle, I was blown off the course. The heavy Shidenkay was blown off. The plane became uncontrollable, and I must have dropped at least 500 meters. I finally regained control of the plane, and looked up ahead. Then I saw a cloud of red and black rapidly rising. The city of Hiroshima, which I had just looked on moments ago, disappeared. I couldn't see the city. I thought I had gone crazy. I couldn't tell if that was real."
 … However, no order came to Mr. Honda's unit to make a sortie. That B29 was approaching Nagasaki was confirmed, but they weren't told the B29 was carrying an atomic bomb.

Shidenkai pilot Minoru Honda looks puzzled:

"B29 is not impregnable. I actually shot it down. It is extremely difficult, but it's not impossible to shoot it down. Even today, I am vexed. Why didn't they issue us a sortie order? They lacked information that much?"
The top military officers present in the meeting, including Chief of Staff Umezu, insisted that it was possible to continue the war even after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and said the following:

Umezu: "It is true that the damage from the atomic bomb is extremely heavy, but I doubt that the US can keep using the bombs one after another."
There will be no atomic bombing the second time. As the B29 with the atomic bomb was approaching Nagasaki, the military was repeating the baseless assertion. [NHK's word, literally.]

At 11:02AM, while the meeting was still on-going, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

Again, there wasn't even an air raid siren.

 … On August 11, with Japan's surrender all but certain, an order was issued to the special intelligence unit - destroy all information, including intelligence information, kept at the headquarter in Tokyo.

Mr. Ryoji Hasegawa was ordered to burn the documents. He says with some heat:

"I was told to burn them, and then turn them into dust. Destroy evidence. Destroy evidence of the existence of the unit."
Mr. Hasegawa says he kept burning the documents there, until the day of surrender.

Everything, including the fact that the Imperial Army knew about the activities surrounding the atomic bombing, was made to cease to exist.
Back to EXSKF's Ameravirpal:
This is beyond incompetence. They purposefully withheld the key information and lied.

 … Excuse can be made for the Imperial Army that by that time, having tens of thousands of people killed on one bombing raid must have seemed like nothing. In March that year, more than 100,000 people perished in Tokyo in one night in a massive incendiary bombing. Hundreds of B29 had been dropping bombs indiscriminately over cities. A few B29s flying toward Hiroshima may have hardly seemed worthy of any attention, even though they were with the peculiar call signs and did unusual things (like short-wave communication to Washington).

But all they needed to do might have been to sound an air raid siren so that people would stay in bomb shelters, and to send fighter planes to at least harass the B29s so that the B29s would abandon the missions (and drop the charge in the ocean, instead of over the targets).

Instead, they withheld, lied. The B29s were uncontested. It is almost as if the military wanted the bombs to go off.

 … Despite the revelation from, of all people, NHK, most Japanese don't seem to care that ordinary Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were essentially abandoned by the central government in August 1945. From what I can tell, this documentary doesn't seem to have caused much impact in Japan at all.

The Japanese continue to let them get away with it.

It is an inconvenient truth, which doesn't suit anyone's narrative. The Japanese government wouldn't want to admit to any of this, after 68 years of having gotten away with it. Japanese people who condemn senseless killing of civilians by the US using atomic bombs would want to keep their narrative that the attacks were "surprise attacks" by the US. They have to remain the victims of the atomic bombs dropped by the US. They probably wouldn't want to admit that they were victims of their own government. …


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