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Nagasaki (長崎市; Nagasaki-shi) is the capital and the biggest city of Nagasaki prefecture located at the south-western coast of Kyushu, Japan. Founded before 1500, it was originally a secluded harbor village with little historical significance until contact with European explorers in the mid-16th century, when a Portuguese ship accidentally landed at Kagoshima prefecture in 1542. The zealous Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier arrived in another part of the territory in 1549, but although he left for China in 1551 and died soon after departure his followers who remained behind converted a number of daimyo (warlords). The most notable among them was Omura Sumitada[?], who derived great profit from his conversion through an accompanying deal to receive a portion of the trade from Portuguese ships at a port they established in Nagasaki in 1571 with his assistance.
Nagasaki at night, 2003(?)
The little harbor village quickly grew into a diverse port city, and Portuguese products imported through Nagasaki (such as tobacco, bread, tempura, sponge-cake, and new clothing styles) were assimilated into popular Japanese culture. The Portuguese also brought with them many goods of Chinese origin.
In 1587 Nagasaki's prosperity was threatened when a new shogun, Hideyoshi Toyotomi[?], came to power. Concerned with the large Christian influence in southern Japan, he ordered the expulsion of all missionaries. Omura had given the Jesuits partial administrative control of Nagasaki, and the city now returned to imperial control. Japanese and foreign Christians were persecuted, with Hideyoshi crucifying 26 Christians in Nagasaki in 1596 to deter any attempt to usurp his power. Portuguese traders were not ostracized, however, and so the city continued to thrive.
When Tokugawa Ieyasu took power almost twenty years later conditions did not much improve. Christianity was banned outright in 1614 and all missionaries were deported, as well as daimyo who would not renounce the religion. A brutal campaign of persecution followed, with thousands across Nagasaki and other parts of Japan killed or tortured. The Christians did put up some initial resistance, with the Nagasaki Shimabara enclave of destitute Christians and local peasants rising in rebellion in 1637. Ultimately numbering 40,000, they captured Hara Castle and humiliated the local daimyo. The shogun dispatched 120,000 soldiers to quash the uprising, thus ending Japan's brief 'Christian Century.' Christians still remained, of course, but all went into hiding, still the victims of occasional inquisitions.
The Dutch had been quietly making inroads into Japan during this time, despite the shogunate's official policy of ending foreign influence within the country. The Dutch demonstrated that they were interested in trading alone, and demonstrated their commitment during the Shimabara rebellion by firing on the Christians in support of the shogun. In 1641 they were granted Dejima, an artificial island in Nagasaki Bay, as a base of operations. From this date until 1855, Japan's contact with the outside world was limited to Nagasaki. In 1720 the ban on Dutch books was lifted, causing hundreds of scholars to flood into Nagasaki to study European science and art.
After US Commodore Matthew Perry landed in 1853 and the shogunate crumbled shortly afterward, Japan opened its doors again. Nagasaki became a free port in 1859 and modernization began in earnest in 1868. With the Meiji Restoration, Nagasaki quickly began to assume some economic dominance. Its main industry was ship building.
mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 60,000 feet into the air on the morning of August 9th, 1945
This very industry would eventually make it a target in World War II. At 11:02 am on August 9, 1945, the American B-29 Superfortress "Bock's Car," in search of the shipyards, instead spotted the Mitsubishi Arms Works through a break in the clouds. On this target, it dropped the nuclear bomb Fat Man, the second nuclear weapon to be detonated over Japan (see Hiroshima (city) for an account of the first). Even though the "Fat Man" missed by over a mile and a half, it still leveled nearly half the city. 75,000 of Nagasaki's 240,000 residents were killed, followed by the death of at least as many from resulting sickness and injury. However another report issues a different residental number, speaking of Nagasaki's population which dropped in one split-second from 422,000 to 383,000, thus 39,000 were killed, over 25,000 were injured. If taken into account those who died from radioactive materials causing cancer, the total number of casualties is to be believed at least 100,000 killed residents. (Estimates from physicists who have studied each atomic explosion state that the bomb that was used had utilized only 1/10th of 1 percent of their respective explosive capabilities.)
The city was rebuilt after the war, albeit dramatically changed, as any city would be after such colossal damage. New temples were built, and new churches as well, since the Christian presence never died out and even increased dramatically in numbers after the war. Some of the rubble was left as a memorial, like the one-legged torii gate and a stone arch near ground zero. New structures were also raised as memorials, such as the Atomic Bomb Museum. Nagasaki remains first and foremost a port city, supporting a rich shipping industry and setting a strong example of perseverance and peace.
Nagasaki lies at the head of a long bay which forms the best natural harbor on the southern Japanese home island of Kyushu. The main commercial and residential area of the city lies on a small plain near the end of the bay. Two rivers divided by a mountain spur form the two main valleys in which the city lies. This mountain spur and the irregular lay-out of the city tremendously reduced the area of destruction, so that at first glance Nagasaki appeared to have been less devastated than Hiroshima.
The heavily build-up area of the city is confined by the terrain to less than 4 square miles out of a total of about 35 square miles in the city as a whole.
The city of Nagasaki had been one of the largest sea ports in southern Japan and was of great war-time importance because of its many and varied industries, including the production of ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials. The narrow long strip attacked was of particular importance because of its industries.
In contrast to many modern aspects of Nagasaki, the residences almost without exception were of flimsy, typical Japanese construction, consisting of wood or wood-frame buildings, with wood walls with or without plaster, and tile roofs. Many of the smaller industries and business establishments were also housed in wooden buildings or flimsily built masonry buildings. Nagasaki had been permitted to grow for many years without conforming to any definite city zoning plan and therefore residences were constructed adjacent to factory buildings and to each other almost as close as it was possible to build them throughout the entire industrial valley.
Nagasaki had never been subjected to large scale bombing prior to the explosion of a nuclear weapon there. On August 1st, 1945, however, a number of high explosive bombs were dropped on the city. A few of these bombs hit in the shipyards and dock areas in the southwest portion of the city. Several of the bombs hit the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works and six bombs landed at the Nagasaki Medical School and Hospital, with three direct hits on buildings there. While the damage from these few bombs were relatively small, it created considerable concern in Nagasaki and a number of people, principally school children, were evacuated to rural areas for safety, thus reducing the population in the city at the time of the nuclear attack.
On the morning of August 9th, 1945, at about 7:50 A.M., Japanese time, an air raid alert was sounded in Nagasaki, but the "all clear" signal was given at 8:30. When only two B-29 superfortresses were sighted at 10:53 the Japanese apparently assumed that the planes were only on reconnaissance and no further alarm was given. A few moments later, at 11:00 o'clock, the observation B-29 dropped instruments attached to three parachutes and at 11:02 the other plane released the nuclear bomb.
The bomb exploded high over the industrial valley of Nagasaki, almost midway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works, in the south, and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Ordnance Works (Torpedo Works), in the north, the two principal targets of the city.
Despite its extreme importance, the first bombing mission on Hiroshima had been almost routine. The second mission was not so uneventful. Again the crew was specially trained and selected; but bad weather introduced some momentous complications. These complications are best described in the brief account of the mission's weaponeer, Comdr., now Capt., F. L. Ashworth, U.S.N., who was in technical command of the bomb and was charged with the responsibility of insuring that the bomb was successfully dropped at the proper time and on the designated target. His narrative runs as follows:
"The night of our take-off was one of tropical rain squalls, and flashes of lightning stabbed into the darkness with disconcerting regularity. The weather forecast told us of storms all the way from the Marianas to the Empire. Our rendezvous was to be off the southeast coast of Kyushu, some 1500 miles away. There we were to join with our two companion observation B-29's that took off a few minutes behind us. Skillful piloting and expert navigation brought us to the rendezvous without incident.
"About five minutes after our arrival, we were joined by the first of our B-29's. The second, however, failed to arrive, having apparently been thrown off its course by storms during the night. We waited 30 minutes and then proceeded without the second plane toward the target area.
"During the approach to the target the special instruments installed in the plane told us that the bomb was ready to function. We were prepared to drop the second atomic bomb on Japan. But fate was against us, for the target was completely obscured by smoke and haze. Three times we attempted bombing runs, but without success. Then with anti-aircraft fire bursting around us and with a number of enemy fighters coming up after us, we headed for our secondary target, Nagasaki.
"The bomb burst with a blinding flash and a huge column of black smoke swirled up toward us. Out of this column of smoke there boiled a great swirling mushroom of gray smoke, luminous with red, flashing flame, that reached to 40,000 feet in less than 8 minutes. Below through the clouds we could see the pall of black smoke ringed with fire that covered what had been the industrial area of Nagasaki.
"By this time our fuel supply was dangerously low, so after one quick circle of Nagasaki, we headed direct for Okinawa for an emergency landing and refueling".