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Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Exhibition

MEDIA RELEASE 1 August 2005

hiroshima nagasaki
a-bomb exhibition
pictorial gallery: 5-17 August 2005

Sixty years ago the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first to be attacked by nuclear weapons. The cities were devastated and thousands of lives were lost in an instant. The suffering inflicted by the atomic radiation of the bombs’ blasts on those who survived still continues.

The Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb exhibition has been created jointly by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum to highlight the devastation caused by nuclear bombs in 1945; and is being exhibited by Auckland Museum to commemorate the sixtieth anniversaries of both the bombings, and the conclusion of the war.

It commemorates one of the tragedies of our time with a collection of photographs and artefacts that depict the consequences of the bombings from 1945 through to the international peace initiatives of today. Included are drawings and paintings by atomic bomb survivors depicting the realities of nuclear war as well as the global effort for nuclear disarmament and peace.

Visitors will be encouraged to make a paper crane in honour of nuclear bomb victim Sadako Sasaki and add messages of peace to a peace tree which will be in the gallery. Paper crane folding lessons will be held in the Children’s Discorvery Centres at the Museum all day on Saturday 6 August (Hiroshima Day).


Saturday 6 August: Hiroshima Day
Hiroshima was the primary target of the first US nuclear attack mission on August 6, 1945. At 8.15am, the B-29 Enola Gay dropped the nuclear device named Little Boy over the central part of the city. It exploded about two thousand feet above the city with a blast equivalent to thirteen thousand tons of TNT, killing an estimated 80,000 civilians outright.

Tuesday 9 August: Nagasaki Day
On the morning of August 9, 1945, the crew of the American B-29 Superfortress Bockscar carrying the nuclear bomb nicknamed Fat Man, found their primary target Kokura to be obscured by cloud. After three runs over the city and with fuel ebbing they headed for their secondary target, Nagasaki. At 11.02am, a break in the cloud allowed the Bockscar to unload a weapon containing 8 kilos of plutonium-239 onto the city’s industrial valley. Some 75,000 of Nagasaki’s 240,000 residents were killed with nearly as many again dying of the subsequent effects of exposure to radioactivity.

To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of this tragedy, Mayor Dick Hubbard will plant a camphor tree in the Auckland Domain at 11am. The original tree burned to the ground during the 1945 attack, but bloomed again in later years. As a symbol of peace, the Nagasaki City Council donates a cutting from this tree to institutions who host the Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb exhibition. The tree is revered in Japan as a symbol of hope and new beginnings.

Monday 15 August: VJ Day
Three months after victory in Europe (VE Day, 8 May 1945), Japan surrendered to the allies. The capitulation of the final opposition force after years of conflict marked the end of the World War II.

At noon, Japan standard time, nine days after the Allies released the first atomic bomb onto Hiroshima, Emperor Hirohito addressed the Japanese public via radio to announce the unconditional surrender of the Japanese millitary.

"...Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalcuable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of this Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects; or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers." Emperor Hirohito.

Earlier that same day, the Japanese government advised the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to United States President Harry S Truman via the Swiss Diplomatic Mission in Washington.

The formal Japanese signing of the surrender terms took place on board the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. Representatives of the allied countries witnessed and signed the surrender document including New Zealander Air Vice-Marshall Sir Leonard M Isitt.

Auckland Museum will hold a private commemoration service to mark the end of the war in the Pacific on Monday 15 August at 9.15am in the World War II Hall of Memories.


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