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Remembering HIROSHIMA: Through the lens of ObjectiPITY

It has been four months. While some countries are anxiously awaiting a vaccine, others are waiting for a war with immediate neighbors or maybe it’s just the judgmental outlook of a few opinionated journalists that I have recently come across. On a whole, people have been waiting for the pandemic to end, or as some may to chose to call it- a biological war to end. According to Emily Chang from Vogue, “For decades, astrologers have been predicting that 2020 would be a year of massive global upheaval’’ while according to Susan Miller’s prediction, 2020 would “be a great year, and it will be a prosperous year,” renowned astrologers in India have even predicted that the epidemic will end by September. Probably these predictions were all accurate, just who they were meant for probably wasn’t. Emily Chang is certainly right about 2020 being a year of massive global upheaval and Susan Miller too but maybe for a certain target audience like Jeff Bezos who saw a record profit. Is astrology then similar to the history, where perspective is the key aspect to be considered?

The term peace has been widely used in the past decade by an increasing number of youth, universities, activists, and world organizations. Especially with the introduction of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, SDG 16- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions has been an important motto for many. The blue symbol with the dove and gavel has been used at many platforms too, Instagram activists to name one. Along with this awareness, there has been an influx in the number of NGOs that advocate peace too. The 21st century apart from COVID-19 also witnessed an increased number of NGOs, volunteers, interns, conscious parents, more dinner table conversations, and definitely more media opinions and editorials. On the other hand, according to the UN, “Conflict, insecurity, weak institutions and limited access to justice remain a great threat to sustainable development. The number of people fleeing war, persecution, and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018, the highest level recorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in almost 70 years. In 2019, the UN had tracked 357 killings and 30 enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists in 47 countries and deaths caused due to COVID-19 are around 18 million while an increased number of deaths due to other causes are still rising too.

A ‘Global Pandemic’ brought the world to a stop. Or did it? The border conflicts of the country have only increased, hostilities in the Middle East haven’t subsided nor have the deaths caused to hunger and poverty in poor African regions. What did stop or at least pause are the sales of the fashion industry– 1.3 trillion clothing industry employs more than 300 million people along the value chain; the production of cotton alone accounts for almost 7% of all employment in some low-income countries; Tourism Industry with an estimated 35% loss worldwide with India itself projected to lose 1.25 trillion according to Business standard; The Aviation industry- the first measure governments adopted to stop the spread of the virus was stopping air travel. Global air passenger traffic plunged 94 percent in April and local businesses like the Rakhi business in Odisha’s Sambalpur with over 80% of India’s small businesses expect to scale down, shut shop, or sell-off in six months. However, Amazon, Netflix, soaps, and sanitizers have witnessed their highest profits in the past four months. Is it all about perspective then?

August 6 marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima during World War II. On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 80,000 in the attack and resultant firestorm, with the death toll rising to 140,000 by year’s end.

Not many people who read the previous statement dig into the history of why? Why did it happen? No killing is justifiable but what if one atrocity stopped a hundred more to come?

More than a million people a year flock to Hiroshima’s peace museum. For many students, a nuclear attack in the country, its effects, and the aftermath are important lessons from WWII. Many historians argue that the atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities won the war in the Pacific while others argue that at most it only accelerated Japan’s defeat, which seemed inevitable to many. Some even argue that the alternative would be to deploy U.S. troops which would result into higher casualties and civilian destruction (approx. 500,000). Through this Utilitarian argue that this was the right decision to make. According to HistoryExtra, “few actions in war are morally justifiable. All a commander or political leader can hope to assess is whether a particular course of action is likely to reduce the loss of life. Faced with the Japanese refusal to surrender, President Truman had little choice. What Truman did not know, and which has only been established quite recently, is that the Imperial Japanese Army could never contemplate surrender, having forced all their men to fight to the death since the start of the war. All civilians were to be mobilized and forced to fight with bamboo spears and satchel charges to act as suicide bombers against Allied tanks. Japanese documents apparently indicate their army was prepared to accept up to 28 million civilian deaths.”

However, opponents of the use of atomic bombs, many of who were scientists intimately linked to the development of such weapons; argue in retrospect that the use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki may in fact have been the first act of the Cold War. Militarily Japan was finished and would surrender anytime soon due to the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. The additional blockade and urban destruction would have led to surrender in August or September at the latest, without the need for the harmful anticipated invasion or the atomic bomb. As for the second bomb on Nagasaki, that was even more unnecessary. Once the Soviet Union entered the war, Japan feared that it would absorb significant parts of northern Japan. Harry Truman, the then president of the U.S. could have awaited the Soviet Union’s entry in the war but he did not want the USSR to participate in the occupation of Japan. Another option (which could have ended the war before August) was to elucidate that the Japanese sovereign would not be held accountable for the war under the policy of unconditional surrender. By dropping the atomic bombs, however, the U.S. warned the world that it considered nuclear weapons to be justifiable weapons of war. Those bombings hastened the nuclear arms race and became the source of all nuclear proliferation.

Bearing in mind that Japan was an ally of Germany during WWII made things even more complicated with a recurrent question of ‘How could a nation that was recently a part of the inhuman and blind deaths of 6 million people be trusted?’

Is Hiroshima Day then remembered only because of its significance in being the first use of nuclear weapons? Or is it just viewed as a deadly revenge for Pearl Harbor? Is this generation quick to sympathize through movies and emotive anime characters? Do we ever think it was necessary? If yes, is ever using nuclear weapons justified? And if no, would worse hostilities be remembered as Hiroshima Day too?

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