Hiroshima

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File:Hiroshima-castle-japan.jpg
Main keep of Hiroshima Castle

The city of Hiroshima (広島市; -shi) is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chugoku region of western Honshu, the largest of Japan's islands. Geographical location Template:Coor dms (City Hall). It is most known throughout the world as the first city in history subjected to nuclear warfare.

Hiroshima gained municipality status on April 1, 1889 and was designated on April 1, 1980 by government ordinance. As of 2004, the city's mayor is Tadatoshi Akiba.

History

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a remnant of the city at ground zero of its nuclear bombardment

Hiroshima was founded in 1589, on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, and became a major urban center during the Meiji period. The city is located on the broad, flat delta of the Ota River, which has 7 channel outlets dividing the city into six islands which project into Hiroshima Bay. The city is almost entirely flat and only slightly above sea level; to the northwest and northeast of the city, some hills rise to 700 feet.

Hiroshima was founded by Mori Motonari as his capital. About a half century later, after the Battle of Sekigahara, his grandson and the leader of the West Army Mori Terumoto was on the losing side. The winner Tokugawa Ieyasu deprived Mori Terumoto of most of his fiefs including Hiroshima and gave Aki province to another daimyo who had supported him.

Finally Asano was appointed the daimyo of this area and Hiroshima served as the capital of Hiroshima han during the Edo period. After the han was abolished the city became the capital of Hiroshima prefecture.

During the First Sino-Japanese War, Hiroshima emerged as a major supply and logistics base for the Japanese military. This role continued until World War II.

Atomic bombing

The nuclear weapon Little Boy, which killed an estimated 80,000 civilians and heavily damaged the city, was the second such device to be detonated, and the first ever used in military action. The American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are commonly believed to be the major factor leading to the surrender of the Japanese government six days after the latter attack. However, at the time the atomic bombs were dropped, the Japanese position was extremely weak and defeat was considered inevitable by some historians even without the use of the atomic bombs. Others propose that with Soviet forces massing in Manchuria, dwindling resources, and America's total control of the western Pacific, Japanese defeat was only a matter of time, but the atomic bombs had clearly hastened the decision to surrender. However, Japanese soldiers had proven a willingness to fight to the death, refuse surrender, and an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have surely killed more soldiers and civilians than the atomic bombs, according to U.S. plans for the invasion.

After the nuclear attack, Hiroshima was rebuilt as a “peace memorial city”, and the closest surviving building to the location of the bomb's detonation was designated the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The city government continues to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons, writing a letter of protest every time a nuclear weapon has been detonated anywhere in the world since 1968, and has advocated more broadly for world peace.

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Hiroshima, following the atomic bombing

After the war

Hiroshima was rebuilt after the war, with new modern buildings rising all over the city. Several civic leaders and scholars were consulted about the rebuilding plan. In 1949, Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament, at the initiative of its mayor Shinzo Hamai (b. 1905-d. 1968). As a result, the city of Hiroshima was receiving more international attention as a desirable location for holding international conferences on peace as well as social issues. As part of that effort, the Hiroshima Interpreters' and Guide's Association (HIGA) was established in 1992 in order to facilitate translation services for conferences, and the Hiroshima Peace Institute was established in 1998 within the Hiroshima University. In 1994, the city of Hiroshima hosted the Asian Games.

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Memorial cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Park

Also, as a result of the atomic bombing, Hiroshima began to receive donations of streetcars from all over Japan. (After World War II, Japanese cities - like British ones - were anxious to get rid of their streetcar systems due to damage to the infrastructure, and so there were plenty of streetcars available to give away.) Hiroshima thus rebuilt its streetcar system along with the rest of the city, and thus Hiroshima is the only city in Japan with an extensive streetcar system (although other cities have streetcar lines). Some streetcars that survived the war - and the nuclear attack - were put back into service, and four of these are still running today. For the most part, however, Hiroshima has updated its streetcars over the years.

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Folded paper cranes representing prayers for peace

Tens of thousands of people marked the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city on August 6, 1985.

Attractions

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A man prepares okonomiyaki in a restaurant in Hiroshima

Baseball fans immediately recognize the city as the home of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Six-time champions of Japan's Central League, the team has gone on to win the Japan Series three times.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima is the city's J. League football team.

Hiroshima's rebuilt castle (nicknamed Rijō, meaning Koi Castle) houses a museum of life in the Edo period.

Itsukushima ("Miyajima") Shrine is in the town of Miyajima, on the island of Itsukushima, across from Hiroshima. Its large red "floating" gate is one of the best known sights of Japan. Although it lies outside the city of Hiroshima, it is accessible by streetcar or railroad (and ferry) from the central train station.

Hiroshima is known for its version of okonomiyaki, called "Hiroshima-yaki" or "Hiroshima pancake." The Hiroshima version of okonomiyaki is unique for its inclusion of yakisoba noodles.

Wards

Hiroshima has 8 wards (ku):

Demographics

As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 1,136,684 and the density of 1532.44 persons per km². The total area is 741.75 km².

Industry

Mazda Motor Company, now controlled by the Ford Motor Company, is by far Hiroshima's dominant company. Mazda makes many models in Hiroshima for worldwide export, including the popular MX-5/Miata and Mazda RX-7. The Mazda CX-7 is slated to be built here in early 2006. Other Mazda factories are in Hofu and Flat Rock, Michigan.

Sister cities

Further reading

  • Pacific War Research Society, “Japan's Longest Day”, the internal Japanese account of the surrender and how it was almost thwarted by fanatic soldiers who attempted a coup against the Emperor.
  • Richard B. Frank, “Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire” (Penguin, 2001 ISBN 0141001461), a thorough analysis of all the available contemporaneous intel from the perspectives of the various participants during the last months of the war. Uses newly declassified US military intelligence records and other primary sources from many countries to make the case that bombing had a huge net saving of lives, Japanese and American, over an invasion. The author shows why the Japanese were preparing to continue the fight for an indefinite period and why they expected that a bloody defense of their main islands would lead to something less than unconditional surrender and a continuation of their existing government.
  • Robert Jungk, Children of the Ashes, 1st Eng. ed. 1961
  • Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, ISBN 067976285X
  • John Hersey, Hiroshima, ISBN 0679721037

See also

External links

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