75 years ago today, a USAAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress, named 'Enola Gay' after the mother of its pilot, Paul Tibbets, dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In moments, this one weapon, ironically-titled 'Little Boy,' had incinerated upwards of 80,000 of the city’s inhabitants. Thousands more died as a result of radiation sickness and other injuries long after the detonation. 90% of the casualties were civilians.
A less well-known aspect of the bombing were its Korean victims. 35 years before, Japan has annexed the Korean peninsula, embarking on a period of intense colonisation. The Japanese imposed punitive economic burdens on the Koreans, meaning many were drawn to mines and factories around the Japanese home islands where wages were higher. This meant that by 1935 over 600,000 Koreans were permanent residents of Japan.
After Japan invaded China in 1937, the colonial exploitation of the Korean people intensified, with the military taking over exclusive control of labour conscription. Entire Korean villages were surrounded, the inhabitants imprisoned or enslaved. Three-quarters of a million Koreans were conscripted for work in Japan, and a further quarter of a million into forced labour in China or the Japanese-occupied South Pacific; 85,000 were drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army. Additionally, tens of thousands of Korean women and girls were incarcerated in military brothels, euphemistically described as ‘comfort women.’ At the time of USAAF assault, around 8,000 Korean slaves were living in Hiroshima, accounting for 10% of the victims.
12 American POWs, the crews from three bombers shot down over the city earlier, also perished in surely the most extreme example of a 'blue on blue' attack.
The crew of the Enola Gay, pilot Paul Tibbets centre-most
A postcard signed by Tibbets, showing the utter devastation caused by the US nuclear bomb
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