WW2 and Hiroshima
The Second World War & Hiroshima

The Atomic Bomb


WW2 censorship
Second World War Censorship

the nuclear world today
The Nuclear World Today

discussion notes
Discussion Notes

citizenship & the curriculum
Citizenship & the Curriculum


hypocenter, Hiroshima The atomic bomb was a new development because of the radiation effects. People died from the blast and they also died or were scarred from thermal burns but the invisible effects of radiation affected the survivors and these effects may still be affecting generations born after the war. The initial studies found that people close to the site where the bomb was detonated, the "hypocenter", would die from acute radiation sickness within days, the symptoms included red spots under the skin (subcutaneous haemorrhage), bleeding gums, coughing and inability to breathe, and blood in the urine and stool, and fever. Survivors had an increased risk of developing leukaemia years later. Longer term effects include increased incidence of cancers, particularly of the thyroid, breast and lung.

After Japan's surrender the American occupying forces set up the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) to monitor the survivors. Some critics believe the scientific standards were wanting . For example assumptions were made such as there is a radiation level below which there is no effect on the human body, and both Hiroshima and Nagasaki results were combined in the studies even though the bombs were of different elements. Furthermore the medical checks on the survivors - during the occupation and when the information was not available to the Japanese doctors - were not comprehensive and there was no assessing the standards of the clinicians employed. Some scientists maintain the radiation effects will be evident in five generations. The ABCC, now the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), headed by US and Japan, is committed to surveying the next generation - the children of the hibakusha - (although US money has not been pledged for this particular research). In other words we are yet to know the full effects of the atomic bomb.