Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the dropping of Little Boy
The Fat Man mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rises 18 km (11 mi, 60,000 ft) into the air from the hypocenter.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks on the Empire of Japan during World War II (WWII). The United States and the Allies were fighting against Japan and slowly winning. Two nuclear bombs were dropped, one on the city of Hiroshima and one on the city of Nagasaki. U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered these attacks on August 6 and 9, 1945.[1] This was near the end of WWII. The atomic bombs had been created through the Manhattan Project. Nuclear bombs are much more powerful than other kinds of bombs.[2]

By the end of 1945, the bombs had killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki.[3][4] (The generals wanted to bomb Kokura instead of Nagasaki, but it was too cloudy over Kokura that day). In both of the bombed cities, most of the people who died were civilians, people that are not soldiers.

One reason why the bombs killed so many people is because a lot of Japanese houses were made of wood. When the bombs exploded, they made a lot of heat. The wooden buildings caught fire, which spread quickly. The heat from the nuclear bombs and the fires burned many people. There was also radiation poisoning from the nuclear bombs.

Six days after the explosion over Nagasaki, on August 15, Japan announced that it was surrendering to the Allied Powers. Japan signed the surrender paper on September 2. This officially ended the Pacific War and World War II.

Some people say that the atomic bombs actually saved many lives. Without the bombs, the Allies would have had to invade Japan to end the war. More people would have been killed on both sides in a full battle in Japan. Allied generals believed that an invasion of Japan would have killed more than a million people on each side. Others say that the bombings were evil and were not necessary. They also call the bombings a war crime because, as in other bombings of cities, mostly civilians were killed, many of them with slow, painful deaths against laws of war. People still argue about this. No other nuclear bombs have ever been used to kill men and children alike.

The atomic bombs killed many ordinary people in the cities, not just soldiers. At least 250,000 Japanese people died in four days.[5] The decision to drop atomic weapons was made after an analysis showed that more than a million people -- soldiers of both nations and civilians -- would die if Japan was invaded by Allied forces.[6] Doing nothing was not an option because hundreds of thousands were dying each month in Japanese-occupied lands.[7][8]

Partly because of the atomic bombings, after the war Japan adopted Three Non-Nuclear Principles. These principles said that Japan could not create or try to get nuclear weapons.

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