The tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

NEXT WEEK millions in Japan and throughout the world will pause to remember those who died in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the last days of the Second World War. On 6th August 1945 Hiroshima was destroyed by an American atom bomb. Nagasaki was hit three days later. Some 250,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed instantly in the atomic blasts. Many more would later perish from flash burns and radiation sickness.

The Second World War began as an imperialist war. It became a people’s war when the Nazis turned on the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Japanese Empire unleashed its legions against the Americans in the Pacific. Four years later the Red Army was in Berlin and the Japan was begging for a ceasefire.

But these pleas were ignored. Instead the world witnessed the use of the most terrifying and devastating weapon — the nuclear bombing by the USA of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

The claim that the atom bombs forced Japan to surrender is an enduring myth of the Second World War perpetuated by bourgeois politicians and historians who seek to justify this monstrous war crime.

We are told that the Americans had to use the atom bomb to force Japan to surrender and bring the global conflict to an end. But Adolf Hitler was already dead in his bunker when Berlin fell in May 1945. Japan’s oil supplies were cut, its ports blockaded and its main industrial centres were being hammered by round the clock bombing. Communist-led people’s armies had liberated vast tracts of China, Korea and Vietnam. finally the Red Army broke the back of the Japanese army when they smashed through Manchuria. Emperor Hirohito was on his knees begging for an armistice when the terrible atomic massacre began.

Two Japanese cities were wiped out to show the world, and the Soviet Union in particular, what the might of US imperialism was capable of doing. The first successful nuclear test in New Mexico in July 1945 convinced the leaders of Anglo-American imperialism that they had a secret weapon that would ensure their domination of the post-war world. At the Allied Conference in Potsdam the US president, Harry S Truman, told Stalin that US imperialism possessed “a new weapon of unusually destructive force”. But the Soviet leader already knew this from his own intelligence service.

What the imperialists didn’t know was that Soviet scientists were also unravelling the secrets of the atom and that the USSR would soon be able to develop atomic weapons as powerful as anything in the imperialist arsenal.

The only two socialist states that possess nuclear weapons are People’s China and Democratic Korea. Both have pledged never to be the first to use nuclear weapons. At the United Nations, People’s China actively supports proposals for multilateral and universal nuclear disarmament. China stands for the complete prohibition and total destruction of all nuclear weapons.

In Britain the New Communist Party (NCP) supports the efforts of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for unilateral British nuclear disarmament. The NCP calls for the abolition of all biological, chemical and radioactive weapons, and our immediate focus is the demand to scrap the Trident missile system and use the money saved to refund the National Health Service and other state welfare projects.

The fight for peace is inexorably linked to the struggle for justice. The campaign for peace must inevitably challenge world imperialism, which is the greatest threat to peace. The challenge to imperialism must present an alternative to the capitalist system of oppression and exploitation that is the root cause of all conflicts in the world today