Daniel Ellsberg, in his memoir dedicated to the Hiroshima Day of 2009, says:
- Most Americans ever since have seen the destruction of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as necessary and effective—as constituting just means, in effect just terrorism, under the supposed circumstances—thus legitimating, in their eyes, the second and third largest single-day massacres in history. (The largest, also by the U.S. Army Air Corps, was the firebombing of Tokyo five months before on the night of March 9, which burned alive or suffocated 80,000 to 120,000 civilians. Most of the very few Americans who are aware of this event at all accept it, too, as appropriate in wartime.
(Photo: Tokyo after the firebombing on the night of March 9 - 10, 1945, from the website of the Center of the Tokyo Air Raid and War Damages. The green mark on the lower left corner is where the Center is located. )
I was surprised to learn that the Tokyo Raid was the largest single-day massacre in history. In this case, it was not even a single day; it was about two hours, starting shortly past the midnight of March 9.
I was at this Center on July 29, 2009 with my 81 year-old father, whose house was burnt down in "Yamanote Air Raid," another big air raid of Western Tokyo on May 25, 1945, among the total of around 100 air raids of the city that started at the end of 1944. At the Center, we met a man who experienced the Air Raid as a child. I was surprised to hear that it was his first time to visit the Center. He could not visit for a long time for fear of remembering the deadly night so vividly. He told us he and his mother jumped into the swimming pool of this elementary school to escape from the fire. His mother was horrified to know that she survived instead of drowned because she was standing on the corpses at the bottom of the pool. As he talked, he started shaking and began to cry. We didn't know what to say. I thanked him for sharing his story and suggested that he would keep telling it so that the young generation could learn from his experience. We were standing there for over a half an hour and I was worried that my old father was getting too tired, but the man's story was so intense. I asked him for his name and whether I could get in touch with him in the future. He told us his name, which was an unusual one and I regret I could not hear well enough to remember, and soon left, saying that his story was not that much worth telling. I blamed myself for asking too much of him in our first encounter.
Ms. Uehara, another survivor of the Tokyo Raid who spoke to us, a group of US and Canadian students who came to Tokyo after visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 2008, said that she thought the reason why the Japanese government, its education and the media do not say or teach as much about the Tokyo bombing and other bombing incidents as Hiroshima and Nagasaki was that the government did not want people to know that Japan could have surrendered long before the two atomic bombs were dropped and hundreds of thousands of more civilians were killed. I do not know if it is really the government's intention, but it was valuable to hear that view held by a survivor of the raid and perhaps many others.
Here are some reports of the 65th Anniversary of Tokyo Air Raid, March 10, 1945