The War ended, but at the expense of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just 3 days apart, 2 atomic bombs were dropped on these 2 cities on August 6 and 9, 1945, sealing Japan’s unconditional surrender. In my year-earlier trip, I visited Hiroshima but very briefly stayed and moved on to Miyajima Island, just a few more minutes train and ferry ride away. Too depressing to visit Hiroshima, I thought. Yet here I am in Nagasaki, wallowing in the same depressing vibes as the bombed-out Hiroshima. The Peace Park, Ground Zero and the Museum are more than enough reminders of the city’s devastation and the people’s undeserved suffering.

The explosion unleashed a destructive force which resulted in 60,000 to 80,000 deaths. That is not counting the many consequences of the radiation exposure on the health of Nagasaki survivors. Yet more than these physical ailments resulting from the blast and radiation exposure, how about the mental anguish of Japanese survivors? Imagine a father burying his 3 children and wife after the bomb dropped. Or living through hell with missing limbs, suffering from leukaemia. How to stay sane after finding yourself alone, having lost the rest of your family? What agony!

The open spaces in the Peace Park and Ground Zero help ease the depressing thoughts. The Museum is another matter though. Film clips of the blast, tattered remains of clothing last used by atomic bomb victims, other reminders of this human-inflicted catastrophe are on display in the Museum. Not so easy to dismiss, especially after reading some haiku, essays and recorded interviews of those who came home to bury their dead. The anguish, the agony, the insanity of feeling guilt after having survived while many loved ones were lost. Just how do you even begin to share your depressing stories?

The Japanese in power during the War learned a hard lesson. Emperor Hirohito’s historic address to his Japanese subjects may have brought the humiliation of defeat, the unthinkable pain and suffering of losing dignity, BUT IT ENDED THE WAR. It also ended Japan’s imperialism and paved the way for its rebirth. All that after too many innocent lives were lost.

Today, the Museum and Park are grim reminders of the War. There are many, many war stories to tell — on victories, on defeat, but worst, on sufferings endured. May mankind’s cruelty never ever happen again. 🙏🏻

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