This article originally appeared at the NY Times.
Nagasaki, the Forgotten City By SUSAN SOUTHARD
ON Aug. 9, 1945, the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, situated on a long, narrow bay on Japan’s southernmost main island, Kyushu.
From the beginning, this attack was different than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima three days earlier, yet the experiences of the two cities have been fused in memory, to the point that we use the term “the bomb” to refer to both events. The result has been to consign Nagasaki to the edge of oblivion.
Many Americans believe their government’s official narrative: that the two bombs, dropped in close succession, led to Japan’s surrender. But it is now well known that the surrender was prompted at least as much by the Soviet Union’s decision to join the Allies in the war against Japan. Just 11 hours before the Nagasaki bombing, 1.5 million Soviet troops crossed into the Japanese puppet state in Manchuria, in northern China, and attacked the depleted Japanese Army there on three fronts.
The United States expected the Soviet action, but the delivery of the second atomic bomb was not dependent on the timing of the Soviet invasion, Tokyo’s response, or even a specific order from President Harry S. Truman. His sole directive had been to use nuclear weapons on Japan “as made ready” — and on Aug. 8, the second bomb’s assembly was complete.