Hiroshima, State-making and the ABCC

Little Boy: Object of US Experiments by ABCC
Little Boy: Object of US Experiments by ABCC


Aspects of U.S. nation-building and preparing for the Cold-War, were a vital aspect to preparing for the dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. It was U.S. propaganda to popularize the notion of “needing” to drop the two atomic bombs to stop the Japanese Imperial forces from continual brutalization and colonization of the Asia-Pacific. Already, as we know, 70 (all) of the major Japanese cities were leveled by daily and nightly bombings by the United States. Not only were they bombed, but “Fire” bombed. Paper and wood structures burned for days and days after the bombs fell, while people were charred inside and out through the chemicals used. Japan was devastated.

Then the Atomic bombs fell from the bellies of the Enola Gay.  “Little Boy” was dropped. Thousands of real human boys and girls, women and children, gone.

But this was not all.

Preparation. The Cold War.  The U.S. position in relation to an inferior “Asia” and the rising Soviet threat. The future of scientism (the prioritizing and domination of western science over other knowledges), and the role of the United States as a world power, hinged on the act of dropping the bombs and its effects. The racist-infused Anti-Pacific war, and the Pacific’s racist war to fight white supremacy and protect its own brutal patriarchal “yellow supremacy” was now floating in an orange stench of post-atomic explosions and the strategies were steadfastly continued.

The ABCC The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission— was billed to the Japanese and the American public back at home, as a “compassionate” relief effort meant to help the Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki post-Atomic blast.  But history has proven, through the records, biographies, and written documents and interviews by survivors and medical personnel in the U.S. Allied Occupation forces, that this was not why they were there.  The primary reason for the ABCC was to collect data for further research into the effects of the Atomic bomb on humans.

All of the schools in Hiroshima were visited. All of the children and teachers and staff went through the investigations and data collection exams. The people thought they were there to be helped by the Americans. Instead, they were treated coldly and the relief from unbearable pain was not to be given by the Americans. In most of the stories collected, the Americans seemed barely interested in the Japanese children or adults suffering. Of course not. They were fooled. But yes, of course. It is not what they say it is. The state and its functionaries will do what they want.  It is do-able because of the deeper racism and resulting glee and happiness through which much of this is done, to dehumanize. What were the Japanese to these personnel of the U.S. except objects of research and losers in war.  The Japanese were thought to have deserved it right?

There are also stories of American medical personnel who really did feel compassion and were there to help the Japanese.  They couldn’t bear the suffering they encountered. So some of them got into open fights with their brothers and sisters in medical uniform or their commanders in military uniform, to protest. Some were summarily sent back to the United States. But most kept quiet and decided to help on their own, secretly finding spaces to treat some of the suffering as much as they could, ignoring their commanding officers and doctors of higher rank.

Of course news got out, and many of the American public protested and sent letters.  The “research” continued.

It would be wrong to think of these events as merely events. These ways of relating to each other—between Japanese and Americans, between civilians and military, between western medicine and Japanese medical forms existing before the United States began enforcing western medicine on the Japanese society in the Occupation—all of these and more, will stay in memory and do. Japanese nationalists today, have not forgotten these relations of power and the humiliation they felt. Perhaps resentments are created at these moments. Those people’s sons and daughters have heard these stories and also create the legacies of resentment and the struggle for a freedom that is impossible in times of war and its aftermath.

Research was created. The United States continued to build its military apparatus across the Pacific. The Cold War came and gone…………or not. Japan is still occupied under the false impression of sovereignty.

The Hibakusha 被爆者 (atomic bomb survivors) continue to speak and show us, perhaps for no reason except into an empty night, to look at ourselves and re-think our values.

But experiments of even more horrific effects are happening. The nations have continued to promise human rights and speak of the horror of war, but perhaps we romanticize it too much.  Too many heroes that can only be heroes through some kind of violence, some kind of masculinity, some kind of nation-state patriotism, some kind of displacement of values, lives, and moralities. The ABCC, it turns out, was just a beginning.

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