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Hiroshima for Global Peace

III. First-Aid Relief Operation

1. Evacuation/Relief/Distribution

The number of people who escaped from Hiroshima City or were transferred because of injuries or as evacuees was more than 200,000. Many people escaped on foot, but some were moved by trains, trucks and ships. In the cities located along the Geibi Railway, Shohara and Toujou, in the western side, Otake and Iwakuni, many people were accommodated. In the neighboring areas, along with relief stations and schools, houses were also used for accommodating evacuated people. Since the bombing was so far from what had been predicted, it was impossible to have an organized evacuation guide. Thus, evacuation was made based on individuals’ decisions. However, since evacuation stations were designated in each area of Hiroshima City in advance, evacuated people had options for the destination to which they evacuated. Such evacuation stations also helped them to establish the whereabouts of their families. In addition to making thorough preparations for the evacuees in advance, Hiroshima City sent letters asking host towns to accept them, establishing a proactive stance after the evacuation. (Kakogawa Village, Shomuiken Tsuzuri (A file of General Affairs)).

Based on the current information, there is a high possibility that our Hiroshima City would experience massive air raids. I predict it is just a matter of time. Thus, today I made an announcement to all citizens and told them to devote ourselves to national defense and protect with all our might the military-based city. However, if we lapse into a situation in which evacuation is inevitable, although I know it would be trouble for you and your citizens, I would highly appreciate it if you would help our citizens by accommodating them based on the Sufferers Evacuation Implementation Guidelines, which was decided by the decree. I would simply ask you for your generous sympathy and support.

March 17, 1945
Hiroshima Mayor Senkichi Awaya

To Heads of Local Branches
Directors of Police Stations
Mayors of towns
Heads of villages

In anticipation of air raids, Hiroshima City designated national schools and other buildings as 32 relief stations and 18 hospitals. There being horribly damaged, the rescue operations could not be carried out as planned. However, buildings where large numbers of severely injured people were accommodated were appointed as relief stations and rescue units were allocated, leading to voluntary rescue activities. Based on various materials and notes, a total number of relief stations established on August 6 was 99 (including 16 hospital relief stations), relief stations outside of the city counted 142 (including 38 hospital relief stations), reaching a total of 241.

At hospitals which escaped complete destruction, such as Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital and Hiroshima Posts and Telecommunications Hospital, rescue operations were conducted immediately after the bombing. Relief stations were set in each area. For instance, at Honkawa National School, the Army Sanitary Unit conducted medical treatment from the 7th. Also, from August 8 through September 6, rescue units were dispatched from Saijo Clinic, Miyoshi, Kake, Onomichi, Mihara, Takeshima and Innoshima.

Rescue activities which started voluntarily were gradually liaised and coordinated by the army. So that private relief efforts could be brought under the army’s control, the Hiroshima Relief Plan produced by the Army Shipping Command on August 10th stipulated that daily meetings be held at Combat Command (in City Hall) daily at 2pm, “in order to conduct rescue operations in accordance with current conditions.”


In other words, private relief stations were tentatively placed under control of the army (Sensai Kiroku (Chronicle of War-Damage)).

However, it was not the army’s major duty to control relief stations and provide medical treatment for citizens. Both relief activities and medical treatment were responsibilities of administrative or private institutions, thus the army rushed to return to its normal condition. The orders for the Director of the Army Medical Department on the 9th were: “Along with recovery of private medical institutions, the current medical system should change to the army’s medical system” (Ibid. p121). In other words, the army started to focus on accommodating wounded soldiers. Thus, from the 14th, nearly 15,000 patients (citizens) who had been accommodated in the army’s institutions such as Shipping Command were transferred to prefectural institutions. Police stations in Hatsukaichi, Otake, Kabe, Tadanoumi, Takehara, Saijou, Miyoshi and Shobara accommodated 1,000 patients each. Police stations in Kaitaichi, Hiro, Kouchi and Yoshida accepted 500 patients each.

Together with relief aid for patients, it was necessary to expand roads by removing debris. In addition, there was the difficult problem of the disposal of bodies. The influence on the citizens was enormous. Since it was “in the summer decay period,” it was decided to “deal with it immediately.” Then, it was ordered to bury or cremate the bodies with the attendance of Shinto priests or Buddhist monks if possible and investigate the numbers of bodies “even if names were unknown.” It was ordered to complete the first disposal by August 9. In fact, only a small number of Shinto priests and Buddhist monks attended. It was just not possible. There was no choice but to dispose of the bodies in a harsh manner, such as piling up the bodies and burning them with gasoline.

The overall disposal of bodies operated by the army, police and civil defense volunteers tentatively ended on August 11. After that, partial disposal operations were conducted in the sea beneath ruins of fire. The numbers of the disposed bodies which the prefecture confirmed by August 20, were 17,865 handled by the police, 12,054 by the army and 3,040 who died outside of the city after evacuation. In the city, bodies were cremated and delivered to close relatives, people with connections to the deceased, City Hall, etc. The bodies that Hiroshima City received were handed over to bereaved families. As of October 31, 11,525 were picked up, 4,805 were delivered and 6,720 were left.

At the beginning, City Hall was used as an evacuation station. Being led by the directors, city employees stayed at the hall to conduct relief activities such as distribution of rice balls, issuing certificates for sufferers, looking for missing people, organizing remains and providing consolation payments. On August 13, 2 million yen was delivered from the Prefectural Relief Division and a total 60 yen of consolation payment, 30 yen each from the prefecture and city was provided per person. After that, 50 yen per person was given to the dead as condolence money. These operations were continued till December 10. Also, survivor’s benefits (for housing, household belongings, bereavement and injuries) was distributed from September 15 to April 10, reaching a total amount of 229 million yen with 44,569 cases. (Shiyakusho Genbakushi (Chronicle of A-bomb Damage to the Hiroshima City Hall))


2. Measures for Keeping Public Calm/Maintaining Security/Information Control

It was devastation in the midst of war. The authorities struggled to suppress the feeling of war-weariness and to keep the public calm. On August 7, a notice by the Prefectural Governor was issued telling citizens, “keep in mind that the only way to retaliate is to beat the enemy. We persistently believe in ultimate victory, overcoming difficulties and devoting ourselves to the war for the emperor” (Hiroshima Kentichi Kokuyu (Hiroshima Prefecutural Governor’s Notice)).

In addition, the prefectural governor attempted to make the damage look lighter than it actually was. When an officer from the Miyoshi Branch received instructions from the Prefectural Governor at Tamonin Temple to support a bicycle unit, the governor said “be careful not to talk about the damage exaggeratedly” (Kenchou Genbakuhisaishi (Chronice of A-bomb Damage to the Prefectural Office)p 291). Sensai Kiroku (Chronicle of War-Damage) related a conversation on August 8 between Marshal Hata and the Director of the Police Department: “They mentioned that an investigation into the bombing has been conducted, although the damage was not massive…” (Sensai Kiroku (Chronicle of War-Damage))

The army, specifically the military police, struggled to maintain order under the air raids. The order (the 3rd Operating Order) issued by the Chugoku military police at 2:10, August 8 warned against false rumors. (Senpakushiribu Sakumei Tsuzuri (a file of operation orders by the Shipping Command))

Citizens were horrified by the bombing this time since it was dreadfully powerful compared to previous air raids. Because of this, it is predicted that some people unreasonably consider its performance and proclaim that the damage was tremendous. Or some people may refer to the defense policy by the army, or make pessimistic remarks mentioning losing war. Furthermore, false rumors which lead to anti-army and anti-war sentiment with aspirations of peace. We will clamp down on such rumors.

In the chief meeting for recovery measures on August 12, prompt arrangement of neighborhood associations and Tonarigumi neighborhood groups was discussed in order to keep the public calm. In addition, prevention of crimes, maintenance of security and control over false rumors and feelings of war-weariness were argued. (Sensai Kiroku (Chronicle of War-Damage)) Through Kuden Houdou [verbal news reports made by groups of people, established because printers had been destroyed] and news reports posted on walls, the extent of the damage, the progress of relief operations, and the policies of the authorities were each reported in their turn. Along with this, using newspaper (distribution from newspaper companies in Osaka and other cities) and broadcasting, the authorities made efforts to prevent false rumors. (detailed report on relief operations after the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6) Since these countermeasures worked, although there was looting during the fire, the authorities’ fears were not realized. The Prefectural Governor wrote in a report on August 21, “Having witnessed the devastating bombing, there were signs that people were horrified, distressed and becoming pessimistic. However, as the days went by, they calmed down and the momentum among people to restore the military-based city and to beat the enemy is increasing” (Ibid.).

As mentioned previously, there was a perception that the disposal of the bodies had tremendous influence on citizens. The authorities made efforts to support the army and citizens with establishing a good relationship. The instructions by the Chief of Staff of the Chugoku Military District issued on August 15 ordered, “By enforcing the morals and behavior of the units, we attempted to bring about a feeling of appreciation and trust among administrative officers and citizens, specifically those who had suffered” (Dai 59 Gun Sakumei Kou Tuzuri (a file of Operation Orders by the 59th Division)).

The official notification by the director of Domestic Affairs Department (addressed to school principals) issued in reaction to the Imperial Rescript which declared the end of the war emphasized “training faithful and promising Japanese people” and to prevent people from “inquiring into the government or leaders’ responsibilities.” It is considered that they were attempting to maintain order after the war (Kenchou Genbakuhisaishi (Chronice of A-bomb Damage to the Prefectural Office)).

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