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“Japanese historian Toshinobu Hibino wishes that the world knew his hometown simply as a flourishing, environmentally responsible former industrial city, a place where sleek bullet trains and monorails glide in and out of the bustling town center. History, however, had other plans for Kokura, a city on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, whose story is indelibly linked with the infamous fates that befell two nearby cities—Hiroshima and Nagasaki—in August 1945.
This week marks the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan, bringing with it the annual renewed debate over the morality of the decision to force the country’s unconditional surrender by unleashing the Allies’ terrible new weapon on two heavily populated cities that were critical the Japanese war effort. In Kokura, that discussion takes on a special resonance: In the closing days of World War II, the city escaped nuclear destruction not once, but twice.
A near miss
In July 1945, the American military selected four “A” and “AA” cities to demonstrate the devastating power of the atomic weaponry the Manhattan Project had developed. They were, in order of priority, Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki.”
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