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Visit Hiroshima in VR

by Beth Divine 14 nov 2018

Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These two names should make any self respecting person feel at least a frisson of sorrow for the many innocent people who were killed – and killed torturously, in some cases – when the USA dropped a pair of massive atomic bombs on the Japanese cities. They did so in the full knowledge and understanding that innocent Japanese children, women, vulnerable and elderly people would be killed – a breach of decency for which the USA has NEVER been held accountable…

These bombings are traditionally explained away as being necessary to force the Japanese emperor into ‘behaving’, and it is almost certain that had the bombings not taken place, the war would have carried on for much longer, been incredibly bloody, and hey, Japan might have won. The fact that America has been able to shrug and say ‘Well, we had to win at all costs,’ and the rest of the word has meekly fallen into line with that rhetoric just goes to show the unhealthy stranglehold that the USA has on global narratives… (To those who point to Pearl Harbour as a just cause: Pearl Harbour was populated by armed forces, these cities were filled with unarmed and defenceless citizens. Pearl Harbour killed 2403, of which 68 were civilians; Nagasaki and Hiroshima saw 225 000 people die, most of whom were civilians…)

Virtual reality is stepping in here. A group of Japanese students, helped by one of their teachers, has recreated Hiroshima before and after the dropping of the bomb. The five minute experience opens on a nice sunny day, the early hours of the 6th of August 1945. The sky is blue, women are strolling, with their children or with beaus, under trees in full leaf, silhouetted against a powder blue sky. A lone plane drones over this idyllic scene – there is a twinkle as something is released from the plane’s cargo bay. A few endless, breathless seconds, and the bomb hits.

After the smoke and debris has cleared, there is nothing but devastation. Bodies in the immediate blast zone have been obliterated, literally evaporated to nothing. Buildings, likewise, have been reduced to less than rubble. A little further away from the impact site, people are still dead, but there are recognisable bodies. And so on, further and further away, the less visible damage, but still an endless enormous litany of death and destruction. One hundred and forty thousand people were killed, not all of them immediately. Some died from a lack of resources, some from radiation or other forms of poisoning. Some died from drinking rainwater that had filtered itself through the noxious cloud of the bomb, dying slowly by inches in the following months and years.

This visceral experience will perhaps hammer home the true horror perpetrated by the supposed ‘good guys’ in the name of the ‘greater good’. And perhaps the USA will finally be brought to account for their vicious and frankly excessive action. Because, don’t forget; three days after seeing the horror they’d wrought on Hiroshima, they did it again to Nagasaki…