AUTHORAsada, Sadao
CHAPTER TITLEThe Mushroom Cloud and National Psyches: Japanese and American Perceptions of the Atomic-Bomb Decision, 1945-1995
BOOK EDITORHein, Laura / Selden, Mark, Eds.
BOOK TITLELiving with the Bomb: American and Japanese Cultural Conflicts in the Nuclear Age
CITYArmonk, NY

In this chapter, historian Sadao Asada examines the divergence in Japanese and American perceptions of the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Asada relies heavily on statistics from surveys taken in Japan and the United States pertaining to national opinion of the bombing, noting the emergence of Japanese resentment of the United States and the firm refusal by the United States to express remorse for the decision. He uses controversies emerging out of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an opportunity to investigate the later status of Japanese and American perceptions: namely, the United States Postal Service’s plan to issue a stamp featuring the mushroom cloud and the Smithsonian’s plan to use the Enola Gay aircraft as the main attraction of an exhibition on the atomic bomb. Asada emphasizes the prevalence of “Truman orthodoxy” in the American perception of the bombing, as even in 1994 a majority of Americans expressed support for the decision. Furthermore, Asada illuminates the divergence in Japanese and American perceptions, noting the widespread belief in Japan that the United States used the bomb not as a way to end World War II but rather as a means of intimidating the former Soviet Union. Asada includes two appendices that contain the results of the surveys from which he draws many of his conclusions.

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