Katsumoto and the Firebombing of Tokyo

70 Jahre Kriegsende - Tokyo
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus,  Vol. 13, Issue 10, No. 2, March 9, 2015.
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus.

Saotome Katsumoto and the Firebombing of Tokyo:
Introducing The Great Tokyo Air Raid

Translator’s Introduction
Richard Sams

March 10 is the 70th anniversary of the Great Tokyo Air Raid. Although Tokyo was bombed more than 100 times from November 1944 to the end of the war, the firebombing centered on the Shitamachi district in the early hours of March 10, 1945, was by far the most devastating air raid on the capital. In less than three hours from just after midnight, 279 B-29 bombers dropped a total of 1,665 tons of incendiaries.1 By dawn, more than 100,000 people were dead, one million were homeless, and 16 square miles of Tokyo had been burned to the ground.

More people were killed in the indiscriminate firebombing of March 10 than in the immediate aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After the war, while Hiroshima and Nagasaki became symbols of Japan’s suffering and the peace movement, the Great Tokyo Air Raid was virtually excluded from public discourse. Hardly anyone wrote about the air raids that reduced the capital and most of Japan’s other cities to ashes, and the few articles that did appear in newspapers attracted little interest. For a quarter of a century after the war, while memorial services were held every year on August 6 and 9 for the victims of the atomic bombings and covered widely in newspapers and on television, the devastating firebombing campaign over Tokyo and much of urban Japan was quietly forgotten. While school textbooks, novels, poetry and films memorialized the atomic bombing and its victims, silence reigned with respect to the firebombing raids.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Japan’s high-speed growth transformed the Tokyo cityscape until all the remaining signs of devastation lay buried underground, out of sight and mind. Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 1964 served as a symbol of Japan’s post-war reconstruction. ...

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