Emperor Hirohito received his first report on the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima from the Imperial Japanese Army about half a day after the blast on Aug. 6, 1945, the official record of his reign showed Tuesday.
Emperor Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, refrained for many years from going out on the anniversaries of the two atomic bombings as a sign of mourning for the victims, according to the record compiled by the Imperial Household Agency. He visited Hiroshima in 1947 and Nagasaki in 1949.
A close aide told the Emperor at 7:50 p.m., 11 hours and 35 minutes after the bombing, that according to information from the Navy Ministry, Hiroshima had been “attacked with a special bomb from a U.S. bomber” and “most parts of the city” had been flattened.
U.S. President Harry Truman issued a statement on the atomic bombing early on Aug. 7 Japan time, but the Imperial Headquarters announced “considerable damage” at 3:30 p.m. that day, about 31 hours after the bombing.
On the evening of Aug. 8, Emperor Hirohito judged it had “become impossible to continue the war” and expressed his hope to “conclude the war as swiftly as possible,” the record said.
But the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. 9 and the United States dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki later that day.
Acknowledging that the “damage from the war is enormous,” the Emperor sent his chamberlains to Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Sept. 1, following Japan’s surrender, to visit first-aid stations and report about survivors, the record said.
In December 1947, the Emperor visited Hiroshima and met children who were orphaned by the atomic bombing. He visited Nagasaki in May 1949 and met a doctor suffering from leukemia at a hospital.
The record showed that he refrained from going out on the anniversary of the atomic bombings every year from 1976 through 1988 out of sympathy for the victims.
In October 1975, the Emperor told a news conference after visiting the United States, “I feel sorry for Hiroshima citizens, but it couldn’t be averted,” when asked what he thought about the bombing.