On the morning of August 6, 1945, the United States Army Air Forces dropped the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, followed three days later by the detonation of the “Fat Man” bomb over Nagasaki, Japan during World War II in war against the Empire of Japan, part of the Axis Powers alliance.
In estimating the death toll from the attacks, there are several factors that make it difficult to arrive at reliable figures: inadequacies in the records given the confusion of the times, the many victims who died months or years after the bombing as a result of radiation exposure, and the pressure to either exaggerate or minimize the numbers, depending upon political agenda. That said, it is estimated that by December 1945, as many as 140,000 had died in Hiroshima by the bomb and its associated effects. In Nagasaki, roughly 74,000 people died of the bomb and its after-effects with the death toll from two bombings around 214,000 people. In both cities, the overwhelming majority of the deaths were those of civilians.
The role of the bombings in Japan’s surrender, as well as the effects and justification of them, have been subject to much debate. In the U.S., the prevailing view is that the bombings ended the war months sooner than would otherwise have been the case, saving many lives that would have been lost on both sides if the planned invasion of Japan had taken place. In Japan, the general public tends to think that the bombings were unnecessary, as Japanese civilian leadership was covertly seeking an end to hostilities.