Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit: The March 10, 1945 Fire (Napalm) Bombing of Tokyo's Residential Neighborhoods

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society poster. (Image: Teruo Kano)

The Tokyo Air Raids

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit* Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society

At the end of World War II, the US took a "scorched earth" strategy and attacked 150 cities in Japan. Other than the disastrous damage by atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokkyo suffered the worst damage of them all.

In November 1944, the US started the air raids on Tokyo by dispatching the newly produced B29 airplanes from the Mariana Islands. At first, the targets were focused on the area of military industry. However, at the beginning of 1945, the US started the indiscriminate bombing to massacre the general public. They dropped fire [napalm] bombs and bombshells every day and night.

On March 10, 1945, the US made a bombing raid in the Kotoh area in Tokyo where the working people resided. After that, the US spread the targets to residential areas. The deck planes joined the attacks. Tokyo was exposed to almost 130 such air raids.

At the beginning of World War II, however, it was Japan that started such indiscriminate bombing in China. Japan almost destroyed Chongqing and other cities. We should never forget it was the Japanese Army that deprived many precious lives of mothers and children.

The number of fatalities of air raids in Tokyo exceeded 115,000; the number of wounded 150,000. And more than 3,000,000 people became war sufferers. 60% of metropolitan Tokyo fell into ruins, leading to the ending of World War II.

Air Raid on March 10, 1945

On March 10, 1945, when the strong north wind was blowing, Tokyo became a scene of carnage.

At dawn on March 10, about 300 B29s carrying full loads of high explosive bombs flew at a very low altitude over Tokyo Bay and started the bombing by creating an encircling net around densely populated Kotoh. Then they launched a series of attacks over the people who had lost all means of escape.

The flames ran through the roads and enveloped the houses and crossed over the canals and the Sumida River. The eastern part of metropolitan Tokyo was totally enveloped with raging flames. Although the air raid ceased within two hours, more than 1,000,000 people lost their houses in fire; about 110,000 were wounded; and about 100,000 died in the canals, bridges, and on the burned land. Most of these were women, children, and elderly people who were definitely not in combatant service.

In the world history of wars, there was no record of 100,000 soldiers being killed in a few hours in one action. In a sense, Tokyo was "the forefront" of World War II.

In December 1964, General Curtis Emerson LeMay, who commanded the indiscriminate bombing on Tokyo, was decorated with the First Order of Merit with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government recognizing "his effort to bring up the Self Defense Forces of Japan after the war."

Children confined in a cell so as not to escape from the war orphanage in Odaiba, Tokyo, July 1946. (Photo: Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society)

*The Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit is the first group lawsuit brought by civilian victims against the Japanese government for neglecting its duty to help civilians after the Tokyo air raid by US bombers on March 10, 1945. The plaintiffs are seeking an apology and reparation for the damages suffered, insisting that "We must never suffer these horrors of war again."

Tokyo Air Raid Lawsuit* Plaintiffs/Defense Counsel/Support Society booth
at the 2007 Global Article 9 Conference in Tokyo (Photo:JD)

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