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1. The super-human Hibakusha, observed

2. The mushroom clouds of the bombings of Hiroshima (L) and Nagasaki (R)

3. A real-life hibakusha, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; the pattern on her skin is from the kimono she was wearing at the time of the bombing.

The total number of people who suffered illness or death from the bombs (through direct exposure to the blast or radiation or indirectly as affected descendants of those exposed) is unknown, but those designated by Japanese law as "hibakusha" (literally, "explosion-affected people") include: Those who were within 2km of the hypocenters of the bombs; who were within 2km of the hypocenters within two weeks of the bombings; who were exposed to radiation from fallout; or who were babies carried by pregnant women in any of these categories.

As of August 2008, the death tolls of hibakusha stand at 258,310 for Hiroshima and 145,984 for Nagasaki. The bombs succeeded in ending the war: Six days after the destruction of Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and declared an end to hostilities.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1.In the story, the phrase shikata ga nai (“it can’t be helped”) is repeated several times. What does this phrase imply? 

  2. 2.History has noted that Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, instantly regretted its creation. How did the invention of nuclear weapons forever alter the ways wars are fought and conflicts are settled?  

  3. 3.Knowing the consequences and casualties that resulted, do you believe the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks were justified? Why or why not? 

The Hibakusha, pg. 45

Story by: Parry Shen; Art by: Glenn Urieta

“The Hibakusha” follows a group of young people with superhuman abilities—descendants of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and thus, literal “Children of the Atom.” Under the supervision of a secret U.S. government agency tasked to the Department of Energy, the "A.P.s" (short for "Atomic Progeny") are being trained to learn how to control their unusual talents—while also being closely watched by mysterious third-party forces, represented by the shadowy figure known simply as Mishira (Japanese for "stranger").

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the sites of the only nuclear attacks in the history of the world. Convinced that Japan would not soon surrender due to losses from any conventional form of assault, and determined to bring the bloody and costly war to an abrupt end, U.S. President Harry S. Truman issued executive orders to use nuclear weapons on these two populous cities. The bomb called "Little Boy" was deployed over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and "Fat Man" was detonated over Nagasaki three days later, on August 9. The bombs killed over 100,000 people instantly; by the end of 1945, over 220,000, nearly all civilians, had died from injuries or illness attributed to the attacks.