Joseph Hansen

Tokyo Bombings Kill Millions of Civilians

(9 June 1945)

Source: The Militant, Vol. IX No. 23, 9 June 1945, p. 6.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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A grisly sign of the swift advance of twentieth century barbarism is the burning to death of countless human beings in Japan. Fifty-one square miles in Tokyo, an area twice as great as New York’s Manhattan Island and much more densely populated, have been burned out by fire bombs. Other Japanese cities are being similarly obliterated and their inhabitants incinerated.

From the May 31 press reports of Maj. Gen. Curtis E. Le May’s “summary” of what United States bombers “had done to Tokyo in six separate attacks over a period of three months,” we piece together the following blood-chilling items:

Helpless People Perish In Flames

The first big incendiary attack was ordered for March 10. The area circled for death on the military map was the heart of the “shopping district.” “Many more than one will ever know must have perished in the flames ... It took only three hours for fifteen square miles of the city to become a raging inferno.”

In the succeeding raids the most populous areas were again marked as the target. “The attacks this past week burned with similar speed and destructive results and it is possible that 1,000,000 or maybe even twice that number of the Emperor’s subjects, perished.” MAYBE EVEN TWICE THAT NUMBER—in these five casual words Wall street’s press sums up the value it places upon the lives of 2,000,000 human beings!

The press account of this slaughter reads like the routine report of a government agency on the extermination of vermin:

“The population concentration in that area runs, or rather ran, between 75,000 and 110,000 persons per square mile, one of the highest concentrations of population in the world. Thus, in the fifty-one miles burned to ashes there lived approximately 4,500,000 of Tokyo’s 7,000,000 people. None of them could be living in that area now if the pictures tell the story.”

Indescribable scenes of masses of poor families trapped in swirling flames are nonchalantly dismissed in a couple of speculative sentences: “Many hundreds of thousands must have been evacuated ... but many more must have fled with only minutes to spare ...”

The callous nonchalance with which the militarist butchers tell how they engineered the most frightful catastrophe ever recorded indicates the moral decay of capitalist “civilization”: “Our B-29 officials attribute the success of the incendiary attack to two factors. The first is the care that goes into the planning of them.” The second factor is the wind which “fans the flames, whips their fire-fighting efforts, carries destruction over their fire-breaks and leaves them with the conviction that their gods have forsaken them.”

Wall Street Gloats over Horror

The Wall Street “gods” who have at their disposal the B-29 bomber must indeed rub their plump white hands at this carnage. For they have smelled burning human flesh as no other gods before them. “We left Yokohama burning block after block,” said one gunner. “Smoke was rising as high as 20,000 feet.” The capitalist press gloats over the man-made horror.

In ancient times, newborn infants on ceremonial occasions were offered up in worship to the dread god Moloch. During the Inquisition, alleged enemies of the Church were burned at the stake for the greater glory of the prince of peace. But all the horrors that have blotched the pages of human history were amateur beginnings in brutishness compared to the planned burning of women, children and old men in Japan for the sake of imperialist profits and plunder.

And these calculating monsters who doom millions to perish in flames are the same ones who boasted that only the Axis bombed civilians, that only fascists would stoop to cold-blooded slaughter of non-combatants!


Last updated on: 7 November 2018