Quote 5

Dr. Y. Hiraiwa, professor of Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, and one of my church members, was buried by the bomb under the two storied house with his son, a student of Tokyo University. Both of them could not move an inch under tremendously heavy pressure. And the house already caught fire. His son said, ‘Father, we can do nothing except make our mind up to consecrate our lives for the country. Let us give Banzai to our Emperor.’ Then the father followed after his son, ‘Tenno-heika, Banzai, Banzai, Banzai!’ . . . In thinking of their experience of that time Dr. Hiraiwa repeated, ‘What a fortunate that we are Japanese! It was my first time I ever tasted such a beautiful spirit when I decided to die for our Emperor.’

At the end of Chapter Four, we read excerpts from letters that Mr. Tanimoto wrote to Americans, describing the attitudes of many Japanese regarding the bomb. As in this passage, he continually depicts the Japanese as people who demonstrate selfless fidelity to their country and the emperor. Stories such as these help explain that the main reaction of the Japanese, after the horrific bombing, was one of optimistic rebuilding, not anger or bitterness. The Japanese in Mr. Tanimoto’s stories seemed to embrace the opportunity to work or die for their country, and Hersey does not counteract this depiction by showing the views of people who might have been openly critical of the bombing.