from the museum director
guidance in building
the fifteen-year war
The Japanese Imperial Army
Mobilization of the Entire Nation
Japanese Colonies and Occupied Territories
Air Raids, the Battle of Okinawa,and the Atomic Bombing
Pre-War Endeavors for Peace
Determining Responsibility for War Crimes
modern warfare
buiding peace
getting to the kyoto museum for world peace
Air Raids, the Battle of Okinawa, and the Atomic Bombing
Air Raids Over Japan

Starting in November 1944, U.S. forces intensified their bombing of the Japanese mainland. In the beginning,only military targets such as bases and munitions factories were bombed. However, in March of the following year, a shift was made to target civilians in such large cities as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe. American bombers flying in by night at low altitudes dropped heavy payloads of incendiary bombs which burned down whole sections of these cities. Then in June, the bombing of small and medium-size cities and factories commenced. Air raids continued until just before the end of the War.Not only were many cities heavily damaged by air raids,but 500,000 people were killed and many others were injured. In such all-out war, casualties were no longer limited to combatants, but also included women, children and other civilians.

The Battle of Okinawa

Okinawa was the site of the only land battle in Japan during the War. American forces landed on the Kerama Islands in Okinawa on March 26, 1945, then moved onto the main island of Okinawa on April 1st. Pitched battles continued on the ground until the Japanese army's last stand in the south of the island in June. Unable to depend on the strength of its own soldiers, the Japanese side drafted civilians into "volunteer corps" and sent them into battle. As a result, one in four Okinawans, including elderly residents and children, fell victim to the War. While the residents were fighting for their homes and lives, the Japanese authorities were using the Battle of Okinawa to buy time for what they thought would be the decisive battle of the War-the impending battle for mainland Japan.

The Atomic Bombing

At the end of the War, the American forces dropped their newly developed atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in quick succession. The United States claims to have dropped the bombs to expedite Japan's surrender and reduce the number of American casualties. However, the U.S. must have also wished to end the war before the Soviet Union could join in, thus ensuring that America would gain sole control of occupied Japan. The dropping of atomic bombs therefore effectively became the first act of the Cold War, which pitted the United States against the Soviet Union after World War II.


Hand Grenade Vase
Visitors are asked to guess what it is that's holding the flower in the special attraction case in this section. It turns out that the "vase" is actually the base of a hand grenade which, like many other pieces of equipment during the War, was made of ceramics rather than metal.

pick upPlan for Dropping an Atomic Bomb on Kyoto

Aerial view of Kyoto taken from a B29 bomber on April 4, 1945, with markings made by American armed forces personnel to show the downtown area and industrial zones, as well as a circle with a radius of 2400 meters that indicates the area that would be destroyed if the American forces went ahead with their plan to drop an atomic bomb on the Umekoji Railroad Garage near Kyoto Station. (Photograph courtesy of Otis Cary)