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|This combo of two photos shows initial destruction and reconstruction after the March 10 Wholesale Nike VaporMax China , 1945 firebombing. The top photo taken on March 19, 1945 shows an incendiary bomb-devastated Azuma Bridge
TOKYO — Japan mourned Tuesday for the 105,400 people killed in a single night 70 years ago, when U.S. B-29 bombers obliterated much of Tokyo in the deadliest conventional bomb attack ever.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bowed in a somber ceremony held in a downtown temple that was built to commemorate deaths from a 1923 earthquake, but is also used as a memorial for the victims of World War II bombings.
"With the lessons of the atrocities of war etched deeply in our hearts, we must humbly face the past and do our utmost to contribute to world peace," said Abe, surrounded by white floral wreaths and chrysanthemums Wholesale Nike VaporMax 2019 , as a group of dignitaries, survivors and other residents looked on.
The March 10, 1945, attack on Tokyo killed more people than the Aug. 9 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The death toll was on par with the Aug. 6 atomic attack on Hiroshima.
But the firebombing and similar ones that followed in more than 60 other Japanese cities have received little attention, eclipsed by the atomic bombings and Japan's postwar rush to rebuild. The only formal public monument for the Tokyo victims is a modest floral memorial near the temple where Tuesday's ceremony was held.
Haruyo Nihei, just 8 when the bombs fell, was among many survivors who had kept silent for decades. A half-century passed before she even shared her experiences with her own son.
"Our parents would just say, 'That's a different era Wholesale Nike VaporMax ,'" Nihei said. "They wouldn't talk about it. And I figured my own family wouldn't understand."
Now, as their numbers dwindle, survivors are determined to tell their stories while they still can.
The B-29s flew over Tokyo in the dead of night, dumping massive payloads of cluster bombs equipped with a then-recent invention: napalm. A fifth of Tokyo was left a smoldering expanse of charred bodies and rubble.
Where earlier raids targeted aircraft factories and military facilities, the Tokyo firebombing was aimed largely at civilians, in places including Tokyo's downtown area known as "shitamachi," where people lived in traditional wood and paper homes at densities sometimes exceeding 100,000 people per square mile.
"There were plenty of small factories Nike VaporMax 2019 Youth Sale , but this area was chosen specifically because it was easy to burn," says historian Masahiko Yamabe, who was born just months after the war's end.
Another departure from earlier raids: the bombers flew low.
"It was as if we could reach out and touch the planes, they looked so big," said Yoshitaka Kimura, whose family's toy store in downtown Tokyo's Asakusa was destroyed. "The bombs were raining down on us. Red, and black, that's what I remember most."
Nihei Nike VaporMax 2019 Mens Sale , now 78, was mesmerized as she watched from a railway embankment.
"It was a blazing firestorm. I saw a baby catch fire on its mother's back, and she couldn't put out the fire. I saw a horse being led by its owner. The horse balked and the cargo on its back caught fire, then its tail, and it burned alive, as the owner just stood there and burned with it," she said.
Firefighter Isamu Kase was on duty at a train parts factory. He jumped onto a pump truck when the attack began, knowing the job was impossible.
"It was a hellish frenzy Nike VaporMax 2019 Womens Sale , absolutely horrible. People were just jumping into the canals to escape the inferno," said Kase, 89. He said he survived because he didn't jump in the water, but his burns were so severe he was in and out of hospital for 15 years.
Split-second choices like that determined who lived and who died.
Kimura, a 7-year-old, escaped the flames as he was blown into the entrance of a big department store while running toward the Sumida River, where tens of thousands of people died: burned, crushed Nike VaporMax 2019 Sale , drowned or suffocated in the firestorm.
Masaharu Ohtake, then 13, fled his family's noodle shop with a friend. Turned back by firefighters, they headed toward Tokyo Bay and again were ordered back. The boys crouched in a factory yard, waiting as flames consumed their neighborhood.
"We saw a fire truck heaped with a mountain of bones. It was hard to understand how so many bodies could be piled up like that," said Ohtake.
After about two hours and 40 minutes, the B-29s left.
Survivors speak of the hush as dawn broke over a wasteland of corpses and debris, studded by chimneys of bathhouses and small factories. Police photographer Koyo Ishikawa captured the carnage of charred bodies piled like blackened mannequins Cheap Nike Air VaporMax 2019 , tiny ones lying beside them.
"It was as if the world had ended," said Nihei, whose father sheltered her under his body, as others piled on top and were burned and suffocated. All her family survived.
Michiko Kiyo-oka, a 21-year-old government worker living in the Asakusa district, survived by hiding under a bridge.
"When I crawled out I was so cold, so I was warming myself near one of the piles that was still smoldering. I could see an arm. I could see nostrils. But I was numb to that by then," she said. "The smell is one that will never leave me."
FIGHTING TO BE REMEMBERED
From January 1944-August 1945 Cheap Nike VaporMax 2019 Free Shipping , the U.S. dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Japanese cities, according to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. It estimated that 333,000 people were killed, including the 80,000 killed in the Aug. 6 Hiroshima atomic-bomb attack and 40,000 at Nagasaki three days later. Other estimates are significantly higher. Fifteen million of the 72 million Japanese were left homeless.
The bombing campaign set a military precedent for targeting civilian areas that persisted into the Korean and Vietnam wars and beyond. But the non-atomic attacks have been largely overlooked.
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