All personal stories are true and printed in italics as spoken.

Back in the States, the Japanese Military’s Okinawan strategy had at least fooled the news media. It was predicting the invasion of the Japanese mainland could cost millions of American lives with the news media not realizing that the war already had been won. So the Japanese military had been successful in at least fooling the media. But time was dragging as Emperor Hirohito tried to find the proper negotiators to start the peace process.

But, as it had been in the early battles for Guadalcanal, the Japanese were reading the American newspapers and making judgments that would cost them dearly. At Guadalcanal, the Japanese had put much faith in American newspaper reports on the condition and the morale of the marines that they felt it was just a matter of time before the Americans would fold. When they woke up to the fact that the American news media’s primary interest was to sell papers, it was too late, the marines were firmly entrenched.

As the Emperor and the Japanese High Command delayed their decision to surrender to the Allies, the Allied planners felt that the only way to bring the war to an end was to physically overrun and occupy the Japanese island regardless of the cost. Planning was going ahead on that assumption. With the almost total annihilation of the Japanese air force, American aircraft now were able to fly almost unchallenged across the Japanese mainland much to the annoyance of the civilian population.

For Doctor Tatsuichiro Akizuki, an attending physician at a Christian (Catholic) hospital over a mile from the center of a major Japanese city, American planes flying unchecked outside the hospital’s windows presented more than an annoyance. Air raid alerts were being sounded so often that many of the patients and nurses in the hospital were starting to ignore them. At 8:30, I began medical examination and treatment of out-patients. Nearly thirty had turned up by ten o’clock. During the morning, a good friend of mine, Mr. Yokota, an engineer in the research department of the nearby Mitsubishi Ordinance Factory, turned up to see his daughter, who was one of our in-patients . . . Mr. Yokota always had something interesting to say . . . He said, “I hear Hiroshima was very badly damaged on the sixth.” Together we despaired over the destiny of Japan, he as an engineer, I as a doctor . . .

Just then the long continuous wail of a siren arose. “Listen . . . Here comes the regular air-raid.” The first warning . . . The enemy are on their way.” Mr. Yokota hurried back down the hill to his factory and all at once I began to feel nervous. It was now about 10:30. When such a warning sounded we were supposed to make sure our patients took refuge in our basement air-raid shelter. We were meant to do likewise. But recently I had become so foolhardy, I no longer bothered with every precaution. In any case, breakfast was about to begin . . .

I went out of the building. It was very hot. The sky had clouded over a little but the familiar formation of B29 bombers was neither to be seen nor heard. I asked myself, “What route will our dear enemies choose to take today?” I went in again to warn my patients to stay away from the windows—they could be swept by machine gun fire. Recently we had been shot up once or twice by fighter-planes from American aircraft carriers in neighboring waters.

About thirty minutes later the all-clear sounded. I said to myself, “In Nagasaki, everything is still all right . . .

I went down to the consulting room, humming cheerfully. Now that the all-clear had been given I felt free from danger. I entered the room and found Dr. Yoshioka about to carry out an artificial pneumo-thorax operation on one ot the male out-patients. “You ought to stop working when the air-raid warning goes, at least for a little while,” I told her.

“Thank you,” she replied, “but there were so many patients waiting.” She looked tired. She had come to the hospital that morning on foot, walking 5,000 meters (three miles) across Nagasaki, and since then she had been very busy treating the patients who needed attention.

“Please take a rest,” I said. “I’ll carry on in your place.”

“Well, thank you for your kindness,” she said, and went upstairs to her room to rest. I began the pneumo-thorax. Miss Sugako Murai, one of our few trained nurses, was there by my side to help me.

“Well, we’ll soon be getting our breakfast,” I said to Miss Murai. “The patients must be hungry.” So was I, but before we had our breakfast we would have to finish treating all the out-patients. I stuck the pneumo-thorax needle into the side of the chest of the patient lying on the bed. It was just after 11 a.m.

I heard a low droning sound, like that of distant aeroplane engines. “What’s that?” I said. “The all-clear has gone, hasn’t it?” At the same time the sound of the planes’ engines, growing louder and louder, seemed to swoop down over the hospital. I shouted, “It’s an enemy plane! Look out—take cover!” As I said so, I pulled the needle out of the patient and threw myself beside the bed.

There was a blinding flash of light, and the next moment—Bang! Crack! A huge impact like a gigantic blow smote down upon our bodies, our heads and our hospital. I lay flat—I didn’t know whether or not of my own volition. Then down came piles of debris, slamming into my back.

The hospital has been hit, I thought. I grew dizzy, and my ears sang. Some minutes or so must have passed before I staggered to my feet and looked around. The air was heavy with yellow smoke; white flakes of powder drifted about; it was strangely dark. Miss Murai, who had been assisting me, struggled to her feet beside me. She didn’t seem to have been seriously injured, though she was completely covered with white dust. “Hey, cheer up!, “I said. “We’re not hurt, thank God!” Another nurse, who was also in the consulting room, and the patient managed to stand up . . .

. . . Looking to the southwest, I was stunned. The sky was as dark as pitch, covered with dense clouds of smoke; under that blackness, over the earth, hung a yellow-brown fog. Gradually the veiled ground became visible, and the view beyond rooted me to the spot with horror. All the buildings I could see were on fire: large ones and small ones and those with straw-thatched roofs . . . Electricity poles were wrapped in flame like so many pieces of kindling. Trees on the near-by hills were smoking, as were the leaves of sweet potatoes in the fields. To say that everything burned is not enough. It seemed as if the earth itself emitted fire and smoke, flames that writhed up and erupted from the underground. The sky was dark, the ground was scarlet, and in between hung clouds of yellowish smoke. Three kinds of color—black, yellow and scarlet—loomed oninously over the people, who ran about like so many ants seeking to escape. What had happened? Urakami Hospital had not been bombed—I understood that much. But that ocean of fire, that sky of smoke! It seemed like the end of the world. And this was over a mile from where the bomb had exploded!

The “Divine Wind” was finally still. The atomic age had arrived. The war was over.