Bombing Japan

March 12 2011

Tokyo after March 9-10 1945

The first American air raid on Japan took place on April 18 1942, in retaliation for Pearl Harbor: the Doolittle Raid on military and industrial targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka.

America resumed bombing in June 1944 and continued until August 1945. From February 1945, large areas of cities were firebombed.

Night of February 24-25 1945 – Tokyo firebombing.

Night of March 9-10 1945 – extensive Tokyo firebombing. 80-100,000 deaths, the largest number before Hiroshima.

Night of March 11-12 1945 – Nagoya firebombing.

Night of March 13-14 1945 – Osaka firebombing.

Night of March 16-17 1945 – Kobe firebombing.

Night of March 18-19 1945 – further Nagoya firebombing.

That marked the end of the first campaign.

Additional raids on cities, including smaller cities, took place up to August. Taking all non-nuclear bombing during the war into account, the percentages of the areas of Japanese cities that were destroyed were:

Toyama 99

Fukui 86

Tokushima 85.2

Fukuyama 80.9

Kofu 78.6

Kuwana 75

Hitachi 72

Nara 69.3

Tsu 69.3

Okayama 68.9

Mito 68.9

Takamatsu 67.5

Shizuoka 66.1

Tsuruga 65.1

Hachioji 65

Nagaoka 64.9

Maebashi 64.2

Matsuyama 64

Imabari 63.9

Gifu 63.6

Kagoshima 63.4

Toyohashi 61.9

Hamamatsu 60.3

Yokohama 58

Isesaki 56.7

Ichinomiya 56.3

Kobe 55.7

Kochi 55.2

Kumagaya 55.1

Tokyo 51

Akashi 50.2

Wakayama 50

Himeji 49.4

Hiratsuka 48.4

Tokuyama 48.3

Sakai 48.2

Saga 44.2

Choshi 44.2

Utsunomiya 43.7

Numazu 42.3

Shimizu 42

Kure 41.9

Sasebo 41.4

Ujiyamada 41.3

Chiba 41

Nagoya 40

Ogaki 39.5

Shimonoseki 37.6

Kawasaki 36.2

Omuta 35.8

Osaka 35.1

Yokkaichi 33.6

Omura 33.1

Okazaki 32.2

Kumamoto 31.2

Aomori 30

Oita 28.2

Miyakonojo 26.5

Miyazaki 26.1

Nobeoka 25.2

Fukuoka 24.1

Moji 23.3

Sendai 21.9

Yahata 21.2

Yawata 21

Ube 20.7

Amagasaki 18.9

Nishinomiya 11.9

Source, not in this order: Wikipedia.

YouTube comment on this clip:

“It is completely true to say that the Americans had a policy of using precision bombing in Europe and yet firebombed Japan. That is a historical fact. It is also true that on a few occasions – particularly towards the end of the war – the Americans bombed cities in Germany like Dresden and Berlin in support of the British. But that caused considerable disquiet in the American ranks and was never the general policy as it was in Japan.”

Is this too kind? Britain, at least, began area bombing Germany in early 1942. Bombing was supposed to undermine the morale of the civilian population and in particular of the industrial workers. Factories were no longer the main targets. Hamburg was firebombed in 1943.

Morning of August 6 1945 – enriched uranium nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 90% of city’s area destroyed. 140,000 deaths by end of 1945.

Morning of August 9 1945 – plutonium core nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki. 45% of city’s area destroyed. 80,000 deaths by end of 1945.

Both cities had been spared in earlier raids to allow a pristine environment for measurement of the damage caused by the atomic bomb.

3 Responses to “Bombing Japan”


  1. […] was destroyed again by over thirty US air raids during the Second World War, starting with the Doolittle Raid in 1942. Seven or eight thousand were killed in the morning of May 29 1945 in the Great Yokohama […]


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