Obviously, once the atomic bombs dropped in 1945, the war was almost over. There wasn't much time to rebuild, or even offer aid, to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before the Japanese surrendered and the Americans started arriving, which no doubt changed how things like war damage and reconstruction were handled.

But within that period before the end of the war, what did the Japanese government do in response to the bombings? The Wikipedia entry contains a lot of information about the bombings, but barely any about the subsequent relief efforts or response. Was there much of a relief effort for the survivors, or were there no resources to spare? Did the try to rebuild anything, or did they basically just abandon the sites and focus on other areas? Did they respond quickly, or did it take them some time to decide what to do?

And once the Americans did start arriving in Japan, did these efforts change, or did they continue largely unaffected by the surrender?

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    Of course relief efforts started immediately. At Hiroshima, the civil government and most medical staff were wiped out, so the Maritime Transport Command spearheaded relief efforts. It established shelters for survivors and brought in medical personnel from neighbouring cities, but this was halted when the US Occupation disbanded the unit. At Nagasaki, the civil administration survived because they were ironically holding a conference on air defence underground. There the national rail was able to organised an evacuation of survivors/wounded to neighbouring regions after a few hours.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 8:13
  • @semaphore Were the risks of radiation considered potent in initiating the relief?
    – Rohit
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:18
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    @Rohit Off the top of my head, I don't think they really understood radiation's effects at the time.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Semaphore Fascinating. Expand that into an answer, and I'll accept it. :)
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:13
  • 2
    @jwenting Only very basics were understood. Even today there is only a handful documented cases of large radiation exposure ( deterministic regime) and not much known. Majority of the survivors however were in the stochastic regime, and very little was known about the long term effects either. After the war American and other armies were extensively experimenting heavily on effect of smaller doses (check e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…). Also, the collected health data of Radiation Effect Foundation is the only data on long term effects.
    – Greg
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


In this first paragraph I will discuss what occurred at Hiroshima, in the second paragraph I will discuss what occurred at Nagasaki.

At Hiroshima, relief efforts began immediately after the bombing in an unorganized manner, but by the next day they had become organized. A joint public-private meeting was held at 10 AM, the day after the bombing where it was decided that the military should take control of all relief efforts. The leader of the Agasaki Corps who had already begun relief efforts was put in command of the Hiroshima Security Regiment Headquarters. Medical and civil defense teams were flowing into the city to help with the relief efforts. They would arrive in the city at the East Police Station and were assigned to one of the four relief areas that were determined by cardinal direction. They received many donations of food, such as rice, and other needed items, such as sandals. After the surrender, the city government took control of the military's stores distributing them to victims. According to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, this included:

(1) Rice : about 916 bags

(2) Salt : 83 bags

(3) Soy Sauce : 33701 liters

(4) Hardtack : 3300 pieces

(5) Wheat : 4 bags

(6) Canned Goods : 9214 boxes

(7) Cooking oil : 262 kg

(8) Vegetables : 10173 kg

(9) Firewood : 24260 bundles

(10) Pickled Plums : 28653 kg

(11) Miso : 11756 kg

Prefectural civil defense forces supervised by the police handled the moving of the injured, clearing of the rubble, distribution of supplies, and the disposal of the dead. These civil defense forces came from throughout the prefecture.

Map of civil defense team base location

After being recovered the injured were transported throughout the prefecture.

Map of injured people distribution

Nagasaki paragraph to come later

  • 1
    Very nice answer; will upvote to encourage @Benjamin to add the second paragraph.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:39
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    @DevSolar Thanks, I have been very busy and will try to add the second paragraph either today or tomorrow.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    Upvoted while still waiting for second part.
    – Pere
    Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 16:08
  • 1
    upvoting, but not really expecting that second part by now :P
    – dsollen
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:47

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