Essay on Shigematsu Shizuma’s Black Rain

On August 6th, 1945, the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The second world war ended only a year after with the surrender after the Hiroshima bombing. Black Rain is a novel that illustrates how the citizens of Hiroshima lived during the time of the war. Shigematsu Shizuma, the main character of the novel, is someone who didn’t think the opposition had to drop the bomb to end the war. He believes the country was already internally falling apart, the atomic bomb killed innocent citizens without reason, and it inflicted incalculable damage.

Shigematsu Shizuma, the main character of the novel, lives in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife Shigeko and his niece Yasuko. He is a devoted husband, and cares about the welfare of the family more than his own. During the time of the war, he recorded details precisely throughout his journals. Shizuma wrote about how they treated themselves, how they reacted, and how the war had a direct impact on the citizens’ lives before it dropped.

“There was no particular pain, yet a mild horror prickled at the nape of my neck” (Ibuse, 46). The citizens suffered because it dropped to destroy and kill a city. “And I realized too, that war’s a sadistic killer of human beings, young and old, men and women alike” (71). “One-third of the entire population, including troops and voluntary war workers, had been wiped out instantaneously” (82). He believes that the bomb killed innocent citizens without reason.

In the novel Black Rain, Masuji Ibuse says that an unjust peace is better than a just war. Shigematsu made many remarks on how the country was internally falling apart and that the opposition wouldn’t have needed to drop the bomb. This is because the country was already falling internally apart with the citizens having to ration food for the military.

“In a long drawn out war, it’s a case of the larger the town, the shorter its inhabitants go out of food” (71). Shigematsu’s family along with the citizens of Hiroshima rationed with little to eat and had less and less as the war continued. “The number of people searching for bodies or cremated remains among the ruins was considerably greater that yesterday” (194). Therefore, he believes that the war would’ve ended soon, even if they hadn’t dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

The opposition and Shigematsu had different viewpoints. According to Masuji Ibuse, the opposition may have believed the bomb was necessary to end the war but the Shigematsu had different beliefs. The conflict is how Shigematsu believes that the bomb wasn’t needed to end the war while the opposition did. “I myself had made a copy of an appeal to the inhabitants of Hiroshima Prefecture” (283). Shigematsu acted on his belief, however the country was in chaos when the war ended.

“Moreover, should hostilities continue any further, the final result would be to bring about not only the annihilation of the Japanese race, but the destruction of human civilization as a whole…” (300). Citizens were crying that they lost the war for fear of what would happen then as another country had taken over. The bomb inflicted incalculable damage the country of Japan.

Overall, Shigematsu Shizuma is a character that opposes the will of the majority. His belief that the atomic bomb was unnecessary to end the war is different than society. Japan was internally conflicted with their food supply running low and was going to surrender soon. He doesn’t understand why the opposition couldn’t have waited and instead resulted with dropping the bomb to only kill innocent citizens and inflict incalculable damage. His different belief is in opposition to society.