Japan is a country within the Pacific Ocean located off the eastern coast of the continent of Asia. The Japanese Archipelago that forms the country of Japan extends from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea. The archipelago is composed of 6,852 islands and stretches over 1,900 miles. Of the islands, only 430 are inhabited. The largest island is Honshu Island which is also referred to as the Japanese mainland. Other major islands are the Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido. The four islands make up approximately 97% of Japan’s land area. Of interest for this article are the Honshu and Kyushu Islands where the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are respectively located.
Hiroshima is the largest city in the Chugoku region and the capital of Hiroshima prefecture. Hiroshima is located on Honshu Island. Hiroshima was designated a Japanese city in April 1980, having gained city status in April 1889. As of 2016, the city had a population of approximately 1.2 million people. Hiroshima, alongside Nagasaki, is perhaps known for the impact the World War II had on it. On August 6, 1945, towards the end of the war, the US Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb there killing about 70,000 people and destroying 70% of the city’s buildings. By the end of the year, a total of 90,000-160,000 people in Hiroshima had died from injuries and radiation.
Overview of Honshu Island
The island of Honshu is Japan’s largest and most populous island, often referred to as the Japanese Mainland. It borders the island of Hokkaido to the south, Shikoku to the north, and Kyushu to the northeast. It separates the Sea of Japan from the North Pacific Ocean. Honshu is the world’s seventh largest island with an area of approximately 88,020 square miles and the second most populous after Java, with a population of 104 million people. The island is divided into five regions including Chugoku region where Hiroshima is located. Chugoku is the westernmost region of Honshu.
The city of Nagasaki is the capital of the Nagasaki Prefecture in the northern Kyushu region, Kyushu Island. The city is bordered Isahaya and Saikai cities and Nagayo and Togitsu towns. Unlike Hiroshima, Nagasaki is a small city, covering an area of approximately 156.89 square miles and has a population of about 425,700 people. The city was the second, and to date, the last city to suffer nuclear attack when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb there on August 9, 1945, three days after bombing Hiroshima. About 35,000 people were killed and over 68% of non-dock industrial production destroyed.
Overview of Kyushu Island
The island of Kyushu is the third-largest and southwesternmost of the four main islands. It covers an area of approximately 14,202 square miles and has a population of about 13 million people. Kyushu is mainly mountainous and has the most active volcano in Japan, Mount Aso. The island is separated from the Island of Honshu by the Kanmon Strait. It consists of seven prefectures including the Nagasaki Prefecture.