An American attack on the Japanese capital of Tokyo in which napalm firebombs were utilized. The first night of the bombing (March 9th, 1945) claimed the lives of 80,000, and rendered 1,000,000 homeless. Richard Finn, a professor at the American University's School of International Service and one of the writers of the Japanese Constitution, calls the bombing the "first action by the Army Air Force to carry out murder bombings of civilian targets."

The attack consisted of three waves. The first wave, consisting of 300 bombers, dropped a total of 54,000 oil-gel sticks on the wooden houses of the Japanese. The following waves dropped napalm, creating a firestorm so intense that it violently sucked the oxygen out of the surrounding air.

The raids were the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, who is best remembered for his later threat "to bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age." It is a well known fact that LeMay showed no remorse for the firebombings, and has been quoted as saying that in war, "no matter how you slice it, you're going to kill an awful lot of civilians."

LeMay was right. Death toll estimates range from 88,000 to 200,000, the majority of which were civilians. There is no indication that they were not the intended target. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey later concluded that "probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six-hour period than at any time in the history of man."


Quotes and information taken, in part, from "Burning Memories," an article which appeared in Fast Eastern Economic Review. ( Thanks to JudyT for pointing it out.

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