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Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshū, the largest island of Japan. It became the first city in history assaulted by nuclear armament when the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on it on August 6, 1945, near the culmination of World War II. Hiroshima gained municipality status on April 1, 1889, and was designated on April 1, 1980, by government ordinance. The city's current mayor is Tadatoshi Akiba.

Hiroshima was founded on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea in 1589 by Mori Terumoto, who made it his capital after leaving Koriyama Castle in Aki Province. Hiroshima Castle was quickly built, and Terumoto moved in in 1593. Terumoto was on the losing side at the Battle of Sekigahara. The winner, Tokugawa Ieyasu, deprived Mori Terumoto of most of his fiefs including Hiroshima and gave Aki province to Masanori Fukushima, a daimyo who had supported Tokugawa. The castle passed to Asano Nagaakira in 1619, and Asano was appointed the daimyo of this area. Under Asano rule, the city prospered, developed, and expanded, with few military conflicts or disturbances. Asano's descendants continued to rule until the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century.

Hiroshima served as the capital of Hiroshima Domain during the Edo period. After the han was abolished in 1871, the city became the capital of Hiroshima prefecture. Hiroshima became a major urban center during the Meiji period as the Japanese economy shifted from primarily rural to urban industries. Ujina Harbor was constructed through the efforts of Hiroshima Governor Sadaaki Senda in the 1880s, allowing Hiroshima to become an important port city. The Sanyo Railroad was extended to Hiroshima in 1894, and a rail line from the main station to the harbor was constructed for military transportation during the First Sino-Japanese War. New industrial plants, including cotton mills, were established in Hiroshima in the late 1800s. Further industrialization in Hiroshima was stimulated during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, which required development and production of military supplies. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall was constructed in 1915 as a center for trade and exhibition of new products. Later, its name was changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Product Exhibition Hall, and again to Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

During World War II, the Second Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping.

The bombing of Tokyo and other cities in Japan during World War II caused widespread destruction and hundreds of thousands of deaths, nearly all civilians. For example, Toyama, an urban area of 128,000, was nearly fully destroyed, and incendiary attacks on Tokyo are credited with claiming 90,000 lives There were no such air raids in Hiroshima. However, the threat was certainly there and to protect against potential firebombings in Hiroshima, students were mobilized to demolish houses and create firebreaks.

On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the nuclear bomb 'Little Boy' was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and about 7% severely damaged.

Research about the effects of the attack was restricted during the occupation of Japan, and information censored until the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, restoring control to the Japanese.

Much has been written in news reports, novels, and popular culture about Hiroshima in the years after the bombing.

On September 17, 1945, Hiroshima was struck by the Makurazaki Typhoon (Typhoon Ida), one of the largest typhoons of the Shōwa period. Hiroshima prefecture suffered more than 3,000 deaths and injuries, about half the national total. More than half the bridges in the city were destroyed, along with heavy damage to roads and railroads, further devastating the city.

Hiroshima was rebuilt after the war, with the help from the national government through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law passed in 1949. It provided financial assistance for reconstruction, along with land donated that was previously owned by the national government and used for military purposes. Several U.S. civic leaders and scholars were consulted about the rebuilding plan.

In 1949, a design was selected for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest surviving building to the location of the bomb's detonation, was designated the Genbaku Dome or "Atomic Dome", a part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was opened in 1955 in the Peace Park.

Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament in 1949, at the initiative of its mayor, Shinzo Hamai (1905–1968). As a result, the city of Hiroshima received more international attention as a desirable location for holding international conferences on peace as well as social issues. As part of that effort, the Hiroshima Interpreters' and Guide's Association (HIGA) was established in 1992 in order to facilitate translation services for conferences, and the Hiroshima Peace Institute was established in 1998 within the Hiroshima University. The city government continues to advocate the abolition of all nuclear weapons and the Mayor of Hiroshima is the President of Mayors for Peace, an international Mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020 Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign.

October 2009

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