Seventy-five years ago, the United States Army Air Forces launched the single deadliest air raid of World War II when 279 B-29s dropped 1,510 tons of bombs on Tokyo over a period of almost three hours.
Estimates of the number of people killed in the bombing of Tokyo on March 10 differ. After the raid, 79,466 bodies were recovered and recorded. Many other bodies were not recovered, and the city’s director of health estimated that 83,600 people were killed and another 40,918 wounded. The Tokyo fire department put the casualties at 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believed that 124,711 people had been killed or wounded. After the war, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey estimated the casualties as 87,793 killed and 40,918 injured. The survey also stated that the majority of the casualties were women, children and elderly people. Frank wrote in 1999 that historians generally believe that there were between 90,000 and 100,000 fatalities, but some argue that the number was much higher. For instance, Edwin P. Hoyt stated in 1987 that 200,000 people had been killed and in 2009 Mark Selden wrote that the number of deaths may have been several times the estimate of 100,000 used by the Japanese and United States Governments The large population movements out of and into Tokyo in the period before the raid, deaths of entire communities and destruction of records mean that it is not possible to know exactly how many died.
Lesley Stahl: We’ve had Rwanda, we’ve had Bosnia. You’re not getting very far.
Benjamin Ferencz: Well, don’t say that. People get discouraged. They should remember, from me, it takes courage not to be discouraged.
Lesley Stahl: Did anybody ever say that you’re naive?
Benjamin Ferencz: Of course. Some people say I’m crazy.
Lesley Stahl: Are you naive here?
Benjamin Ferencz: Well, if it’s naive to want peace instead of war, let ’em make sure they say I’m naive. Because I want peace instead of war. If they tell me they want war instead of peace, I don’t say they’re naive, I say they’re stupid. Stupid to an incredible degree to send young people out to kill other young people they don’t even know, who never did anybody any harm, never harmed them. That is the current system. I am naive? That’s insane.