Phaeton's Chariot


Scene i:  August 9, 1945, Nagasaki, 12 Noon


Scene i:  February 20, 1945; U.S. Senate
Scene ii:  April 7, 1945; Chicago
Scene iii:  April 12, 1945; U.S. House
Scene iv:  April 12, 1945; White House; 5:30PM
Scene v:  April 12, 1945; White House; 7:00PM
Scene vi:  April 12, 1945; White House; 7:30PM
Scene vii:  April 12, 1945; Chicago; 8:00 PM
Scene viii:  April 24, 1945; White House
Scene ix:  April 25, 1945; White House
Scene x:  May 24, 1945; White House
Scene xi:  June 6, 1945; White House
Scene xii:  June 18, 1945; White House
Scene xiii:  July 18, 1945; Potsdam, Truman's Study
Scene xiv:  July 18, 1945; same, Churchill's Residence
Scene xv:  July 21, 1945; same, Truman's Study
Scene xvi:  July 24, 1945; same, 8th Plenary Session
Scene xvii:  July 25, 1945; same, Truman's Study
Scene xviii:  August 6, 1945; At sea, Cruiser Augusta
Scene xix:  August 8, 1945; White House
Scene xx:  Sometime later, White House


Scene i:  August 9, 1945 10:30 AM; Tokyo;
                Meeting of the Supreme War Direction Council
Scene ii:  August 9, 1945 2:30 PM; Tokyo; Meeting of the Cabinet
Scene iii:  August 9, 1945 11:55 PM; Tokyo; Imperial Conference


Scene i:  August 10, 1945; Nagasaki

(in order of appearance)

Mitsu Ebihira
First Refugees
Second Refugees
Third Refugees
Harry S. Truman
Dr. Leo Szilard
Congressman Sam Rayburn
Mrs.. Eleanor Roosevelt
Harlan Fiske Stone
Steve Early
Henry Stimson
Gen. Leslie Groves
Gen. George Marshall
John McCloy
Winston Churchill
Joseph Stalin
Prime Minister
Foreign Minister
Navy Minister
Army Minister
Army, Chief of Staff
Navy, Chief of Staff
Agriculture Minister
Munitions Minister
Transport Minister
Justice Minister
Home Affairs Minister
Welfare Minister
State Minister
Information Minister
Education Minister
President, Privy Council
Emperor Hirohito
Young woman
Vice President, President, U.S.A.
Atomic scientist
House Speaker
wife, President Roosevelt
Chief Justice
Press Secretary
Secretary of War
Director, Manhattan Project
Gen. of the Army
Asst. Secretary War
Prime Minister, Great Britain
Leader, Soviet Union
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Supreme War Council
Supreme War Council
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Cabinet
Japanese Emperor

ACT I, Scene 1

(fragment of a scene)

August 9, 1945, Nagasaki, a chorus of townspeople


Oh mountain-clinging, tile-roofed city;
Oh sheltered, deep-harbored city;
Oh ancient, free-port, trading city;
Oh, and steel-bending, ship-building city;
(Yes, and, also, a torpedo-making city
For what province may refuse a capital's
Plea to help end a country's war quickly?)

Where are your trams and buildings now?
Where is the horse cart and the tow?
Where have your happy children gone?
Where now the sweating, toiling men?
Where are the women gathering news,
Like fish, in the nets of conversations
On the street?

                       Oh yes, and then,
Where is the war, before so far away?
Where is that plane which came, almost alone,
One hour before noon,
And there in an instant, caused the sun
To drop upon the town?

When puerile Phaeton could not more control
His powerful steeds that scorched the ground,
On the day the sun-fire
Charred the earth and turned it
To ash, gray powder and to shards.
Changed its surviving population
To but grieving lepers in the world.
Oh second-blasted, shattered city,
Where are you now? We weep for you!
You, who were but a pawn, far from
The great ministries of power that brought the war,
Thrown from your warm peaceful bed
Just like the pilot and the crew, who
Wished for peace, much more than war,
In that so much like you!

But here, now, comes Mitsu Ebihira
With her horse drawn cart, and her
Belongings; hoping to leave Shiroyama,
That part of Nagasaki, which was her home,
Heeding the grave warning to the cities,
After Hiroshima!

She hoped to return for her son, and her daughter,
Having found some other safer place,
To bring her husband, and her children, later.

Her husband had gone to work in the city hall.
Then she left home for the surrounding country, just
A little after seven. Four hours more of trouble
Had brought her, tired, to the furthermost
Edge of the city; where she saw the terrible
Thing that made her shake with fear:
A light, brighter than a hundred suns,
And followed by wind blasts, one, then
Another, like a reaper's scythe.
Last, came the roar of thunder,
As from the clashing cataracts of the

                    The bolting horse shied.
She unhitched him, and turned the cart,
Pulling it, herself, back into the racked city,
Thinking that the danger was now over.
After walking for awhile she came
Upon some others, stumbling out from
Nagasaki, far away from its core.
They were injured, and some
Limped, and walked with sticks.
Then she saw a man whose head
Was cut, bleeding and was bandaged.
She could recognize him from before.


Tell me please about Shiroyama
Was it hit? Was it hurt... very badly?


Was it hurt - very badly? My dear,
It does not exist here anymore!


I must see for myself, my children were there!


I hope that you find them, but I doubt that
You will find them still alive. And if you do
They will be dying. But if you must... go!

        *        *        *        *

(fragment of a scene)


To secure the Emperor's position the other conditions are very important. We are struggling, but at the same time the enemy is struggling. What will we do if they say the person responsible for the war is the Emperor?


The war is not even. I believe that we have already lost. I have a different opinion from the Army Minister. And, honestly, Japan has lost.


We are losing, but we are still even. We should push for the four conditions because we want to maintain the Emperor's position. Externally we have lost, but, if we can maintain the Emperor's position, then we have not lost everything.


I understand the Army Minister. We cannot say that we cannot continue the war, so therefore if we bring up four conditions then we shall continue the war and keep fighting.


I don't think the four conditions will work to maintain the Emperor's position. If we start on the negative side there is no ending the war.


The Communist's opinion is to give up the Japanese Imperial system. That intention is very dangerous. What is democracy? What is totalitarianism?


Mr. Information Minister?


When we negotiate, if we try to say that we will accept, then the negotiations will go smoothly. The Army Minister's opinion is not really in opposition.


Very well. I must now call on others who have not spoken yet. Education Minister, may we know your views?


This situation is the inner government's responsibility. I feel it's such a big responsibility, that's why I didn't say much until now.

(Translated from the notes of a member attending the climactic meeting of the Japanese Imperial cabinet August 9, 1945 2:30 PM; Tokyo. The Japanese meetings of the Cabinet and the Imperial Conference are translated from detailed notes by one of the participants at those meeting which has been edited only for clarity and to eliminate redundancy.)