Japan: The Good-Luck City

The 346,000 inhabitants of the seaport of Niigata, 160 miles north of Tokyo, have long regarded themselves as fortunate. In earthquake-prone Japan, Niigata had never been hit by a temblor. During World War II, Niigata suffered only minor U.S. air raids. On the August day in 1945 when the atom bomb was first dropped on Japan, Niigata was the alternate target in case of bad weather. But the skies that day had been clear over Hiroshima. Small wonder, Niigata was known as the "GoodLuck City."

At 1:02 p.m. one day last week, Niigata's...

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