Should the USA have used the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945? 1945 began as a year of increasing tensions between countries as the war extended onto its sixth year. Military groups of the various countries involved were now beginning to seriously consider the conclusion of the war in terms of how the global ceasefire would be carried out and frankly, who would win.
After the defeat of the Axis Powers in Europe, the focus had been turned towards the war in Asia and the Pacific Regions in which the Allied Forces of Great Britain, Australia and the USA were in conflict with the Axis power of Japan and her partners.
Following the urge to end the war, the ‘Big Three’ made up of the three leaders of the major Allied Forces; Churchill, Stalin and Truman met for what is known as the Potsdam Conference to discuss ‘post-war world’ and as a result, the Potsdam Declaration was written giving the Japanese an opportunity to surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction”.
Despite this opportunity, the Japanese chose to ignore the warning, thus, the US decided to administer the use of their newly developed nuclear weapons and drop the atomic bombs on Japan with both hope and belief that the Japanese would be forced to surrender and thus, ending the war on American terms. At the time, there was massive speculation surrounding the attack. However, the USA had entirely justifiable reasons behind the attack; therefore, they should have dropped the bombs on Japan. Firstly, Japan had been given the opportunity to surrender on peaceful terms but refused due to military being in control of the nation.
Secondly, the only alternative was an invasion on Japan; however this action would not end lightly with predictions of huge casualties on the Americans’ part. Furthermore, the Japanese surrendered within a week of the dropping of the bombs proving the effectiveness of the USA’s actions. Japan, being a fiercely proud nation, refused to surrender when offered on peaceful terms. Under the tight reins of Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese Government lead by Prime Minister Suzuki, the Japanese military were forced to think of their probable death as an act of pride on behalf of their nation.
Surrender was out of the question. If a Japanese Soldier were to surrender, he would be expected to suicide as an act of escaping the utter shame he has brought on himself. When the Potsdam Declaration was issued to the Japanese in July 1945, conflicting attitudes arose among the Japanese Government. Since American spies had cracked Japanese codes, the US Government were now aware that the emperor had given his support to the idea of using the neutral Soviet Union as a pathway between peace negotiations with the Allies.
Despite this, even those in favour of settling matters on peace negotiations still wanted to avoid actual surrender. On July 28, the Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki contemptuously rejected the Potsdam Declaration, calling it a “rehash” of previous calls for unconditional surrender and said that he intended to “ignore it”. The Japanese had too much honour to surrender. Emperor Hirohito was not prepared to accept defeat so his people had to be prepared to fight to the death. We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable” said Emperor Hirohito, expressing his views on the conditions his people must tolerate as a result of their ongoing persistence to maintain national reputation and pride at all costs. Therefore, due to the Japanese government and military refusing surrender on peaceful terms, the USA was justified in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. As the conclusion of the war was drawing closer than ever, the USA began to weigh out their two main options: to carry out an invasion on Japan or to drop the atomic bombs.
After careful assessment, only one of these options seemed ideal. If the USA were to invade Japan, the cost in troops would be massive. Furthermore, the Japanese military had four million troops and 4800 kamikaze pilots for suicide missions. The USA were outnumbered and were not prepared to lose anymore lives, whereas Japan were fully prepared with their millions of troops who were willing to sacrifice their lives as a tribute to the honour of their nation. It was predicted that the invasion of the Japanese mainland at the Island of Kyushu, scheduled for November of 1945, would be even worse.
The entire Japanese military and civilian population would fight to the death. American casualties for just the initial invasion to get a foothold on the island of Japan would have taken up to an estimated two months and would have resulted in up to 75,000 to 100,000 casualties and potentially up to 20,000 dead. And that was just to secure the beginning of the invasion. “If we were to go ahead with the plans for a conventional invasion with ground and naval forces, I believe the Japanese thought that they could inflict very heavy casualties on us and possibly as a result get better surrender terms. said General Carl Spaatz who was in charge of the Air Force operations in the Pacific. He expresses in his words that he strongly believes that the Japanese knew they had a good chance of overcoming this invasion due to their potential to cause mass destruction in terms of outnumbering the American troops. Thus, due to the undesirable costs the alternative of invasion presented, the USA was justified in using the atomic bomb on Japan as the more ideal alternative. After the dropping of the second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan within a week of this second attack.
At 2 a. m. on the morning of August 10, at a meeting held in an underground bomb shelter at the imperial palace, Emperor Hirohito declared himself in favour of immediate surrender because if not “the Japanese race would perish”. Koichi Kido, Hirohito’s chief advisor, described the utterly desperate state of his country in summer 1945: “The cities of Japan were being burned by bombings…At least one city and at times two were being turned into ashes daily…The food situation was becoming worse and worse.
Under such conditions even the soldiers had not much to eat. There was nothing in Japan…With winter ahead…tens of millions of people [faced] dying a dog’s death from hunger and exposure. ” So on the night of August 14 1945, Emperor Hirohito recorded a radio broadcast to tell his people of the decision to surrender. In his speech he acknowledged that “…the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage…” and referred to the “cruel bomb” capable of causing “incalculable” damage which had made it necessary to “endure the unendurable”.
This proves the effect the atomic bombing had on Japan. It caused such intense yet necessary damage, that after years of persistence, the Japanese Emperor admitted defeat. Through years of speculation on the choice of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan, criticism of their use has arisen. Some say that the bomb was dropped on innocent civilians and the attack should have been targeted at a more approriate area. This is to some extent true in terms of the civilian casualties however; they were in no way the sole target of the attack.
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are military bases and weapon producing industrial areas. On July 25, President Henry Truman wrote in his diary “…military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare [are not]. The target will be a purely military one. ” Truman’s words outline the real target of the attack, proving that civilians were not the main target. Furthermore, the attack was a way to prevent extensive loss of lives.
As outlined previously, the alternative was to invade Japan, causing massive losses of lives on both sides. According to statistics, the dropping of the bomb was a quicker and more effective way of ending the war. Less blood was shed on both sides as a result of this one off attack. Therefore, despite the attack affecting civilians, the main target was purely military, thus, the USA was justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. In conclusion, the USA was completely justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan, as their reasons for doing so were entirely valid.
The Japanese were not prepared to surrender on peaceful terms; the alternative to invade was unrealistic in terms of the predicted casualties and the effectiveness of the attack was proved after the surrender of Japan within a week of the attacks. Japan, a country of relentless persistence in their battle to retain honour and pride, suffered an inevitable defeat with the USA’s technological advancements proving absolutely necessary in achieving their rightful success. Bibliography Books: R. G.
Grant (2005), Hiroshima, Franklin Watts, Alexandria NSW. Michael J. Hogan (ed. ) (1996), Hiroshima in History and Memory, Cambridge University Press. Martin J. Sherwin (1975), A World Destroyed, Knopf. Giovanetti, L and Freed, F (1967), The Decision to Drop the Bomb, Mathuen. Alperovitz, G (1994), Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam, Pluto Press. Internet: Long, D (unknown date of creation), Hiroshima: Who disagreed with the Atomic Bombing? (online), retrieved August 31, 2012 from http://www. doug-long. com/quotes. htm
Various Authors (last modified September 7, 2012), Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (online), retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki#Nagasaki BBC Corporations (unknown date of creation), 1945: US drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima (online), retrieved August 25, 2012 from http://news. bbc. co. uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/6/newsid_3602000/3602189. stm Other: Herbert Feis Papers, Box 103, N. B. C. Interviews, Carl Spaatz interview by Len Giovannitti, Library of Congress.
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