Should the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 by the USA be justified? The year 1945 marked the continuation of tensions among nations as the war entered its sixth year. Military factions of the nations involved were now contemplating the end of the war and discussing how the global ceasefire would be implemented, as well as determining the probable victor.
Following the defeat of the Axis Powers in Europe, attention turned to the conflict occurring in Asia and the Pacific Regions. Japan and its allies faced opposition from Great Britain, Australia, and the USA as members of the Allied Forces. In order to bring an end to this war, leaders Churchill, Stalin, and Truman (collectively known as the ‘Big Three’) gathered at the Potsdam Conference to address plans for after the war’s conclusion. A document called the Potsdam Declaration was formulated during their discussions which presented Japan with a choice: surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction”.
Despite the warning, Japan disregarded it, prompting the US to employ their recently created atomic weapons and launch them on Japan. They optimistically believed that this action would compel Japan to surrender, ultimately concluding the war according to American conditions. Speculation abounded regarding the attack during that time. Nonetheless, the US had entirely valid justifications for their decision, thus affirming that dropping the bombs on Japan was warranted. Primarily, Japan had been presented with the chance to peacefully surrender but declined due to military leadership control over the country.
Moreover, another choice was a military invasion of Japan that would likely result in numerous American casualties. However, Japan surrendered within one week of the atomic bombs being deployed, demonstrating the success of the United States’ actions. Initially, Japan declined peaceful surrender offers due to its deep national pride. Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Suzuki possessed significant control over the Japanese government and persuaded the military that their potential deaths would bring honor to their nation.
The idea of surrendering was not taken into consideration by Japanese soldiers, who believed that committing suicide would be a better alternative to avoid the great shame it would bring upon them. When the Potsdam Declaration was given to the Japanese in July 1945, conflicting perspectives arose within their government. Due to successful deciphering of Japanese codes by American spies, the US Government became aware that the emperor had approved using the neutral Soviet Union as a way to initiate peace talks with the Allies.
Despite the preference for peace negotiations, proponents still aimed to avoid surrender. On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki dismissively rejected the Potsdam Declaration, deeming it a reiteration of prior demands for unconditional surrender, and stated his intention to disregard it. Japan’s commitment to honor prevented them from surrendering. Emperor Hirohito was unwilling to accept defeat, resulting in his people having to be ready to fight until the end. Emperor Hirohito expressed his belief that they had resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer the insufferable, emphasizing the necessity of preserving national reputation and pride at any cost. Consequently, due to Japan’s refusal to surrender under peaceful terms, the USA was justified in deploying the atomic bomb. As the war’s end became increasingly imminent, the USA began contemplating their two primary alternatives: launching an invasion of Japan or utilizing atomic bombs.
After a thorough evaluation, it was determined that the most appropriate decision for the USA would be to invade Japan. Nonetheless, this operation would require a large deployment of troops. On the other hand, Japan had a formidable military consisting of four million troops and 4800 kamikaze pilots prepared for suicide missions. With their substantial numbers and willingness to die for their country’s honor, Japan presented a daunting challenge for the already outnumbered USA. The projected invasion of Kyushu Island in November 1945 on mainland Japan was predicted to have even graver consequences.
The Japanese military and civilian population were prepared to fight until death. The estimated casualties for the initial invasion of Japan were between 75,000 to 100,000, including up to 20,000 deaths. General Carl Spaatz, in charge of Air Force operations in the Pacific, believed that a conventional invasion could result in heavy casualties and give the Japanese an advantage due to their larger numbers. To avoid these high costs of invasion and potentially negotiate better surrender terms, the USA justified using the atomic bomb as a more favorable alternative.
Within a week after dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender.
Emperor Hirohito, in an underground bomb shelter at the imperial palace, declared his support for immediate surrender on August 10 at 2 a.m. He expressed concern over the potential extinction of the Japanese people if Japan refused to surrender. Koichi Kido, his primary advisor, described the dire circumstances in Japan during the summer of 1945. This included daily bombings that reduced cities to ashes and a rapid decline in food availability.
Despite these circumstances, the soldiers themselves encountered a shortage of food. Japan possessed nothing and, as winter drew near, tens of millions of individuals were in danger of perishing due to hunger and exposure. Consequently, on the evening of August 14, 1945, Emperor Hirohito delivered a pre-recorded radio address to inform his citizens about the choice to surrender. During his speech, he acknowledged that Japan had faced unfavorable conditions during the war and mentioned the catastrophic impact caused by an unimaginably destructive “cruel bomb,” which made it imperative to endure the unendurable.
The use of atomic bombs in Japan caused massive destruction and led to the Japanese Emperor’s acknowledgment of defeat. The decision to deploy these bombs has been a subject of ongoing speculation and debate, with critics questioning their usage. These critics contend that innocent civilians were intentionally targeted and propose selecting a different location for the attack. While there were indeed civilian casualties, it is crucial to acknowledge that they were not the primary objective of the attack.
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki served as military bases and weapon production centers. President Henry Truman emphasized in his diary entry on July 25th that the attack specifically targeted military objectives and soldiers, not women and children. While recognizing the enemy’s brutality, he firmly opposed causing harm to civilians. This underscores the main military purpose of the attack. Furthermore, dropping the atomic bombs was a deliberate choice made to minimize overall casualties and prevent further loss of life.
The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan by the USA was considered justifiable due to its quicker and more efficient method in ending the war, as compared to invading Japan. Although it affected civilians, this choice resulted in fewer casualties for both sides and primarily targeted military objectives. Taking into account their motives, the USA can be seen as fully justified in using this single attack. Ultimately, the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan by the USA is regarded as completely justified.
The Japanese refused to surrender peacefully. The option to invade was impractical due to projected casualties and the attack’s effectiveness was demonstrated when Japan surrendered just one week after the attacks took place. Japan, known for its persistent fight for honor and pride, ultimately suffered a defeat. The technological advancements of the USA played a crucial role in their rightful success. Bibliography Books: R. G.
The text lists various sources on the topic of Hiroshima, including books by Grant, Hogan, Sherwin, Giovanetti and Freed, Alperovitz, and an online article by Long.
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
Herbert Feis Papers, Box 103, N. B. C. Interviews, Carl Spaatz interview by Len Giovannitti, Library of Congress.