Hiroshima And Nagasaki Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the untold story Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the untold story On August 6th 1945, the first Atomic Bomb, “Little Boy,” was dropped on Hiroshima, and three days later on August 9th 1945, the second atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan’s industrial capital. The decision to use the Atomic Bomb against Japan was a poor one considering the damage, the devastation, and the amount of people left dead, injured, or suffering the loss of a family member or a friend, all for the sake of quickly ending the ongoing War. When the Japanese had realized that they were the only ones left in the war, Germany their ally, was already beaten out of the war and all efforts were now concentrated at them, the Japanese began suing for a peaceful end to the war. Apart from the fact that Japan had been suing for a peaceful end to the war, there were a number of alternative routes of action that the Americans had at their fingertips, and could have taken advantage of at a moment’s notice, which could have possibly saved a lot of lives, both American and Japanese. After analyzing the amount of damage and the amount of lives lost as a result of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, it becomes evident that dropping the bomb was not worth a quick end to the war.
Much of why Japanese surrender took so long to come through reverts back to the Samurai Tradition in Japan. First, the Emperor didn’t not intervene in political affairs as he was considered to be above such petty human politics, and second, the Japanese code of honor which puts death before dishonor. The Americans had intercepted messages from the Foreign Minister Togo, to Ambassador Sato expressing the desires of the Emperor for a peaceful end to the war, “[h]is Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greaterevil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all belligerent powers, desires from his heart thatit may be quickly terminated” (Alperovitz 23). The desire of the Emperor for an end to the war never came true until both atomic bombs had been dropped on two of Japan’s key industrial cities, as the Emperor never formally expressed this desire. In the samurai tradition, the Emperor is held at a God-like status and therefore, is considered above politics, so therefore he never intervenes, and was never expected to intervene in political issues, his role was to sanction decisions made by the Cabinet, whether he personally approved of them or not.For this reason, the Emperor never expressed his desire for peace to the Cabinet; it was an unprecedented act (Long).
The retention of the Emperor was crucial to the surrender, as the Japanese believed their Emperor was a god, the heart of the people and the culture (Long). This Japanese belief is a part of a tradition that dates back to 660 B.C. when the first Japanese Emperor, Jimmu, who according to legend was a descendant of the sun god, Amaterasu. So there fore, according to the tradition, the emperor during this time, Hirohito, was said to be a divine being.It is for this reason that the Japanese sued for peace based on the “Atlantic Charter of 1941” that was drafted up by Roosevelt and Churchill on August 4th, 1941. According to the “Atlantic Charter,” every nation could choose its own form of government, thus, if Japan were to surrender based on these terms, they would be able to retain the emperor, their God (Alperovitz). However, when the United States offered a peace agreement based on “Unconditional Surrender,” the Japanese refused this offer as no provisions had been made for their Emperor.
As Leon V. Sigal states, ” .. one point was clear to senior [United States] officials, regardless of where they stood on war termination ..the critical condition for Japanese surrender was the assurance that the throne would be preserved” (Alperovitz 31). It turns out that the unconditional surrender clause of the peace agreement was the major factor that hindered Japanese surrender at this point in the war. According to the surrender agreement, “the authority that deceived the people into embarking on world conquest must be eliminated from Japan” (Long).
To the Japanese this sounded like a threat being made to their Emperor. This to the Japanese would almost be like the crucifixion of Jesus in the Christian faith.The Japanese feared that if they surrendered based on these terms, first of all, they would loose their Emperor, and second, it sounds as if the Emperor would be treated as a war criminal. The Japanese officials and people were not willing to take such a risk. According to British Major General Sir Hastings Ismay in his memoirs, ” .. [I]f they [Japanese] were given to think that a rigid interpretation would be placed on the term ‘unconditional surrender,’ and that their Emperor would be treated as a war criminal, every man, woman, and child would fight until doomsday.
If on the other hand, the terms of surrender were phrased in such a way as to appear to preserve the right of their Emperor to order them to lay down their arms, they would have done so without a moment’s hesitation” (Alperovitz 370).The Japanese people had such a passion for their Emperor that if there was the slightest hint that he was going to be treated like a common war criminal, the Japanese people, man, woman, and children would rather fight to the death before they allow such a thing to take place. Even after the Atomic Bomb had been dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a vote in the Japanese government still came up deadlocked between the hawks and the doves. The doves wanted to surrender as they realized that Japan only faced more destruction if they continued the fighting. The hawks were in favor of continuing the war to the end, regardless of material damage to Japan. In the Samurai tradition, a part of the honor code is that “hopelessness in a battle is no reason to surrender” (Long), so the Japanese were not concerned about surrendering merely because the situation looked hopeless.The major concern for the Japanese military was the loss of honor; they had a code of “death before dishonor” (Long). So therefore, a Japanese soldier would prefer death to surrendering, for to surrender is to give up one’s honor.
Apart from the fact that the Japanese had long wanted a peaceful end to the war, there were a number of alternatives that the Americans could have taken, as opposed to dropping the atomic bomb. The Americans had a superior air force, a superior navy, and a superior army. Along with the superiority of the American forces, Japan was decimated; the American forces had defeated Japan’s air force, navy, and army.The Japanese were completely cut off from the rest of the world, as Robert Butow said, ” .. the scales of the war had been tipped so steeply against the Japanese that no counterweight at their disposal could have balanced them. Germany, which for the Japanese had been a seemingly invincible first line of defense, was facing inevitable destruction; the defense perimeter that the Japanese had created far out beyond their island base had been cracked and deeply penetrated; worst of all, Japan’s military potential was dropping rapidly with her industrial capacity, as American submarines and planes cut the last of her economic lifelines to the outside world and great aerial armadas began the methodical destruction of her cities” (Alperovitz 17). The simplest alternative that the Americans could have taken would have been to sustain the blockade that had already been in place.
While being bombarded from the sky, a naval blockade strangled Japan’s ability to import oil and other vital minerals, and its ability to produce war materials (Long).Due to the effective air, sea, and land blockade that was in progress, Japan was unable to ” ..
maintain their industry, maintain their shipbuilding, and carry on their commercial life .. “(Alp 327). Also, there was a heavy destruction of machinery and equipment, which were impossible to replace because of the blockade. Japan was defeated from all possible angles, according to Captain Robert Dornin, “We had then on their knees .
.”(Alp 329). Japan was devastated, all that the American forces had to do was to hold out the blockade, Dornin states, ” .. why not wait for three or four months and then if they didn’t [surrender], drop the [atomic] bomb”(Alp 329). In the course of time, the effective naval blockade would have starved the Japanese into submission through a lack of oil, rice, medicine, and other essential materials, according to Chief of the U.
S. Fleet and Naval Operations, Ernest King. The Allied forces were defeating Japan in every way possible.
The fall of Saipan in early July of 1944 and of Tinian and Guam one month later, provided base which brought the homeland into much closer range for B-29 conventional bombings. In September, Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, Commander of the Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, was able to tell General “Hap” Arnold, Commander of the Army Air Forces: “the situation is developing rapidly and there are trends which indicate that the Jap is not going to last much longer. His sea power is so badly depleted that it is no match for any one of several task forces we could put into action.
His air power is in a bad way.He has a lot or airplanes- probably more than he had a year ago- but he has lost his elements, flight, squadron and group leaders and his hastily trained replacements haven’t the skill or ability or combat knowledge to compete with us .. . Without the support of his sea power and air power, his land forces cannot do anything except hold out in isolated beleaguered spots all over the map until bombs, bullets, disease, or starvation killed them off ..
” The Russians, under Stalin, gave notice that it would not renew its existing Neutral Pact with Japan and would enter the war on the Allied side. So another alternative could have been to await the Russian entry into the war as an American ally. According to the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division, the entry of Russia into the war as an American ally would have caused Japan to capitulate.In 1945, Eisenhower states, ” .. we three, Britain with her mighty fleet, America with the strongest air force, and Russia with the strongest land force on the continent ..
” could have brought an end to the war (Alp 353). Even without the Russians entering the war, and without the atomic bomb being used, Japan could have been defeated, …