The Bomb That Saved Millions The Terror that Saved Millions The atomic bomb and it’s use over the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still a source of heated debate even over fifty years later.
Many people on both sides -Japan and The United States- hold the belief that Truman’s decision to drop the bomb was a mistake and that under no circumstances should such drastic measures be taken in war. What these people do not realize are the far more horrible alternatives than the destruction of just two cities: an invasion of mainland Japan where millions of more deaths would have occurred, Soviet aid resulting in the division of Japan into a communist nation and the destruction of their culture, the deaths of thousands of Allied prisoners of war held in Japan, and the threat of renewed hostilities from Japan not to mention the possibility of several more years of bloody conflict. Throughout the course of this paper all of these examples will be discussed, as well as why Truman’s decision was the most humane and rational for all the nations involved, including Japan. Axis power in Europe was destroyed, Hitler and Mussolini were dead, their armies annihilated, their nation’s in ruins, Japan however was not.Though weakened from a near four year long war with the Allies, the Japanese continued fighting, as was their code, to fight to the death, and never surrender. President Harry Truman in the interest of saving both American and Japanese lives from an invasion of mainland Japan, authorized the use atomic bombs against Japan.
The first atomic bomb to be used on Japan was composed of uranium. It was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.
The explosion, which had the force of more than 15,000 tons of TNT, instantly and completely devastated 10 square kilometers of the heart of this city of 343,000 inhabitants. Of this number, 66,000 were killed immediately and 69,000 were injured, more than 67 percent of the city’s structures were destroyed or damaged. The next atomic bomb to be exploded was of the plutonium type, it was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, producing a blast equal to 21,000 tons of TNT. The terrain and smaller size of Nagasaki reduced destruction of life and property, but nevertheless 39,000 people were killed and 25,000 injured, while 40 percent of the city’s structures were destroyed or seriously damaged. Preceding the bombing of Hiroshima the Americans had pledged that if the Japanese did not agree to an unconditional surrender and an immediate conclusion to all hostilities that they would bomb Japan with atomic weapons.The Japanese called the Americans on a bluff or simply dismissed the American’s words as tough talk and nothing more, unfortunately for the Japanese, the Americans did have the weapons they claimed they did, and weren’t afraid to use them. Hiroshima was destroyed, though a catastrophe for the Japanese, it still did not mean their surrender. The Japanese, urged by their military establishment to continue the pursuit of victory still did not respond to the American threat.
It took the Japanese another lost city in Nagasaki three days later to commence peace negotiations. It was too late for over 100,000 people by the time the treaty was signed aboard the American Battleship U.S.Missouri on September.2nd 1945. Japan had in essence, been defeated months before the bomb was dropped, the problem no longer existed to defeat Japan, but to secure her surrender- a far more difficult task. Quite simply, the Japanese did not believe in surrender. Their nation had never lost a war.
In addition, Japan’s fighting men held ingrained beliefs that to surrender was to disgrace one’s self and one’s nation.So deeply were these thoughts held that even after both bombs had been detonated and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war, the Japanese military still opposed surrender bitterly, and would prefer death than dishonorable capitulation. With a foe with a mind set such as this, only two options could be considered by the United States government. One being the use of atomic weapons and the other being the invasion of mainland Japan. According to Truman’s top military advisors, an invasion of mainland Japan would cost and an estimated 500,000 American lives, not to mention over a million Japanese deaths.
Truman wrote years later, We estimated that if we should be forced to carry this [invasion] plan to its conclusion, the major fighting would not end until the latter part of 1946, at the earliest.I was informed that such operations might be expected to cost over a million casualties, in American forces alone. Such an operation would also require the use of European theater American troops departure from Europe to Japan, to an aid in the assault. With the largest invasion force ever assembled, comprising of approximately 2,000,000 troops. (Far larger than the Normandy invasion) According to Major General Masakazu Amanu, the chief of the Operations Section at Japanese Imperial Headquarters, We were absolutely sure of victory over an allied offensive. It was the first and the only battle in which the main strength of the air, land and sea forces were to be joined. The geographical advantages of the homeland were to be utilized to the highest degree, the enemy was to be crushed, and we were confident that the battle would prove to be the turning point in political maneuvering.To repel the invasion, Japan had almost two million troops under arms, while millions of civilians were being trained to kill invaders, with guns, explosive charges strapped to their bodies, and even bamboo spears.
Thousands of planes and midget submarines were being produced by the Japanese for suicide missions. Fleet Admiral Nimitz once wrote in a memo to Admiral King regarding the possible invasion of Japan that, We must be prepared to accept heavy casualties whenever we invade Japan. Our previous successes against ill-fed and poorly supplied units, cut down by our overpowering naval and air action, should not be used as the sole basis of estimating the type of resistance we will meet in the Japanese homeland where the enemy lines of communication will be short and the enemy supplies more adequate. In addition, to the Japanese strategic advantages, the Americans knew better than to underestimate the courage, skill, and tenacity of Japan’s military.
Fighting in defense of their homeland, they would be truly formidable and show no mercy towards their foes. It would have been the bloodiest and most bitterly fought battle of any war in history. And even if the Americans should emerge victorious after an inevitably fierce and bloody campaign which would prolong the war an estimated year and a half, total casualties and sheer destructiveness would have far exceeded those of the two atomic bombs. The Japanese had developed a new fighting code for the invasion they expected from the Americans.
They were instructed to deny aid to injured comrades, restrict retreat by making it punishable by death and converting all units including medical and logistical units into fighting units. It also called for injured soldiers and patients to participate in the battle, without any attention to one’s self. Propaganda was sent all over Japan preaching these rules and calling for every member of society to die for their native soil. One Senior Military Officer advocated involuntary sacrifices: Due to the nationwide food shortage and the imminent invasion of the home islands, it will be necessary to kill all the infirm old people, the very young, and the sick. We cannot allow Japan to perish because of them.
According to the slogans that spread through Japan, every man, woman and child was expected to fight to the death.People were told to sing a song entitled The Honorable Death of A Hundred Million. It was even proposed that with the invasion, the invaders may use Japanese civilians as cover, the Japanese fighters were given strict instructions to kill the enemy, with hostages or not, and plow down their own if it meant enemy casualties. The Japanese had even began to mass produce manned torpedoes and submarines, including 6,000 kamikaze planes.
Pilots as young as thirteen were being trained to kill themselves in the name of the emperor. How could the invasion of such a fanatical Japan, have been successful without the loss of countless lives? Upon the conclusion of the Second World War, much of the former enemies to the allies were divided into sections, one section controlled by the Soviets the other by the United States.Should the Soviets have been involved in the final defeat of Japan -which would have been necessary if the bombs hadn’t been dropped- then the Soviets would have demanded a Soviet Zone in Japan, just as they did in Germany, Korea and several other Asian nations. With the Soviets in control of a good portion of Japan, Japanese culture would have been compromised indefinitely.
It would have surely delayed Japan’s recovery, with the Soviets policy of massive reparations, and the possibility of a resurgent Japan may have …