It is approximately 74 years since the United States used atomic weapons which led to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This event which involved a nuclear weapon was the first of its kind, and it is estimated that more than 129,000 Japanese citizens perished. Since then, the decision by President Truman to use the atomic bombs on Japan has become a controversial one. There has been disagreement on whether dropping the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. There bomb proponents and opponents of the decision. This paper argues that the decision was justified since it helped it prevented a plethora of United States military casualties, speedy end of the war eliminated loss of many lives, Japan leaders were reluctant to surrender and it was part of the total war. After the provision of the background of the events that led to the decision, the paper will examine the factors that justify the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Events Leading to the Decision
President Harry Truman was notified about the completion of the atomic bomb project in mid-July. The president was presented with four options concerning the war. The first option involved continuing to bomb Japanese cities using conventional methods. They had earlier used this approach, and the Japanese people did not surrender despite their heavy losses. This meant that conventional bombing was ineffective. The second option was the traditional ground invasion of Japanese homes. Since the Japanese people did not easily surrender, this option would lead to immense casualties for the American soldiers and Japanese people (Greco 59). The third option entailed testing the atomic bomb in an area that is populated. The use of this option, however, would not provide an immediate solution which was Japanese surrender. The last option entailed using the atomic bomb on a highly populated area. Bombing a city was considered highly preferred since it would create an adequate impression. This led to the atomic bombing and hence the surrender of the Japanese. Bombing a Japanese city would bring unconditional surrender (Greco 59).
Factors That Justify the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The decision by President Harry Truman was based on his belief that the detonation of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki would end the war and ultimately save lives of many United States in addition to saving the lives of many Japanese soldiers and its citizens. This section of the paper examines the factors that justify the need to use the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It Eliminated the Possibility of Increased US Military Casualties. American had her allies has developed a plan referred to as Operation Downfall whose objective was to invade Japan and force their surrender. A ground invasion of Japanese home islands would require the involvement of many United States military personnel. President Truman explained that the use of the atomic bombs saved the country approximately half a million lives which included marines, soldiers and sailors. Estimating by previous numbers, the continued war would lead to massive casualties. For instance, on 14th August 1944, America used 1,000 bombers in Japan cities through its Pacific Air Force and the result of the killing of approximately 15,000 Japanese. Again, in 10th March 1945, 300 American bombers over Tokyo killed an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Japanese in a single night (Sagar 148). This means that American forces used firebombing and conventional bombing, but the Japanese could not surrender. The use of Operation Downfall would mean the great military and civilian casualties on both sides. It is estimated that Operation Downfall would have resulted in approximately 250,000 to 1 million casualties. It is estimated that Japan would potentially lose 10 million men (Sagar 148). Considering the cost of continued the US was justified in using the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and would mean a quick end to the war.
The Attitude of the Japanese to War. This was another reason why the United States sought a quick to the war by using atomic bombs. It is important to understand that the United States was not targeting civilians. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the ideal targets since it was the location f military factories and bases (Kauffman 11). The Japanese government had passed a National Mobilization Law in 1938 which required the country to engage in "total war" (Sagar 148). This meant that the war was not only for the military, but it involved civilians as well. All the nation's resources, materials, and funds were being channeled to war operations. As earlier mentioned of the most absurd fact is that it used non-combatants civilians in the war. The entire Japan populated were mandated to be involved in the war. There were cases of civilians strapping explosives and blowing themselves when in contact with advancing soldiers. Ritual sacrifice was common during the war. For instance, Lakhs of Japanese would rather die than surrender as dictated by the traditional code of honor (Sagar 148). It can be explained that once the civilians were armed, they ceased from being innocent non-combatants once they came part of the total war. This necessitated the used of atomic bombs since it would end the war and prevent excessive loss of military and civilian lives.
Japan's Leaders were Adamant on Surrendering. The Allied required that Japan and Germany surrender unconditionally. The rhetoric of unconditional surrender was first brought about by President Roosevelt. This was in 1943 in Casablanca meeting with Churchill (Brown 9). There was an Allied Potsdam Declaration of 1945 which demanded Japanese unconditional surrender and outlined a range of measures. For instance, Japan was required to demilitarize and terminate its military occupation outside of Japan. Also, its demands that there are provisions for Allied occupation in Japan and established a framework for the development of the post-occupation Japanese Government (Brown 9). The Allied intercepted and decoded messages that indicated that Japan was against unconditional surrender. One message to the Soviet Union from Japan's Ambassador stated that "The Pacific War is a matter of life and death for Japan, and as a result of America's attitude, we have no choice but to continue the fight.....It has now become impossible for Japan to submit. Japan is fighting for her very existence and must continue to fight" (Kauffman 10). Germany has surrendered unconditionally, and Japan was left alone. The US felt that the use of atomic bombs would necessitate immediate, unconditional surrender (Kimura 24). The bombing was an opportunity for Japan to surrender unconditionally.
It Ended the Soviet Union Threat. Having examined the reasons that justified the use of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is evident that the United States was critical to saving lives on both sides (Kimura 24). It is important to understand using the atomic bomb offered an opportunity to end the war in addition to stopping the increasing Soviet Union influence. At the time, the Soviet Union was growing in influence and entry into the war by allying with Japan would increase this influence (Kauffman 10). The use of the atomic bombs would end this threat in addition to showcasing the county's strength to the Soviet Union.
This paper examines if the decision by the US to use atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justifiable. After the bombing, the decision has become controversial and led to debates. The opponents of the decision claim that the use of the atomic bombs was against a civilian population and therefore immoral. Additionally, they claim it was necessary. This paper has explained different reasons as to why the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified. For instance, the bombing eliminated the possibility of increased United States military casualties. This was also critical in preventing casualties of the Japanese soldiers and the civilians. The Japanese were engaging in total war in which even the civilians were involved in military activities. The bomb would help end the possibility of increased civilian casualties. The use of atomic bombs was the best to approach to ensuring there was an unconditional surrender of the Japanese. Lastly, the bombs were essential in demonstrating United States strength and end the increasing Soviet Union influence. It can be therefore concluded that the decision by the United States to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justifiable.
Brown, Gary. "The Atomic Bombing of Japan: Necessity or Atrocity?" Aph.Gov.Au, 1995, https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/cib/1994-95/95cib48.pdf.
Greco, Albert N. The Growth of the Scholarly Publishing Industry in the U.S. A Business History of a Changing Marketplace, 1939-1946. 1st ed., Springer International Publishing, 2018.
Kauffman, Jill. "Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" Issues and Controversies in American History." Nmsd.Wednet.Edu, 2008, http://www.nmsd.wednet.edu/userfiles/-4/my%20files/kaufman.pdf?id=634.
Kimura, Tets. "Applying Taurek'S 'Should the Numbers Count?' To (Un) Justify Hiroshima And Nagasaki: A Combination Of Historiography And Applied Ethics". Flinders Journal of History and Politics, vol 29, 2013, pp. 20-40., Accessed 27 Apr 2019.
Sagar, Anand. "Was the Nuclear Bombing of Japanese Cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki a Necessity?-a Critical Review". International Journal of Management and Applied Science, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, pp. 147-151. Accessed 27 Apr 2019.
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