World War 2 had many significant events, some such as the Normandy Landings, are widely known by names such as D-Day, and are talked about my nearly everyone. Some such as the Holocaust are known tragedies, and are widely discussed as learning tools of the past. However the most are concentrated on the western front of the war, but there is one that stands out on the eastern front. The dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Imperial Japan. Overall from a logical point dropping dropping the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified as a way of ending the war on the pacific front.
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One of the most relevant reasons for dropping the atomic bombs on Imperial Japan was to prevent to end the war, and prevent Operation Downfall. Operation downfall was the name of the planned invasion of Imperial Japan. Operation Downfall actually consisted of 2 main operations. Firstly Operation Olympic. This would entail the invasion of the southernmost island of mainland Japan, Kyushu. This operation would be vital to continue the invasion of mainland Japan as it would allow air bases to be setup to support the second part of operation downfall. The Japanese were fully willing to fight back and the could have been worse “especially if the defenders moved into the caves near the beaches”. C N Trueman “Operation Downfall”. Overall even with this only being the first part of the operation it still would have contained massive casualties, with “The Chiefs-of-Staff estimated that a 90-day campaign in Kyushu could cost as many as 450,000 casualties, including over 100,000 dead.”C N Trueman “Operation Olympic”. The secondary part of the operation was as Operation Coronet. It was the secondary planned invasion of Imperial Japan. A massive landing would have occured on beaches to the south of Tokyo and it would have been a fierce fight “The fanaticism with which the Japanese were likely to defend the city that their emperor lived in, would have caused massive casualties for the Americans and her allies, even with air cover.” C N Trueman “Operation Olympic”. And “The fanaticism with which the Japanese were likely to defend the city that their emperor lived in, would have caused massive casualties for the Americans and her allies, even with air cover.” .C N Trueman Operation Olympic”. However it was not a matter of would America succede it was a matter of when “The problem for Harry Truman and his generals was never going to be outright defeat of an invasion, but rather how long and costly the victory.” “Michael Peck Operation Downfall…” Overall Operation Downfall would have cost many lives “Including Coronet, it was estimated that America would experience 1.2 million casualties, with 267,000 deaths.” CN Trueman Operation Olympic” However America would succeed. But because of the the Atomic bombs being dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima Operation Downfall ended up being cancelled and hundreds of thousands of American lives alone would had been saved.
On the front of damage Nagasaki and Hiroshima were not damaged significantly more than other cities affected by the War in Imperial Japan. Although the damage was significant it was very similar to other cities. One such example was the bombing of Tokyo. Over a single night from the 9-10th of March in 1945 nearly the entirety of Tokyo was destroyed. “One of the most destructive acts of war in history, more destructive than the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki. Although the precise death toll is unknown, conservative estimates suggest that the firestorm caused by incendiary bombs killed at least 80,000 people, and likely more than 100,000, in a single night” Bombing of Tokyo R.G. Grant”. Footnotes 2 & 3 are images showing Tokyo after the Bombing of Tokyo, as well as a ground photo of Hiroshima after being hit by Little boy. The devastation in both is indisputably horrific, but it shows that whether an atomic bomb is used or conventional firebombing is used, the devastation is the same. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were also intended to be military targets “This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.” Harry S Truman Diary”. However nearly all cities in Japan have recovered, and improved since World War 2, and for a city such a Nagasaki. It took time but Nagasaki and Tokyo as examples have rose from the ashes much like a phoenix “With the will of peace and development carried on by generations of people, Nagasaki was successfully rebuilt after the war, and has become a thriving city greater than it had been before.”Rebuilding of Nagasaki…, Xuan Bing Cheng”. And although people worry about things like radiation, at current times “The radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki today is on a par with the extremely low levels of background radiation (natural radioactivity) present anywhere on Earth. It has no effect on human bodies.” The City of Hiroshima. Even around the time of the bombing “Research has indicated that 24 hours after the bombing the quantity of residual radiation a person would receive at the hypocenter would be 1/1000th of the quantity received immediately following the explosion. A week later, it would be 1/1,000,000th. Thus, residual radiation declined rapidly. “ The City of Hiroshima”. Overall, the Atomic Bombs caused similar damage to conventional bombings in Imperial Japan and helped to end the war, as a message was showed due to the damaged only being caused by a bomb per city with massive damage still being caused.
Finally the Japanese refusal to surrender was the a major point in decision of of not surrendering by the Imperial Japanese government. The Supreme War Supreme War Direction Council formed a draft in mid may read as the following “On the strength of its advantageous geographical position and the undying loyalty and solidarity of its people, the Empire will prosecute the war to the end in order to preserve the national polity and protect the Imperial Homeland, thereby securing the foundations for the future development of the race.”. Chapter 20: Decision to Surrender”. This showed that the leaders in power of Imperial Japan still maintained a pro-war position. This meant that biring the war to a close on the Pacific front would be difficult and it’s the reason operation downfall was made. In Hiroshima by John Hersey nearly immediately after the bomb is dropped on Hiroshima Mr Tanimoto made saw the following “In the Street, the first thing he saw was a squad of soldiers who had been burrowing into the hillside opposite, making one of thousands dugouts in which the Japanese apparently intended to resist invasion, hill by hill, life for life;” HERSEY, JOHN. HIROSHIMA. WWW BNPUBLISHING COM.” This again shows that the Japanese army was willing to fight down to the last man, surrender was not going to come easy, if at all. Dropping the Atomic bomb helped to bring a swift end to the war against Imperial Japan. It brough V.E Day ever so closer and saved lives by preventing further invasion of Japan.
In Conclusion dropping the Atomic Bombs on Imperial Japan was entirely justified as a way of preventing further suffering through an invasion, furthur firebombings, and as a way to force the Japanese government into surrendering. With Hindsight, it’s easy to say whether a decision that was made is correct or not, but considering the times, it was a difficult decision, even Harry S Truman struggled with the decision saying “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world.” along with “ It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler’s crowd or Stalin’s did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered.”. “Harry S Truman Diary”. This shows that even with the victory in our hands, the decision is not one that is simple and that will never change, because surrender is not something people give in to easily, and sometimes action must be taken to bring surrender, and try to save lives.
2: Aerial photo of Tokyo after the bombing of March 9-10. US National Archives (View Below)
3:Hiroshima after the bomb. The view from the ground. US National Archives (View Below)
Primary: Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945
Gene Dannen – http://www.dannen.com/decision/hst-jl25.html
HERSEY, JOHN. HIROSHIMA. WWW BNPUBLISHING COM, 2019. Page 6 paragraph 2 Line 8-13 “In the Street, the first thing he saw was a squad of soldiers who had been burrowing into the hillside opposite, making one of thousands dugouts in which the Japanese apparently intended to resist invasion, hill by hill, life for life;”
- C N Trueman “Operation Downfall” https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/the-pacific-war-1941-to-1945/operation-downfall/
- Operation Downfall: How America Would Have Invaded Japan (it Would Have Been Hell) Michael Peck – https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/operation-downfall-how-america-would-have-invaded-japan-it-would-have-been-hell-28112
- American Firebombing and Atomic Bombing Of Japan in History and Memory The Journal – https://apjjf.org/2016/23/Selden.html
- “CHAPTER XX DECISION TO SURRENDER.” Chapter 20: Decision to Surrender, https://history.army.mil/books/wwii/MacArthur%20Reports/MacArthur%20V2%20P2/ch20.htm
- Rebuilding of Nagasaki After The Atomic Bombing, Xuanbing Cheng http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/cheng2/
- Bombing Of Tokyo R.G. Grant – https://www.britannica.com/event/Bombing-of-Tokyo
- The City of Hiroshima : Is There Still Radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/www/contents/1319178283612/index.html
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