Skip to comments.Why did Japan surrender? (Historian argues Soviet Declaration, Not A-Bomb)
Posted on 08/19/2011 2:21:26 PM PDT by mojito
What ended World War II?
For nearly seven decades, the American public has accepted one version of the events that led to Japans surrender. By the middle of 1945, the war in Europe was over, and it was clear that the Japanese could hold no reasonable hope of victory. After years of grueling battle, fighting island to island across the Pacific, Japans Navy and Air Force were all but destroyed. The production of materiel was faltering, completely overmatched by American industry, and the Japanese people were starving. A full-scale invasion of Japan itself would mean hundreds of thousands of dead GIs, and, still, the Japanese leadership refused to surrender.
But in early August 66 years ago, America unveiled a terrifying new weapon, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In a matter of days, the Japanese submitted, bringing the fighting, finally, to a close.
On Aug. 6, the United States marks the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings mixed legacy. The leader of our democracy purposefully executed civilians on a mass scale. Yet the bombing also ended the deadliest conflict in human history.
In recent years, however, a new interpretation of events has emerged. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa - a highly respected historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara - has marshaled compelling evidence that it was the Soviet entry into the Pacific conflict, not Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that forced Japans surrender. His interpretation could force a new accounting of the moral meaning of the atomic attack. It also raises provocative questions about nuclear deterrence, a foundation stone of military strategy in the postwar period. And it suggests that we could be headed towards an utterly different understanding of how, and why, the Second World War came to its conclusion.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
FReepers, have at it.
I have heard this theory before and by people who sounded competent.
My opinion is that it is the stupidest idea I have ever heard put forward by normal people.
The Russians waited until they knew it was over then declared war to gobble up as much territory as they could.
The Japanese themselves have said that the Soviet invasion of Manchuria was at least as big a factor in the surrender as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They knew they could hold off the Americans and Commonwealth forces on Honshu and Kyushu for a while, with thousands of kamikazes and millions of suicidal troops and civilian militia waiting. But they had stripped the north to do it. The prospect of hundreds of thousands of Red Army troops landing on Hokkaido with very little to stop them was one that truly scared them.
The use of the A-bombs was a necessary one, and it definitely helped convince Hirohito to end the war. But so did the thought of the Red Army raping and pillaging their way across northern Japan. They had no doubt heard what had happened on the road to Berlin.
What a coincidence that they decided Russia was a concern right after we obliterated two of their cities.
This has been the Soviet line since 1945. Of course, Stalin only entered the war because he saw that Japan’s defeat was imminent and wanted to grab as much territory as possible.
The likely fact is that the combination of disasters pushed Hirohito to decide for peace.
revisionist history again
Why must it be either or? I think its obvious they saw all was lost, considering all factors.
They sure did. Uncle Joe was shrewd. He knew exactly how to get maximum results with minimum effort. Look at what he did in 1940 after the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact was signed with Germany...Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, all gobbled up in record time.
He also told the Japanese one thing and the Allies another. The neutrality pact between Japan and the USSR said that either party could break it with twelve months’ notice. Stalin gave that notice in the late spring of 1945, after V-E Day. But Churchill and Roosevelt worked out with him that he would break the pact and invade Japan three months after Germany surrendered. They kept that timetable exactly. Germany surrendered on May 8, the Soviets invaded Manchuria on August 8.
Had the hard-liners in the Japanese government succeeded in continuing the war, it’s likely that Tokyo would have been the target of the third atomic bomb later in August. Meanwhile, the Soviets would have been preparing to cross into northern Japan, which was nowhere near as defended as southern Japan...and of course, we would have been preparing to invade Japan, which would have made Normandy and Okinawa combined look like a Boy Scout hike. As much of a war criminal as Hirohito was, his realization that Japan was finished saved millions of lives in the end.
The non-military wanted to surrender before the bomb. They were just looking for a way to do it and save face (they had actually contacted Moscow to act as an intermediary).
The military did not want to surrender.
Who would have won the argument if we had not dropped the bomb? The military.
After we dropped the bomb, the Emporer finally stepped in and broke the stalemate and said they would surrender. What most people don’t know is that the night before Japan was to surrender, a group of military officers tried to break in and steal the Emporer’s already recorded surrender speech (scheduled to be aired the next day) and stage a coup. This was tantamount to blasphemy in Japan, yet some military officers still tried it.
Without the dropping of the bomb, the Emporer could have never of broken the stalemate and surrendered—the military establishment would never have stood for it.
Reference: The World at War (BBC documentary)
This theory has been around for a long time. The Japs felt the Russians breathing down the Salkalin Islands, knowing full well the brutalit that would ensue, after the Jap antics in Manchuria. The theory has alot of credibility.
Japan would have been divided, like Korea, had we not dropped the bomb.
Russia actually worked to prevent the end of the war so they could enter (and claim Japanese territory).
The Japanese govt had contacted the Russians to act as intermediaries between themselves and the allies about ending the war. The Russins told the Japanese they would do so, then did no such thing. Instead, they make preperations to enter the war against Japan on the date they had promised the other allies.
Which also points out that the Japanese didn’t fear Russia entering the war, because the Japanese thought the Russians were helping them negotiate an end to the war.
IIRC the ever opportunistic Soviets broke their 1938 nonaggression pact with Japan and invaded Manchuria just before the atomic bombings. And if I also recall correctly, the Soviets failed to annihilate the Japanese garrison in Manchuria & northeast China which survived to surrender to the Americans.
Revisionism’s fun, no doubt. Just ask anyone who thinks they can build a rep for new & independent thought just by turning historical “assumptions” on their ear. Nothing new here, Gabriel Kolko and William A. Williams preceded this modern Japanese revisionist by generations in blaming the U.S. for a supposed nuclear overreaction.
I’m somewhat of a fan of Hirohito, who looked at the Nagasaki destruction and said “Holy S**t!!” and risked his own life to force the Jap warlords to accept his concept of ceasing resistance to save the Japan home islands. BTW, it was so nice how they saved Tojo’s life after his botched suicide attempt, so the murdering little b@stard could swing for his crimes later.
They’re all as one in blaming America and floating candle lanterns on August 9th in a teary guiltfest, on the date most in Japan now believe that the “Pacific War” really began. It’s old and tiresome. Ask that History Hashimoto about the Rape of Nanking among other outreach efforts by the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
“The Atomic Bomb: Made in America, Tested in Japan”
"Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, nor to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers."
- Emperor Hirohito
I think this remains an accurate assessment of Japanese thinking at the end of the war.
What the new revisionism must claim is that a Soviet invasion of Manchuria would have caused Japan to surrender, even if there had been no nuclear attacks.
Personally, I think the Soviets would have been in for a heck of a fight.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
The fact that despite overwhelming conventional forces the mere possession of nuclear capability by us kept Stalin from marching on Western Europe in 1945-46-47.
If it kept Stalin at bay, with all his armies and tanks,
why would it not do so against Japan, who rightly feared
that the next one might take out the Imperial Palace and
all it represented?
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