Skip to comments.Nagasaki, Mon Amour
Posted on 08/03/2005 1:05:28 PM PDT by Siobhan
EACH AUGUST THE DEBATE RETURNS, this year won masterfully by my Front Page Magazine brother columnist Ronald Radosh: Should the United States on August 6, 1945, have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima? Given that the alternative would have required invasion of Japan and the deaths of perhaps a quarter-million Americans, a million or more Japanese, and prolonged suffering on both sides, most moral people answer Yes, we should have dropped the bomb. We had only three bombs, one to test and two to use and none to spare on a demonstration for the Emperor.
But we should also ponder a very different question whose answer reveals much about American politics 56 years after the event: Why did the United States three days later drop a second atom bomb targeted specifically on Nagasaki? The answer might surprise or even horrify you.
Nagasaki reportedly was not on the original target list for nuclear extermination.
By late July 1945 military and Manhattan Project officials had selected four atom bomb targets. One was Hiroshima, an industrial center and staging area for Japans army and navy. The second was Kokura, home to one of Japans biggest munitions factories. The third was Niigata, a large Sea of Japan port city with a tanker terminal, oil refinery, and iron works. The fourth was the old imperial capital Kyoto, then also a huge industrial city with factories turning out parts for artillery, machinery, and aircraft.
But at the last moment the Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who arguably had knowingly precipitated Japans Pearl Harbor attack by instigating an international embargo on its life-or-death oil supplies, removed Kyoto from the list for annihilation and replaced it with Nagasaki.
On the day Nagasaki was bombed, reporter W.H. Lawrence told New York Times readers that it was more important industrially than Hiroshima, a transshipment port, and a major shipbuilding and repair center for both naval and merchantmen.
Nagasaki, indeed, was a port with one of the worlds finest deep harbors, but the beautiful mid-sized city on the far southern island of Kyushu had lost much of its status as a seaport. Hemmed in by mountains and 600 miles southwest of Tokyo, what reached or left there required transshipment, usually by sea.
Near Nagasaki was a huge Mitsubishi shipbuilding facility, but it survived the atomic bombing. Something else in this city, however, was virtually at Ground Zero and was destroyed. Was it the real target that Leftists in the Roosevelt-Truman New Deal government wanted most to obliterate?
Nagasaki was a sleepy fishing village on the day in 1542 when Portuguese sailors first dropped anchor there. Guided by their maps to Japan, on August 15, 1549, Roman Catholic missionary St. Francis Xavier landed at nearby Kagoshima, learned within a year how to speak Japanese, and began spreading the Christian faith.
By 1579, six of the regional military lords called daimyo had become Christian converts and brought 100,000 of their subjects under the sign of the cross with them.
Japan by tradition had been religiously tolerant. The Nagasaki prefecture was home to the nations ports nearest China and welcomed Buddhists, Taoists, and other traders and settlers from neighboring lands. But these new Christians were intolerant, and by 1587 the last Buddhist and ancestor-worshipping indigenous Shinto shrines had vanished from the district.
To Japans central ruler, the foreign traders and their fast-growing religion began to seem threatening, like a foreign Fifth Column in his midst. In place of the nations polytheistic faith, Christianity insisted on only one God. In a society based on submission to feudal and group authority, the new belief taught the value of the individual. In a society of central power, the faith from Europe created new rival centers of power and allegiance.
In 1587 the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued a decree proscribing Christianity and ordering the Jesuits to depart Japan within 20 days, an edict that as tempers cooled went unenforced.
But nine years later new sparks flared, and in 1597 Hideyoshi had 26 missionaries six Franciscans, three Jesuits, and 17 Japanese Christians crucified at Nagasaki. A year later 137 Jesuit churches in the region were razed, along with a college and seminary.
Hideyoshi died in 1598, and with his passing eased the first wave of persecutions. But by 1612 the new Tokugawa Shogunate issued restrictions on Christianity, and a nationwide ban was issued two years later.
In 1622 at least 51 Christians were executed in Nagasaki, and two years later 50 were burned alive for their faith in Edo (now Tokyo). More and more foreigners were excluded from Japan. 30 more Christian missionaries were executed in 1633, and two years later even Japanese residents who had lived overseas were prohibited from returning to Japan, lest they bring back an infection of foreign ideas.
Japans rulers had reason to fear. By 1614, up to 300,000 Japanese were Christians, about 10 percent of the nations entire population. Unless this contagious foreign religion with its alien values could be stopped, it would soon take over and transform Japan. To fight it, daimyo were prohibited from becoming Christians, and thousands of Christians were executed.
Around Nagasaki hundreds of pieces of silver were offered to anyone who turned in priests, monks, or even ordinary believers. Those suspected were required to step on a crucifix or later on an image of Jesus molded from the metal of desecrated Christian altars. The alien religion was driven deep underground by persecution.
The Shogun directed those in Nagasaki to reject Jesus Christ and embrace a new city guardian god whose home was the local Suwa Shrine. Each year in early October the people of Nagasaki still hold the Kunchi Festival in this pagan gods honor. It is celebrated nowadays with a dragon dance, Kokkodesho, likely brought by Chinese merchants, and Hurrah dances brought to the trading city centuries ago by Dutch sailors.
Foreign traders were confined to an island near Nagasaki. Then, around 1640, the Japanese Shogun simply slammed and locked the door, cutting his entire nation off from world trade and communication for the next two centuries.
The door was pried open again in the mid-19th Century. Trade resumed with many Western nations, including the United States. Japans exotic qualities fascinated Western artists of all kinds. Giacomo Puccini set his tragic opera about a suicidal young Japanese woman left pregnant and abandoned by an American seaman, Madame Butterfly, in Nagasaki.
By 1859, Christian missionaries were permitted to return. In 1873, Christians were again allowed to evangelize in the island kingdom. In 1895, construction began on a Roman Catholic cathedral in Urakami, a suburb of Nagasaki, that would be the largest ecclesiastical building of its type in the Far East.
And, to the missionaries surprise, over 30,000 Japanese Kakure Kirishitan, hidden Christians, emerged who had risked their lives by secretly holding true to their faith during two centuries of persecution. Now, with tear-filled eyes and rejoicing, they came to worship openly in and around the place Pope Pius IX had blessed in 1867 by canonizing its 26 now-sainted martyrs to the faith, Japans most Christian city, Nagasaki.
The plutonium bomb called Fat Man dropped from the B-29s bomb bay at 11:02 A.M. Below in the August heat nuns and old people knelt praying, and summer sunlight danced on Nagasaki Bay.
Christians able to travel had made pilgrimage here. Some came to escape the nationalist war fever and Shinto Cult of the Emperor, descendant of the Sun God, that directed hate against all alien faiths, including Buddhists and especially those loyal to the enemys faith, Christians. Surely, these pilgrims thought, the last place a Christian United States would drop its terrible new weapon would be Japans home of the Prince of Peace.
The man-made sun, brighter than a million Rising Sun Japanese flags, ignited about 1,600 feet above Ground Zero. Its wind shockwave moving at 1,400 miles per hour pulverized the crowded homes below like a giant fist. Its energy flash burned flesh from bone, then vaporized both before a scream could reach melting human lips.
Scarcely a fifth of a mile from Ground Zero, the Urakami Cathedral, its lovingly-crafted stained glass, and the worshippers inside were smashed into dust and goo and flash-broiled. Heavy carved statues of Jesus and Mary were scorched black in an instant.
The bomb, bigger than Hiroshimas, with the explosive force of 21,000 tons of TNT, destroyed essentially everything and everyone within 1.2 miles of Ground Zero. Thousands of close-clustered wooden homes and their residents vanished in the glow of a rising mushroom cloud.
In that moment, an estimated 73,884 people died at least one in 10 of them Christians. Another 75,000 were blinded, had skin burned off, or were injured by the blast or engulfing firestorms or collapsing buildings for miles around. Thousands more would die from radiation or injury over days or months.
As one writer about the Cathedral put it, through this atom bomb blast the Truman Administration was ironically killing more Christians than had ever been killed in Japan during centuries of persecution.
So why did Marxocratic policymakers inside Roosevelts and Trumans New Deal alter military targeting decisions, commanding instead that Nagasaki relatively insignificant as a military target be moved into the bombardiers crosshairs and that its Christian people be cremated alive into clicking-hot radioactive ashes by atomic bomb annihilation?
And why today do Marxocrats use every tactic and technicality to politically exterminate each Christian word and symbol in Americas public square? Is their aim to remove all religions, morals, and values that people might prefer to their dogmatic religion, Marxism?
Urakami Cathedral near Nagasaki was rebuilt by 1959, but among the citys surviving families, scarcely three percent are now Christians. Modern Japanese, shaped by Americas secular occupation, have eclectically incorporated symbols from various religions. Many, it is said, now grow up Shinto, marry like Christians, and die as Buddhists. Brides wear white wedding gowns and even wed in churches. Many families celebrate Valentines Day, and some even exchange gifts on Christmas. Several of the founders of Japans post-war democracy were raised as Christians.
But the faith that once showed signs of sweeping Japan and thereby changing Asian history is now mostly a matter of style, not religious passion or mass conversion. Scarcely one percent of Japanese now think of themselves as Christians.
French director Alain Resnais in 1959 created the film masterpiece Hiroshima, Mon Amour. It plunges viewers into the fantasies and nightmares of two lovers, a French woman and a Japanese man, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The world needs a sequel to this film to help people understand the hidden wellsprings of history, love, faith, and the limitless evil of the political Left. Call it Nagasaki, Mon Amour.
The August 9th anniversary of Trumans deliberate bombing of the Christian city of Japan is a moment for prayer and contemplation. It is also a night to look heavenward, as from then through August 12th each year our planet splashes through a river of stardust left in space by an ancient earth crossing comet. These nights bring the Perseid meteor showers as tiny fragments from that comet burn up in Earths atmosphere. Especially after midnight, when the sky overhead wheels to become the front windshield of our world as it speeds around the Sun, you should be able to see at least one shooting star per minute.
The calendar, you see, is not a timepiece but a map. And these dates in August are places the planet we share comes to again and again places, like Hiroshima
Sorry, but Kokura would have got the drop had the clouds not covered it when Fat Boy got there. It was the primary target.
So what, may I ask is the difference, between a bomb and a really big bomb?
IMO, nothing whatsoever, while we are about war.
Bumpus ad summum
So let us consider for a moment the What if. If Kokura been the target it would have been equally an immoral and godless act which the Catholic Church would have condemned and which would have brought shame on the glorious name of the USA.
Actually, I heard it in interviews of two Enola Gay crewmen describing the flight.
And I disagree with my church on this one.Given all the facts and circumstances it was a more moral choice than not dropping it.
Then you are dead wrong.
Perhaps. But what if the church had to decide the question: Which is most moral: to drop the bomb and kill 45,000, continue the firebombing (80,000 in Tokyo alone), or invade and kill ten times more, which is most moral?
I think I'm right.
And, among other things, we can add: By the way Russia just declared war, destroyed Japanese troups in Manchuria and was on the way to the islands...
And you can be a Protestant too.
The Catholic Church condemns this definitively in Gaudium et Spes,(Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) Para 80:
"With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes, and issues the following declaration:
"Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."
It didn't destroy Mitsubishi nor the entire city along with its population, nor was it capable of doing so, nor was that its intention; it's aim was to convince the Japanese to end the war and save a great deal more innocent and combatant lives. And it accomplished its aim, for both American AND Japanese.
Would you include Tokyo and a hundred other firebombed cities in this as well?
And how do you think the church would answer my question posed above. The Church also has a just war doctrine and I think my answer fits more closely with it as well.
I would trust my church to act in the world in the most moral manner given the real circumstances and choices available.
I still think I'm right, the Church would choose right.
And, if you disagree, perhaps you can be a Protestant too?
The Church has condemned the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as well as the fire bombing of Tokyo. All of that is included in Gaudium et Spes. All of it is unaccetable and none of it meets a single criterion of just war. Those who propose scenarios that might have been acceptable under a just war theory have ventured that a total blockade of Japan was both possible and would have been quickly effective as the U.S. Secretary of the Navy during the War believed. While there are those who would not concur, it would be the most acceptable to moral theologians who adjudicate such theories and possibilities.
The Catholic Church has chosen correctly and condemned such acts in every case.
Even within what you admit is a great deal of the truth though it is garbled by spin spun originally after the deed by a cadre of questionable fellows in the Truman administration.
The Nagasaki atomic bomb was twice as powerful as Hiroshima. The claim of the Truman administration was that it was to neutralize Japanese military assets in Kyushu that were massing. The claim of military assets as the target in Nagasaki has always been maintained by those who defend the Truman administration. The lie of it is that the bomb didn't touch Mitsubishi, but it wiped out the Japanese Roman Catholic motherland, murdered thousands of innocent Roman Catholic children, women, men, lay, religious, and priests, and to top it off destroyed the largest Christian Church in Asia.
That you believe the Truman administration's actions condemned by Pope Pius XII and the Second Vatican Council were justified and that you believe said condemned actions accomplished the goal of saving innocent and combatant lives whilst you acknowledge yourself to be Roman Catholic is a tribute to the enormous failure of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America to teach anything at all at the parochial level in the last forty years whether it be general theology or the moral law. I am horrified.
Thank you for your response. I don't concur of course.
I don't concur based on these criteria: there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.
When the Japanese have illustrated countless times they will die for the emperor - believed on the spiritual level that the emperor could not possibly be defeated and were completely dedicated to keep fighting and dying until the inevitable victory of god came to pass - a blockade could only result in the slow and painful annihilation of noncombatants throughout the empire - a great many more than those who lost their lives in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I believe that since even the horrors of fire bombing proved insufficient, a blockade would have only encouraged the emperor's ministers to delay, since the allied attack had turned weaker. If firebombing did not bring surrender, if Okinawa did not, if Hiroshima did not, a blockade would? No, respectfully, I think that fails to satisfy "serious prospects of success."
That the Secretary of the Navy thinks it will or might still doesn't obviate the view of those of equal or greater weight who disagreed.
In addition is the larger picture of Russia A) a much crueler combatant agains Japan and B) causing much more human suffering after the war had we not used the bomb.
For these reasons I believe it does meet the criteria of just war more suitably than a blockade, continued aerial bombardment or invasion, or doing nothing.
These were the choices and I believe the one made was the more moral decision and the one that resulted in the least loss of human life and the least human suffering both in its effect of ending the war and in its means.
So there is a lot of horror to go around. The difficult question is how to stop the horror and the Church constantly strives to be a force for just that.
My discussion is in keeping with this on its most fundamental teaching of our faith.
The lie of it is that the bomb didn't touch Mitsubishi, but it wiped out the Japanese Roman Catholic motherland "
This is not a lie. It was targeted by sight through a brief hole in the clouds. These were not smart bombs. To think the U.S. intention was to kill Catholics, well beyond the pale and beyond serious consideration.
You are correct that saturation and firebombing had been justified on very shaky military grounds. (Saturation bombing was a bit different - military targets could not be hit without it.) Our enemies of course felt no such need. But, yes, the military justification was really to cause the enemy the greatest harm and force his capitulation.
Now, there is one other possibility to end the war with less suffering still. I'm surprised you haven't mentioned it. It's only seen in hindsight, it may well have been impossible to execute, however, had a intensive effort been made, it could have brought an even better resolution to the horror.
So that I can understand your perspective on this subject better: Were/are you also opposed to the Reagan defense buildup, the Gulf War and the current War in Iraq?
And they wonder why they are an increasingly irrelevant institution.
No wondering of any kind. That's just some mighty silly projecting on your part.