Skip to comments.The Story of Nagasaki
Posted on 08/09/2014 1:11:18 AM PDT by right-wing agnostic
By May of 1945 an exhausted and overrun Germany had surrendered. The war in Europe was over. The United States, aided by Great Britain, moved closer and closer to Japan. Massive suicide attacks by the Japanese caused great losses to the Pacific Fleet, but did not deter its drive.
Japan, thinking the Soviet Union was a friendly neutral in the war in the Pacific, submitted unofficial peace feelers to the United States through them. The Soviet Union, secretly wanting to join the war against Japan, suppressed the feelers. Ironically, the Japanese military made it impossible to pursue peace directly, as they arrested or killed anybody who tried to extend official peace offerings. As it was, these unofficial feelers were completely unacceptable to the U.S. as they merely made vague offering to return conquered territories in exchange for peace.
The big strategic question was how to force Japan's surrender.
Japan's major cities had been fire-bombed almost nightly. The islands were blockaded and the Japanese Navy had been destroyed. Planning for a massive invasion by Allied forces was underway. But was that the best answer? The cost in lives for both Allied forces and Japanese civilians would be heavy.
Harry S. Truman had just become the U.S. Presidency following Franklin Roosevelt's death. The United States wanted the Soviet Union to enter the war, but was concerned that it would dominate too much of East Asia if the war dragged on. There were two atomic bombs available. Truman made a quick decision: drop both bombs as soon as possible, allowing a short time between missions for Japanese surrender.
(Excerpt) Read more at atomicarchive.com ...
I question the sincerity of “peace feelers” to the USSR. Richard Frank’s “Downfall” is the best source on Japanese actions during this time-—they weren’t looking to surrender but to negotiate terms so they could stay in China. Potsdam was already done and the Russkies promised to join the war “as soon as possible.”
American bomber pilot Paul W. Tibbets Jr. (center) stands with the ground crew of the bomber 'Enola Gay' which Tibbets flew in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Tinian Island, Northern Marianas, August 1945.
War is hell. I read that somewhere.
I hear the story ends with quite a...bang.
That’s my understanding as well. Given that the Japanese military quashed any peace overtures, just how peace was supposed to be implemented seems impossible. Of course, I’m no Howard Zinn.
The thing civilians never see are the classified intelligence reports. The ones for Japan were recently declassified and they showed Japan had withheld its military against the US in the Pacific islands. They were holding their best for the inevitable homeland invasion. They were extremely well prepared. We were facing an Army far larger than our own, that was dug in (even with underground air bases) and ready to fight to the last man. We were facing at least 1 million dead US soldiers, minimum. The bomb was the only answer.
Would appreciate a reference that Japan would have been able to field an Army larger, much less far larger, than our own against Operation Downfall.
The information I've seen indicates we'd outnumber them about 3:1.
Thank you for this interesting article.
“Would appreciate a reference...The information I’ve seen indicates we’d outnumber them about 3:1.”
Same here. Where did you get the 3:1?
The final plan for Olympic called for 18 US divisions to attack 11 Japanese divisions. Don’t know about comparative size of the divisions.
I’ve seen claims the Japanese had 900,000 men on Kyushu by August.
The Japanese had plenty of men, but very limited stocks of fuel, equipment, ammo, etc. and almost no way to replace those stocks when used. Their combat power was not at all proportionate to their numbers.
Who knows what would have happened? What is very nearly certain is that the total number of casualties would have exceeded those of the A-bombs by at least an order of magnitude.
If the Emperor had said to fight to the last man, woman, an child, they would have. We weren’t facing just uniformed soldiers. That said, they had withheld their Army and air power to meet us in Japan. We were facing an enemy that by our own estimates would have caused us at least 1 million dead and wounded. Truman (Not my favorite person by any stretch) knew this and authorized nuclear weapons. For all that I have read, he only did so after reading the military estimations, which we now know were reasonably accurate but still on the light side of Japanese capabilities.
I have one simple view of war: War is about obliterating the enemy or forcing an unconditional surrender. Nothing less is war. If you don’t like war, then don’t wage war.
Japan was attacking everything within its reach at the time. We were just another target destined to be attacked since there was no way we would have given in to their demands at the time or perhaps the demands they had been making in the region sometime in our future.
Having been an army replacement infantryman on Leyte on Leyte being readied for the invasion of Japan I can say I had mixed emotions. My only brother had been killed on Okinawa a few months earlier and I was wanting to see every Jap killed even with my participation. A few months on Leyte after the war ended I was glad the bombs were dropped and I and thousands of others did not have to go into Japan.
That's one perspective.
Clausewitz disagree. He thought war was politics by other means. If so, then utterly destroying an enemy is certainly not always the best strategy.
Thanks for the link - fascinating stuff.
Thanks. Goes to show that Japan was far from defeated.
In fact, they desired a chance to defend their nation; they thought they could break our spirit to continue fighting if we suffered heavy losses.
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