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Were the atomic bombings necessary?
in History

By melanielustmelanielust 273 Pts
The two on Japan at the end of WWII. It was very controversial in the years that followed but I believe it was the right decision because Japan had pledged to wage unconditional war. As society moves on, the legacy of the bombings is even more controversial, and some are going as far as to say Japan needs reparations or an apology.
programknwaarongMasterofPun
  1. Dropping the bombs was

    22 votes
    1. the right choice
      77.27%
    2. the wrong choice
      22.73%



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Arguments

  • No, the US could have continued to fight the war instead of dropping a long term issue on Japan.
    melanielustFr3akGeorge_HorseZombieguy1987
  • ErfisflatErfisflat 1618 Pts
    Fr3akZombieguy1987MasterofPun
    Pseudoscience: noun; a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

    Scientific method: noun; a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

    https://www.gofundme.com/mwmvf-is-the-earth-flat

    The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.

    Wayne Dyer
  • melanielustmelanielust 273 Pts
    edited June 2017
    @Erfisflat

    Your source isn't very credible - the author seems to be open about trying to rewrite parts of history. Some of the quotes are also unprofessional, some are quite disturbing. For example:

    "send me lots of money so we can spread this message far and wide...." so it seems like he's just doing this in a desperate attempt for money? correct me if wrong
    "Second, direct your anger at the Japanese. We are the victims, and they are the aggressors. Make yourself feel important again by bashing Japan at every opportunity. Japanese people are inherently evil, and basically subhuman. They were never bombed, and if they would have been they would have deserved it." That right there is textbook racist and pretty awful to say.

    "Go to a library. Take a book at random. Skim it. Then, decide how that book is either for you or against you. If it is for you, quote liberally and out of context. If against you, do the same." ..said when he was describing how to get more information.

    I also looked up the author and he isn't a professor or anything, just a former student at MIT. That's a good school so credit for that but he also believes that Idaho doesn't exist.

    I actually tried to find more reliable sources that would support your argument (I still don't agree with you but I'm interested) but I just can't. Do you have any?
    billpassedFr3akZombieguy1987MasterofPun
  • ImbsterImbster 114 Pts
    edited June 2017
    Japan did give those reparations,well an amount to our country was given and USA helped Japan economically boost during the cold war making it one of the best prospering economies at that time.

    Manila was declared an open city twice. The first time, Japan didn't listen and bombed it. The 2nd time, Japanese soldiers tried to declare it but the Americans didn't listen and also bombed it.

    The damages they inflicted on our economy, culture and country will never compare to two bombings on just two cities. Torture is worse than death. Bombs kill women but they don't rape them.

    It was explained to us that the Japanese were mad on why almost all Asian countries had major influence from foreign countries outside of the continent. Japan was very quiet for years until they wanted all foreign influences out by acquiring the same foreign forces. Even their slogan "Asia for Asians" won't convince me their brutality was necessary.

     I find the bombing necessary to stop them to really put a halt to any more possible plans they might have had. Clearly Japan didn't listen nor turn to stop when their soldiers were killed in battle. I find it funny few could scold Japan for their brutality but when Japan was in awe everyone scolded the Americans for retaliation calling it biblically unnecessary. This wasn't the Americans war sure but what Japan had invaded and taken weren't theirs either. Their extremist idea of eliminating foreign influence to preserve culture isn't what our country needed. We were about to have independence but they extended it thanks to their invasion.

    That's all in the past now anyways. I have nothing against present Japan.

    billpassedZombieguy1987
  • That's a good school so credit for that but he also believes that Idaho doesn't exist.


    Anyone who doesn't believe that Idaho exists shouldn't be listed as a credible source..where else those nice potatoes come from, LOL.

    seriously, I don't believe that it was necessary to drop atomic bombs.  That was way too aggressive and inhumane for generations to come.
    melanielustMasterofPunZombieguy1987
  • ErfisflatErfisflat 1618 Pts
    Pseudoscience: noun; a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

    Scientific method: noun; a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

    https://www.gofundme.com/mwmvf-is-the-earth-flat

    The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.

    Wayne Dyer
  • agsragsr 848 Pts
    @Erfisflat, I only wish that nuclear weapons wouldn't exist.  Nuclear power is really dangerous, and it was unfortunate that it was used against Japan.  Arguably it saved many American lives, but at the same time messed up health of many generations of Japanese.
    Zombieguy1987
    Live Long and Prosper
  • ErfisflatErfisflat 1618 Pts
    agsr said:
    @Erfisflat, I only wish that nuclear weapons wouldn't exist.  Nuclear power is really dangerous, and it was unfortunate that it was used against Japan.  Arguably it saved many American lives, but at the same time messed up health of many generations of Japanese.
    You sure? 
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/01/us/hiroshima-study-finds-no-genetic-damage.html

    They were claiming that nobody would be able to live there for 1,000 years. Vegetation regrowth started weeks later, and the Japanese started rebuilding right away.
    billpassed
    Pseudoscience: noun; a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

    Scientific method: noun; a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

    https://www.gofundme.com/mwmvf-is-the-earth-flat

    The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.

    Wayne Dyer
  • agsragsr 848 Pts
    @Erfisflat, vegetation regrowth isnt indicative of nuclear disaster issues.  As a matter of fact, in places like Chernobyl, there was aggressive vegetation and animal growth post explosion in 1986.  
    While extend of long term impact  on health of Japanese based on nuclear bombs is debatable, this brief note from 27 years ago in Ny times is not a comprehensive conclusive evidence.
    melanielustbillpassed
    Live Long and Prosper
  • @Erisflat

    Were it completely accurate (and I have no reason to believe it's not accurate), the only thing that study proves is that the genetic damage caused by radiation is not hereditary, so it can not be passed down, which is good. But the immediate fallout still left many people's bodies severely damaged in ways that only radiation could.
    billpassed
  • I agree with @melanielust on their stance. Radiation is a major issue or was when this happened and something that maybe should Shen considered on a greater scale or a more important factor in the dropping of the lethal bomb.
  • ImbsterImbster 114 Pts
    That's a good school so credit for that but he also believes that Idaho doesn't exist.



    seriously, I don't believe that it was necessary to drop atomic bombs.  That was way too aggressive and inhumane for generations to come.
    Well seriously, it was also too aggressive for them to bring their extremist cultural preservation ideas. They invaded Philippines with a slogan of "Asia for Asians" when it was more like it was "Asians for Japan to freely rape". It wasn't necessary to destroy a declared open city, Manila but they didn't listen and ruined a great city turned industrially biased against government. Seriously are we just saying we shouldn't drop bombs on Japan because of the children, the women, the innocent people or their culture? Radiation effects much worse than mass murder?

    Inhumane for generations to come? So what if the whole world remembers Americans bombed Japan and only asian countries ruled by Japan at that time remember their mother being raped and defiled? They even implied force labor too but ultimately killed the labourer who already worked for them.

    So I'm not biased here to my country I'll name a simple story of Vietnam under that rule. They started propaganda and even put up Japanese language courses. Japan literature, poetry and films started being translated in their local languages. The only thing Japan really stands for at this time was only using your country's native language but when it comes to culture, they don't have an ideal for that.

    "Asia for Japanese". Scarily imperial.

    One third of the population okinawa and more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians were not only killed but RAPED by BOTH US and Japanese forces DURING BATTLE. What is war with these experiences?? Is it an excuse for soldiers to manifest their powers, true desires and interests? Comfort women plus guns?

    Even before world war 2 was the "Rape of Nanking"
    Stop looking at the 129,000 of humans dead in nagasaki and hiroshima and start looking at the tenfold times n amount of humans Japan killed, raped and tortured. What is so special with those people and those places?Radiation? The effects looked disgusting and rape doesn't?

     They didn't know a bomb was coming and all the other victim countries had seconds to avoid rape? Well Japan was actually warned that if they didn't surrender there would be "prompt and utter destruction". They were given a CHANCE, Oiknawan women???
    We shouldn't touch nor involve innocent people? Tell that to past Japan and their addiction to "comfort women" maybe they'll realise that America had an addiction to "comfort bombs" because America was relieved to believe they had saved half a million US lives with the bombing which I don't quite agree to the belief.

    Let's go back to history.

    Japan surrendered 6 days after the hiroshima bombing
    16 hours after hiroshima , Truman warned Japan of air strikes, navy attacks and land forces never seen on the face of this earth. Widely broadcasted I tell you but again Japan stayed silent and almost didn't listen. Now with no indication of Japanese surrender, a second bomb was agreed to be deployed on august 9 instead of 11 because of predicted weather storm. Military authorities got a letter about the bombing urging them to tell the damage possible to the public but no only to be revealed a month later.

    Do you now see how difficult it was to "diplomatically and biblically" negotiate with Japan?
    A third bomb was secretly requested by Truman on August 10 but never carried out.
    What mattered to Japan was their

    It is clearly stated here that his wishes to surrender were governed by "a new and terrible weapon" clearly pointing out the bomb was necessary.

    In his declaration, Hirohito referred to the atomic bombings:

    Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it 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, or 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.
    In Hirohito's speech, days before announcing it on radio on August 15, he gave three major reasons for surrender: Tokyo's defenses would not be complete before the American invasion of Japan, Ise Shrine would be lost to the Americans, and atomic weapons deployed by the Americans would lead to the death of the entire Japanese race.

    I rest my case.
    War definitely had to stop. Diplomatic actions aren't always safe and enough.
    http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki
    Zombieguy1987MasterofPun
  • Fr3akFr3ak 27 Pts
    One atomic bomb was necessary to end the war without significant casualties. Furthermore, we have the benefit of hindsight and greater knowledge of nuclear technology. At the time, they were at war and Japan was never going to surrender. With the knowledge they had, one bomb would have been enough. 2 bombs however was simply to send a message to the Russians and the rest of the world, and was quite uncalled for.
  • Fr3akFr3ak 27 Pts
    @programknw

    Continued fighting would only result in huge losses on both sides. We have the benefit of hindsight and greater knowledge of the consequences of using nuclear weapons, whereas they didn't know as much as we did. While I do believe that 2 bombs was excessive, 1 bomb was good enough to make Japan surrender. They would never have surrendered otherwise.
    George_HorseMasterofPun
  • ImbsterImbster 114 Pts
    @Fr3ak
    By history the first bomb just confused the Japanese and made them have thoughts of surrender. Then they pulled themself together believing they could counter it and not give up yet.
  • Fr3akFr3ak 27 Pts
    @Imbster

    I was taught that they were going to surrender, as any sane people would after seeing such a powerful weapon in the enemy hands.
  • ImbsterImbster 114 Pts
    edited July 2017
    @Fr3ak

    mhmm was that to make the americans look bad?
    I mean after being taught that the conclusion is why even drop a second bomb yes? Japan was actually warned by Truman before the first bombing but no man was sane during world war 2.
    I'm not pro american either after the massive rape conducted by the american soldiers in Japan after the two bombings.
    Zombieguy1987
  • We had no choice. We asked the Japanese nicely to surrender, they refused, a second time asked, refused, later on they surrender because they knew how powerful we were. The other method to invade the Island was a worse method because it would have cost more U.S lives.
    Nathaniel_BZombieguy1987
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? " ~Epicurus

    "We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes." ~Gene Roddenberry

    "A communist is like a crocodile" ~Winston Churchill
  • ErfisflatErfisflat 1618 Pts
    edited September 2017
    The USGS committed a false flag operation at Hawaii to join the 2nd world war, then FIRE BOMBED Japan.
    Zombieguy1987
    Pseudoscience: noun; a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

    Scientific method: noun; a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

    https://www.gofundme.com/mwmvf-is-the-earth-flat

    The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.

    Wayne Dyer
  • A full-scale invasion would have caused far more loss of life on both sides. As for creating a long-term issue for Japan, they really shouldn't have bombed Pearl Harbor without provocation and tried to take over the world if they didn't want any consequences. 
    George_HorseZombieguy1987
  • If we were to continue the invasion of Japan we would first have to invade Indonesia which would be very horrible for the Soldiers and Natives. But even worse would be the invasion of Japan. Millions more would die and the streets of all major cities would be filled with blood. The Japanese wouldn't surrender until their last man. It was much better to just get it over with.
    Zombieguy1987
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 729 Pts
    The necessity of the operation depends on what outcome is considered acceptable. Were the atomic bombings necessary for the US to win the war? Not at all; a full-scale invasion, especially if coordinated with allies, would finish off Japan quickly. Were they necessary for minimizing casualties on both sides, however? While not necessarily "necessary" per se, there were no alternative plans considered that realistically could minimize casualties further. Two atomic drops ended the years long war in a few days, with the only casualties being the victims of the drops and the Japanese that could not bear the shame of losing a war and committed suicide. Any realistic invasion plan forcing full armies on both sides to clash would lead to 1-2 orders of magnitude more casualties, and degrade the Japanese infrastructure and land to such a state, it would take many decades to even return to the pre-war quality of life (just look at what state Germany was at the end of the war for a gauge on what post-war Japan could look like).

    While I think testing a novel weapon in real conditions on living humans somewhat suspect, those were really desperate times, with the world economy ravaged by a lengthy war and with many local economies collapsing under the stress. Dropping nuclear bombs was one of the few sure ways to end the war pretty quickly, while almost any possible alternative scenario could drag the war for months longer, having unforeseeable consequences on all participants.
  • VaulkVaulk 567 Pts
    December 7th, 1941 - The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service openly surprise attacked the State of Hawaii and subsequently the United States as a whole and in 110 minutes had successfully slaughtered 2,403 innocent U.S. Service Members and Civilians, Women and Children.

    In one hour and fifty minutes Japan successfully killed more U.S. citizens than have died in Combat during the Entire War in Afghanistan to date...that's 17 years of War vs 110 minutes.  The act of War was unprovoked and uncalled for, senseless and served as no gain for Japan in the following War.  So was it necessary?  That depends on the context of necessary, necessary to do what?  Was using atomic bombs necessary to establish that the United States is not to be attacked?  Yes, it was.  Was it necessary to use atomic bombs to end the War with Japan, most likely not, we could have sacrificed many hundreds of thousands of more Soldiers in order to defeat Japan in a manner that would be pleasing to everyone who wasn't there, didn't experience the Pearl Harbor attack and wasn't alive when it happened.

    Zombieguy1987
    "If there's no such thing as a stupid question then what kind of questions do stupid people ask"?

    "There's going to be a special place in Hell for people who spread lies through the veil of logical fallacies disguised as rational argument".

    "Oh, you don't like my sarcasm?  Well I don't much appreciate your stupid".


  • Even though the nuking of Japan seems unethical, sense a lot of innocent civilians died, but if nukes weren't used, the mainland invasion of Japan would be deadly.

    How deadly exactly?

    Well, if the Mongol Empire couldn't conquer Japan, then imagine a D-Day but on Japanese soil. A lot of people would've died, way more than the nukes.

    Another problem, is if Japan was invaded, it might been split up, since the U.S.S.R would've been involved, and what's worse? 300,000 deaths, or millions of deaths and Japan being split up into capitalist and communist nations?

  • @MayCaesar Here's the problem with a full scale invasion.


    The geography of Japan made it predictable for both the Allies, and Japan, it would've been a bloodbath, and with Japan's no surrender policy, the entire population would've died.  That's not also mentioning that THE MONGOL EMPIRE FAILED TO INVADE JAPAN! If one of the biggest empires failed to invade Japan, an island nation, then how would it have been different? 


    Was nuking japan bad? Yes


    Was it necessary? Absolutely 
  • @Zombieguy1987 I'd like to build off your comment. The only negative to be weighed in the atomic bombings is the long term effects. The estimates for the deaths caused by the atomic bombs within a 4 month window from when they were dropped is 129,000 - 226,000. In Hiroshima 13 square kilometers were destroyed. I can't find any number on the square kilometers destroyed in Nagasaki, but fat man's explosive force was 40% greater than little boy's so a rough estimate would be 16.25 square kilometers destroyed, making a combined 29.25 square kilometers destroyed. However, many people forget about the firebombings of Japan when the nuclear bombings are discussed. The fire bombing of Tokyo killed 100,000 in one night and left a million more homeless, destroying 40 square kilometers of Tokyo. The fire bombings were not enough to get the Japanese to surrender, I make this claim because they did this in 60 cities, and Tokyo was just one of them. So the question is, was it worth it to punish future generations via the atomic bomb to save the lives of most likely millions of American and Japanese lives had the war continued? In my opinion the good of ending the war outweighed the bad of the atomic bombs.
    Zombieguy1987Vaulk
  • Yes. If we did not use the bombs, the Japanese would have never surrendered.
    George_HorseZombieguy1987
    “Communism is evil. Its driving forces are the deadly sins of envy and hatred.” ~Peter Drucker 

    "It's not a gun control problem, it's a cultural control problem."
    Bob Barr
  • I've debated this in a much more detailed fashion on this site, but I'll summarize my main discrepancy with the argument so many of you are presenting.

    What's coming up with some consistency is that Japan was willing to fight to the last, effectively forcing a land invasion. They were ready to put every life in their country on the line to fight. The toll would have been insane, and Japan would have been ravaged, likely taking far longer to recover than it did post-WWII. And this is made pretty clear by a point @WordsMatter made regarding their willingness to keep fighting despite repeated fire-bombings that cost the lives of so many civilians. When it came right down to it, they just didn't care about the death toll.

    If all of the above is true, then why were the atomic bombs game-changers? How are these the instruments of their surrender?

    Remember, they were willing to fight to the last. They suffered hundreds of thousands of lives lost in just the fire-bombings, which could have been repeated ad nauseum in other cities across Japan. They knew that they were losing the war in a big way, and they were ready to keep fighting anyway. So, what did the atomic bombs do? I honestly don't know how this changed the calculus for them. Sure, they were big spectacles, and certainly the effects of the fallout are horrifying, but unless we believe that they suddenly became terrified at the prospect of losing their lives solely because they saw these bombs drop, I don't see how this would have led to their surrender. We would have to assume that the bombs brought about a major shift in their perception, but it's altogether unclear from where that change would have arisen.

    There may, indeed, have been a good reason to drop these two bombs, but I just don't see how you justify it with the calculus that they were willing to suffer an even greater loss of life via invasion. 
  • @whiteflame

    It is worth noting here that the Japanese society of that period had a very complicated honor code. While the idealization of fighting to the end no matter what was prevalent, the code also harshly discouraged pointless casualties. Each Japanese soldier was supposed to dedicate their life to the Emperor and the Empire and use every resource they had in order to bring glory to these entities - but when dying served no purpose and did not bring any benefit to the Empire, then the code dictated that retreat was in order. In regular war conditions, the retreat was considered extremely shameful, and the tradition was such that the general ordering a retreat would perform seppuku once the safety of the soldiers is ensured (the extent to which this tradition was respected and/or enforced is not known to me, however). However when there was literally no way to put a dent in the enemy's position and even sacrificing all soldiers would not do much, retreat was the suggested and, in a way, an honorable choice (as a way of saying, "I bow to you, my enemy. You win this battle fairly.").

    In addition, Hirohito, the Japanese emperor, was widely known for his love towards his people. The idea of his people dying for no reason was absolutely unacceptable in his eyes, and even though the military elites surrounding him had a more imperialistic and aggressive view, he knew when to stop and take a second look on the situation. He was not exactly a benevolent ruler, but he was rational and pragmatic. He also knew when not to listen to the military fervor of his advisers, when to take a deep breath and quell the national ambitions.

    The situation was dire by August; the nation was under heavy siege, with little to no chance of surviving this war. It was about to go down with a war cry, to make the ultimate sacrifice in the glory of the Empire and to commit seppuku, figuratively speaking. Soldiers, fanatically devoted to their Emperor, were almost undisputably ready to sacrifice their lives, dealing as much damage to the enemy as possible. The Empire was ending, and Hirohito knew it, his moral compass struggling to find the stable arrow direction. The last act of glory that will end everything, versus a shameful, but pragmatic surrender - which one is a better choice? His advisers did not make his predicament easier, actively agitating him to respect the ways of the Empire and to not surrender no matter what.

    Would he surrender without the bombs falling before the last bloodshed ensues? Or would he listen to his generals and doom his country, as well as hundreds thousands - to - millions coalition lives in the process? It is hard to answers such hypothetical questions. In my opinion - and the American military management was inclined to agree - was that the risk was unjustifiably big, and something had to be done to prevent the inevitable bloodshed from happening.

    The bombs falling were a shock for Japan. For the first time in Japanese history, the nation was hit by something it had no response to. Two bombs fell, hundreds thousands people died - and the glorious Empire could not even hit back, as there was nothing to hit. Nobody knew how many bombs were going to be dropped. What if next week 10 bombs detonate? What if, in the end, the entire Japan is made into rubble?
    More importantly - how can the national honor code be upheld, when people die for no reason to the weapon no one could even conceive in their minds?

    This fixed the arrow on the Emperor's moral compass. He realized that this is the end, that Japan has been beaten by a much stronger opponent, and there was nothing left to fight for and die for. The nation was defeated in a fair fight, and the ideological dispute was concluded. The Emperor surrendered and ordered his people, who felt a strong shame and devastation, to avoid committing seppuku, because the entirety of the responsibility for the defeat was on his head and not on the people.
    Many of the advisers who to the last moment tried to get him to reconsider, committed seppuku, unable to bear the shame. Some, according to the modern records, even planned to overthrow the emperor and to continue the war - but the national devotion to the Emperor was absolute, and they realized well that they would never be supported in their plans.

    It is hard to say how many of these factors were considered by the allied forces at the time. How well did they understand the Japanese culture and their reasons to fight? Maybe they did not understand anything (aside from what intelligence informed them of), and dropping the bombs was the last attempt to scare the enemy into submission before resorting to the full-scale invasion. But the reality is such that dropping the bombs at the time was simply the only clear way to get the Emperor to surrender unconditionally. 

    Japanese were not Americans, or the British, or even Russians. They were not a conventional army set to reach certain clear goals. Above everything else, they strove to uphold the ideals their highly centralized society featured at the time. Nuclear bombings stroke at the weakest point of their ideology and forced them to surrender due to the nature of the enemy they were facing. Combined with the Emperor's personal traits (he was not an ordinary man), it is simply hard to suggest an alternative that would happen to take so many factors into account and exploit all of them in such an exquisite way.

  • @MayCaesar

    I appreciate the nuance involved in your argument, as it’s more than I tend to see in support of the notion that the atomic bombings were necessary. Just the same, I do have some disagreements, so let’s get down to it.

    I agree with your points regarding how the honor code worked and how Hirohito perceived his people. On both levels, I feel you’ve accurately portrayed the situation at the time. I also feel that you’ve accurately depicted the circumstances shortly before the end of the war, particularly with regards to how dire it was.

    The main point of contention I have with your argument is that you’re largely building it upon the notion that something dramatic changed in that calculus after the two atomic bombs were dropped. 

    The way you explain that doesn't make a lot of sense to me for several reasons.

    You say that, despite the absolutely clear no-win scenario at the end of the war, they were willing to fight to the end, so long as they weren't fighting to the end pointlessly. And, correct me if I'm wrong on this, but it seems like the only point that they were trying to make is that they could die with honor by inflicting harm on their enemies, which means they were only willing to fight to the end if they could actually kill enemy soldiers in the process. So they would effectively have to believe that the US was going to invade in order to do this.

    I don't see how the atomic bombs altered that thinking. The US had complete control of the airspace over almost all of Japan, which meant that any air-based assault would go virtually unaddressed. And there were many, many examples of the US using that advantage to fire-bomb cities. The Japanese also had no response to a naval blockade that was bombarding their shores. All of this is to say that, if the Japanese were functioning under the view that they could only continue the war insofar as they could actually continue to inflict losses on the US, they were already in a bad place. They weren't able to effectively respond to any of the attacks already taking place on their country, and they were already losing lives by the hundreds of thousands.

    So, the questions are, whose perceptions did the atomic bombs change, why did they change those perceptions, and how did that lead to the end of the war?

    The public certainly may have been affected. They had no conception of what an atomic bomb was, so seeing those mushroom clouds and experiencing the rapid loss of life that accompanied them must have been a shock. The same would certainly be true of the soldiers, although most of those were stationed outside of the cities, largely on the southwestern part of the country in anticipation of a US invasion. The problem is that any effect on their perceptions wouldn't have led to an end to the war. None of these people had the power to make that happen, and even if they did, you yourself said that they had a fanatical devotion to keep up the fight. Even with the atomic bombs dropped, they still had every reason to believe that both the US and Soviet Union were preparing for an invasion. Frankly, it didn't matter how many bombs the US had - the Japanese knew that another country couldn't outright conquer them without having troops on the ground to hold the land they took. So the Japanese (leaders, soldiers and people) would have still had every reason to believe that an invasion was coming and that they would get their chance to die in glorious battle, even if that meant losing a lot of people in the meantime. If they were willing to wait through fire-bombings and naval bombardments to get a taste of American/Soviet blood, why did the atomic bombs alter that calculus?

    You admit that much of the leadership of Japan (excluding Hirohito - I'll focus on him shortly) continued to believe that Japan should fight on after the US dropped these bombs. That's not surprising considering how dismissive they were of previous attacks by the US, and it's even less surprising considering that Japan was in the process of developing its own nuclear weapons, which meant that they were at least somewhat familiar with the threat they faced from a nuclear-armed US. They were aware that the process was expensive, aware that the US could only use them so many times (even if they had plenty, since nuclear weapons are very good at striking concentrated resources like a city, but very ineffective pretty much anywhere else), and aware that they were already in a bad state with the US bombarding them daily by more conventional means. Their minds wouldn't have been changed by the bombings, and several of them wrote as much. 

    So that just leaves Hirohito. Honestly, I appreciate the way you've explained how his thought process changed, but I have several problems with the notions you're presenting. 

    You're assuming quite a bit in trying to judge his thought process. It's not at all clear that Hirohito was suddenly decisive the moment he heard about the first nuclear explosion. He waited 3 days after Hiroshima to convene the Supreme Council to discuss surrender, and that happened before Nagasaki. That doesn't sound like a person who came to swift, decisive action to moment he realized what the US was capable of doing to his people. Maybe his advisers forced delays or other difficulties affected the speed at which this council was convened, but it's your argument that Hirohito was driven to action by a love for his people after the dropping of the atomic bomb. That doesn't seem at all clear from this. That also doesn't address the fact that Hirohito was watching his country get bombarded daily by conventional weapons, yet stood by and did nothing, unsure of where his moral compass lay. Why did the nuclear weapons change his mind, particularly when he would have to have been aware of the nuclear program in his country? It's not clear how these pieces fit together.

    Even if we do assume that Hirohito was considering things this way, part of the issue is that Japan was already suing for peace. Certainly, there were terms to a conditional surrender that they had proposed that were not acceptable, but the notion that an unconditional surrender was necessary to end the bloodshed seems pretty faulty to me. We can talk about what a potential back-and-forth regarding the terms of surrender would have looked like, how a post-war Japan that had surrendered with certain conditions would have behaved, and go through a plethora of other "what ifs" in an effort to figure out if this outcome would have had lasting appeal, but the fact remains that there were means to end the war without any invasion or dropping of any nuclear weapons. If the goal was chiefly to prevent a bloodbath, alternatives existed, and the leadership of Japan was seeking it out before a nuclear weapon was dropped. At least from my perspective, on its face, this makes the atomic bombings unnecessary to preclude an invasion.

    Where we probably would find the most agreement in this debate is on the view that the US was doing everything it could do force a rapid surrender. I don't disagree with you at all on that. Dropping two large nuclear weapons was certainly a show of force, and the Japanese could theoretically have protracted the war if given the opportunity. My main issue, and the one that underlies a lot of these responses, is that the US didn't really need all of that in order to get the Japanese to surrender. They were already seeking a conditional surrender (which basically came to pass anyway, since the terms of the unconditional surrender wouldn't have allowed Hirohito to maintain his position as Emperor), and other forces, particularly the impending invasion by the Soviet Union, were pushing them to set aside many of the conditions they had been seeking. What the bombs did was make clear to the Japanese that the US would accept nothing short of immediate, unconditional surrender. The US knew that the Soviets would invade first, and they knew that that would be a worst case scenario. Hell, the Japanese knew it as well, since all of their forces were preparing for a US invasion at the time. The US was, effectively, pushing for something that the Japanese were already considering, and that may have expedited the process. Perhaps that's reason enough to have dropped the bombs. Personally, I don't think so. 

  • Operation Downfall, the operation that was the planned invasion of Japan, had WAY too many allied and Japanese casualties. Choosing not to invade Japan was a human choice for both Allies and Axis - reducing casualties. The long term effects are not a bad as we originally thought - but yes, they are a concern. However, this concern about long term risk is a concern more for the Japanese than for the USA - and without doubt, Japan would have nuked USA civilian centres. I believe the choice of nuking Japan's military centres (the first suggested targets) is totally fair and was a good choice for both parties. 2 Nukes decidedly ended the war and prevented Operation Downfall from ever needed to be used.
    Zombieguy1987
  • Operation Downfall, the operation that was the planned invasion of Japan, had WAY too many allied and Japanese casualties. Choosing not to invade Japan was a human choice for both Allies and Axis - reducing casualties. The long term effects are not a bad as we originally thought - but yes, they are a concern. However, this concern about long term risk is a concern more for the Japanese than for the USA - and without doubt, Japan would have nuked USA civilian centres. I believe the choice of nuking Japan's military centres (the first suggested targets) is totally fair and was a good choice for both parties. 2 Nukes decidedly ended the war and prevented Operation Downfall from ever needed to be used.
    This argument assumes that US invasion was inevitable if the nuclear bombs had not been dropped. What is your reasoning for why the Japanese surrendered? What was it about the nuclear bombs that forced their hand?
  • Firstly, a lot of people don't seem to have investigated this.

    At this point in the war before the bombs were dropped Japan was already looking to agree peace, were attempting to get in touch with the USA to organise a surrender (But were trying to do this through the then neutral USSR who were planning to attack Japan just weeks later) and had their entire strategy based around "how do we organise the best surrender possible". The reason they were continuing to fight was because they thought they could get better peace terms if they showed they had the will to fight in one final decisive battle. They didn't even think they'd be able to last regardless of how the war was won, their internal documents predicted they'd lose the ability to wage warfare in a modern manner and lose the country to civil unrest by the end of 1945 as their economy collapsed from the strain of warfare.

    It's possible that the USA could have secured peace without dropping nukes if they had gone for something less than unconditional surrender - which they didn't need to do anyway seeing as they let the Emperor and the Imperial Family carry on even though that was one of the main aspects of the unconditional surrender that stopped the Japanese from surrendering..

    Erfisflat said:
    LOL, what a moron.

    You can tell he didn't actually even read it because it's a satiric piece of writing making fun of people who don't believe in the atomic bombing of Japan, check some of the the bits at the bottom:

    "23. Wow! You mean that I could write stuff like this, too? 
    Sure! It's embarrassingly easy to write what we wrote above. In fact, it's even superior to the usual anti-Semitic revisionist garbage, because it has a higher percentage of REAL FACTS! Most of the apparent "contradictions" above come from the facts that Nagasaki was bombed by a plutonium bomb, not uranium; and that hydrogen bombs are thermonuclear, not atomic bombs. Just juggle information about the different types of bombs and mix them up so they seem to be contradicting each other. It doesn't take ANY INTELLIGENCE WHATSOEVER, and you can get lots of free air time on "48 Hours"! 
    Oh, I forgot to mention: I have a Japanese girlfriend who agrees with EVERY WORD I've written above. Here she is: 
    "Yes, I am his Japanese girlfriend. I love him very much, and I've always been troubled by my Japanese friends claiming to know people who died in Hiroshima." 
    There you have it! Just throw some unverifiable opinions on top of ridiculous proofs to STRENGTHEN YOUR CASE! 

    ....

    DON'T LET YOURSELF GET CONFUSED BY THE FACTS! We certainly don't!"

  • @whiteflame I believe Japan's surprise and alarm at watching the blasts and knowing that more could follow made them realize there was no hope of winning a war against such devastating weapons. Japan's culture of honor would not allow surrender (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroo_Onoda), even if they could not hope of reclaiming their former empire. Japan would have no reason to surrender unless invaded and forced to surrender. Their culture would not allow for a non-mandatory surrender - to suggest surrender would be political suicide.

    But when the bombs went off, Japanese culture was overwhelmed by the terror of the sheer destructive power in the hands of their enemies.
  • @whiteflame I believe Japan's surprise and alarm at watching the blasts and knowing that more could follow made them realize there was no hope of winning a war against such devastating weapons. Japan's culture of honor would not allow surrender (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroo_Onoda), even if they could not hope of reclaiming their former empire. Japan would have no reason to surrender unless invaded and forced to surrender. Their culture would not allow for a non-mandatory surrender - to suggest surrender would be political suicide.

    But when the bombs went off, Japanese culture was overwhelmed by the terror of the sheer destructive power in the hands of their enemies.
    Many problems with the factual underpinnings of the assumptions you make.

    Japan as a whole didn't really know much about the bombs and the effect of the bombs wasn't as astounding at the time, they didn't have the full picture and the USA was already destroying cities with conventional bombing runs - using more planes carrying more bombs but to much the same eventual result,.

    Also you then go on to say "Japan's culture of honor would not allow surrender" and then link to an example of a Japanese person surrendering, which you've posted in a discussion about a time when Japan famously surrendered. Your claim is obviously false.

    Also as shown in my previous post, Japan were already looking to negotiate a peace before the bombs were dropped which is a point of historical record that cannot be disputed.

    Ketsu-go, Japan's plan to defend the home isles? That wasn't part of Japan's utter refusal to surrender, it was part of their plan to be able to surrender with protective conditions in force. Even then their actual ability to do this was in doubt as things were becoming so severe there was serious worries about a coup.

    So why use them and why did Japan surrender? The Soviets is largely the answer to both questions, although of course as discussed above Japan were already trying to surrender and the destruction of the ability to wage war was another big factor..

    Prior to the successful Trinity test, the Allies had been hedging their bets on the Soviets getting involved to bring to war to a swift end. It has been recognised by every nation, including Japan itself, that the entry of the Soviets into the war would be a death blow. Japan was being pushed to the limit already and the addition of the Soviets would spell the end. The USA was a force their in their optimistic dreams Japan wanted to bargain with and arrange peace with - they thought that America would get tired of losing men and agree to a peace that was disadvantageous to Japan but not as much so as a total unconditional surrender. That didn't hold true for the USSR who had thrown millions of soldiers into the war without hesitation. 

    However with the news of the successful test of a nuke, the dynamic changed. The USA and UK were already eyeing up the Soviet Union as the enemy in the next war. With the bomb was the possibility of freezing out the Soviets and going back on the concessions agreed upon at Yalta. They actually stopped them from signing the Postdam decleration, even though the Soviets had attended on the basis that they would sign it and that doing so would have been a clear signal about Soviet intentions and would have only hastened Japanese surrender.

    Now the USSR invaded pretty much as the bombs were dropping and in a matter of a couple of weeks were on there way to completely wiping out Japan's mainland holdings and had inflicted as much damage to the Japanese as the allies had managed after years of war. This was a massive and devastating blow to the Japanese, moreso than the bombs - which after all did nothing that hadn't already been done several times over by conventional firebombing campaigns.

    Suzuki, president of Japan, said at the time that they had to surrender or "the Soviet union will take not only Manchuria, Korea, Katafuto, but also Hokkaido. This would destroy the foundation of Japan. We must end the war when we can deal with the United States."

    Deputy Chief of Staff General Torashiro Kawabe said: "It was only in a gradual manner that the horrible wreckage which had been made of Hiroshima became known... in comparison, the Soviet entry into the war was a great shock when it actually came. reports reaching Tokyo described Russian forces as 'invading in swarms'. It gave us all the more severe shock and alarm because we had been in constant fear of it with a vivid imagination that 'the vast red Army forces in Europe were now being turned against us'"

    Admiral Toyodo said: "I believe the Russian participation in the war against Japan rather than the atom bombs did more to hasten surrender."

    Leuitenent General Sumihisa Ikeda, director of Central Planning, said "Upon hearing of the Soviet entry into the war, I felt our chances were gone."

    The Army Ministry directly stated "The Soviet participation in the war had the most direct impact on Japan's decision to surrender."

    The US War department conducted a post-bombing study in 1946 entitled "Use of Atomic Bombs on Japan" which found "little mention... of the use of the atomic bomb by the United States in the discussions leading up to the decision.... it is almost a certainty that the Japanese would have capitulated upon the entry of Russia into the war." (Emphasis mine)

    The point of view was backed up by many senior people.

    Truman Chief of staff declared them against "every Christian ethic I have ever heard of" and stated the "japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender... the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima was of no material assistance in our war against Japan."

    General Douglas MacArthur consistently stated the war could have been finished months earlier with modified surrender terms.

    General Henry Arnolds said "atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse".

    General Curtis LeMay said "Even without the atomic bomb, Japan would have surrendered in two weeks."

    Admiral ernest Kind, Chester Nimitz and William Halsey made similar comments, calling it unnecessary.

    Brigadier General Carter Clarke said "We brought them down to an abject surrender through accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn't need to do it, and we knew we didn't need to do it, and they knew we didn't need to do it, we used them to experiment for two atomic bombs."

    The purpose was to to end the war in the USA's favour rather than the USSR's as well as to sideline Russia in upcoming negotiations and place the USA and the pre-eminent world-power.

    It was completely unnecessary for forcing Japan's surrender.



  • @whiteflame I believe Japan's surprise and alarm at watching the blasts and knowing that more could follow made them realize there was no hope of winning a war against such devastating weapons. Japan's culture of honor would not allow surrender (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroo_Onoda), even if they could not hope of reclaiming their former empire. Japan would have no reason to surrender unless invaded and forced to surrender. Their culture would not allow for a non-mandatory surrender - to suggest surrender would be political suicide.

    But when the bombs went off, Japanese culture was overwhelmed by the terror of the sheer destructive power in the hands of their enemies.
    You're arguing that Japan's culture was such that they were completely unwilling to surrender. Assuming I'm being generous in interpreting that (and considering that they were seeking conditional surrender, as @Ampersand has stated), what you actually mean is that they were unwilling to unconditionally surrender. And I'll keep giving you the benefit of the doubt. Let's assume that pursuit of conditional surrender was impossible for one reason or another. Let's also assume that the Japanese weren't seeking any kind of accord with the Soviets, and that they weren't concerned about the possibility of a land invasion from them after the Soviets invaded Manchuria. That's granting your argument quite a bit of leeway.

    There are, essentially, two pieces to your argument. First, you've stated that Japan was unwilling to unconditionally surrender, regardless of their capacity to reclaim their empire, and that they were prepared to submit only after invasion and the resulting loss of life. Second, you've stated that the nuclear bombs elicited a feeling of terror so severe that the willingness to fight practically to the death was effectively cowed, leading them to seek unconditional surrender.

    I stated this in my initial post in this thread and got a decent response from @MayCaesar, but it seems like these two fall into a pretty clear logical conundrum. The Japanese were willing to sacrifice countless lives, knowing that an invasion was inevitable, for the sake of their honor. How does any bomb, even a nuclear one, alter that calculus? Remember, their notion was that they were willing to sacrifice as many lives as it took to maintain control over their country. Loss of life is literally part of the equation. Even if we assume that the sheer destructive power of the nuclear weapons was awe-inspiring to the point that it essentially forced them to eschew their honor system, I'd honestly have to wonder what makes it functionally different from any of the other attacks they'd suffered. Japan lost far more lives in the many fire-bombings their cities suffered. They were consistently incapable of responding to the numerous naval bombardments and aerial attacks that the US hit them with. Another big problem with your argument is that the Japanese were already pursuing nuclear tech. Their leadership was aware of nuclear weapons and their destructive potential, yet somehow they were so awed and devastated by this known technology that they couldn't help but seek unconditional surrender? If conventional weapons, a known set of technologies that were already wreaking havoc on their country, weren't successful in altering their calculus, why would another known technology, regardless of how powerful it is?
  • To be absolutely frank about this, it's not that I don't see an argument for how the atomic bombs were a major influence in ending the war. My problem with the arguments presented here is that they require some conflicting views to be held, and I don't know why that's necessary to support the position that the atomic bombings were necessary.

    It seems entirely plausible that both the Soviets and the nuclear bombings changed the calculus for Japan regarding how they should end the war. Japan knew that they were not going to win, they simply believed that they could do a lot of damage to an American invasion. That was their calculus up to a point. It's the reason they were preparing all of their troops to handle a land invasion from the southwest. It's the reason they were seeking some kind of accord with the Soviet Union. When the Soviets invaded Manchuria and rushed their army to the Chinese coast, they completely upended that plan, since they were set to invade Japan well ahead of any planned invasion from the US. Put simply, Japan was sure to lose while doing little damage in return, and that was made even worse by the use of the two atomic bombs. They telegraphed a clear message: the US wasn't going to invade anytime soon, and they were prepared to wreak as much damage on the Japanese as possible until they surrendered. Sure, there's the fact that the bombers were impossible to shoot down (not that the Japanese were having any luck with fire-bombers), and the sudden and massive damage brought about by nukes was certainly horrific, but their decision to surrender probably had little to do with the actual damage done and a lot more to do with the imminent threat of a Soviet invasion. The US wasn't going to drop fissile material on a city before invading it, and the Japanese leadership was well aware of that. They likely saw it for what it was: a show of force aimed at pushing the Japanese to unconditionally surrender. And, by the time the second bomb was dropped, they had little choice but to accept that as the outcome. The alternative was watching more of their cities get pummeled, both with nuclear weapons and conventional weapons, while the Soviet military rolled over their practically defenseless eastern shore. They couldn't bleed or delay the Russians because their route to Japanese shores was shorter and involved far less island hopping. So, the Japanese had three choices:

    1) Try to fight back the Soviets with little chance of doing significant damage, inevitably surrendering to them, 
    2) Surrender to the Soviets early, which would likely lead to a terrible occupation and brutal, military rule under Stalin, or
    3) Surrender to the Americans, who were likely to be far less damaging occupiers

    Does this mean that the Soviets were likely the greater force in their decision-making? I think so, but that doesn't discount the importance of the atomic bombs. If anything, it solidified their decision to go with option #3. They could do little to uphold their vision of honor, given that the US had signaled that it wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of an invasion anytime soon. They were confronted with a weapon of mass destruction that they understood as dangerous and damaging, and knew that with it, US could function as a deterrent to future efforts by the Soviets. They probably did feel the pain of those two bombings, and may have been more willing to confront the Soviets if they had had more city centers with military outposts to use in their defense. All of those were at risk or destroyed, and since atomic bombs are so rapid in their destructive capacity and could make an area uninhabitable, it's entirely possible that they viewed these bombs as damaging enough to end any remaining aspirations. Even without the bombs, Japan would have been forced into an untenable situation with a Soviet invasion, but they might have delayed seeking an unconditional surrender until the Soviets were on their shores, which could have made the post-war situation very ugly. 

    And I guess that's the main problem I have with a lot of these arguments: they all assume that invasion and the resulting mass death would have been a given if the atomic bombs hadn't been dropped. What could a conditional surrender have looked like? Would it have led to further warfare with Japan? How long would it have taken Japan to seek an unconditional surrender without the bombs? What would have happened during that period? How would it have shaped the post-WWII world? There are a lot of "what ifs" here, and while there is certainly the possibility that a Soviet/US invasion could have occurred, their inevitability seems grossly exaggerated. The consequences of not dropping the bombs are unclear, and I think stating, as @WordsMatter has, that the "only negative" to be weighed is the very substantial loss of life both understates the importance of that loss (these were almost all civilians, affected over several generations, and deaths due to radiation poisoning are often gruesome) and the importance of dropping the bombs for civilization as a whole. It's the first and only time that nuclear weapons have been used in combat. It set a precedent. We can't know how that precedent will play out in future wars, but we do know that it has caused an awful lot of nuclear scares as countries have sought to engineer their own weapons, outdo each other with their number and power, and point them at each other. While nuclear war hasn't happened, the risk of it happening was very real, and the potential effects of many incidents that occurred during the Cold War could have been catastrophic. How do we rate that harm? Can we argue that a nuclear arms race would have happened anyway, and if so, would it have taken longer to kick off? Would tensions have been lower if there had been no precedent of their usage against another country?

    There aren't clear answers to many of these questions, and trying to imagine alternate histories is always a shot in the dark, but that's part of the point. I don't see how this is a cut-and-dried issue. Even the people who engineered these atomic bombs felt largely torn about their usage, particularly at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We largely know the cost of the route we took, and that was already pretty steep, so why is everyone so sure that the alternative would have been more horrifying?
    MasterofPun
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