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26 May 2016

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C Webb

I was wondering about the why 2 question. Thanks, your explanation makes a lot of sense.

WRT the Japanese codes and consensus for surrender:

The Emperor's Codes: Bletchley Park's role in breaking Japan's secret cyphers by Michael Smith 2010

from review..
"....shows that the Allies knew very well that many in the Japanese Cabinet were ready for talks leading to surrender at least a month before the first A-bomb on Hiroshima. "

http://www.historytoday.com/john-crossland/emperors-codes-role-bletchley-park-breaking-japan%E2%80%99s-secret-ciphers

optimax

The United States fought a total war that was forced upon it. Both Japan and Germany would have used the Atom bomb had they developed it first. I’ve just finished a book about the last two years of WWII Pacific Theater, RETRIBUTION, by Max Hastings. I’ve always thought the Atom Bomb was necessary to end the war quickly based on my parent’s generation’s relief they didn’t have to continue fighting and dying after defeating Germany. They called the fight with Germany the civilized war; the fight with Japan the uncivilized war. Prisoners of Japanese died 7 times the rate they did in Germany. Hastings’s book deepened my understanding of why the bomb hastened war’s end.
The barbarity and savagery of the Japanese military has been mentioned here but thousands were dying every day in Manchuria under occupation until the last days of the war. The Russians were savage in their own way, raping women and dismantling industrial plants in conquered territory to send to Russia. Captured Japanese worked as slave laborers up to 10 years in Siberia after the end of the war. Stalin wanted as much territory as he could capture, including as much of Japan as he could claim, and Truman did not want what happened in Europe to happen to Japan. Stalin moved up his planned invasion of Manchuria from August 11 to the 8th because he knew the atom bomb would soon end the war.
By 1944 the Japanese military knew they couldn’t win but kept fighting for better terms than unconditional surrender. Signals intercepted the conditions the Japanese sent to Moscow: no occupation, no international war crimes trials of their military or political leaders, certain conquered territories were to be kept and the imperial system was to be maintained. Only after the Atom Bombs were dropped did they drop every condition but keeping the emperor. This was as unacceptable as Germany demanding Hitler stay on as der Fuhrer after surrender. It was unknown what part Hirohito played in the war until MacArthur had his role investigated that Japan was allowed to keep the Emperor. This may have been too generous but contributed to a successful peace.
The Japanese militarists cared nothing for the Japanese civilians or soldiers but only for their own honor and institutions. Even after the surrender was announced signals intelligence picked up field commanders demanding troops fight to the death. Hirohito grilled Kido about the effects of the atom bombs, showing it had a profound influence on accepting unconditional surrender. He was impressed that the Potsdam Declaration allowed the Japanese people to choose their form of government. Hirohito recorded his acceptance of surrender to be played the next day. A group of hardcore militarist attempted a palace coup, a couple of them searched for the two copies in order to destroy them and block the surrender. The Japanese people hated the military for their years of suffering to the extent that US occupying soldiers had to protect Japanese soldiers from angry mobs.
From RETRIBUTION: “…The Japanese retained large armies with which to defend their home islands. They were induced to quit by fuel starvation, the collapse of industry caused by blockade and in lesser degree aerial bombardment, together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the atomic bombs.”

optimax

US bomber crew shot down over Japan were dissected while ALIVE in horrific WW2 experiments: Japanese university acknowledges full details of atrocity 70 years on.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3028694/U-S-POWs-shot-Japan-70-years-ago-dissected-ALIVE-macabre-experiments-controversial-new-exhibition-shows.html

There is no moral equivalence. You don't show mercy to the merciless until they surrender.

readerOfTeaLeaves

I don't know that I qualify as a 'member', but I am an SST reader.
Which means that there are at least two of us who might not be here if the US infantry had been sent to fight in Japan.

My father was in the Philippines, near Tacloban (recently destroyed by hurricane) preparing to be transported to Japan when he heard the news of a strange, terrifying weapon. At the end of the war, he was sent to help clean up Yokohama and his descriptions are... stark.

He never second-guessed Truman's decision on the bombs, nor on sacking MacArthur; he was the only one among his original group of combat engineers to return from the war alive.

no one

Malachy,
The world is a better place for having people like Fr. Arrupe in it.

However, someone has to make the hard decisions. There is little evidence to suggest that mortal enemies or evil people will be won over with love. Be kind to your enemies/be cruel to yourself.

Les

Re: Max Hastings
I too have read his large book on the end of the war.
Hastings brings up an important point in his history:
"Most of the participants changed their stories after the war".

It's a messy piece of history: Who wants too be the first (& thankfully only) to say they gave to go-ahead on the atomic bomb?

In Washington, the US administration wanted to 'Smack Stalin', among other motivations; Further reading is John Dower's "War Without Mercy", there was blood lust in the voting public & it was reciprocated by the Japanese military. At the cabinet level, you don't carry out policies for one reason alone…
In Japan, the Emperor & his confidents could not move too fast, or they would be taken out by a coup of military officers…
The science & production of the bombs was the largest project in history at that point in time. At Alamogordo, several scientists were betting whether the nuclear reaction would ignite the air!...

Hastings went on to say that the nuclear bombs convinced the Japanese Navy to surrender and the Red Army's furious offensive into Manchuria convinced the Army to surrender.
Hastings may not be the last word, but he is recent...

If it had come to an invasion, the Red Army would have been there first, but on the top & empty end of Honshu. Allied (American) plans were highly advanced; Troops were on-loading in europe & heading for the ports in the US. The US invasion would have gone in on the southern beaches & been met a maximum (leftovers) effort of Japan to stop the invasion on the beach. The post-war figuring was that Japanese resistance would have collapsed quickly & there was nothing very organized behind… The million casualties were not going to happen.
Skates, J.R, 1994. The Invasion of Japan: An Alternative to the Bomb

It is awkward to impose our morality on what our forefathers were going through in 1944 & 1945: In 1944 a big dozen Canadians were captured by the SS Division opposing them in Normandy. They were put up against a wall & shot. For the rest of the war it was known in the SS that you could not surrender to Canadians; they would put you up against a wall & shoot you.

The Japanese could be bastards; Ask the Chinese about the "Ichigo Go" offensives of of '44-45. R
esulting famines killed millions. But the Japanese were not the most 'bloody-minded;

In Bosnia the Ustashi Croations (Nazi sponsored) erected a series of concentration/extermination camps for Serbs: One camp was dedicated to the liquidation of Serb children; One third were to be murdered, one third starved & the last third converted to Catholicism (Ustashi brand). They did it too.
Do you wonder why Serbs seem so bloody minded sometimes?

Les

Re: Max Hastings
I too have read his large book on the end of the war.
Hastings brings up an important point in his history:
"Most of the participants changed their stories after the war".

It's a messy piece of history: Who wants too be the first (& thankfully only) to say they gave to go-ahead on the atomic bomb?

In Washington, the US administration wanted to 'Smack Stalin', among other motivations; Further reading is John Dower's "War Without Mercy", there was blood lust in the voting public & it was reciprocated by the Japanese military. At the cabinet level, you don't carry out policies for one reason alone…
In Japan, the Emperor & his confidents could not move too fast, or they would be taken out by a coup of military officers…
The science & production of the bombs was the largest project in history at that point in time. At Alamogordo, several scientists were betting whether the nuclear reaction would ignite the air!...

Hastings went on to say that the nuclear bombs convinced the Japanese Navy to surrender and the Red Army's furious offensive into Manchuria convinced the Army to surrender.
Hastings may not be the last word, but he is recent...

If it had come to an invasion, the Red Army would have been there first, but on the top & empty end of Honshu. Allied (American) plans were highly advanced; Troops were on-loading in europe & heading for the ports in the US. The US invasion would have gone in on the southern beaches & been met a maximum (leftovers) effort of Japan to stop the invasion on the beach. The post-war figuring was that Japanese resistance would have collapsed quickly & there was nothing very organized behind… The million casualties were not going to happen.
Skates, J.R, 1994. The Invasion of Japan: An Alternative to the Bomb

It is awkward to impose our morality on what our forefathers were going through in 1944 & 1945: In 1944 a big dozen Canadians were captured by the SS Division opposing them in Normandy. They were put up against a wall & shot. For the rest of the war it was known in the SS that you could not surrender to Canadians; they would put you up against a wall & shoot you.

The Japanese could be bastards; Ask the Chinese about the "Ichigo Go" offensives of of '44-45. Resulting famines killed millions. But the Japanese were not the most 'bloody-minded;

In Bosnia the Ustashi Croations (Nazi sponsored) erected a series of concentration/extermination camps for Serbs: One camp was dedicated to the liquidation of Serb children; One third were to be murdered, one third starved & the last third converted to Catholicism (Ustashi brand). They did it too.
Do you wonder why Serbs seem so bloody minded sometimes?

optimax

Les

I've read Dower. He brings up the distinction between the humane treatment of prisoners by the Japanese in their war with Russia (1911?) and their savage treatment of prisoners in WWII. For some reason officers treated their own soldiers like Michael Vick treated his dogs. Can't remember what Dower thought had changed.

Jov

A very nice piece from Mr Sale.
One moment hasn't been stressed in this piece, although the very interesting view on Japanese scientist in Cieran's comment could stress that matter -
my father always told me that he read somewhere that there were suggestions in the US army before using the A-bomb, that representatives from the US and Imperial Japanese army should be taken near a deserted island, and that an A-bomb would be thrown on that island, so that the Japanese could get a first hand impression of the devastating consequences of this new weapon and decide about an unconditional surrender. This could have been the ''most elegant'' way, but in war there is no big place for elegance, and also who knows would it have given the desired effect.

I beg to differ from Colonel Lang's view on the opinion using nukes wasn't revenge but terrible necessity. In my opinion using nukes had a portion of revenge in it. And desire for revenge was, given all the circumstances, natural consequence of events. Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war, their treatment of POW's was often on war crime level, and the war crimes they committed on occupied territories, mostly in China, was often on Nazi level (they had a unit for experimenting in people), etc.

It seems to me, having read common literature, that US Americans are very sensitive on the topic of, how someone in the comments has stressed it,''we are the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against another nation'' But in a way it is the burden of the nation who had to make a choice. Was it the right choice, it will be debated for a long time, but some other facts are:
1) if the Germans or the Japanese first developed some kind of nuclear weapon, we wouldn't be alive to use this forum.
2) the US had nuclear weapons, the Cold war started, and the US didn't use it against the Soviets. And when General MacArthur later on demanded using nukes during the Korean war, he was removed from command, as far as I know.
3) although the two A bombs used in WWII took many lives, they were very weak compared to later developed nuclear weapons. As such the effects of these bombs helped create the rule of mutual annihilation, very probable if nuclear weapons were to be used ever again.

Last but not least, every day of war continuing didn't mean just deaths of soldiers, but of civilians as well. As Les said, in Bosnia but also in today's Croatia, then puppet state Independent state of Croatia formed by Nazis and Italians, as well as parts of today's Serbia occupied by Croat Ustashas, a terrible genocide on Serbs was taking part.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasenovac_concentration_camp
Just as such genocide was taking part in every death and concentration camp across Europe where Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Polish and many other people and nations were being killed by hundreds and thousands every day.



Jim

I believe the bombing of Hiroshima occured an hour earlier than stated:at 8:14 AM rather than 9:14. Pedantic? Yes, sorry.

Peter Reichard

Nippon sowed war winds
Nanking! 'Till Nagasaki
Did reap the whirlwind

A.I.Schmelzer

I believe that the realpolitik reasons for dropping the bombs were, from the US pov. as follows:

1: Insure that Japan surrenders to the USA, and that only the USA takes control of post war Japan, and that it does so with lowest possible cost in terms of American lives, and quickly. There is nothing amoral about that.

2: Prevent the establishment "Democratic people republic of Japan" aka. "North Japan". Here one should add that the Japanese have comitted massive war crimes against China, and against the western allies. In general, war crimes comitted by the vanquished are repaid to them with interest (WW2 being one of the rare exceptions), and the Japanese could have tried to play of the USSR against the USA.

3: Show to "our Soviet partners" that "unconventional solutions" exist.
As far as maneuvering between equal allies about who gets what spoils goes, this was not historically unusual.

As for their effects, they ended the war, on terms very much favorable to the USA (although the speed of the RKKA crushing victory over the Kwantung army was still impressive), and allowed the USA to take control over, with the exception of North Korea, many of the most "juicy" parts of the Japanese Empire. From a Machiavellian pov. it worked pretty well. From a moral pov:

Not nuking would likely mean a Democratic Peoples Republic of North Japan. As well as an additonal period of warfare until this is achieved. I do not neccesarily believe the "Japanese are Klingons and would have fought on" thing. Being attacked by the Red army as well would have made defeat obvious, and the question would quickly become "to whom do we surrender?".

I cannot accurately guess the bodycount that "North Japan" would accrue, or the body count of a possible Korean war equivalent "Japanese war" between North and South Japan. Had there been no Japanese war, and had the Japanese Peoples Republic been like the GDR or Yugoslavia, no nuke would have imho clearly been better (GDRs total bodycount was pretty low, and living there was quite tolerable). Had it turned out like North Korea, with a bloody "Japanese war", a case for nukes being less bad could be made.
I would rate odds for "North Japan" becoming "North Korea but more so" as higher then North Japan becoming "GDR but more so". Reason being that the Soviets could use German communists to rule the GDR, and I dont see much in the way of Japanese cadres they could have used in Japan.

Richard Sale

Pat is dead on


Richard Sale

Richard Sale

No group does.

Richard

Richard Sale

I totally agree.

Richard Sale

The Beaver

Mr Sale,

OT : However, wanted to draw your attention to this article:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36431160

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