The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was needed to force the Japanese to surrender unconditionally. To what extent do you agree with the statement? Explain your answer.
At approximately 8.15am on 6 August 1945, a US B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing around 80,000 people. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, causing the deaths of 40,000 more. Following this, on 14 August 1945, Japan surrendered & World War II was over. The dropping of the bombs, which occurred by executive order of US President Harry Truman, remains the only nuclear attack in history. Much heated debate has sparked over the reasons & necessity of dropping the atomic bombs. Conventional wisdom has it that the both bombings of the cities was justifiable as they were needed to shock the Japanese into surrendering unconditionally; “unconditional surrender” referred to no negotiated peace by the Japanese, meaning that they had to submit themselves totally to the will & judgment of the Allies after surrender. It is believed that prior to the bombings, Japanese government refused to surrender in July 1945, even though by then they cannot hope to win the war anymore, as they were fearful of endangering the survival of the emperor & the Imperial family by doing so. As such, one can say that the atomic bombing of both Hiroshima & Nagasaki were necessary as there was a need to coerce the Japanese into quickly surrendering. However, it is also accurate to mention that the Japanese would have agreed to unconditional surrender, bringing the war to an end, had the USA indicated to Japan that they would allow the retention of the Emperor & his throne, as investigated by US intelligence experts long before the atomic bomb was used. Furthermore, it was also suggested that the Japanese were more concerned with the possibility of the Soviet Union’s entry into the war, and would have allowed absolute surrender had the still-neutral Russian army attack Japan. Therefore, the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki was uncalled for, in securing unconditional Japanese surrender.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki was necessary in order to pressure Japan into agreeing into unconditional surrender as soon as possible. Although voices within the US Military expressed caution regarding the use of the new weapon against Japan, President Truman was decided that the bomb was the correct & only option. Six months of intense strategic firebombing of 37 Japanese cities around Tokyo area had done little to break the Japanese regime’s resolve, and Japan continued to resolutely ignore the demand for unconditional surrender as stated in the Potsdam Declaration. In such circumstances, the use of the atom bombs were seen as the best means of forcing Japan to surrender, thereby ending the war. The alternative was an Allied invasion of the Japanese home islands, to which many World War II era servicemen had been preparing for. This was believed to lead to even more American casualties; more than 55,000 Americans had already perished fighting the war against the Japanese in the Pacific. An invasion was certain to be very costly in American lives, and this was what Truman wanted to avoid by all means. Japan was on the breaking point of surrender, but they needed to first fully give up resistance, before the war could end quickly & efficiently. With hardliners, including war minister Korechika Anami, who advocated holding out longer to try to save national pride, as well as militarists with the fear that the Japanese monarchy would be eliminated, it is no wonder that Truman jumped at the opportunity using the atomic bombs – it would be able to accomplish his primary objectives of forcing a prompt Japanese surrender & saving American lives. Therefore, since it could force the Japanese into unconditional surrender, it was decided that the dropping of the atomic bombs on the two Japanese cities was necessary.
However, Japan would have agreed to unconditional surrender, with the consensus that the US allows Japan to retain her imperial family & Emperor. As it became apparent to the Japanese that they would lose the war, Japan began sending peace offers to the United States via Moscow, as well as through the Swiss embassy in Tokyo. These messages were intercepted by the US; this highlights that America’s civilian leadership was well aware that the Japanese were on the verge of surrender – they would surrender without an invasion, especially if guarantees were given that the emperor would be allowed to retain his throne. Furthermore, Former President Herbert Hoover wrote a letter to Truman, admonishing him to make US intentions regarding the surrender clear. In fact, Secretary of War Henry Stimson had suggested retaining the reference to the imperial structure in the declaration, but this was not added; the Japanese military interpreted the omission of any commitment on the Throne as evidence of the Allied intention to destroy forever the foundation stone of the Japanese nation. This implies that the Truman administration had knowledge of the fact that the Japanese would surrender eventually, and even faster should the terms they requested be allowed, but deliberately ignored this & other Japanese attempts to enter an agreement of surrender. Henceforth, this clearly points to the fact that the USA had other motives for the dropping of the atomic bombs, and that they were unnecessary in procuring unconditional surrender from the Japanese.
In addition, the Japanese would have given in to unconditional surrender eventually, as they were worried about a possible declaration of war by the Soviets. Japan was already in ruins. Japanese cities had been literally bombed into rubble; the Home Islands had been isolated from their normal sources of food as U.S. submarines prowled Japanese waters, cutting sea arteries to the Asian mainland. Food & other commodities were in short supply & the population was on the verge of starvation. The Imperial Japanese Navy had been destroyed & the Army was depending on a large degree on civilians. This showed that Japan was also defenseless by the summer of 1945. An invasion by the Soviets was on loom, and this would greatly threaten the remaining national interests, such as Manchuria & Korea. Moreover, Japanese troops were scattered all over China & the Pacific; they were too thinly spread & would not be able to hold off an invasion by the Soviets. Therefore, the Japanese would have eventually surrendered unconditionally, due to the Russian invasion, which happened after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Thus, the dropping of the atom bombs was unnecessary.
To conclude, the dropping of the atomic bombs were unnecessary as the Japanese would have surrendered unconditionally, had the Americans decided to allow the retention of the Emperor earlier, or due to the eventual Soviet