For decades now the moral and ethical justification of the US forcing Japan in to surrender by unleashing the wrath of two nuclear bombs on Japan, has been a popular debate for not only scholars but everybody to this day. With this topical event we are going to explore the controversy’s behind the decision to unleash this power . we will explore the main two arguments from both opposing sides; - people who were for the dropping of the Nuclear bomb stated the argument that; it was the only way for a quick surrender that would also inflict less casualties. - People opposed to the dropping of the nuclear bomb said that; Japan were going to already surrender and this was just an excuse in committing a war crime or terrorist activity. So was the A-bomb a war crime or just a necessity for peace? Background information:
After the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbour by Japan on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, resulted in the waking of a sleeping giant and thus America had entered world war two. Along with Germany, the Japanese war campaign had resulted in complete success with the occupation of Manchuria-Korea-parts of China-Formosa-French Indochina-Thailand-Burma-Malaysia-The Dutch East Indies-The Philippine Islands-Guam-parts of Alaska-Wake Island-Solomon Islands-Islands in the south/central pacific region. But as was stated before the Japanese had planned a suprise attack on pearl Harbour for strategical purposes; this strike was intended to neutralize the U.S. Pacific Fleet this in turn cemented their own demise.
The success towards the atomic bomb was mainly due to the Manhattan project. The Manhattan project was a codename for a covert project that was conducted in world war2 the projects clear objective was to create the first atomic bomb. This project was lead by the United States and incorporated scientists from the United Kingdom and Canada. Formally designated as the Manhattan Engineer District (MED), this refers to the period of of the project from 1942–1946 under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under the administration of General Leslie R. Groves. The scientific research was directed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Since the 1930’s Nazi Germany were investigating nuclear weapons of its own. The Manhattan project started from a small research program in 1939, eventually the project employed 130,000 people and with a cost of up to $2 billion US ($22 billion current value) this in turn resulted in the creation of multiple production and research sites that managed to operate in secret. The Project took place in over thirty sites across the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The MED maintained control over U.S. weapons production until the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947. On August 6 and 9, 1945, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the first atomic bombs used in warfare. The first Nuclear bomb ever used in warfare was affectionately called Little Boy. Little Boy was dropped over the Japanese city Hiroshima On August 6, 1945 at 8:16:02 a.m. (Hiroshima time). Little Boy exploded 1,900 feet above the courtyard of Shima Hospital, with a force equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT. By the end of 1945, 140,000 people had died as a direct result of the bombing. Within the following five years, another 60,000 would die of bomb-related causes. The second nuclear bomb called Fat Man was dropped over the Japanese city of Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945. It exploded at 1,650 feet with a force of 22,000 tons of TNT. 70,000 people lost their lives in Nagasaki by the end of 1945 due to the bombing. A total of 140,00 died within the next five years. Hiroshima
In the time of world war 2 Hiroshima was the ideal place for the United States to drop their first nuclear bomb. (little Boy) this was due to the fact that Hiroshima had great military importance for Japan. Hiroshima contained the following military importance: - contained the 2nd Army Headquarters, which commanded the defence of all of southern Japan. - The city was a communications centre.
- A storage point, and an assembly area for troops.
The houses and buildings in Hiroshima were of wooden construction with tile roofs. Many of the industrial buildings also were of wood frame construction. The city as a whole was highly susceptible to fire damage, many of these points made Hiroshima the number one target for the US. Nagasaki
In the time of World War2 Nagasaki was a vital city that along with Hiroshima was chosen by America to be obliterated by the newly unleashed power of the nuclear bomb. Nagasaki was chosen for the obvious reason that it was the main industrial city of Japan and therefore cutting off Japans main economical and creation of military weaponry point would therefore force Japan in to submission. Nagasaki’s industrial power produced; ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials. But Nagasaki was not only chosen for the obvious fact that it was practically the industrial heart of Japan, but was also chosen for the decreasing population. Before Nagasaki was hit by the nuclear bomb it had also injured small fire bomb raids, that forced school children and hospitals to evacuate to safe rural areas. This would explain the obvious difference in casualties between Little Boy of Hiroshima and Fat Man of Nagasaki. A-bomb Necessity for Peace:
Those who look at the A-bomb as the only necessity for peace between Japan and America and inevitably to the end of world war 2 look at the main picture. The main picture consist of a vital decision to force Japan in to surrender. At the time, President Harry Truman would of had the same objective as any other president in his shoes; which was a quick and early surrender or defeat inflicting fewer casualties as possible. President Truman had to decide between two options in order to achieve this objective either unleash the wrath of the newly developed nuclear bomb or an invasion. But what President Truman also had to take in to account was unlike most country’s surrender was not an option for Japan.
Refuse to surrender
some historians see ancient Japanese warrior traditions as a major factor in the resistance towards the Japanese military idea of surrender. Each Japanese soldier had the code of bushido—"the way of the warrior" which was deeply ingrained. This code consisted of many concepts such as Yamato-damashii this in tailed each warrior or soldier to never be captured, never break down, and never surrender. Surrender was dishonourable. Each soldier was trained to fight to the death and was expected to die before suffering dishonour. If Japanese warriors would be defeated they would carry out the historic samurai ritual of seppuku (called hara kiri in the West.)this would necessitate the suicide of the defeated warrior. In modern times of warfare the Japanese would still live by this concept of seppuku an example of this is the Japanese air force. If a Japanese plane was shot down in war, instead of the fighter ejecting in fear for his life they would be trained to force the plane to crash in to any target that would not only force the end of his life but cause the most amount of casualties on the opposing side. From this we can say that Japan is obviously very persistent and either way there will be countless amounts of bloodshed before Japan reaches the stage of surrender. Plan B: Invasion of Japan
As previously stated before President Harry Truman had two options either to drop Nuclear bombs over Japan or to Invade them. In actual fact the horrific death and destruction that the nuclear bomb inflicted on to Japan was more or less a blessing in disguise compared to the last option that was on the table. If somehow the Nuclear bomb did not force Japan to surrender the only option was to forcibly invade Japan. To invade Japan or Operation Downfall as it has been stated would of inflicted massive casualties on both sides of Japan and America. The American’s had planed that they would lose many casualties during operation downfall. President Harry Truman stated after the war that he had been advised that U.S. casualties could range from 250,000 to one million men. Other sources put the highest estimates at 30,000 to 50,000. But if America could of lost that many men, it would be expected that Japan would lose millions of not only soldiers but also civilians. Amazingly enough more civilians would have perished in operation down fall compared to the two nuclear bombs that had been dropped. This is quite evident when An Air Force Association history says, "Millions of women, old men, and boys and girls had been trained to resist by such means as attacking with bamboo spears and strapping explosives to their bodies and throwing themselves under advancing tanks," and also that "[t]he Japanese cabinet had approved a measure extending the draft to include men from ages fifteen to sixty and women from seventeen to forty-five (an additional 28 million people). Supporters also point to an order given by the Japanese War Ministry on 1 August 1944, ordering the disposal and execution of all Allied prisoners of war, numbering over 100,000, if an invasion of the Japanese mainland took place. Philippine justice Delfin Jaranilla, member of the Tokyo tribunal, wrote in his judgment: "If a means is justified by an end, the use of the atomic bomb was justified for it brought Japan to her knees and ended the horrible war. If the war had gone longer, without the use of the atomic bomb, how many thousands and thousands of helpless men, women and children would have needlessly died and suffer.”
A-bomb A war crime:
Starting almost immediately after the conclusion of World War II, and continuing to the present day, the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been questioned. Their use has been called barbarian from the obviouse destruction of military base and civilians. The argument to this controversial topic is that these Nuclear bombings were not necessary because Japan was already going to surrender these nuclear bombings were nothing more than a war crime, crime against humanity, or state terrorism. On 8 August 1945, Albert Camus addressed the bombing of Hiroshima in an editorial in the French newspaper Combat: "Mechanized civilization has just reached the ultimate stage of barbarism. In a near future, we will have to choose between mass suicide and intelligent use of scientific conquests[...] This can no longer be simply a prayer; it must become an order which goes upward from the peoples to the governments, an order to make a definitive choice between hell and reason." This article by Albert Camus written after the two nuclear attacks on Japan displays the remorse that many people feel for the country, but also asks us the obvious question; are we, as a human race so barbarian that in order to further our conquests of scientific intelligence we should therefore look past the death and destruction that it trails behind us? A-bomb unnecessary to defeat Japan
in 1946 the United States strategic bombing survey written by Paul Nitze, concluded that the atomic bombs had been unnecessary to the winning of the war. After reviewing numerous documents, and interviewing hundreds of Japanese civilian and military leaders after Japan surrendered, Nitze reported. It is the survey’s opinion that prior to 31st December 1945. And in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated. This conclusion had been assumed after the destruction of 67 wooden constructed Japanese cities from the United States B-29 conventional firebombing tactics. even in 1945 the United States secretary of war Henry L. Stimson, was told about their plan to drop the newly developed nuclear bomb on Japan. Henry Stated “ I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.” Other U.S. military officers who disagreed with the necessity of the bombings include General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy (the Chief of Staff to the President), Brigadier General Carter Clarke (the military intelligence officer who prepared intercepted Japanese cables for U.S. officials), and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet. In actual fact many historians contend that it was the swift and devastating Soviet victories in Manchuria that forced the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, though the War Council did not know the extent of the losses to the Soviets in China at that time. Nagasaki Bombing was unnecessary
After the fruits of America’s labour were displayed through the destruction of 67 Japanese cities from the US fire bombing raids and then an Atomic blast on Hiroshima equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT, the idea of a second nuclear blast three days later on one of Japan’s most industrial city’s (Nagasaki) was incomprehensible. The second atomic bombing, on Nagasaki, came only three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, when the devastation at Hiroshima had yet to be fully comprehended by the Japanese. The main factor behind the second nuclear blast being unnecessary was the lack of time between the bombings. Some historians have argued that while the first bomb might have been required to achieve Japanese surrender, dropping the second constituted a needless barbarism. Summary:
So is the A-bomb a war crime or a necessity for peace. After exploring both sides of this controversial issue I have personally concluded that there is no real answer. Both opposing sides have valid for and against points, where in one way the ends justify the means (to drop the bomb would of made an early finish to what would of been a never ending war between countries) and in others, (where America was only seen as a country testing their weapons of vast destruction on an already crumbling country) either way people have their heroic and selfish views about the matter. And if I were to choose a side in the subject I would have said the A-bomb is in fact a necessity for peace for the obvious fact that it ironically ended the war with less bloodshed compared to some of the other options that America could have easily taken. And we don’t know for sure if Japan would of surrendered despite all the facts about the continues fire bombing raids that took place. And in a way these nuclear bombs have been a necessity for peace because they have displayed to the world the suffering and destruction that these bombs incur on to the world, which in a way has acted like a deterrent and through this; nuclear treaties have been signed among countries to ensure the peace and nuclear free wars. And to this day a nuclear bomb has not been unleashed against any another country. (apart from testing purposes)
From Lachlan Morgan 10MH