ENC 1102 Fiedler
23 October 2012
Life and Success because of the Atomic bomb
After defeating Nazi Germany there was only one step for the United States to end World War II and achieve world peace. The U.S. had to make the Japanese Empire surrender. The U.S. armed forces had already devastated the Japanese and conquered Japanese territories of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japanese-held Luzon at a very high casualty rate. The last effort to make Japan surrender was to invade the mainland. This was going to be a very difficult task since Japan still had a relatively intact army of two million men in the mainland, the support of the Fifth Air Fleet of dedicated kamikaze pilots, and a 28 million Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps. Invading mainland Japan would cost the U.S. a high number of casualties and the destruction of many ships, in addition to thousands of allied prisoners that were ordered by the Japanese High Command to be executed if the invasion was to occur. The casualties for the Japanese would run into the millions, including civilians. All these aspects contributed to the decision of the use of the atomic bomb to make Japan surrender. During this time the knowledge about the effects of the use of an atomic bomb was limited. The decision by the U.S. to use the newly developed atomic bomb to force Japan to surrender changed the outcome of the War. The use of the atomic bomb helped save millions of lives versus the amount of casualties that the invasion of the Japanese mainland would have yielded. According to the files collected by the College of Public and Urban Affairs from Portland State University, Operation Downfall was the selected course of action by the United Sates for the invasion of mainland Japan. Downfall consisted of two parts: Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet. Had the U.S executed Operation Downfall, it would have added at least one year of military operations within Japan and have resulted in thousands of casualties for the allies and millions for the Japanese. In the Operation Downfall several estimates exist about the expected number of U.S. casualties; out of all the estimates only the study conducted for the Secretary of War takes into consideration a high involvement of the Japanese population. Estimates for the first 30 days of each sub operation varies, the most moderate suggests that the casualties would be 23,00 men and the highest estimate suggests that casualties would have reached 49,000 men. The study conducted for the Secretary of War for the complete execution of Downfall estimated 1.7 to 4 million American casualties, with the Japanese fatality ranging from 5 to 10 million including civilians. Regardless of the differences in the expected casualty rates from different studies, they were all immensely high for both sides. Executing Operation Downfall would result in the loss of millions of lives from both sides. Then an option emerged that could greatly reduce the number of casualties and the length of military operations in the Pacific theater. According to the Reports of General MacArthur’s in “The Campaigns of MacArthur in the Pacific”, military officials did not know about the existence of the atomic bomb before drafting and estimating casualties for Operation Downfall, “The plans for ‘Downfall’ were first developed early in 1945 by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Argonaut Conference held on the tiny island of Malta in the Mediterranean. On 9 February.” (396). Shalom claims in his article, “The Obliteration of Hiroshima” in New Politics Shalom wrote, “They exaggerated not only the invasion costs” (par 28) here Shalom tries to argue that the invasion costs were inflated to justify the use of the atomic bomb, which is not true since the plan and estimates were drafted before the knowledge that such a bomb was available for military use. The possibility of using the atomic bomb provided the U.S. an opportunity to reduce casualties and to force Japan to surrender. The explosive effects of the atomic bomb are equivalent to thousands of tons of dynamite, which provides a higher output of destruction when compared to conventional bombs. The radiation effects of the bomb on the environment and on people were not well understood by the scientific community at this time, but they knew that it would definitely cause damage. They provided estimates of the range of radiation fallout. One example of the ignorance the U.S. had in regards to the effects of radiation can be observed on a memorandum by Major General L.R. Groves to the Chief of Staff about procedures after the detonation of the bomb. He stated, “We think we could move troops through the area immediately preferably by motor but on foot if desired.” This clearly shows the little knowledge military officials had about the long lasting effects of radiation In the article, “Obliteration of Hiroshima” Shalom claims, “High Japanese civilian casualties are often blamed on the fanaticism of Japanese resistance. Some of this fanaticism was a myth propelled by racist U.S. stereotypes and carefully constructed Japanese government propaganda”. This is a contradiction to the reality of what was happening in Japan. According to Operation Downfall, the standards drafted for the Japanese Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps, which was created for the defense of the Japanese home islands, “included all healthy men aged 15-60” (5) but in Kildare Dobbs “The Shatterer of Worlds” where he tells the story of a young Japanese girl named Emiko in Hiroshima during the bombing, he writes, “Tetsuro, Emiko’s thirteen year-old brother, was at Manchurian front with Imperial Army.” (1.) At the end of Emiko’s account, he writes, “Tetsuro had been killed in action in Manchuria.” (4) This is a clear example that the Japanese were ready to sacrifice boys as young as 13 years of age for the Japanese conquered territories. What would the Japanese be willing to sacrifice for their homeland? According to Operation Downfall, an account exists about a young girl mobilized who was issued an awl said: “Even killing one American soldier will do. …You must aim for the abdomen.” (qtd in Operation Downfall.) For the previous mentioned reasons, it is important to consider that the estimates concluded by the study for the Secretary of War in Operation Downfall could be considered very accurate, “conquering Japan would cost 1.7 to 4 million American casualties, including 400,000 to 800,000 fatalities, and five to ten million Japanese fatalities. The key assumption was large-scale participation by civilians in the defense of Japan.” (7-8). In Paul Fussell’s article, “Thank God for Atom the Bomb” he describes that thousands of allied prisoners that would have been executed by orders of the Japanese High Command if the invasion of the mainland would have been executed (4). The use of the atomic bomb helped saved millions of lives, not only American service members and Japanese soldiers and civilians: but it also saved the lives of thousands of allied prisoners held by the Japanese. Regardless of the bombardments made by the U.S. prior to the use of the atomic bomb, the bomb also helped the Japanese by leaving some of the infrastructure of Japan working, which would help the Japanese on the reconstruction of their country. If Operation Downfall would have been executed, that would have meant the destruction of the vast majority of the Japanese infrastructure. Facts have been provided regarding the actions that the Japanese were willing to sacrifice in order to protect their homeland. At the same time, the use of the bomb allowed the scientific community to learn about the effects that the atomic bomb produced on the environment and the effects when used on a civilian population.
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