America’s ultimate decision to use the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, an event that occurred over half a century ago, has been a topic of intense debate and controversy for many years following the incident. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are one of the most well documented and memorable historical events in history while provoking lasting heated reactions. Many historians argue that the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities won the war in the Pacific while others argue that at most, it only accelerated Japan’s defeat, which to many was viewed as an inevitable outcome. The purpose of this research paper is to explain and analyze the many reasons why the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not only unjustified but also necessary because there were many alternative ways to end the war, it was racially and politically biased, it was immoral and unethical even for warfare standards, and Japan’s defeat and surrender were inevitable.
Before the occurrence of the devastating atrocities, Japan had already attempted to negotiate peace with the United States. However, unfortunately, the United States refused to accept any of their terms and conditions because they wanted unconditional surrender – which was not accepted by the Japanese. The U.S. could and should have put more effort into coming to an agreement peacefully and making a deal rather than using a detrimental weapon to force them into submission.
The best alternative to the bombing could have been the modification of the demand for unconditional surrender and allow the Japanese to still keep their emperor as their leader and a political figure. Obviously, he would have to be demoted to a puppet ruler, but it was possible that this one modification of the condition alone might have been enough to satisfy the American’s conclusion that it was necessary to convince the Japanese that they would not be “demolished” if they surrendered. The U.S. government clearly understood that if they harmed the emperor, for whom the Japanese people have long revered as a God, the Japanese would resist indefinitely. Furthermore, the main and crucial point to this argument lies in the fact that the U.S. government have already planned on allowing the emperor to stay. Basically, all they had to do was to find a way to make aware of their intentions for the Japanese.
Unfortunately, at the time, the former Senator James Byrnes, who had become a personal advisor to President Truman, had a major influence on many of the political decisions made by President Truman. Byrnes convinced the President to proceed with the bombing and the current terms and conditions because he told Truman that he would be criticized by many others, especially the public, for making a deal with the Japanese. Eventually, President Truman decided to remove and modify many of the important and crucial languages in the Potsdam Declaration about the Japanese emperor. Therefore, the Japanese became unaware with regards to America’s intentions toward the emperor.
The Japanese only disagreed to unconditional surrender. The main goal of the newly appointed Japanese government was to end the war and was already sending peace feelers to other countries to negotiate peace terms. Many of the terms that the Japanese were willing to agree upon were the same as those in the Potsdam Declaration only that they wanted the Emperor to remain in power. The Potsdam Declaration made the fate of the emperor uncertain, so the Japanese did not want to agree to an unconditional surrender. Ironically, after the war and the occupation of Japan, the emperor was restored. The bombing could have been completely avoided if the American government was not so set on having Japan surrender unconditionally and letting Japan decide on some of the terms and conditions.
The United States already knew from intercepted messages, long after “cracking the code” of the Japanese, that many of the country’s leaders and officials were seeking to end the war on terms and conditions that were most favourable and beneficial to them as possible.
The atomic bombing was motivated by racism and politics to show and prove the superiority of Americans over Japanese. Many political propaganda posters were used that humiliated, devalued, and dehumanized the Japanese people as a whole rather than just targeting their military personnel. Racism was one of the strongest motivating factors in the decision to use the atomic bomb. Furthermore, they wanted to show the rest of the world, especially the Soviet Union, how strong and capable they are as a nation and that they are an opponent not to be easily messed with.
Many believe and argue that racism played a crucial role in President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb and that if the bomb had been developed earlier, it would have never been used against Germany or any of the other western nations. Although the US stereotyped and ridiculed their enemies on their propaganda, most of the ridicule was mainly directed at their political leadership and not the people themselves nor the race as a whole. However, on the other end, anti-Japanese racism and stereotypes in American society directly targeted the Japanese as people themselves and the race as a whole; it is similar to the type of hatred that is comparable to Nazi’s anti-Jewish and Slavic propaganda.
As discussed above, many question and are puzzled to why the United States used the atomic bombs on August 6 and 9 when they already knew the Soviets were going to declare war on Japan a week later. Many believe that the U.S. government did not want wait for the Soviets because they already thought about and had a plan for the post-war world and how they could best limit Soviet gains and the spread of communism.
The countless number of civilians with no democratic rights to oppose against their militarist government, including women and children, were vaporized, turned into charred globs, gruesomely burned, buried in debris, cuts and wounds by flying shrapnel, and full exposure to radiation. In a matter of seconds, entire families and whole neighbourhoods were simply obliterated and turned into nothing but shadows. Even for the few rare survivors, they had struggled with radiation poison, starvation, and crippling mutilations. People not living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were scared and ignorant about radiation poison and other negative effects, so they treated bomb victims and survivors as if they had a deadly contagious disease. They were excluded and isolated from Japanese society.
Around the time of the atomic bombings, most of the Japanese navy, military, and air force were destroyed and American planes could freely fly over Japan. Although leaflets telling the civilians to evacuate were spread, mass evacuation would be impossible without management from the government. It is hypocritical that the American government told the civilians to leave their homes but targeted the cities. If they only wanted to prove that the atomic bombs could lead to mass destruction, cities should not have been the places bombed. It was unjustified for the following reasons: attacking a country that was ready to surrender, targeting civilians, blindly wanting an unconditional surrender, and killing people at a faster rate than any air raid, torpedo, nor concentration camp.
The U.S. would have more of a valid reason if they were dropping atomic bombs on a target that was already military but to use them on civilians is just barbaric and dirty. In this situation, America was equally as guilty as Nazi Germany and Japan considering war crimes on enemy civilians. However, at least with conventional bombing, the bombers are able to aim for specific military-related targets such as factories, but the atomic bomb does not discriminate and destroys everything even those that were not contributing to the war such as hospitals, schools, religious buildings and temples, cultural and historical landmarks, residential buildings and neighbourhoods, and etc.
Japan was already on the verge of collapse. For example, the sea blockade and firebombing raids were already proofs that they were weak at the time when the bombing occurred. To use such a powerful and destructive bomb on a weak and starving country was not necessary because they had no strength to fight back anyway.
Months before the end of the war, Japanese leaders and officials recognized that defeat and surrender were inevitable and near. When Germany was defeated and had surrendered, the Japanese understood that the allies especially the U.S. would now fully direct their mighty military power entirely against them with fury and vengeance.