“Japan was already defeated and dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.” Who’s words are these you may ask. As Robert Freeman says, “Those are not the words of a latter-day revisionist historian or of a leftist writer. They are certainly not the words of an American-hater. They are the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and future president of the United States.”1
There has been no military action that has been met with as much criticism than the decision to drop two atomic weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the course of this post I will be debunking the reasons given from dropping the bombs as well as showing why it was inherently a bad idea.
The main reason that was given for the neccesitiy of the bombing was the belief that Japan would not surrender. This may have been true for the troops themselves but this was certainly not the position held by the government. Japans Commanders of War, the Big Six, had been discussing peace agreements with the Soviet Union for months whilst still saying they would fight to the death.2 The Japanese had been defeated already with the destruction of their navy and the loss of the sea around Japan, the fact that we controlled the air above Japan and the fact that we had been firebombing some of their major cities. They had no means of getting supplies into the country thus it is safe to say they were already defeated. Their army was decimated. Many top military commanders regarded the Japanese position as “hopeless”1 as well as saying [they] “…were already defeated and ready to surrender”.1
The next claim that is made in favor of the bombings is the ludicrous notion that they “saved American lives by preventing a land invasion”. If one does not delve deeper into this it may sound convincing but after one looks at the facts here it is easy to see that this is false. First off, the Japanese had already lost most of their army on the islands around Japan and they were, as shown above, essentially defeated. In fact, the USSBS (US Strategic Bombing Survey) said, “Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.”3 “The November 1 date is important because that was the date of the earliest possible planned U.S. invasion of the Japanese main islands.”1 This combined with the fact that Japan had been trying to surrender-conditional surrender*-meant that there was absolutely no need for the atomic weapons.
The first and most obvious reason why the atomic bombings were bad is because they killed over 200,000 innocent civilians as well as leaving thousands more wounded. Next off, the liver cancer rate in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the highest in the world!4 This is over 60 years later! The rate of other types of cancer has also been greatly increased. Cancer rates have increased from 217 to 301 out of 100,000 in males and 176 to 197 out of 100,000 in females.4 (This is during a year) The highest cancer rate in males in the US is 163 out of 100,000 and for females, 113 out of 100,000, a massive difference!5
The next and probably the most important reason to us is the fact that the atomic bombings really started the Cold War. Even before the bombings the US and the USSR had great distrust that was magnified by the fact that we showed our dominance by developing a weapon that could destroy an entire town first. Once the USSR saw that we had this technology they felt threatened and thus the Cold War began.
So in conclusion, one can see that many top military generals were against the bombings as well as the fact that as new information has come to light we see that the bombings served no strategic military purpose and were only used to assert America’s dominance.
*As stated above Japan wanted a conditional surrender whereas the US had a policy of unconditional surrender. We knew they would surrender conditionally yet our policy dictated we ignore that. the truth is not that Japan ignored our “pleas” for surrender but quite the contrary. We knew they wanted to surrender yet we said no.
1: Freeman, R. (2006, August 26). Was the Atomic Bombing of Japan Necessary?. Common Dreams . Retrieved May 14, 2011, from www.commondreams.org/views06/0806-25.htm
2: 1945., & Pacific, t. J. (n.d.). Surrender of Japan – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan
3: Hiroshima: Quotes. (n.d.).Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? The Atomic Bombing of Japan. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm
4: Cancer incidence in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan,… [Eur J Cancer. 1994] – PubMed result. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7917541
5: Cancer Incidence in the United States (SEER), 1987-91. (n.d.).nci.nih.gov. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://rex.nci.nih.gov/NCI_Pub_Interface/raterisk/rates12.html