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I have little sympathy for the Japanese on this subject (update)

It is the annual Hiroshima remembrance in Japan and the usual cries of "outrage" and demands for an “apology” fill the air.

My father fought against the Japanese in WWII on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa. I have studied the war in detail. I’ve been particularly interested in the planned invasion of Japan.

Okinawa was the first indicator of what that would have been like – it was and is considered a Japanese “home island”. My father was slated to be with the first wave of divisons landing on Kyushu. The technical description of their anticipated condition after a day or so was “combat ineffective”. That means those initial divisions would have been destroyed and unable to continue to fight.

The assumed number of casualties for that first big fight – and it wasn’t even on the main island – was about a million men on both sides. Don’t forget that they had a regular army home defense force of well over a million men and a home defense militia of 14 million. They had with held thousands of kamakazi aircraft and boats back for the expected invasion. And they planned to make a last stand and take as many invaders as possible with them.

Remember also how the territories the Japanese conquered were treated. Korean women forced into prostitution as “comfort women”. The rape of Nanking. Babies tossed around on bayonets.

So when I read things like this –

Moments before the atomic bomb was dropped, my mother’s friend happened to seek shelter from the bright summer sunlight in the shadow of a sturdy brick wall, and she watched from there as two children who had been playing out in the open were vaporized in the blink of an eye. “I just felt outraged,” she told my mother, weeping.

– I had difficulty summoning any outrage myself. The Japanese people supported the war, cheered the victories and reveled in the spoils it brought. They were brutal and murderous conquerers. And they refused to surrender.

After the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese war cabinet of 6 split in their vote, refusing to surrender. After Nagasaki, they still refused to surrender until, in an unprecedented move, the Emperor intervened and essentially ordered them to do so.

If those who survived the atomic bombings at Hiroshima feel “outrage”, they should look in the mirror. They enabled and supported a regime that “outraged” the world. They cheered and shared in the spoils of a war they started which devastated much of Asia. They supported a brutal, murderous and criminal militaristic war machine that raped and murdered at will. If anyone should be “outraged”, it is those who suffered under the horrific but thankfully short Japanese rule of that time. If anyone should be apologizing yearly, it is the Japanese.

UPDATE: Richard Fernandez also discusses the subject.

~McQ

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85 Responses to I have little sympathy for the Japanese on this subject (update)

  • Well said.

  • To blame the people for the regime is a sign of political ignorance — that’s not how the world or Japan at that time worked.  The people didn’t “enable” the regime.  You need to study political science and educate yourself.  Japan was defeated already, the A-bomb was unnecessary.  There were many options short of invasion, including negotiating a conditional surrender.  I won’t condemn Truman for using the weapon — given the circumstances and the knowledge available, it was a rational choice, and seemed no more immoral than the bombing of cities like Tokyo, Dresden and Koeln.   But not to have sympathy?  That is inhumane.  Without reflecting on the deed done, it’s human cost, and whether it was truly necessary, we can learn nothing.   Average Germans, Japanese and Americans were far more alike than different, switch nationalities and people would still have supported their country and believed the propaganda.  The average American patriot would have been a Japanese patriot or a German patriot in a time of war.    So, sure, defend the choice to use the weapon.  But don’t rationalize away the human costs.  That is immoral, and makes future evil more likely.

    • To blame the people for the regime is a sign of political ignorance

      >>>> LOLLLLLLL funny, that’s what you did when Bush was Pres.

    • To paraphrase Sherman:

      The Japanese wanted war; they got it; and we gave them all they could want.

    • Scott .. it’s too bad that you weren’t there to enlighten them.

    • My lord, what a pompous ignorant puke!
      Honestly, DO you even read?  The “average” Japanese revered his or her Emperor as a God, and had DEMONSTRATED that regardless of the conditions, they would rather die then surrender.  They had VIRTUALLY NOTHING in common with Western people.
      Idiot.

    • Your position on this is staggeringly moronic, even for you.

      • Always enjoy hearing from the “Scotts” – you can depend on insults and/or juvenile analysis every time.

        • It wasn’t really worth the time to adequately respond to Erb’s nonsense.  Probably would’ve been better off posting nothing, though.
           
          Just for clarification, you did realize I was referring to Erb and not to your post?

          • Obviously I didn’t, Scott – and I mistook you for another “Scott” that rambles by occasionally. My apologies for mistakenly associating you with what’s his name.

          • Dude, Bruce…  I’m right here

          • Obviously I didn’t, Scott – and I mistook you for another “Scott”
             
            Wait, so when you wrote “you can depend on insults and/or juvenile analysis every time.” – you thought you were writing about Erb -  but you were writing about ScottH who did the insulting – whom you then apologized to.
            That suggests that you consider insults from Erb to be mock-worthy, and insults from those insulting Erb to be just fine.  Looks like Erb can’t win for losing around here.

          • OK – and what’s your point?

        • Excuse me?  :)

    • Since no one else really adequately responded to you in a completely appropriate fashion, allow me…..
       
       
      “Japan was defeated already, the A-bomb was unnecessary. ”
      God help us all – pompous, historically ignorant, revisionist.  Okay, I’ll allow, maybe we should have just continued to fire bomb and dumb bomb them into submission while we waited for them to attempt some new method of sending our Soldiers, Sailors, Aviators and Marines to have briefings with God.
       
      “But not to have sympathy?  That is inhumane. ” – ah, a member of the dying by atomic bomb is worse than dying by 500 lb dumb bomb, a 30.06 round or a bayonet, yes.  Aren’t you supposed to be pragmatic?  Aren’ you telling us all to be pragmatic all the time?  Is it really worse to be killed by an A-bomb than by an iron bomb, or even a rock, dropped from 25,000 feet?  The bomb SAVED LIVES, you may not like it, but it’s a fact.  The Japanese had the option to surrender after the first one, we gave them three days!  We understood how devastating it was.  AND THEY KEPT FIGHTING -What does that tell you?
       
      “Average Germans, Japanese and Americans were far more alike than different” -
      no, and this demonstrates what the last 50 years of historical revisionism have produced – we were NOT alike, we were FAR different, and I don’t mean that in the sense we were ‘better’, I mean, literally we were fundamentally different in the vast majority of ways people can BE different.  Without making any moral judgment, and plenty can BE made, we were all fundamentally different from one another.  If you think Patriotism makes us more alike than different than it further demonstrates how foolish and ignorant your thinking is on this subject.  Let’s just cite one simple and obvious example, the average American, or German (with the exception of the Nazi high command fanatics) would NOT line their family up at a cliff edge and jump off rather than allow themselves to be captured by their enemies – We know this by demonstration of the fact at the beginning and the end of the war when American and German civilians came under the control of the opposing military force (American civilians in Southeast Asia – Germans in Germany).
      Okinawa was NOT just a military base, there were Japanese home island civilians - yet they KILLED THEMSELVES rather than allowing themselves to be taken captive - that alone tells you their entire world view is drastically different than either an American or German world view – they were NOT like us.
      Now, look at the casualty figures in the link – presented by no less than the New York Times itself as FACT – consider the size of Okinawa, consider the population, and then realize that our planners understood what would happen when we actually landed on the main islands in force.
       
      “So, sure, defend the choice to use the weapon.  But don’t rationalize away the human costs. ”
      The very freaking point – it cost FAR less in terms of destruction and human life to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima, for us AND THE JAPANESE than it would have if we invaded.
       
      I would hate to see the version of the world had we not forced the Japanese to surrender unconditionally.  Do yourself a favor, do us a favor, learn something today, will you?   Make it a challenge to stop viewing the world of 1945 as if it is identical to the world of 2010 with more archaic technology.
       

      • Average Germans, Japanese and Americans were far more alike than different” -
        no, and this demonstrates what the last 50 years of historical revisionism have produced – we were NOT alike, we were FAR different, and I don’t mean that in the sense we were ‘better

        >>> I would posit that we were better yes.  Just look at why we fought vs why they fought.

        • I didn’t want to get into that aspect with him Shark, as we already know his belief is that societies are different but really equal and no morality is better than any other morality.
           
          I agree with you, that we were better, evidence provided again by the NYT article from the survivor who related being taken ‘captive’ by the known to be savage evil yankee devils….
          “I tried to also strangle myself with a rope,” he recalled, lifting his now-weatherbeaten hands to his neck. “But I kept breathing. It is really tough to kill yourself.”
          Minutes later, the Americans took them captive.
          “The U.S. soldier touched me to check if I had any weapons,” he recalled. “Then he gave us candy and cigarettes. That was my first experience on coming out of the cave.”
          His mother lived into her 80s”
          So – he received candy and cigarettes instead of the point of a bayonet or a rifle butt to the head….(course a good progressive like Erb will point out how bad cigarettes ARE for you!!!!!!  THOSE BASTARDS!!!!!).   Small but significant example of the fundamental differences between our cultures at the time.  Tell me the guy who gave this kid candy hadn’t seen his buddies die, or hadn’t seen casualties being shifted to the rear, hadn’t had to clear out caves with Japanese troops, tell me he didn’t have more than adequate excuses to mistreat, if not kill, this kid and his mother.    There are always bad apples, we have them on our own streets, sometimes they show up in the military, but it’s the exception, not the rule.  For the Japanese treating a defeated enemy as they did on the Bataan Death march WAS THE RULE.
           
          Moralities are not all equal, and Erb can be grateful we have a better one than a lot of other places.

    • Japan was defeated already, the A-bomb was unnecessary.

      Really?  Japan was defeated?  You’re an ill-educated poltroon. U Maine will hire anybody.

    • “Japan was defeated already .There were many options short of invasion, including negotiating a conditional surrender.”

      Unfortunately the regime did not know or care that they were defeated. You need to study military history and educate yourself.

    • “Average Germans, Japanese and Americans were far more alike than different”

      Nonsense. The average American then would never have put up with half the crap the average Japanese did. The only American I have ever seen bow, even today, is Obama, and that offended a lot of average Americans. Tolerating military coups? Not in the average Americans world. Suicide rather than surrender? Not in the average American soldier’s Code of Conduct.

  • I think blaming the Japanese people for the support of the military dictatorship that the Japanese Empire had become is a pretty specious argument. They suffered immensely at the hands of what was essentially a military junta that had complete control over society. The American fire bombing and eventual atomic bombing campaign was terrible and deliberately targeted civilians to force an end to the war. But looking at the alternative of an Allied ground invasion makes it clear that Japan would not have survived it. Mass conscription of civilians, lack of uniforms or discipline, and suicide tactics would have cost the lives of millions of Japanese civilians. The Japanese High Command bears full responsibility with their refusal to surrender when it was clear that the war was lost and that the Americans could bomb their cities with impunity. The bombing of Japanese civilians was the only way to end the war and leave Japan intact and minimize civilian casualties. While Truman’s decision to use the bomb most likely rested on its ability to save American lives, the prevention of the utter destruction of Japan in the end justified it.

    • I’m really not making an argument so much as stating the facts of the case and claiming their “outrage” is misplaced.

      • Fair enough. I would argue that the outrage should be directed at their own institutions and leaders who not only started the war, but refused to surrender when there was no hope of real victory.

        • You still prefer to believe  that the refusal to surrender was just a top-down deal.
          It was not.  Individuals TOTALLY believed in their culture of death, as had already been demonstrated many thousands of times.
          The Japanese people supported their Emperor.  The Emperor supported the notion that he was a god.  He COULD have ended the war MUCH earlier, but did not wish to end his own dynastic hopes.  Even in surrender, his message was ambiguous enough to retain his position.
          The Japanese to this day are one of the most racist cultures in the world, and their militant Shinto death cult during the war was savagely racist.  Down on the individual level.
          “…their own institutions and leaders…” did not kill themselves individually, rather than surrender.  Each person did that, or took the lives of their own children in thousands of individual, unforced acts.

          • You make a few valid points, I’m not even going to touch the issue of present day Japanese racism, but I would be inclined to pity a population so brainwashed that they would kill themselves and their children rather than surrender. But the surrender absolutely was a top-down decision. Was there a major Japanese insurgency or resistance after the surrender during the American occupation? No there was not. You say yourself that they would kill themselves in obedience to their emperor. That’s about as top-down as you can get.

          • Was there a major Japanese insurgency or resistance after the surrender during the American occupation?

            Do you know of the assasinations that took place in the days leading up to the surrender?  A large group of officers banded together and assasinmated members of the Military leadership that were predisposed to surrender.  There was even a planned coup that was thwarted only by the accelerated announcement by the Emperor of the surrender.

            Also, do you know of the tens of thousands of ritual suicides that took place after the Emperor’s announcement rather than face the thought of surrender?  These people, men and women alike, took their own lives in spite of the Emperors announcement.  Estimates run as high as 50,000.

        • We’re close. I’m saying that if anyone should be outraged, it is the victims of the war Japan started. And if anyone should be apologizing, it should be Japan – not those who ended the war they started.

          • You are right. Rather than an apology I would prefer they make absolutely sure that their country would never start a horrific war like that again. And I am pretty sure that they have, with direct American involvement. Without an unconditional surrender after the atomic bombings, the Japanese institutions that led them into the war may have survived intact. The Japanese should be thanking us for their ability to live in a free and prosperous society. It did come at  a horrible cost, for both sides.

    • “I think blaming the Japanese people for the support of the military dictatorship that the Japanese Empire had become is a pretty specious argument”

      It is really quite irrelevant, and a bit of a straw man. Who, exactly, is blaming the Japanese people , and for what? 

    • “They suffered immensely at the hands of what was essentially a military junta that had complete control over society.”
      Yes, and they had a duty to end it long before it went as far as it otherwise had to.  Not so specious.

  • “That is immoral, and makes future evil more likely.”

    That statement is the height of buffoonery!!!  You demand sympathy for the victims of Heroshima and Nagasaki.  OK, I can sit back and generate sympathy for the idea of the common generic civilian getting caught up in the ravages of war. 

    But lets ask another question – Was the average civilian truly guiltless?  In germany, Hitler came to power through the public voting for his brand of Socialism.  The future he desired was laid out for all to see in “Mein Kempf” as far as the potential for war and the holocaust.  Yet they voted for him.  And power came to him.  And I can keep the discussion going with advent of the Nuremburg Laws, Kristalnacht, the Holocaust, etc.  And to some extent they got their comeuppance with the firebombing of Dresden.

    But I digress - We were talking about the Japanese weren’t we.  Well, lets toss out a few goodies from their perspective: The Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, treatment of Allied POWs throughout the Japanese Empire, Human testing of Bio Agents throughout Mongolia and Northern China.  Sure, you can claim these were actions of a rogue state, governed by militarists and nationalists whose intent was unknown to the local citizenry.  But was that true?  How many US POWs died in the bombing of Hiroshima?  US POWs that were employed as slave labor in the warehouses on the fringe of the city.  US POWs that were employed all over the country as slave labor – my Uncle among them.  They were beaten, spat upon, had their food stolen from them – and all of those things were done to them not by their guards but by the common citizenry they came in daily contact with.  Daily, my uncle, shackled to a post just outside Hiroshima, was marched into the town through these crowds of citizens.  Daily these POWs were kicked and spat upon, feces thrown in their faces – by these very same common generic civilians that you are so quick to defend.  My Uncle, on the day of the bomb, was working in a field outside the city along with about a third of the US POWs he was incarcerated with – the other 2/3 were in the city itself and died with the dropping of the bomb.  Do you think he has any sympathy for their plight?

    You want to keep such things from ever happening again – then quit being a Pussy and condemn the actions that forced the use of weapons such as the bomb.

    • Are you implying that we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in revenge for their war crimes? What they did to Chinese civilians and Allied POWs was absolutely and unarguably despicable. But Truman made the decision to use the bomb to end the war without the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American troops. That is a terrible justification for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
      On a somewhat related note, after the peace settlement, we left Emperor Hirohito in power! We held his people accountable for his crimes and pardoned him!

      • Are you really trying to pretend I am? Look up “strawman”.

        • “Condemn the actions that forced the use of weapons such as the bomb”

          The last sentence of your post sums it up pretty well. To say I am using a strawman is saying that I am misrepresenting your argument. Am I?

          • Yes. And, btw, that’s not the last sentence of my post if that’s what you’re representing it as.

          • I was replying to SShiel’s post and thought that your reply was from him. Just a simple mixup of who is replying to whom!

          • Truman’s choice of the use of the bomb was a telling one.  In later years, he refused to defend the decision.  He would only tell the person asking the question how he could not bear to face the mother or wife of a serviceman who had died in the invasion of Japan, knowing he had a weapon that could prevent that horror.

            The horror of the use of the bomb was that we had to use it at all when eveything around them told the Japanes they had lost.  With their Empire destroyed, their cities in ruin, their Navy sunk and all the world arrayed against them they would face suicide in battle rather than surrender.

            My uncles was a POW in Japan at the time and my father was to be in the first wave that would have hit the beaches.  Millions, on both sides, would have been casualties in that continued conflict – and everyone knew it at the time, even the Japanese.  The horror was that we had to revert to the destructive power of a weapon like that to convince the Japanese of the futility of their continued resistance.

            One man – one single man decided to end the war – the Emperor Hirohito.  Had his decision been in any way different, there would have been no surrender.  I can live with that.

    • No, he’s clearly not, he’s making the point that the population, the civilian population, of Japan was culpable, and not ‘just along for the ride’.

    • “That statement is the height of buffoonery!!!”

      Yep. But just wait, he is always scaling new heights of bufoonery. A real over achiever, our Erp. 

  • The Japanese still won’t allow anything about “The rape of Nanking” to appear in school books.
    As Michael Jackson, said “I’m starting with the man in the mirror,” and the Japanese should too.

    • With respect to the rape of Nanking, the Japanese present took photos of their activities (decapitations, rape victims, bayoneting children, etc) and many sent them home for friends and family to view. It is my understanding that they passed these cards around almost like trading cards. So many ordinary Japanese knew about these activities.

  • An essential reference, especially for those who do not believe the bombings were necessary:

    Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, by Robert P. Newman  (Amazon has it.)

    Newman is an old school liberal historian who opposed the Viet Nam war, but is frustrated by the shoddy/dishonest claims by those who ignore the true necessities for the bombings, both political and military.  He carefully walks the reader past the secondary and tertiary sources to get to obscure(d) primary sources.  While carefully to avoid ad hominem attacks, he dismisses with devastating evidence those who often spent careers claiming it was all just to impress Stalin, for instance, or that the Japanese government would have surrendered if given the chance.  For the skeptical, there are a wealth of references.  After reading a representative sampling, it his hard to understand how those who have spent decades wringing their hands could have missed or ignored this information.

  • There’s some conjecture that Japan was already on the brink of surrender, due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria, and they knew they couldn’t fight on two fronts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_over_the_atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki covers a lot of ground.

    • Actually there’s not much reasonable conjecture at all. They’d already decided to pull their best units out of Manchuria and ceded it in favor of having those units on the Japanese home islands for the defense there.

      • It bears remembering that the Japanese had an A-bomb development program, too, and plans to use the things if they got that far.
        The ALSO had germ warfare, and an attack plan on the U.S. they were fully intending to execute.
        They had developed a “super submarine” designed to launch aircraft after surfacing off the coastal waters off the US.
        An atomic bomb is…objectively…just a big bombardment weapon.  A man, woman, or child is rendered no deader…or more horribly dead…than by any other means of killing.  Idiots like Erp have propagated the boogy-man myth of atomic weapons…which in some respects makes him at least a useful idiot.

    • “There’s some conjecture that Japan was already on the brink of surrender,…”

      There is ‘some conjecture’ about just about everything. So what?

  • I have a good friend who is a native Japanese.  I admire the Japanese people for their work ethic, brains and courage.  Japan has been a good friend to the United States since 1945, and I hope that it always stays that way.

    All that said:

    “F*ck ‘em.  Served them right.”

    They started it.  They placed themselves beyond the pale of civilization with their atrocities against Chinese, Koreans, and allied servicemen and civilians.

    And McQ has a damned good point: had we had to invade, many, MANY more Japanese would have died from war and starvation.  In a perverse way, dropping the Bombs did them a favor: they quickly learned, “Quit now while most of you are still alive.”

  • As a side-note, those who…like Erp, perhaps…say we have never fought an enemy like the Islamists simply don’t understand history.  The martial Shinto cult was VERY similar to modern Wahhabi Islam.

  • Erb,

    All I can say is Wow!

    You drop yet another absurd leftist pile of vomit and then, as usual, don’t bother to respond to the people destroying your “argument.”

    Read some history, man. For God’s sake. You call yourself a political science professor and you can’t even grasp just how fanatic the Japanese were at the time. They would have fought tooth and nail, street by street to prevent the U.S. from taking the home islands. We would have lost anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 men in that invasion alone.

    How do you look at yourself in the mirror after saying something like that?

    • Dude, he’s the smartest man in the room!!!  Whatever room…!!!  And he’s also better than you or I.

    • There is not an “argument” for Erb.  All is in support of the “Liberal Narrative” and all that it entails.  For one to be fully supportive of the LN, one has to disregard all history that does not paint the US in the vilest of terms.  It does not matter that the USSR killed some 60 Million of its own over the course of the 20th Century, the USA did far worse.  It does not matter that the PRC killed some 30 million of its won during the same Century, America has more than enough blood on its hands to white-wash all of that and then some.  Erb is driven by the 21st Century Teacher’s Lounge Logic support of the LN in all its glory.  And that glory can be seen every time you read Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky or Paul Krugmann or any of a number of LN True believers and Erb echoes those views.

  • The world would be better off if people skipped all of this apology business. What happened, happened, there is no way to press the rewind button (old VCR reference, young’uns won’t understand) and try a different alternative. Learn from history and move forward.

  • If you think Japan was ready to quit, was “defeated,” and the A-Bomb was not necessary, read this article on Operation Ketsu-Go You will see the Japanese plan for defending against an American amphibious landing on Kyushu. Once you understand what awaited our men there, you will understand why dropping the A-Bomb was necessary.  http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/chap4.htm
     

    • Exactly – and I’ve brought all of that previously to our preening morality and history expert. The depth of his ignorance in both areas are exemplified by his comments.

  • And, um…
    Doesn’t Japan have a bomb now…???

      • Ha! I remember reading a news article some 7 or 8 years ago that came out about the same time the NoKos demonstrated their first ballistic missile. Seems the IAEC said the Japanese couldn’t account for some 200 kilos of plutonium or some such from one of their nuclear power generation plants.

        “We don’t know where that went,” was the gist of the Japanese response.

    • Actually, no–at least not known to. The open nuclear powers are the U. S., Russia, the U. K, France,  China, India and Pakistan, and almost definitely Israel. North Korea has tested nuclear weapons, but it’s not known if they have any they could employ. Iran is quite likely developing nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear energy program.
      But Japan doesn’t have the Bomb.

      • So…they just rely on ours, right?
         

        • I don’t believe there’s such an arrangement between the U. S. and Japan, as there is, say, between the U. S. and the NATO countries.
           
          Perhaps in some sense they do, if you assume our nukes have helped stabilize the world and provide a stable environment in which Japan could rebuild and prosper. But it’s not a direct “we will use our nukes to protect you if need be” arrangement, as far as I know. But I welcome any correction, if one exists.

    • /sarc
      They were wrongly attacked by the Yankee Devils who blew up a whole city with JUST ONE BOMB, instead of the kinder, gentler,  conventional method using hundreds of planes dropping hundreds of bombs and incendiaries!  HOW HORRIBLE!!!!  OH THE HUMANITY! TO BE KILLED WITH JUST ONE BOMB!!!! AND SO..SO UNNECESSARY TOO!   Why, the Japanese were practically ready to have tea ceremonies on the beaches for the invading American troops when Truman savagely attacked them with ONE BOMB, and then, mercilessly, gave them ONLY THREE DAYS to consider surrender before using the second one!!!!
       
      I feel so guilty being an American.   Can we all join hands and sing Kumbayah?
       
      /off sarc

  • The Bomb was the most ethical choice left at the end.

    A negotiated peace that left the military regime in power would have been supremely unethical and a complete danger to the peace going forward. It was no solution.

    There was no option for a negotiated peace in which the military regime relinquished power. It would never have happened.

    A home island invasion was catastrophic for both sides. The Americans would have doubled their dead, or worse, for the entire war, both theaters.

    The Bomb looks horrific because it is horrific, but it was actually the most ethical, most responsible, and least costly way in terms of human life to end the war, for both sides.

    Truman and Stimson knew exactly what they were doing, and they probably knew that the fireball would consume the popular imagination, as it should, and lead to much wrining of hands. But millions of people, from both sides, went on to live and lead good and productive lives because they ended the war.

    • +1000 on this. Some people seem to live in a world where every situation must have a “good” choice and a “bad” choice, and if you don’t choose the “good” choice you are evil. Well, sometimes there’s the “bad” choice and the “worse” choice and the “holy crap this is unbelievably awful” choice, and then what do you do?
       
      Given the mindset and planning of the Japanese leadership in mid-1945 (see my link, above, to info on Operation Ketsu-Go), the Bomb was “the most ethical choice.”

      • So with Operation Ketsu-Go, the Japanese knew EXACTLY what our assault plans were and how to best defend against them? We could overcome this on the small Japanese islands due to their sheer lack of supplies and manpower. Against the Japanese homeland however, we would have been outnumbered and overwhelmed by suicide attacks and guerilla warfare. American armies triumphed in Europe with few casualties through rapid breakout attacks against an enemy that would surrender when cut off. In Japan, the terrain was not suited for open tank warfare, but for a close quarters nightmare of a battle. If the Americans were repulsed or bogged down with massive attrition, that would have only encouraged the Japanese that they could win and stiffen their resolve. Was an American victory likely? Would the American people stomach casualty counts in the hundreds of thousands per month?

        • “Was an American victory likely? Would the American people stomach casualty counts in the hundreds of thousands per month?”
           
          Erb says it was unnecessary – it seems the Japanese were already defeated.   We were just being mean and nasty when we ended things by using atomic weapons.  He’s studied this extensively, had we done so, like him, we’d see this need to use the A-bombs was just silly talk.  And of course, it’s wrong for us to celebrate the destruction of Hiroshima, which is of course what we’re ALL doing here, we’re celebrating it, and we’re celebrating the need for an attack on Japan, and we’re celebrating the need for the entire war in the Pacific theater.
           
          I shudder to think his views may be widely shared in academia.

        • Matt–the Japanese were depending on the American people losing their “stomach” because of the tremendous casualties and slow progress Ketsu-Go would have caused. They would then have advantages in surrender negotiations that would have saved face for them but been unacceptable for the Allies. The Bomb didn’t just save millions of Allied and Japanese lives, it also forced Japan’s unconditional surrender.

  • To throw some other stuff in there, according to the book Fly Boys, cannabialism was a common and even planned activity of Japanese forces, and the US government hid this fact from the American population.

    In the event of an invasion of Japan, the Reds would have wanted to be in on it as well. Japan would have been split in the manner of North Korea, but it would have been much worse because the invading Soviets would have engaged in massive rape, etc, and the Japanese would have fought to the death against that. 

     As an alternative to invasion, continueed starvation as the USN slowly choked Japan to death would have resulted in many, many starved. And blockaid would hurt children, old people, and women the most–the young men in the military would have the priority for food.

  • Bruce – Do you think the Japanese knew about alot of the brutality going on and supported it? Of course not. They were told they were fighting for a just cause and fed propaganda by the regime (just like happens with the “good guys” by the way). You really don’t have any understanding of history. You may have studied the war in detail but obviously don’t understand the study of history and the importance of looking critically at sources. You’ve swallowed the Western propaganda line hook line and sinker. Save the analysis for people that know what they’re talking about.

    • David – nice try. See Don’s comments. See the use of “slave labor” on the home islands. See Ketsu-go. Speaking of swallowing propaganda, my guess is you’re from the Howard Zin school of revisionist history.

    •  “Save the analysis for people that know what they’re talking about.”

      Like . . . . . . You?

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • You should have sympathy for the ordinary Japanese citizens – this “enabling” theory of yours is bullplop.
    It is true the true criminals and sole people with blood on their hands for the dropping of the bombs is the Japanese government of the time (America did what it had to), but you should not blame ordinary INNOCENT citizen victims.

    • Really? They were at war for a decade before we were attacked – by them. Are you telling me that wounded sons didn’t come home, didn’t tell what had been going on, didn’t lay it out in full details. If there’s any “bullpop” around it’s your naive belief that their army raped and brutalized Asia and the “innocent” civilians that enabled and supplied that army knew nothing.

      Yeah, right.

  • Dear Bruce McQuain,
    I am writing you from the Netherlands and I am 83 years old.
    I grew up in the former Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia and yes I have been 2 years in a Japanese concentration camp in Central Java together with my mother and two younger sisters.
    Only after the war we learned that my Dad was killed by the Kempeitai. He has no grave, I don’t know where he is buried or maybe he was burned. I shall never know and I loved him so much since he had been such a lovely father to his girls.
    I became completely indifferent, I couldn’t care about what happened around me.  That feeling lasted around 10 years long it took a lot of courage and time to come back to myself.
    Very slowly I understood that I did just the opposit of what my Dad had expected from me.
    Today I have two Japanese friends, today I know that not all Japanese were war criminals but at the same time I know that I will never forgive those cruel war criminals.
    Not the Japanese nation, not all those young sympatic Japanese, they have nothing to do with that horrible war. But yes that military regime from Japan during the war was too horrible for words and in my opinion the Japanese government should acknowledge their war crimes as from 1937 up till 1945.
    But alas, up till now only the people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki paid the bill.

    http://www.dutch-east-indies.com 

  • Bruce,  your article is very badly written. You claim to have studied the was in detail and yet you have misquoted the source of your main point. The woman you quote who “felt outrage”  is long dead. She was actually being quoted by someone else. The oldest living survivor of the atomic bombing was 16 at the time and would have been around 13 in 1942, the date of the last general election before Hiroshima. To suggest that he “look in a mirror” or that he and the other survivors “enabled and supported a regime that “outraged” the world” is to ignore basic mathematics.
    Actually most survivors usually just talk about their experiences and don’t seem to be very angry about it. Usually they just ask that no one else have to go through what they went through.
    In fact, if no Hiroshima survivor is currently “expressing outrage”  you don’t really have a point, do you?
    Perhaps you should read a little more, and write a little less.

    • I didn’t quote the woman, I quoted the man who quoted the woman.

      Given your premise is incorrect, and you obviously aren’t a particularly astute or competent reader, I’d suggest you go back and reread the post with that understanding in mind.