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The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan … Stalin Did

Seiko

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Pocket Worthy I Stories to fuel your mind.
The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan … Stalin Did
Have decades of nuclear policy been based on a lie?
Foreign Policy I Ward Wilson

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Devastation at Hiroshima, after the atomic bomb was dropped. The building on the right was preserved as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome. Photo by Keystone / Getty Images.

The U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II has long been a subject of emotional debate. Initially, few questioned President Truman’s decision to drop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan’s leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for Nov. 1. Their use was, therefore, unnecessary. Obviously, if the bombings weren’t necessary to win the war, then bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. In the years since, many others have joined the fray: some echoing Alperovitz and denouncing the bombings, others rejoining hotly that the bombings were moral, necessary, and life-saving.

Both schools of thought, however, assume that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with new, more powerful weapons did coerce Japan into surrendering on Aug. 9. They fail to question the utility of the bombing in the first place — to ask, in essence, did it work? The orthodox view is that, yes, of course, it worked. The United States bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, when the Japanese finally succumbed to the threat of further nuclear bombardment and surrendered. The support for this narrative runs deep. But there are three major problems with it, and, taken together, they significantly undermine the traditional interpretation of the Japanese surrender.

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mdchachi

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Very interesting. I’ve always believed Nagasaki was obviously superfluous but never questioned the traditional story line re Hiroshima.
 

misternada

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Here a part of the conclusion for reference:

The Bomb was the perfect excuse for having lost the war. No need to apportion blame; no court of inquiry need be held. Japan’s leaders were able to claim they had done their best. So, at the most general level the Bomb served to deflect blame from Japan’s leaders.

But attributing Japan’s defeat to the Bomb also served three other specific political purposes. First, it helped to preserve the legitimacy of the emperor. If the war was lost not because of mistakes but because of the enemy’s unexpected miracle weapon, then the institution of the emperor might continue to find support within Japan.

Second, it appealed to international sympathy. Japan had waged war aggressively, and with particular brutality toward conquered peoples. Its behavior was likely to be condemned by other nations. Being able to recast Japan as a victimized nation — one that had been unfairly bombed with a cruel and horrifying instrument of war — would help to offset some of the morally repugnant things Japan’s military had done. Drawing attention to the atomic bombings helped to paint Japan in a more sympathetic light and deflect support for harsh punishment.

I always thought that, I remember a long time ago I went to see a Japanese movie, I think it was "Kuroi ame" in a movie theater in Europe, at the beginning they talk about the bombing or you can see Americans troop, I don't quite remember but the people start to shoot "Ouh ! Ouh ! Ouh !", I was quite surprised because I never seen reaction like this in a movie theater in Europe, also that denote some anti-Americans feeling and that was the first time I witness that.

Also I was with a Japanese girl in Australia around the Hiroshima bombing anniversary, we were walking on the streets and quite a few people came to her to shake her hands and excuse themselves for the bombing, honestly I did not get it, for once they are not Americans and the girl knew nothing about the war, actually I told her that was so weird and she told me that was okay and that she liked it. This World is crazy ! :D :D :D

Looking back at it now it was probably an early occurrence of "We white men did really bad things to all you minority people around the world for centuries and centuries and are really sorry for that, can you ever forget us ?", that's the only way I can explain this.

I have been to Hiroshima, to the park, to the museum, it is a very moving place, but yes, I feel the Japanese think they were victims and they did nothing bad and a lot of people in the World thinks so too nowadays, except for Chinese and Koreans, so possibly those bombs were the best thing that could happen to Japan at that time.
 
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Mark of Zorro

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Not really a fan of the idea that "Stalin" did it, as if he had super powers. Its just another sort of lie. How about "the Soviet threat did it"?

I will go into more detail later but this was another one of those things that shocked me about how many lies I was told in school and believed. It makes me very angry the number of people who have so casually lied to me about nearly everything. Such lies should come with jail sentences. Completely sick of it.
 

mdchachi

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Also I was with a Japanese girl in Australia around the Hiroshima bombing anniversary, we were walking on the streets and quite a few people came to her to shake her hands and excuse themselves for the bombing, honestly I did not get it, for once they are not Americans and the girl knew nothing about the war, actually I told her that was so weird and she told me that was okay and that she liked it. This World is crazy ! :D :D :D
That is bizarre. It would be even funnier if she had not been Japanese — Korean or something — and people were doing that.
 

Buntaro

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There is no question that the atomic bombs played a big part of the Japanese decision to surrender. But the bombs were not the most important key in the decision, it was the decision to save Hirohito’s life. At the end of the war, both the American and Russian armies were advancing towards Japan. The Japanese knew that if the Russians got to Tokyo first, they would have definitely hung Hirohito from the end of a rope — no question about this. The Japanese leadership were correct in assuming the Americans would be lenient on Hirohito. In those days it was all about saving Hirohito, and this was the number one factor in their decision, not the atomic bombs. (But the atomic bombs were also a big part of the decision to surrender when they did.)
 

Mark of Zorro

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There is no question that the atomic bombs played a big part of the Japanese decision to surrender.

Two problems with this: 1) this is plenty of question and 2) it pretends the "Japanese" made a collective decision to surrender.

It is especially this common semantic and even common idea that the people of a country make such great "decisions" I want to dispel. Its a myth on both counts. But I suppose that when the people pretend they had some real sway on top level decision it makes them feel better about themselves and that is why such nonsense persists. Not to accuse Buntaro as its common parlance, but lets be real; 99.9 percent of the Japanese people did not decide anything about surrender nor were they asked. And that holds for top level decisions anywhere. My government does not call me for my opinion on jack.

The Japanese knew that if the Russians got to Tokyo first, they would have definitely hung Hirohito from the end of a rope — no question about this.

Absolutely and there is a clear reason how it was known....Soviet treatment of Germans after surrender several months prior. It was also clear that Hirohito would be tortured before executed.




The Japanese leadership were correct in assuming the Americans would be lenient on Hirohito.

This is a bit off for two reasons. 1) There was no such assumption. All there was was a chance with the Americans and no chance with the Soviets. Plenty of American leadership wanted Hirohito hung as well. The guy narrowly escaped the noose.. But the Americans would NOT have tortured him...at least not on Soviet levels. 2) It was not the leadership, but Hirohito himself.


In those days it was all about saving Hirohito,

Double bingo. This is why it was claimed that the Japanese would fight to the last man, woman and child along with the fact that burning Tokyo, Kobe and other cities to the ground did not effect surrender. Yet it was claimed the nukes made Japan surrender? What?? More people died in firebombings so why would nukes be so special? They weren't. The Japanese people were seen as totally expendable. Whether by firebomb or nuke made no difference.

(But the atomic bombs were also a big part of the decision to surrender when they did.)

That myth again. Hirohito himself made the unilateral decision to surrender. There was no "they".

While the history I was taught tries to make Hirohito out to be a mere figurehead, he had plenty of power, as his going on the radio unilaterally and declaring surrender proves.

Japan surrendered simply because Hirohito chose to try and save his own skin. That's it. Its that simple. After he declared surrender most everyone else simply fell in line.

Its as simple as the idea that even dying at the hands of the Americas was preferable to torture and death at the hands of the Soviets. This is why Hirohito chose to surrender to the Americans. His mention of the bombs in his surrender speech was merely to curry favor with the Americans via stroking their pride in creating and using such an evil weapon to mass murder civilians.
 
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