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Can the Bombing of Hiroshima be Justified?

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Introduction

On 6th August 1945, a silverplate Boeing B-29 superfortress flew over the densely populated Japanese city of Hiroshima. The plane, ?Enola Gay?, was carrying a highly radioactive atomic bomb containing the actinide Uranium-235. Hiroshima is the largest city in the Chugoku region of western Honshu, Japan?s largest island and used to be an embarkation port and industrial centre that was the site of a major military headquarters. The bomb, ?Little boy?, is estimated to have killed approximately 90,000 ? 166,000 people; around 30% of the population were killed instantaneously as their bodies were vaporised. Some bodies had viscera sucked out of them, while others were so badly mutilated from the effects of the bomb that it was hard to identify who was who. As always, there are two sides to every story. Many people argue that America?s actions were wrong; however the Americans believed that what they did was right. There are sources that both support and disagree with America?s action. In this essay I will explore these points and say why the bombing cannot be justified. Some people say that it was a justified decision to bomb Hiroshima. This is because America wanted revenge on Japan for Pearl Harbor. In an interview with James Byrnes, the American Secretary of State, 1965 he says, ?We were talking about the people who hadn?t hesitated at Pearl Harbor to make a sneak attack, destroying not only ships but also the lives of many American sailors.? The source suggests that the Japanese hadn?t shown the U.S. any mercy, so they wanted the Japanese to pay for their actions in the Pacific. ...read more.

Middle

There are other sources that back up this source, for example, source 11. This backs up what President Eisenhower said because it shows that the U.S. troops could have easily overwhelmed the Japanese army if they persevered and launched two or three attacks. They could have avoided destroying innocent Japanese lives; the soldiers on both sides signed up knowing they were probably going to die, but the civilians just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Japanese did not have enough resources, so the Americans would have certainly won. However, there are some sources that disagree with the source. For example, source 14. This challenges the source said by President Eisenhower because it is saying that the Japanese would fight to the death and there was no way the Americans could win when they were up against five million men and 5000 suicide aircraft which would never surrender. However this source was said by Henry Stimson, the American Secretary for war, which was the man who told Eisenhower about the U.S.?s plans to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. He would be biased as he would support the U.S.?s decision and he would advise Truman on the atomic bomb as he was the American Secretary for War. He was also against what President Eisenhower said to him and would want to come up with an excuse to drop the bomb. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the opinion of the people surveyed that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the main reasons for this event are revenge and also they wanted to know exactly what the effect of the bomb would be on human life. If the U.S. had really wanted to, they could have not dropped the bomb. In hindsight, we can see that although it ended World War 2, it obliterated both buildings and people and the effects of the radiation are still clear to see 70 years on. There are still shadows on the street from where people were vaporised and some genetic aberrations have been passed down in some families; it can take hundreds of years or more for radiation to actually break down. It was not so much that the buildings were razed to the ground, but the catastrophic effect it had on human life. In some ways it can be justified, because it did save American lives, but at a cost, one that the civilians of Hiroshima had to pay dearly. Admittedly, it did make Japan vow to never participate in war again, but it brought the world into the radioactive age of the atomic bomb. Fortunately, no-one has used one since, but what if some Hitler-like psychopath happens to come into power and uses it against us? The bombing of Hiroshima probably seemed justified at the time, however 70 years on we can see it was unwarranted and could have been avoided. Japan were going to negotiate peace terms before the U.S. dropped the bomb, and the U.S. could have just used it on some barren desert island somewhere and then threatened to use it on the Japanese. Therefore, my verdict is that the bombing of Hiroshima cannot be justified because it caused suffering that could have otherwise been avoided. ...read more.

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