In August 1945 Atomic Bombs Were Dropped On Hiroshima And Nagasaki. Why Did The Americans Decide To Carry Out These Attacks?
On 7th December 1941 the Japanese made a pre-emptive strike on Pearl Harbour, where they caught the Americans off guard inflicting many casualties. This caused in America declaring war on Japan on 8th December 1941. The Japanese were being pushed back in 1943 and 1944 but Allied casualties were too high due to the attitude of the Japanese. This resulted in President Truman deciding to drop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima on 6th August 1941, and on Nagasaki on 9th August 1941. In Hiroshima 130,000 and in Nagasaki 66,000 were found dead from the devastating affect of the atomic bomb leaving the city in ruins?
Truman wanted to drop the bomb simply to bring an end to the war as quickly as possible due to the vast amount of bloodshed done already to both sides. At the same time he wanted to end the war without mass casualties to either side. But of coarse his priority was the American army and navy due to the fanatic bravery the Japanese fought. Truman found that the only way to end the war was by an invasion of Japan itself, which would only result in mass bloodshed for both sides. So Truman dropped the bomb to scare the Japanese into surrendering, which would end the war quickly and prevent mass casualties.
The attitude of the Japanese was simply bizarre as they would not surrender in any circumstances including the civilians. This attitude resulted in mass casualties for the Americans as Japanese women and children were involved in the war. ‘On Tarawa Atoll, only 17 of the 4700 Japanese defenders were left alive at the end of the battle’ (From Global War by J.Brooman). This meant that the Americans had to kill every Japanese to win the battle. These were small islands outside of Japan, where as in mainland Japan it would be far worse with vast casualties. In Okinawa, 80,000 Japanese soldiers were able to hold down 500,000 US soldiers for a month, as they had to look through out the island. This meant that the invasion of Japan would result in a prolonged war. Small islands outside of Japan such as Iwo Jima, which is only 7 square miles, contained 21,000 defenders dug into a detailed underground fortress including 13,000 yards of tunnels, 5,000 pillboxes, and bunkers. The Japanese commander Kuribayashi had new tactics of fighting from hidden positions and he told his men they must kill 10 of the enemy before they die themselves. With this attitude 1,083 soldiers surrendered and 6,000 US soldiers died, and such fortresses in Japan itself would be difficult to fight or virtually impossible. ‘Any weapon which would bring an end to the war and save a million casualties among the American boys was justified…atomic bomb would be successful…Japanese to surrender on our terms’, said the US secretary of State in 1945, which may be bias as he would support the decision of dropping the atomic bomb. The kamikaze tactics used by the Japanese meant that planes packed with explosives would be driven into US navy ships causing great damage and casualties. At Saipan the Japanese defeat resulted in the men, women and children committing suicide by jumping off the cliffs. They would simply not surrender as after the two atomic bombs 500 military personnel committed suicide. Even Vice Admiral Onishi Takijro wanted to obtain better surrender terms by a dogged defence of Japan. The Prime Minister of Japan even announced that they would fight on after USA gave a Potsdam Declaration, as they weren’t accepting defeat. America yet dropped leaflets describing the horrific scenes they’ll suffer from the bomb with a warning but these were rejected by the public. It was known that many Japanese children were strapped with TNT and thrown under American tanks, as they died honourably. Admiral Leahy made predictions that one of the islands Kyushu has about 560,000 soldiers as of early August and 250,000 American soldiers would die. It was soon found out that it actually had over 900,000 men at Kyushu, twice as many thought. Leahy’s estimates that the Americans would have preponderance, when in fact the 767,000 soldiers who would compromise were already greatly outnumbered three months before Operation Olympic. The Japanese resistance meant that they had to conquer their country yard by yard, which would require the loss of millions of American lives. So the dropping of the bomb would help shorten the war as its devastating affect would rip the Japanese cities to pieces and they would surrender. That is because if they don’t surrender they’ll know more bombs like these would be dropped.
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It was also said that America decided to drop the two atomic bombs due to the fierce tensions, which were building up with Soviets. The atomic bomb was dropped for two reasons, one being for keeping them out of the war with Japan and to keep them in control after the war. Truman knew that by this atomic bomb it would send a political message to the world especially Stalin, who were in the brink of becoming a superpower and it was a threat because they knew they hadn’t forgotten about USA and Britain invading Russia in 1919-20 after the Bolshevik revolution. Everything that America stood for was the total opposite of what Stalin stood for as well. This idea is suggested, ‘The purpose of the bombing was to frighten other countries, above all the Soviet Union’ (By V. Narks). The main aim over the atomic bomb was to strengthen the US diplomatic position with the USSR in negotiations over post war Europe with Russia and would ‘redress the balance with the Russians’ (Lord Alan Brooke’s diary) Truman knew after the atomic bomb all other countries would have this weapon hanging over their heads in negotiations with America. One conflict was that Stalin wanted to extend the western frontier of Poland along the river Odder to where it joined the Western Neisse; Roosevelt, Eden and Truman had insisted it should stop at the Easter Neisse. Soon the Soviet dominated the government and pressed forward not to Easter Neisse but Western Neisse. America was keen to show they didn’t want Communism to spread worldwide as it involved dictatorship, few rights, no free elections, and state run economy. ‘Top American officials calculated the atomic bomb would enormously strengthen the US diplomatic position visa-via the Soviet Union in negotiations over post war Europe. Truman, for instance, was advised the bomb might allow America to ‘dictate’ its own terms at the end of the war…regarded it as the ‘master card’ of diplomacy towards Russia’ (By Drug. Alperovitz). It was known that this would also help America with the arguments with the Soviets on Poland and other puppet regimes which they were imposing in Eastern Europe. Truman was aware that USSR was keen in entering the war in the East and promised they would three months after defeating Germany. This made America impatient to end the war before the Russians could become effectively involved and start making in Asia their territorial and political demands which were disfiguring Eastern Europe. With this atomic bomb the war would be brought to a rapid end and there would be no necessity for any concessions to Russia at the end of the war. Truman felt that this would strengthen his position in trying to handle Stalin during the remaining two weeks of the conference and beyond.
It was also said that Truman decided to drop the atomic bomb for revenge against the embarrassment the Japanese caused the US as a small power caused such great damage as USA lost 200 aircrafts, 5 battleships, and 2350 soldiers which was known to be the worst military attack every on America. Truman had a lot of pressure from soldier’s families through out the war for revenge as those who died didn’t get a chance to fight. ‘And we are talking about people who hadn’t hesitated at Pearl Harbour to make a sneak attack’ (US Secretary of State). Truman wanted revenge on the manner he chose because of the Japanese beat, tortured, or made American prisoners of war work to death as most died of hunger and disease. It was said that 40,000 Allied soldiers held hostage died within 3 months as the Japanese moto was ‘Burn all-Kill all-Steal all.’
Truman wanted to test the atomic bombs as its test was a blast with an enormous column of flame and smoke which shot up into the atmosphere. The bomb needed to be dropped to measure its effects and for the future development of these bombs. A cartoon shows the destruction and says, ‘Don’t you see they had to find out if it worked’ (Vicky).
Truman’s military advisors strongly favoured the use of the atomic bomb and insisted for it being used and even Churchill favoured its use. It was said that dropping of the atomic bomb would boost Truman’s election campaign as he got vast amounts of American soldiers’ home safely by continuing the Manhattan project, which came out with the bomb. About $2 billion was spent on the developing of the bomb and if it wasn’t used usefully, the public would see it as a waste of money. Truman would then be inquired into, which would create chaos for Truman. With the use of the atomic bomb it was thought that Truman would be regarded as the man who ended the 2nd World War. USA also wanted to prove the Japanese wrong, and teach them they were the real superpower of the world and get them back for the embarrassment they got
Perhaps the reasons mentioned above weren’t the ones that Truman took into account. The idea of mass casualties could have not been a major problem as the USSR was entering the war soon, which meant Japan had to fight two superpowers and which was inevitable. Japan was already running out of resources, which meant it couldn’t go on with the war any longer. General Eisenhower said ‘Japan was at the very moment seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’…It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.’ It could be said the America didn’t need to drop the bomb as on 10 March 1945, 345 B-29 bombers made raids of continuous bombing, which tore through wooden houses in Tokyo as 15 square miles were burnt in 6 hours and 168,000 people died. The justification of testing the bomb perhaps isn’t really the reason as America wouldn’t want to test a bomb, which would as a result kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and infect them with radiation. They could have tested it on a small Japanese island, perhaps on the edge of it. America could also have wanted revenge but I feel that the pressure was on the Soviets as tension was building up between them. This would be the justification for the use of the atomic bomb as the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki had a more devastating effect, which was meant to scare the USSR. America’s real concern was Russia who was on the brink of becoming a super power and America didn’t want it’s communism to spread, which was Stalin’s aim. It would be hard to control Stalin over the issues of post war Europe and could be controlled if America showed them the devastating effect of the atomic bomb, which would be used if they didn’t tolerate. The atomic bomb, which was meant to scare Russia, instead marked the start of the Cold War, which consisted of things such as a nuclear arms race.