If the SOB apologizes, he does so on his own behalf, not for the hundreds of thousands of US servicemen who would have been killed invading Japan, and certainly not for me.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave Japanese leaders the excuse they needed to take the absolutely unthinkable action of surrendering. Indeed, the atomic bombings figured prominently in Emperor Hirohito’s unprecedented speech to the nation announcing Japan’s surrender. “The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization,” the Emperor told a stunned Japanese nation (stunned partly because they had never heard the Emperor speak and partly because they couldn’t believe Japan was surrendering.)
Yes, Hiroshima and NagasakiDefinitely Saved Lives
On the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings last month, I wrote a piece arguing that the decision to use the atomic bomb had saved countless lives– even if that had nothing to do with why the U.S. dropped the bomb. Last week, The Pacific Realist had the great pleasure of featuring a guest post by Ward Wilson, a fantastic and insightful nuclear expert, which ostensibly refuted my earlier piece.
As it turns out, Wilson and I are largely in agreement on the central point of my initial article. In the article, I had argued that even if the Soviet Union’s war declaration was the decisive event in Tokyo’s decision to surrender, the atomic bombings provided the Japanese leadership with the face-saving excuse they needed to justify surrendering to the Japanese populace. Given the prevailing national sentiments in Imperial Japan, without the atomic excuse the leadership would have had to continue fighting even if they knew it was futile. After all, Japanese leaders had long instilled in the population the notion that surrendering was the ultimate sin, and that honor necessitated that they sacrifice themselves in the name of the Emperor.
Wilson noted in his piece that Japan’s military largely obliged during the war. “Out of 31,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on Saipan, only 921 were taken prisoner after the fighting there,” he points out. I’d add that the few Japanese soldiers who had been taken prisoner during the Pacific War were largely shunned by their friends, families and communities upon their return. Meanwhile, the Japanese populace at home had endured the unprecedented U.S. strategic bombing campaign without calling on their leaders to surrender. In fact, they were shocked and largely in denial when the Emperor did announce Japan’s surrender.
In this context, it’s unthinkable (absent the atomic excuse) that Japan’s leaders could have surrendered to the U.S. and/or the Soviets before the invasion of the Japanese homeland even commenced. Instead, they’d have to continue fighting for (at least) a substantial period of time, if not until the bitter end, which would have ultimately resulted in more deaths than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.