We Were Right To Nuke Japan

Today, on the 58th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Nicholas Kristof wrote a convincing column about why dropping the bomb on Japan was necessary. Here are a few key excerpts…

“…The Japanese scholarship, by historians like Sadao Asada of Doshisha University in Kyoto, notes that Japanese wartime leaders who favored surrender saw their salvation in the atomic bombing. The Japanese military was steadfastly refusing to give up, so the peace faction seized upon the bombing as a new argument to force surrender.

“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war,” Koichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest aides, said later.

Wartime records and memoirs show that the emperor and some of his aides wanted to end the war by summer 1945. But they were vacillating and couldn’t prevail over a military that was determined to keep going even if that meant, as a navy official urged at one meeting, “sacrificing 20 million Japanese lives.”

The atomic bombings broke this political stalemate and were thus described by Mitsumasa Yonai, the navy minister at the time, as a “gift from heaven.”

Without the atomic bombings, Japan would have continued fighting by inertia. This would have meant more firebombing of Japanese cities and a ground invasion, planned for November 1945, of the main Japanese islands. The fighting over the small, sparsely populated islands of Okinawa had killed 14,000 Americans and 200,000 Japanese, and in the main islands the toll would have run into the millions.

“The atomic bomb was a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war,” Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary in 1945, said later.

…The Japanese military ferociously resisted surrender even after two atomic bombings on major cities, even after Soviet entry into the war, even when it expected another atomic bomb — on Tokyo.

One of the great tales of World War II concerns an American fighter pilot named Marcus McDilda who was shot down on Aug. 8 and brutally interrogated about the atomic bombs. He knew nothing, but under torture he “confessed” that the U.S. had 100 more nuclear weapons and planned to destroy Tokyo “in the next few days.” The war minister informed the cabinet of this grim news — but still adamantly opposed surrender. In the aftermath of the atomic bombing, the emperor and peace faction finally insisted on surrender and were able to prevail.”

Nuking Japan was the right thing to do, not only because it saved countless American AND Japanese lives, but because the terrible doom we inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped convince the world that it was madness to attack the United States.

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