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65 years since Hiroshima: The lives saved

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    Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 12:44
As we approach the 65th anniversary of atomic bombings of Japan, let's not forget what the likely alternative course of events would have been.

This short video clip features a former prisoner of the Japanese Imperial Army -- one of a vast number of people whose lives were changed by the bombings in a way that is hardly ever mentioned today.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 13:01
And here i thought i was going to read about more moralizing. Refreshing view, though not terribly pc for now a days i suppose. Thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 15:01
Fact is they didn't fully understand what nuclear weapons were when they were dropped.
The destruction of the city is no different to any other - Dresdon, London, Tokyo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 17:35
The bombings saved many more lives than they killed.

Omar is also correct in comparing Hiroshima to other cities. More people died in the firebombing of Tokyo than Hiroshima, and the deaths in Tokyo were typically more agonising.

Only in terms of long term environmental damage (radiation of the land) was the Hiroshima bombing any worse than any other major bombing of the war.

I for one am pleased that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives were saved through this action which demonstrated to the fanatical Japanese the futility of even a fight to the death.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 18:01
This is a wrong assertion.
 
Firstly, because Japan was military defeated by June 1945.
 
Secondly, because Japan approached several times to the allies offering virtually the same terms which were used in the instrument signed on board USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.
 
The only Japanese reservation was "to leave the emperor intact," ironically, in the end the Americans left him intact; all the other terms, however, like complete surrender of all the Japanese armed forces and occupation of the home islands were totally OK with Japanese.
 
Thirdly, the entrance of the USSR in the war, literally, destroyed any even tiny hopes in Tokyo to avoid capitulation. In fact, there are historicans that suggest that the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, not the bombings were the direct reason for the immediate Japanese capitulation. This opinion, however, isn't that popular in the US, simply because it would undermine all the "the nuke saviour" myth.
 
The atomic bombings could be avoided. The thesis that they saved "millions of lifes,"  unfortunately, is just a creation of the Cold War propaganda era to avoid moral responsibity for this terrible war crime.
 
But why the bombs still were dropped is a topic that deserves considerations, indeed...
 
 


Edited by Sarmat - 23 Jul 2010 at 18:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 19:38
Hello to you all
 
Indeed Sarmat is spot on, Japan was already defeated, starved and almost completely distroyed. Further more from what I read the Japanese weren't even prepared for an invasion of mainland Japan except maybe Kuyushu since the overwhelming majority of Japanese troops and equipment were infact in Manchuria and mainland China. When the USSR attacked Japan is easily occupied the Kurills and other Japanese Islands with minimal losses and was on the very verge of take Hokkaido but stopped short for no apparant reason.
 
I add to this political reasons for why the US threw the bomb. Ever since Yalta relations between the US and the USSR were rocky and were even made more worse after Potsdam. Remember that the Americans had the nukes up and ready for sometime now but only experimented with it after Potsdam and decided to use it against Japan to actually sent a message to the USSR rather than ending a war that already ended (the Japanese already evacuated almost all their occupied places with the exception of China).
 
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Edited by Al Jassas - 23 Jul 2010 at 19:39
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 20:01
Agree with Al Jassas here. It had little to do with defeating Japan but a lot to do with:
 
1. Sparing the American soldiers a land invasion of Japan.
 
2. Deterring Soviet.
 
3. Testing the technology.
 
Since the bombs were able to achieve all three goals in one fell swoop, and people in general were convinced it was necessary to defeat Japan, it must be said the US made the right decision in dropping them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 21:28
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:


 
Since the bombs were able to achieve all three goals in one fell swoop, and people in general were convinced it was necessary to defeat Japan, it must be said the US made the right decision in dropping them.

According to whose moral compass? Your own? The decision may have been 'logical' or some other vague term, but absolutely 'right' I couldn't call it.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 21:58
Actually we agree on only one point.
 
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Agree with Al Jassas here. It had little to do with defeating Japan but a lot to do with:
 
1. Sparing the American soldiers a land invasion of Japan.
 
That was already guaranteed when Japan offered to surrender and was in fact negotiating it.
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

2. Deterring Soviet.
fully agree with that especially when we know that the Americans already knew the date of the Soviet operation, the same day the 2nd bomb was dropped.
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

3. Testing the technology.
They already tested it and knew exactly what it was capable of. Radiation poisoning was well established by then (Marie Currie died from it) and the Americans knew how distructive it was going to be. Hiroshima was chosen because Soviet reconnaisance planes routinely flew in that direction as was the Soviet fleet (I think Soviets were indeed the first on sight after the surrender).
 
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

Since the bombs were able to achieve all three goals in one fell swoop, and people in general were convinced it was necessary to defeat Japan, it must be said the US made the right decision in dropping them.
 
Japan didn't surrender overnight. It surrendered after it was completely defeated by the Red army in Manchuria and lost Sakhalin and the Kurills with surprisingly low casualties on the Soviet side.
 
In fact it was probably this victory that made the US ditch the "surrender without conditions" and give the Japanese what they wanted.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 22:09
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
Japan didn't surrender overnight. It surrendered after it was completely defeated by the Red army in Manchuria and lost Sakhalin and the Kurills with surprisingly low casualties on the Soviet side.

 Al-Jassas


Huh - What?

Oh... Silly me... And here all this time, i thought the Japanese only surrendered after running out of options. Pacific war? Phhhht... never happend! Thank God the Soviets defeated the Japanese Ermm US, China, Britain, Australia, New Zealand...? Who or what are they?  sigh

Quote
In fact it was probably this victory that made the US ditch the "surrender without conditions" and give the Japanese what they wanted.


Ummm, okay... What do you mean?


Edited by Panther - 23 Jul 2010 at 22:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2010 at 22:40
Quote The bombings saved many more lives than they killed.


Tired old propaganda.  The bombs were dropped not to save lives but to show the Soviets the devastation the allies could wreak.  Simple as.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2010 at 03:31
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:



Huh - What?

Oh... Silly me... And here all this time, i thought the Japanese only surrendered after running out of options. Pacific war? Phhhht... never happend! Thank God the Soviets defeated the Japanese Ermm US, China, Britain, Australia, New Zealand...? Who or what are they?  sigh
 
Of course, Japan was defeated much earlier in the Pacific war, more over Japan was exchausted and destroyed and blockaded because of the Pacific war. The oil supplies to the home islands simply were inexistent since May, 1945.
 
The Soviet invasion was just the straw that "broke the camel's back" or more proper to say that "finished off the dying camel with the broken back."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2010 at 03:38
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
3. Testing the technology.
[QUOTE]
They already tested it and knew exactly what it was capable of. Radiation poisoning was well established by then (Marie Currie died from it) and the Americans knew how distructive it was going to be. Hiroshima was chosen because Soviet reconnaisance planes routinely flew in that direction as was the Soviet fleet (I think Soviets were indeed the first on sight after the surrender).
While that is factually true, the nuclear weapons were in fact never tested in the actual battlefield and their effects were not known to the general public. So, testing for the sake of publicity makes sense.
 
Another point, is that Truman had to use it, to justify astronomical expenses that were spent on the Manhattan project that coupled with total contempt for the life of lifes of ordinary Japanese.
 
If he never used, it would really have created serious internal political problems in the US "why did we have to spent all those money after all..."


Edited by Sarmat - 24 Jul 2010 at 06:08
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Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
Japan didn't surrender overnight. It surrendered after it was completely defeated by the Red army in Manchuria and lost Sakhalin and the Kurills with surprisingly low casualties on the Soviet side.

 Al-Jassas


Huh - What?

Oh... Silly me... And here all this time, i thought the Japanese only surrendered after running out of options. Pacific war? Phhhht... never happend! Thank God the Soviets defeated the Japanese Ermm US, China, Britain, Australia, New Zealand...? Who or what are they?  sigh
 
Even though japan was quashed they still had a fight left in them. All their losses in the Pacific theater were less than 20% of their total strength. They had in China alone some 3.5 million soldiers who were fully equiped with the best that Japan produces and controlled nearly a third of the country plus they were winning the campaign there (all 1945 campaigns against the Chinese were Japanese victories).
 
However the Soviet shock (in addition to the Nukes) was simply too overwhelming. Indeed in all their discussions the Japanese privy council was preoccupied by the Soviet invasion and when it came it was as Sarmat pointed, the straw that broke the camel's back. Japan lost 80k+ KIA + 600k POWs in only two weeks (more than Okinawa and Iwo Jima combined) of combat. Plus part of the sacred "fatherland" was easily occupied by the Soviet union and the Soviets were preparing to go into Hokkaido by September.
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Quote
In fact it was probably this victory that made the US ditch the "surrender without conditions" and give the Japanese what they wanted.


Ummm, okay... What do you mean?
 
The US wanted the emepror as well as many war criminals but in the end made a compromise and spared the emperor as well as many Japanese war criminals.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2010 at 10:32
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

 
The Soviet invasion was just the straw that "broke the camel's back" or more proper to say that "finished off the dying camel with the broken back."


Not that i am trying to nit pick, but which are you the opinion of what was worse for the Japanese in the summer of 45, the let down of Soviet diplomatic intervention in helping them end the war in the Pacific or the declaration of hostilities and state of war between the Soviets towards the Empire of Japan? I am of the mind that it is more of the former than the latter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2010 at 11:08
I'm not sure what you mean. What was worse for the Japanese? Of course, the war with the USSR was much worse by all means.
 
But Stalin promised to attack Japanese in August of 1945, so he couldn't just suddenly forget his promises to the allies.
 
The key here, however, is that it were Americans who were deciding which type of Japanese surrender to accept and when. They could have accepted the surrender as earlier as May, 1945. Literally, on the same terms as on September 2, 1945.
 
Stalin was not the key player there. He had an important supporting role, but wasn't the main character in this drama...
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Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

 
Even though japan was quashed they still had a fight left in them. All their losses in the Pacific theater were less than 20% of their total strength. They had in China alone some 3.5 million soldiers who were fully equiped with the best that Japan produces and controlled nearly a third of the country plus they were winning the campaign there (all 1945 campaigns against the Chinese were Japanese victories).


So then you agree with the allied leaders of that time? Coincidentally, i don't think most Americans leaders really had the Soviets in mind when they dropped the bomb. They did it for the stated purpose. The  point of scaring the Soviets always seemed to be after the fact when the cold war was well underway.

 
Quote
However the Soviet shock (in addition to the Nukes) was simply too overwhelming. Indeed in all their discussions the Japanese privy council was preoccupied by the Soviet invasion and when it came it was as Sarmat pointed, the straw that broke the camel's back. Japan lost 80k+ KIA + 600k POWs in only two weeks (more than Okinawa and Iwo Jima combined) of combat. Plus part of the sacred "fatherland" was easily occupied by the Soviet union and the Soviets were preparing to go into Hokkaido by September.


Funny, my readings of the Japanese privy council had them more preoccupied and concerned with the diplomatic efforts of the Soviets intervening on their side in the Pacific war (in ending it) and as well feeding their people. As for the Soviets claiming ground easily, not too take away from their sacrifices in the war effort, was a role reversal many seem too have a hard time grasping. Like their claims against the allies in doing nothing too impeded the Germans on the Eastern front, the Soviets had done precious little in the war throughout the Pacific up until the closing days of the war. They didn't face the cream of the Japanese crop in fighting men in Manchuria, North Korea or on the tiny island at the northern most of the Japanese islands. Man powered starved units and 3rd or 4th rate soldiers getting on up their in age as wellas the walking wounded. What's more, the Soviet army units that were faced off against the Japanese were battle hardened men fresh from the Eastern front being thrown into front that had not seen action in nearly a decade of fighting.

No. The bulk of the more seasoned and better manned units of Japanese troops were stationed predominantly in China, the Pacific islands and South East Asia.

Quote
The US wanted the emepror as well as many war criminals but in the end made a compromise and spared the emperor as well as many Japanese war criminals.
 
Al-Jassas


The sparing of the Emperor, i believe, was the brain child of MacArthur, that is IIRC. And even if not his idea, one he supported and convinced the US leadership in backing him on! One of the very few American leaders who understood Asia and the Japanese the best. Much easier too have ruled the Japanese in leaving their godly representative in place.

As for the other war criminals who were left off, need i remind anyone, that tensions with the Soviets in Europe were mounting several years after the war and pressure was mounting to finally be done with any further recriminations over the Pacific war. In essence, those who were let off were the lucky beneficiaries during the early stages of the cold war, much to the chagrin of many who suffered from the merciful hands of the Japanese during that period. Leaving the impression in the minds of quite a few that only the more prominent Japanese war leaders, aside form the Emperor, to have suffered the Wrath of Gen. MacArthur.
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Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

I'm not sure what you mean. What was worse for the Japanese? Of course, the war with the USSR was much worse by all means.


Again, not too take away from Russian participation in World War 2 or the quality of it's troops by the time of it's end. But my readings had the Japanese putting more emphasis on Soviets trying to do for them what Teddy Roosevelt had done prior, back in 1905. In other words a hoped for negotiated peace more favorable too them.
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So, what is your point? I don't get it.
 
The Japanese were hoping to use the USSR as a mediator. The USSR, however, had its own agenda and instead being a mediator (which was the last Japanese hope to end the war favorably) crashed their army in Manchuria. That was effectively a shock and a disaster for Japan, the only result of which could be the surrender without any "extra incentives" from the part of atomic bombers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2010 at 11:53
Japan thought that Stalin owed them something because they decided not to join Hitler in 41 even when they knew that most of the USSR's troops in Siberia were withdrawn, indeed Japan was the only axis partner that actually had full diplomatic relationships with a major UN member.
 
They hoped that Stalin would pull a Finland for them. Finland joined Hitler but despite that Stalin forgave them because they didn't help Hitler beyond their original occupied territories. Stalin had other thoughts as Sarmat mentioned and decided to intervene in China because of purely strategic reasons.
 
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Edited by Al Jassas - 24 Jul 2010 at 11:54
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Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:


Again, not too take away from Russian participation in World War 2 or the quality of it's troops by the time of it's end. But my readings had the Japanese putting more emphasis on Soviets trying to do for them what Teddy Roosevelt had done prior, back in 1905. In other words a hoped for negotiated peace more favorable too them.
OK, I think I see what you mean here. Smile
 
Yeah, the mere decline by the USSR to act as a mediator for the Japanese would be enough for them to surrender. As you probably noticed, I emphasized that Japan was already military defeated by May, 1945.
 
Even the Soviet attack wasn't necessary, to say the least the nuclear bombings.
 
But the Soviet attack, definitely, had a cumulative effect when combined with the decline of the mediation.
 
Moreover, the participation of the USSR, potentially, meant that Japan could be occupied by the Soviets just like Germany was a few months ago. So, that was another factor that made Japan to surrender regardless of the bombings, since losing time would mean losing more land to the Soviets, who, as Al-Jassas correctly noted, occupied several although small, but still "native" Japanese islands suspiciously too fast. American occupation was by any means more preferable for the Japanese than the Soviet one...


Edited by Sarmat - 24 Jul 2010 at 12:05
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Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

According to whose moral compass? Your own? The decision may have been 'logical' or some other vague term, but absolutely 'right' I couldn't call it.
 
According to what works and what doesn't. Evidently this worked, so it was right.
 
Mind you I'm not interested in any metaphysical sense of "higher moral right", that's a religious idea that can't be attested empirically and consequently there are as many interpretations of it as there are people.
 
I should add that the political leaders of WW2 weren't much interested neither. Millions of lives were knowingly and deliberately sacrificed as parts of strategems, Hiroshima is just one example among many.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Syntagma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2010 at 04:10
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

 
Moreover, the participation of the USSR, potentially, meant that Japan could be occupied by the Soviets just like Germany was a few months ago. So, that was another factor that made Japan to surrender regardless of the bombings, since losing time would mean losing more land to the Soviets, who, as Al-Jassas correctly noted, occupied several although small, but still "native" Japanese islands suspiciously too fast. American occupation was by any means more preferable for the Japanese than the Soviet one...


This may of been the greatest concern to the ruling elites and caused a greater effect to hasten the end of the war. Their Ketsu Go strategy was built around assuming the Soviets would remain neutral. The Soviets would of very likely taken all of the Japans continental territories by September and had very good odds of taking the lightly defended Hokkaido shortly after. This would of given the Soviets a bigger chunk of the pie come surrender time and post war occupation. This was something that the Japanese elites did not want to risk as it could of ended their constitutional monarchy and resulted in Soviet occupation in parts of Japan. Hence the "sacred decision" shortly after the entry of the Soviet Union under the Postdam terms.

The Imperial re script on August 17th:
"Now that the Soviet Union has entered the war against us, to continue under the present conditions at home and abroad would only recklessly incur even more damage to ourselves and result in endangering the very foundation of the empire's existence. Therefore, even though enormous fighting spirit still exists in the imperial navy and army, I am going to make peace with the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, as well as with Chungking, in order to maintain our glorious kokutai."

Without the Soviet entry it may of taken more atomic bombs to get a result as well as the November 1 invasion of Kyushu. The imperial army had written off atomic weapons for tactical use as they felt it was not a practical to use in conjunction with military operations. They were also very confident on getting a decisive victory against any future US invasions of the main islands. Thus giving them better terms on ending the war which was something they knew was going to happen sooner or later.


Edited by Syntagma - 27 Jul 2010 at 04:56
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