InvestigationIn the final months of World War 2, the Potsdam Conference was one of the last meetings held by American President Harry Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin. At this conference, Japan was given an ultimatum calling for the immediate surrender of all Japanese armed forces. If they did comply, they would face “prompt and utter destruction.” Japan refused to surrender.
Less than two weeks later, the US dropped a nuclear bomb named “Little Boy” on the Japanese city Hiroshima. Three days later the US dropped the second Nuclear Bomb named “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered shortly after, but not before losing over 200,000 lives, most of which were civilians.Were these bombings necessary to end the war? The most widely believed argument is that the US decided to use nuclear bombs to cap the amount of casualties in the war, on both sides. An invasion of Japan would have added to the already immense amount of war casualties, around 400,000 US casualties at this point in the war. With the atomic bombs, a US invasion of Japan wasn’t necessary. Another solution was to keep regularly bombing Japanese cities, but there is no telling how long it would take for this method to prompt a Japanese surrender.
The two atomic bombs together had the same payload as around 3,500 B-29 bombers. This method eventually would’ve eventually caused the same number of casualties, but it would’ve taken much longer. The shock of the atomic bombs and the mass casualties they caused may have convinced Japan to surrender. The US had the means to end the war quickly and easily, so they did.
Many high ranking members of the US government and MIlitary didn’t think that the nuclear bombings were necessary. General Eisenhower said “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Admiral William Leahy said “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. In being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to barbarians of the Dark Ages. Wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
” High ranking officials like Eisenhower and Leahy saw that Japan was close to collapsing under the pressure of the war. Japan was the last of the Axis powers in the war, they had no allies. They were being deprived of food and supplies needed to keep the country afloat by underwater and surface blockades. Their navy was mostly destroyed making them defenseless against the blockade. Blockades are extremely effective against countries like Japan, who rely on foreign imports for a majority of their food and raw materials.
It was only a matter of time before the country collapsed due to food and supply shortage. Major military points were being air raided at the time as well. B-29 bombers were responsible for taking out supply outposts. The US had planned full scale invasion of Japan for November 1st, 1945. Even the threat of an invasion could’ve prompted a surrender, due to the disadvantages they had. The air raids along with the blockades gave the US a significant resource advantage, which would’ve made an invasion very easy.The Soviets had planned an invasion of a Japanese controlled state called Manchukuo.
The Soviets declared war on Japan three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. Some argue that the Soviet invasion is what prompted the discussion of surrender in Japan’s government, not Hiroshima. The government started discussing surrender immediately after the invasion, not immediately after Hiroshima. Japan was used to its’ cities being firebombed and air raided, so they thought the atomic bombs were just a bigger scale. This appears to make the Hiroshima bomb useless in the surrender effort. The Japanese government was afraid of a communist takeover, that is why they surrendered. The bombing of Nagasaki, which happened after both the invasion and Hiroshima, was said to have impact on the decision to surrender at all.
During the Potsdam Conference, President Truman was told about a successful nuclear bomb test. He told Winston Churchill about the successful test, but left Stalin out of the conversation. Truman continued use U.
S.S.R’s help assistance against Japan, even though the nuclear bomb would render Russian help useless. Truman was keeping Stalin out of the loop because of their countries’ relationship. The US and Russia had an tense, but peaceful relationship. They are rivals who happened to have the same enemy. The US used the atomic bombs as a power play against the Soviets. The devastation from the nuclear weapons showed the world that the US was the most powerful country.
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have had an ulterior motive than to end the war. They were used to keep Russia at bay, and assert US dominance. With no US lives being lost, the pros far outweigh the cons of the US using the nukes to assert dominance over Russia. These bombings were most likely a show. The US government had spent too much money on the Manhattan Project for it not to be used. They were used to claim the number one spot on the most powerful countries list. Surrender or not, the US asserted their dominance and warned Russia that they were a world superpower. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified by the US stating that they were needed to make the Japanese surrender.
It’s widely believed that this was the most effective way to force a surrender without costing any more American lives. There is more evidence supporting that the bombs were not needed to force a surrender, but there was an ulterior motive for using them. The US had spent time and money on these bomb, so they weren’t going to go unused. They most likely used them as a way to show the world, but specifically Russia, that they were dominant. Japan was already bleeding out through air raids and blockades. They had limited resources. Add the Soviet invasion and the threat of a US invasion to that, and the Japanese had to consider a surrender.
The bombing of Nagasaki had little effect since discussions of surrender started before the bomb was dropped. The Japanese were not as influenced by the atomic bombings because they thought of them just as a larger scale fire bombing, which they were experiencing the entire war. Overall the atomic bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not necessary to end the war, but they were used as a power play against Russia and established US dominance.