Sunday, August 07, 2011

Imperial Japan's Geography Shows the Thinking about Dropping the Atomic Bombs

One can only imagine the deep thoughts and debates American policy makers had over whether or not to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.  On August 6 and 9, 1945, President Harry Truman ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  Somewhere around 150,000 to 200,000 people died both the bombings.

Though various standard bombing raids on Tokyo killed more people, the atomic bomb is debated on whether or not the bombing was necessary.  Frequently, debates focus solely on the status of Japanese military in Japan.  What one forgets is that Japan and its allies and puppets were still in control of a vast part of Asia.  Imperial Japan, the Reorganized National Government of China, and Manchukuo all had standing fighting militaries.  There were also puppet states that were large variables on whether or not they could offer opposition which would require further fighting outside of Japan.  The fact that the Japanese's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere wide span was a major factor in ending the war once and for all in a single stroke in Japan.

Map by the United States Army from Wikipedia
The above map shows Imperial Japanese and its allies holdings five days before the dropping on the first atomic bomb on Japan.  It was a map like this which showed the Allies that either the bomb had to be dropped or the war would had to have been fought across the western Pacific.

5 comments:

Dan tdaxp said...

Quite right. General Stilwell (the US/Allied Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek) increasingly bad relations with Chiang have a lot to do with what Stilwell saw as the natural endgame: the Empire would temporarily move its capital to China, and the Allies could only meaningfully continue the war by fighting a landwar in Asia against the ROC-Nanjng and Manchuko against ROC-Chungking and Mao's rebels.

Fortunately (?) the Japanese and Manchu armies were no match for the Reds... but the world could have been quite different.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. At that point, Japan had no capability to threaten the United States. The war by then had become unjust.

Lust for unconditional surrender is immoral and contradicts any Ius in bello.

Catholicgauze said...

Anonymous,
Besides ignoring continued Japanese occupation of American lands on the map, what about our Chinese, native Vietnamese, and other southeast Asian allies? Plus, Nazi Germany did not pose a direct threat to the United States in early 1945. Was it wrong to support the war until its natural end there too?

Anonymous said...

U.S. did not fight a proper war against Nazi Germany, the USSR did. The U.S. largely profited from the war in Europe.
Betrayal by the U.S. of its ally USSR upon assassination of Rousevelt was the precursor to the atomic bomb dropping.
If USSR had a slightly better foresight and entered Hokkaido any time before atomic bombing, the atomic bombarding would not have happened.
And the Japanese, like Chinese, would have ended up studying Russian at schools, and getting their post-graduate degrees from Moscow.

Dropping atomic bombs is a crime. To understand the extent to which war crimes alter perceptions of war and military efforts, the U.S. objectively needs a proper encounter on its own territory.

Then i'll gladly continue any philosophical debates on whether atomic bombs would have benefitted THAT warfare and children ending up growing there, etc.

Cheers!!

Catholicgauze said...

Anonymous,
Wow. "The USSR fought a proper war"? Have you ever read "Bloodlands" or "No Simple Victory" or any other history of the 1944-45 Eastern Front? The USSR did horrible war crimes against civilians on the same level of the Nazis in 1939-1943. Plus the USSR was an ally of the Nazis during the opening days of WWII.
Assassination of Roosevelt?
The dropping of bombs stopped Operation Downfall. That would have robbed Japan of a whole generation.