Submitted to- Mr. Byrne
Submitted by- Joseph Marinucci
Course- Grade 10 Advanced History
School- St. Martin Secondary School
Date- June 2, 2014
A crime against humanity is defined as: A crime or series of crimes, such as mass murder, enslavement or torture, directed against a large group because of race, religion, country of origin, or other reason unconnected with any individual’s responsibility for having committed a criminal act. The first known case of a crime against humanity was in 1945, when the United States of America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The first of the two bombs was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. The bomb caused mass destruction and between 200,000-300,000 people were killed. The second of the two atomic bombs was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9th, 1945. The bomb completely destroyed Nagasaki and within two minutes, most of the city was vaporized, including its inhabitants. But were the Americans justified for taking the lives of hundreds of thousands innocent Japanese people?
American president Harry Truman was questioned about the use of the atomic bomb after he ordered the dropping of the first atomic bomb. He stated that:
“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, . . . unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. . . . Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare.” (GlobalResearch 2013)
Here Truman justifies the criminal act of killing between 200,000-300,000 people. Truman’s explanation that the atomic bombing was retaliation against Japanese war crimes. But was he failed to notice is that he had ordered one of the worst war crimes in human history. He even had the nerve to drop another bomb while the Japanese were already negotiating peace. Many people believe that Truman’s actions were a cowardly attempt at ensuring of what he wanted was handed to him on a silver platter.
Japan, however, were trying to reason a truce with the Allied forces when America dropped the second nuclear bomb. Many people thought this would ensure victory for the Americans, many people, including the Japanese did not feel this way. Emperor Hirohito stated in his Imperial Rescript on Termination of the War:
“The enemy has begun to employ a new and cruel bomb with incalculable power to damage and destroy many innocent lives. If we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but it would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization. This being the case, I am challenged to know how to save the millions of lives of you my loyal subjects and how to atone myself before the spirits of my heavenly imperial ancestors. This is why I have ordered acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Allied Powers……” (GlobalResearch 2013)
In other words, the rescript implied that due to brutal weapons that had been developed, continued war efforts could result not only in the annihilation of the Japanese nation, but also in the complete destruction of human civilization. He then goes on to agree to unconditional surrender. Just as President Truman gave reasons for nuking Japan to cover America’s war crimes, so did the Japanese government…