Essay on Hiroshima: Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and United States

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Hiroshima Research Essay: “Was the dropping of the bomb on Japan Justified”

It is clear that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was justified; there are many reasons for this. Prior to the bombing several options had been taken by the Americans to end World War II; however, all of them failed miserably. The actions taken were diplomacy, a naval blockade, conventional bombing and attempted land invasions. The Emperor and his government could not be persuaded to surrender despite the actions, over a long period of time, by the United States Forces. When Japan refused to come to a fair agreement and thought the Americans were weak, the war grew in ferocity. But in the end it came down to only one option that the Americans did not really want to take but felt forced to take in order to end the war; the war had been going on for far too long and drastic measures needed to be taken. The best option was ultimately the atomic bomb.

One of the options the Americans had was using conventional bombing to put an end to the war. United States Army Air Forces began air raids on Japan during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. The U.S. mounted a small-scale raid on Tokyo in April 1942. The raid did little damage to Japan's war capability. The key development of the 1944 bombing was the introduction of the B-29 Superfortress bomber into the war effort. Strategic bombing of urban areas began in earnest, however it was launched prematurely so none of the attacking aircraft reached the designated airfields. The initial raids were carried out by the Twentieth Air Force which operated out of mainland China in Operation Matterhorn under XX Bomber Command, but these could not reach Tokyo. Once Allied ground forces had captured islands that were closer to Japan, airfields were built on Saipan and Tinian and then B-29s could reach Japan for bombing missions. As the bombing continued so did the destruction of cities, infrastructure and homes. Fatalities and injuries also increased. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department established a figure of 124,711 casualties including both killed and wounded and claimed that 286,358 buildings and homes were destroyed. (History Leanring Site, 2011). The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey later estimated that nearly 88,000 people died in this one raid, 41,000 were injured, and over a million residents lost their homes (Encyclopedia Britannica , 2014). As U.S. Gen. Curtis LeMay said “The city of Tokyo was like a paper city”. This simply meant how easily the buildings erupted in flames as all the infrastructure was wooden. Despite this devastation the Japanese people under the rule of the Emperor Hirohito would not capitulate. Since he was seen by the nation to be godlike the people of Japan agreed with his stance, and were willing to die before dishonoring themselves by surrendering to the Americans. Such was the fanaticism of the Japanese. So the Americans had to consider other options to put a quick end to the war.

A second option for ending the war, Operation Downfall, involved invading the home islands and so force the Japanese to surrender. Set to begin in October 1945, Operation Olympic was intended to capture the southern third of the southernmost main Japanese island, Kyūshū, with the recently captured island of Okinawa to be used as a staging area. However in the first days of the land invasion of Okinawa approximately 40,000 Americans landed in a concentrated area of less than two square miles. This was because when they arrived they were met by a Japanese charge, which nearly forced the Americans back into the sea. Because the geography did not provide many beaches that could be easily invaded, the Japanese were able to organize a strong defense, particularly at Kyushu. This was a great problem for the Americans as Japanese troops truly outnumbered them. According to (Scotch booklet Handout, 2014) the Japanese had nearly 30 million defenders (which included local volunteers) to the