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September 29, 2015

Terrible But Justified: The U.S. A-Bomb Attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

By Elbridge Colby

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Was Hiroshima Bombing Unjustified Justified Essay

The United States’ decision to bomb two cities of Japan, which we’re Nagasaki and Hiroshima, was not at all justified. Many people know that Japan deliberately attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, in order to strategically weaken the American Naval Base. However, the United States’ decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to push Japan to surrender the war.

The bombing was unjustified because the U. S. ilitary: targeted heavily populated civilian cities, deliberately planned their attack to kill, did not give Japan enough time to respond to the first bombing, (4) did not xperience as many casualties than Japan. Many people say that the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was unjustified because the U. S. targeted cities that were populated by civilians. According to the notes taken on the meeting of the Target Committee, “Consideration is to be given to large areas of not less than 3 miles in diameter existing in the larger populated areas” (Notes on Initial Meeting of Target Committee, May 2, 1945).

The fact that only cities that were heavily populated and had a radius of no less than 3 miles were targets, gives some historians an understanding of the United States’ intentions to ndiscreetly kill thousands of Japanese civilians . Moreover, the Target Committee also said, “The target and/or aiming point should have a high strategic value” (Notes on Initial Meeting of Target Committee, May 2, 1945). This group of individuals disregarded the amount of casualties that the bombs would cause in exchange for strategic advantage.

By causing hundreds of thousands of casualties the U. S. military gained an advantage during the war, which eventually led to Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945. Another piece of evidence that supports the idea that the U. S’ decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was njustified can be found in the statement given by President Truman to the Republic. In his statement he announced the first bombing of Hiroshima and added: We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city.

We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. (Harry S. Truman Library, “Army press notes”) Even the former President of the United States of America, who gave the order to bomb Japan, disregarded the consequences in exchange for winning the war . It did not matter whether the target was military or civilian areas as long as the site where the bombs were dropped was exactly or more than 3 miles in diameter or gave America a strategic advantage.

Another reason why the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unjustified is because of the U. S. ‘ plan that deliberately killed thousands of innocent people. Prior to the attack, Colonel Fisher commented,”[The] Ultimate range of the B-29s is 1500 miles at 30,000 feet altitude” (Notes on Initial Meeting of Target Committee, May 2, 1945). The group of individuals that planned the attack calculated the ideal altitude for the bombs to be ropped to achieve maximum destruction. Furthermore, not everyone involved in the attack agreed to the plan.

One example is, “Admiral William Leahy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oppose[ed] using the bomb because it killed civilians indiscriminately” ( American History Textbook, American Vision, pg. 615). The attack led to the unnecessary death of thousands upon thousands of Japanese civilian. President Truman later wrote that he “regarded the bomb as a military weapon and never had any doubts that it should be used. ” His advisers had warned him to expect massive casualties if the United States invaded Japan.

Truman believed it was his duty as president to use every weapon available to save American lives (American History Textbook, American Vision, pg. 615). President Truman, the Commander in Chief, was well aware of the consequences of using the atomic bombs, however, he still initiated the attack which inevitably caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Japanese civilians (Stanford History Education Group . Reading Like a Historian “6. Atomic Bomb . “). This statement brings the attention back to the idea that the bombings to both cities of Japan were unjustified.

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was bombed with Little Boy and three days after was another ombing on Nagasaki with the use of Fat Man. These atomic bombs are responsible for the end of the World War along with the threats of invasion from the Allied forces. According to Eisenhower, the president prior Truman and a supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Western Europe during WWII, “Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary,. I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion” (The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953-1956: A Personal Account).

It was no doubt that Japan had already been defeated way before their surrender, however, the U. S. ropped not one but two atomic bombs in a matter of three days. This was a response to Japan’s refusal to accept the Potsdam Declaration . On the contrary, the bombing remains inevitably unjustified. According to Eisenhower, “It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of face” (The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953-1956: A Personal Account).

Due to the Japanese code of honor, it took some time before Japan fully surrendered from the war. The date of their surrender was September 2, 1945. Ultimately, time should have been provided to the Japanese overnment to respond to the first bombing. Many people would say that three days was insufficient for them to respond because of their code of honor clouding their judgment. While fighting a war with other countries, the Japanese had to decide whether to protect their pride or their people.

Consequently, their failure to respond led to the demise of hundreds of thousands of people. However, the United States lack of consideration to the Japanese’s code of honor shows many people the ignorance of the U. S. government and the persistent attempt to finish the war no matter the consequences. The U. S. id not suffer as many casualties compared to Japan. Politically, Japan targeted the army that was based on Pearl Harbor to weaken the United States and gain strategic advantage. However, in a similar standpoint, the U. S. overnment attempted to justify their decision to drop the atomic because of their intentions to weaken the Japanese as well as to gain strategic advantage. Nearly 200,000 were killed out of the 450,000 people that populated Nagasaki and Hiroshima. That is about 44-45% of people dead from the initial population prior to the bombings . Burns from the bombs accounted for the majority of casualties from both cities. Sixty percent of Hiroshima residents and ninety five percent of Nagasaki died from fatal burns due to the bomb’s extreme radiation (Stanford History Education Group.

Reading Like a Historian “6. Atomic Bomb . “) The remaining casualties, were a result of falling debris and other accidents. Comparatively, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Americans suffered 2400 casualties and over 1000 injured. Statistically, the country which suffered more casualties was Japan. The amount of deaths from both parties was uneven and raised some speculations regarding whether or not the bombing were justified or just some means to kill innocent eople indiscriminately. In history, there are multiple sides of a story .

There are also many different perspectives that can be looked through to understand each side of the story. A great example of a tragic incident that encouraged different opinions is the bombing of Japan cities during World War 2. However, many believe that the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was unjustified was because the U. S. government targeted heavily populated civilian cities, deliberately planned their attack to kill, did not give Japan enough time to respond, did not experience as many casualties than Japan.

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Atomic Bomb Justified

On August 6th, 1945, an American B-29 bomber named “Enola Gay” dropped the world’s first Atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. The nuclear explosion killed nearly 90 percent of the cities population, killing 75,000 people from the point of impact and thousands more dying from Radiation Poisoning later on. Three days later, on August 9th, a second B-29 bomber named “Bockscar” dropped a second Atomic bomb on the Japanese city, Nagasaki. This bomb killed 40,000 people on impact with over 60,000 more people dying after from Radiation Poisoning.

The Atomic bomb was a new technology to everyone worldwide and its raw destructive power was enough for the Japanese Emperor Hirohito to agree to the Americans unconditional surrender terms. The terms were to release all prisoners of war, end the fighting and to agree with the Potsdam declaration. Perspective 1: Michihiko Hachiya – Japanese Michihiko Hachiya was Medical Practitioner who survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 and kept a diary of his experience. Hachiya’s diary covers the period from August 6 1945 to September 30 August.

Hachiya describes the effects of the Atomic bomb blast from its first flash early in the morning as he rested from his night shift at the hospital. The force of the blast stripped all the clothes from his body, but his wife and him survived. They both received serious burns to their bodies from the Nuclear Radiation. Hachiya said when he was in the hospital everything was quiet, he adds to that by saying linguistic silence sometimes is necessary for victims. Mainly because it’s a psychological reaction to an extreme situation with which humans cannot cope.

He explains it, “Kind of like a psychic numbing, in which victims cannot find an adequate emotional response to the apocalyptic imagery they receive. ” Hachiya emphasizes the horrific nature of the event behind the general atmosphere of inarticulacy. Hachiya said himself and many people thought that when the Atomic bomb went off that the apocalypse had started, they genuinely thought it was the end of the world . Hachiya spent many hours after the bomb had went off in the hospital helping the injured and wounded.

Many people didn’t know what had happened, but as information surfaced about a bomb, many people started to realise what had really happened. Hachiya was disgusted at what the Americans had done. He later mentions in his diary that him and the people around him felt like they were rats in a lab experiment, and to make it worse the Americans didn’t even know what the radiation would do. Hachiya was a Medicinae Doctor and had a basic understanding of what radiation was, but not to the level that was delivered by the bomb.

Hachiya was disgusted that the Americans would use such an Avant Garde technology and the fact they didn’t know the capability of its damage, infuriated him further. Hachiya believes that the Americans didn’t need to drop the bomb to stop the war, they just needed to give it time. He believes everything would have sorted itself out, with not many more lives lost. “It is as in a bad dream, I see shadows come, species ghosts walking with outstretched arms, I wonder why, why did they need to do this to my people. ” Hachiya compares the bombing to a bad dream , therefore reinforcing his disliking of what occurred.

Hachiya said in his diary that he had so many questions. He wanted to know why the Americans thought it was justified to do what they did. Why were they willing to kill so many people just to save their own, and Why did they use a Nuclear bomb when they didn’t know what the repercussions would be. When Hachiya found out that the Americans thought that killing thousands of Japanese would save up to a million American soldiers and that was a justifiable reason to drop the bomb, he was absolutely outraged. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the Americans were willing to kill civilians just to save their own. I had this numb feeling, nothing would come out of my mouth, there was complete silence, nothing could describe how I felt. ”

Hachiya has a biased perspective towards the Japanese, as he is Japanese and was in Hiroshima, Japan when the bomb was dropped. Hachiya holds this perspective because he is Japanese and the bomb directly affected his life and the people around him. Hachiya was punished by the bomb and all its after effects because of something that he had no control over. Hachiya did understand what the Japanese were doing in World War 2, but he doesn’t believe the Americans retaliation was justified or necessary.

As Hachiya was a doctor he was concerned for all his patients and all the work he would have to do caused by the aftermath. He was very busy for the following weeks attending to the injured and sick. This is when he gained further knowledge that it was a radiation bomb. As he was the senior doctor at the hospital, he was also in charge of all the other doctors, which was a burden on him. Perspective 2: Henry L. Stimson – American Henry L. Stimson was an American Statesman, Lawyer and a Republican Party Politician.

Stimson served under Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. During World War II he took charge of raising and training 13 million soldiers and airmen, supervised the spending of a third of the nation’s GDP on the Army and the Air Forces, helped formulate military strategy, and oversaw the building and use of the atomic bombs. In the early stages of World War 2 Stimson added a note in his diary saying, “Roosevelt brought up the event that we are likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do.

The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. ” From this entry Stimson confirms that roosevelt has a feeling that the Japanese were going to attack. In the days leading upto the bombs being dropped it is believed that Truman never signed anything official to allow the bombs to be dropped, they were just dropped with no signed confirmation. In the part of the war Stimson was Truman’s right hand man, his go to guy with hard situations like this.

When talking to Stimson about whether it is ethical to drop the bomb Truman was reportedly very keen to test out his country’s new technology, even without knowing the repercussions. Stimson was also keen to use the bomb, so with having his right hand man on his side Truman was set on using them. Stimson’s quote aimed at Truman; “The President so far has struck me as a man who is trying hard to keep his balance. He certainly has been very receptive to all my efforts in these directions. ”

As Stimson was Secretary of War, he was directed as the leader of the Manhattan Project by Harry Truman. The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. The Americans got their best scientists to try and develop a new destructive technology to give them the upper hand in wars . There scientists succeeded and developed the world’s first Nuclear bombs. They had two varients, a Uranium bomb and a Plutonium.

The Uranium bomb was used on Hiroshima and the Plutonium dropped on Nagasaki. Stimson got a lot of appraisal as the bombs were ready for use in early 1945 and they were needed only a couple months later. Everyone saw Stimson as a hero as he was able to get the bombs developed in time for use. Henry was happy to have been apart of the development of the bombs that urged the Japanese to surrender. Stimson saw the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as payback for the Japanese attack on Pearl harbour earlier in the war, As said in the Harper’s Magazine article.

But I think the bomb instead constitutes merely a first step in a new control by man over the forces of nature too revolutionary and dangerous to fit into old concepts. ” But it wasn’t only Stimson that saw it as backpack, Harry Truman also viewed it is partial payback for what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbour. Stimson said this is one of the main reasons that the bombs being dropped was justified and worth it. In the Harper’s Magazine, Stimson stated that by using the new Atomic Bombs , would save up to one million lives if used. The Americans estimated that if they used the bombs it would save one million Americans, this is just soldiers.

It would save future soldiers that would be enlisted to fight. Stimson said saving one million lives is worth killing over 100,000 people , especially because they would have been American. And with them saving over one million lives means that it was 100 percent justified to drop the bombs. Stimson was American, so he had a bias towards the Americans in the war. Stimson was Truman’s right hand man and had a direct say in whether the bombs should’ve been dropped or not. He wants to use the bombs to see how effective the new technology was and if they had succeeded in their making of the atomic bomb.

He also estimated that the bomb would save over one million lives in the future if the bomb was dropped, that was enough justification for him to give the go ahead for the bombs to be used. Perspective 3: My Perspective I believe that the Americans choice to drop the atomic bomb was not justified. They said that it would save up to a million lives if dropped, and that was their main motive to use it. But they had no way of proving that it would save upto one million people. I believe that was a copout to use the bomb.

I also honestly believe that Harry Truman was also desperate to test out the Atomic bomb , therefore pushing for the bombs to be tested on Japan. Truman had been pushing his officials to agree with him that dropping the atomic bombs was good, and would help the Americans and their allies win the war. “I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.. . 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.

We have used it in order to shorten the agony of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us. ” I believe that in this quote, Truman is trying to play the sympathy card, trying to get people to genuinely think that he didn’t want to use the bomb, but in the end of the day the compiled evidence showing that he was wanting to drop the bomb points towards everything saying he did. As mentioned in the quote above, Truman sees the dropping of the two bombs as payback for Pearl Harbour.

So with motives to get payback they used the new atomic technology. He wanted to get revenge for the attack on Pearl harbour by the Japanese earlier in World War 2. He also wants to get revenge for all the American people who starved, got beaten and executed as prisoners of war. From what I can see from this, is that Truman wasn’t worried about making sure he would save future American soldiers lives, but it was an attempt at getting stone cold revenge. But if you think about it an American president should not be seeking revenge.

I find that distasteful. So in the big picture, Truman wants revenge and Stimson wants to save future civilians. But in this case obviously Truman got the final choice as he was the President at the time and Stimson was only the Secretary of War. But if you think about it, that was the perspectives they wanted the public to know about. I think that they were both eager to try out the new atomic bomb . By them using the bomb it also gave them an upperhand in wars as people would find out that they have this new deadly technology and were willing to use it.

It was an intimidation tactic, and they executed it considering the bombs pretty much ended the war. To sum everything up, I believe the it was not reasonable or justified for the Americans to use the new founded Atomic technology on the Japanese. Mainly because they didn’t know enough about it to understand the damage it could and would do. From the evidence I’ve seen, it is pretty obvious that the Americans were keen on testing out the bombs and therefore went through with the act. It was inhumane and not necessary to use such a avant garde technology. I believe the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never have happened.

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Reasons why Bombing Japan was not justified Essay


The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still one of the most controversial happenings in recent history. Historians have passionately debated whether the bombings were essential, the effect that they had in ending the war in the Pacific Region, and what other alternatives were on hand for the United States.

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These very same questions were also debatable during that time, as American decision makers deliberated on how to put to use powerful new technology and what the long-term impact of atomic weaponry would be on the Japanese (Hasegawa 96). This essay presents a debate on reasons why the U.S. was not justified in using the atomic bomb on Japan.

Most historians who have been taking part in the debate on how World War II ended have based much of their focus on why the U.S. decided to drop the atomic bomb. Despite the much emphasis placed on this matter, there has been little attention directed on the role played by the Japanese in ending the war.

Even less information is available on soviet-decision-making and their joining the war against Japan. One of the major obstacles, which were overcome only recently, was the absence of a historian who was fluent in English, Japanese and Russian to enable him to examine the major materials, which included government, military, and intelligence memos and reports in all the three languages. This explains in part why most of the available literature on the subject only touches on the American side of the story.

One of the reasons why bombing Japan was not justified is because America had other options, which they could have used to compel Japan to surrender. In his 2005 milestone study titled Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan , historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa critically examines the threefold wartime relationship between America, Japan, and the Soviet Union.

What comes out from this careful study is the fact that America had other options that they could have pursued instead of the bombings but which they chose to ignore. According to Hasegawa (100), the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had indicated to America that he would attack Japan on 15 August 1945.

This meant that America had up to 15 th August to force Japan to surrender in order to prevent the Soviet union from joining the war something that would make Truman and his government to appear weak. Contrary to the claim that Americans used the bomb as a last resort, Hasegawa disagrees and claims that the early August date was chosen to counter the Soviets’ impeding attack in order to prevent them from joining the war.

In fact, the diligent research done by Hasegawa dispels the notion that the bombings weakened Japan’s position thus leading to their surrender.

According to the historian, the myth that the bombings weakened Japan’s will to fight and that they saved both Japanese and American soldiers is only meant to justify Truman’s decision and help in easing the conscience of the American people. According to Hasegawa, this myth lacks any historical backing since there is enough evidence to show that there were other alternatives besides the use of the bombs but Truman and his administration chose to ignore them.

Historians claim that Truman’s main worry was that allowing Stalin to enter the war would be an important strategic gain for him and this would pose a big threat to American interests in the region. With a deadline to beat, the only option that remained for Truman and his administration was to use the atomic bomb (Hasegawa 101).

Although Japan had not yet given a public indication that it intended to surrender, insiders knew that the country could not continue with the war and surrender was imminent.

This admission is contained in intelligence reports showing that Truman was privy to information that Japan had abandoned its goal of victory and was instead planning on how to harmonize its national pride with losing the war. With this kind of information, it is clear that America had no justification whatsoever to use the bombs since it was only a matter of time before the Japanese admitted defeat.

The second reason that makes the American bombing unjustified is the deeply flawed casualty claims. As it is, the exact number of Allied and Japanese lives that were likely to be lost during the intended invasion remains unknown. However, it is evident that those who supported the bombing have escalated the prediction of those who could have died from the earlier prediction of 45,000 given by the U.S. War Department.

Ten years after the bombings, Truman claimed that George Marshall feared losing close to a half million soldiers if the war was not brought to an abrupt close. This contradicted the claims by Stimson the Secretary of War who two years after the war had claimed that over a million people were dead, wounded, or missing.

In a 1991 address to congress, George Bush claimed that Truman’s decision to drop the bomb ‘spared’ millions of American lives. Four years after the claims by Bush, a crewmember of Bock’s car, the plane that dropped one of the bombs stated that the bombing preserved the lives of over six million people.

Over the years, historians have provided evidence to show that the casualty figures offered by Truman and his bombing supporters were seriously flawed. One historian claimed that the people who supported the high casualty claims relied upon strained readings and omitted crucial material, which in effect limited their research and cast a shadow of doubt on their findings.

Hasegawa and other anti-bombing historians did not refute the claim that Truman was concerned at the possibility of America losing many lives during the invasion, but the projected numbers were way below the exaggerated figures provided after the war to rationalize the bombings.

Such inflated figures, along with Japan’s presumed rejection of surrendering is usually a part of the debate on why the atomic bombs were necessary but from the proffered evidence, these claims are highly questionable.

Another reason to prove that the bombing was not justified is derived from looking at the real reasons why Japan surrendered. According to political analysts, postwar interviews with numerous Japanese military and civilian leaders showed that Japan could have given in before November 1, which is the date that the U.S. had planned to invade the country.

This was not because Japan was afraid of atomic bombs or the impeding Soviet entry but because they had no reason to continue fighting in a war, which they were certain to lose. This conclusion definitely supports the view that the bombings were not in any way necessary to end the war and their use was therefore unjustified.

Historians project that given the huge impact that the Soviet entry into the war and the air-naval blockade imposed by the Allied forces, there is high possibility that Japan would have surrendered before any invasion since its resources to support the war had dwindled. Historians question why Truman was not willing to avoid the costly invasion of Japan by allowing the Soviet entry instead of dropping the bombs.

The question of Truman and his administration not knowing about Japan’s intention to surrender does not arise since historians have discovered records showing that Truman was in possession of intercepted and decoded Japanese intelligence communication, which showed their willingness to surrender.

As Hasegawa (110) rightly put it, if Truman and his ilk really wanted to desist from using the atomic bomb as it was claimed after the war, then why was the intelligence reports in the intercepted cables ignored? According to the historian, stressing the decisive role of the atomic bombs in ending the war was meant to weaken the importance of soviet entry into the war thus making inconsequential the Soviet role in ending the war. This was meant to display the super weapon that was only possessed by the United States.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) is still one of the most debated topics in modern history. According to most historians, the bombings were unjustified because there were other available options to end the war but they were ignored.

Contrary to the claim that Americans used the bomb as a last resort, most historians disagree and claim that the early August date was chosen to counter the Soviets’ impeding attack on August 15 1945. This ensured that America got the credit for ending the war.

Works Cited

Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan . Harvard University Press, 2005. 89-112. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, April 4). Reasons why Bombing Japan was not justified.

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IvyPanda . "Reasons why Bombing Japan was not justified." April 4, 2019.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Reasons why Bombing Japan was not justified." April 4, 2019.

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Reasons why Bombing Japan was not justified'. 4 April.

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