The bomb was the only way to end the suffering of the millions who were being held captive by the Japanese oppressor. The weapon of mass destruction also sent a powerful message to the shaky Soviet allies. The choice to use the atomic bomb was justified because it compelled a Japanese surrender, saved countless lives, served as retribution for the sufferings of many people, and acted as an anti-Soviet deterrent. An intense weapon was necessary to coerce a quick Japanese surrender. The Japanese showed no signs of forming any kind of peace agreement in the near future. On a random bomb raid in 1945, 100,000 people were killed in Tokyo in one night, and it appeared to have no impact on their will to fight.
Japan would only engage in the vaguest of talks. They were scheduled to have a meeting with the Soviets (before the bombs were dropped) for a negotiated settlement, not the unconditional surrender that the United States and Britain wanted. Japan was unwilling to surrender and ready to wage a suicidal resistance if they could not get the terms they wanted. The Japanese cabinet was aware that if they were invaded, kamikaze pilots would dive bomb enemy ships, soldiers would fight by suicidal banzai charges, and civilians would strap on explosives and throw themselves under enemy tanks. The Japanese were ready to “fight to the very end,” and only a devastating device would force them to surrender.
The use of the atomic bomb saved an enormous amount of American and Japanese lives. A retired Major, Richard Gordon, was a POW in Japan and said, “The dropping of the bomb saved the lives of all of us being held in Japan. There wasn’t one prisoner who wasn’t told they were dead if the Americans invaded Japan. We were looking forward to an invasion, but we knew we might not be around to see it.
” Another survivor of the Bataan Death March, Grayford C. Payne, was quoted as saying, “I had not been a prisoner for fifteen minutes before they bayoneted a fifteen-year-old Filipino kid right next to me. ” A Japanese directive describes how the prisoners were to be killed: “mass bombing, or poisonous smoke, poisons, decapitation…. In any case, it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces. ” An invasion was the most favored alternative of the allies to force a Japanese surrender, if the bomb was not used. The other alternatives were naval blockades, modification of unconditional surrender terms, conventional bombing, and waiting a little longer to see if the Soviets would enter into the war.
The number of Americans and Japanese who would have died if such invasions had occurred would have been astronomically higher than the number who died at Hiroshima. Pentagon planners projected 132,000 American casualties for an invasion of Kyushu, and 90,000 or so for Honshu. Using Okinawa as a model, there would be one American casualty for every four Japanese casualties, and Japan’s slogan, “Fight to the very end,” didn’t improve those numbers. The atomic bomb saved an enormous amount of American and Japanese who would have perished under any other circumstances. The atomic bomb was payback to the millions of people who were suffering at the hands of the Japanese.
Between the atom bomb and Japanese militarists, the bomb was the lesser of the two evils, and the bomb served a powerful purpose. Although nations are often led to believe that the Japanese did nothing to provoke an attack so horrific, the horror was not unrivaled. In 1937, an event known as the Rape of Nanjing occurred. Japanese troops took this Nationalist Army headquarters city and then spent seven weeks killing over 300,000 men, women, and children by hand.
In 1932, Japan was also the first country in any of the theaters of war to create .