August 6 marks the 68th anniversary of America’s first tactical deployment of nuclear weapons, which not only hastened the surrender of the Japanese Empire, but also resulted in saving the lives of millions on both sides, as reported by Forbes magazine on Aug. 6, 2013.
Despite the conventional wisdom that the United States needlessly and cold- bloodedly utilized not one but two horrific weapons against Japan, Henry I. Miller of Forbes examines the American decision to send Fat Man and Little Boy to war. Miller writes:
The historical context and military realities of 1945 are often forgotten in judging whether it was ‘necessary’ for the United States to use nuclear weapons.
As cited on the official CIA historical website:
Back on Saipan, the OWI [Office of War Information] presses were turning out leaflets that revealed the special nature of Hiroshima’s destruction and predicted similar fates for more Japanese cities in the absence of immediate acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam agreement.
By 9 August, more than 5 million leaflets about the atom bomb had been released over major Japanese cities.
The OWI radio station beamed a similar message to Japan every 15 minutes.
Yet if the United States elected not to use two separate munitions from its meager atomic inventory, the United States and its British and Commonwealth Allies (Australia, India, New Zealand, etc.) would have had no choice but to invade the Japanese homeland in what was code-named Operation Downfall.
Millions Upon Millions of Dead…
As noted by Portland State University (of Oregon), estimates ran into the millions for Allied casualties and tens of millions of Japanese, both military and civilian. The estimates were based on the conduct of both the Imperial Forces and Japanese civilians themselves during the course of the Pacific Theater of War.
During the invasions of the Japanese-held islands of Saipan and Okinawa, Japanese parents killed their children by the hundreds (some estimate thousands). Afterwards, it was more than common for the parents to commit suicide themselves. Click here for slideshow.
On both islands the actual population of ethnic Japanese was actually quite small when compared to the 100 million which populated the home islands.
American planners had no reason to believe that millions of Japanese parents wouldn’t kill their children, then themselves.
Much like the German Volkssturm units, which consisted of children and elderly men who fought the invading Russian Army to the death, the bushido tradition-rich Japanese Home Guard was already training Japanese children as young as 9 years old to charge American troops with sharpened bamboo spears.
Again, American military planners realized the warfare truism that Allied troops would have no choice but to kill Japanese Home Guard troops by the tens, if not hundreds of thousands. What is also well known is that the Japanese Imperial Forces would often fight to the death.
Unlike their German and Italian counterparts, who would surrender by the millions upon the fall of their respective nations, Allied troops would have no other option but to kill the millions of Japanese troops garrisoned on the home island.
Affecting both the Japanese military and civilian populace, the combination of an Allied naval blockade and ground warfare would result in a famine that conceivably could lead to the deaths of at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Were Valid Military Targets…
In spite of academia portraying Hiroshima and Nagasaki as quaint pastoral hamlets of no military value, the opposite is a militarily strategic reality.
- Hiroshima was home base for 43,000 Japanese troops waiting to kill American, British and Commonwealth troops.
- Nagasaki was the HQ for the 2d Imperial Army which was tasked with the defense on the Southern Front of Operation Getsu-Go when the Allies landed in the southern islands.
- Nagasaki was also the home to two major Mitsubishi arms factories.
- Both cities were transportation hubs with militarized rail, air and port facilities.
Also well known to Allied leaders and planners was the popular slogan in Japan during the closing months of the war: “One hundred million heartbeats. One death.”