Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

email me

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Atomic Bomb Section 5 Conclusion

Table of Contents

Over the intervening years, the dropping of the atomic bomb has been argued, debated, sliced and diced. It was good, it was bad. It was moral, it was immoral. It was to end the war, it was to warn the Soviets, it was to justify the cost; just about every argument has been made. Yet, when we take a look at the facts, we look at them without prejudice, it is easy to see the proper decision was made.

Historians throughout the years have agreed. Even some Japanese at the time were grateful. Okura Kimmochi, the president of the Technological Research Mobilization Office said:

As far as I am concerned, I think it is better for our country to suffer a total defeat than to win a total victory in the present Greater East Asian War. During the past ten years the military domination of our country has been flagrant, and the reins of government have been totally controlled by the military. What would happen if Japan were to win the war in such a situation? Inevitably Japan would come under both internal and external attacks and the nation would go to pieces. On the other hand, in case of Japan’s total defeat, the armed forces will be abolished, but the Japanese people will rise to the occasion during the next several decades to reform themselves into truly a splendid people….I believe that the great humiliation [of the atomic bomb] is nothing but an admonition administered by Heaven to our country.

In 1986, Toyoda Toshiyuki wrote:

The explosion of a uranium bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of a plutonium bomb over Nagasaki three days later gave a tremendous shock to Japan’s wartime rulers. After studying the report of the Japanese scientists who surveyed the devastated cities, the leaders realized the extraordinary power of the atomic bomb: a single shot could instantly obliterate an entire city. They moved quickly to surrender in order to avoid a third use of this awesome and inhumane weapon on another Japanese city.

Others have written similar as well. The atomic bomb was the reason that Japan surrendered when they did. Without, the war would have drug on.

Some have felt that it was immoral to drop the bomb. There are certain types of weapons that are considered ‘inherently’ evil because of the horror that is produced by their use. Poison gases and biological weapons are part of these forbidden weapons. Nuclear weapons are part of this group. But, at the time, their destructive power was truly unknown. They were just a new weapon with no inherent evilness or goodness. It was only later, after their use, after the effects of radiation became known, the massive devastation they can cause became known that the bombs became the demons they are today. Albert Einstein said:

It should not be forgotten that the atomic bomb was made in this country as a preventive measure; it was to head off its use by the Germans, if they discovered it. The bombing of civilian centers was initiated by the Germans and adopted by the Japanese. To it the Allies responded in kind—as it turned out, with greater effectiveness—and they were morally justified in doing so.

There really is not much more to add. There are many more historians that could be quoted, statesmen, and other leaders. But that doesn’t make much difference. We all have to decide for ourselves. It was a unique situation in a horrific war; one that had never been faced before. Yes, a horrifically devastating weapon came to being, the power of which should made anyone shudder. Yet, at that time, its use was justified. More than one soldier who would have had to have invaded Japan has made the following or similar remark. A remark that might be hard to understand today, but to those hundreds of thousands who would have had to make the invasion, it is easily understandable. “Thank God for the atom bomb.” I would add, “Thank God for the brave men who made a difficult decision and in the end, saved millions of lives.”

Atomic Bomb Section 6 FAQ – Separating Myth from Reality