Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?
“Look, the fact that the President goes way out of his way, for seven and a half years, to avoid the phrase that is obviously the most descriptive of the enemy, radical Islam, means he’s doing it for a purpose.”
“He pretends and says well, it’s a magical phrase. … I think the President said, calling it a threat by a different name doesn’t make it go away. Of course it doesn’t! Nobody implies it does.”
“But deliberately calling it something meaningless: ‘violent extremism’ is a completely empty phrase. No one has ever strapped on a suicide vest in the name of extremism; nobody dies in the name of extremism.”
“Obama is deliberately trying to deny, or to hide, or to disguise, the connection between all of these disparate acts and groups, and if you want to mobilize a country behind you, you need to tell them who the enemy is and why it’s doing what it is.” Read the rest of this entry »
First of all, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were legitimate military targets; important industrial and port cities- the heart of Japan’s war machine. And even after Hiroshima, they still were unwilling to surrender.
There’s also the fact that the conventional firebombing of Tokyo by 330 B-29 Superfortresses killed the same number of people as the Hiroshima bomb with plain old firebombs. Is this somehow morally superior to Hiroshima? 100,000 people dying in one bombing s perfectly acceptable as long as uranium and plutonium aren’t bombed, eh, @salon??? How about millions, @salon???
If you can’t tell me which of the below cities is Hiroshima and which one is Tokyo, you really should stop talking.
Look at this. Look at it. We did this without any fucking atom bombs and they still didn’t surrender.
But that’s not important.
Do you have any fucking clue what the alternative was, @salon???
It’s blood chilling.
Put simply, that above is the alternative, but no mere map can drive home the horror that would have been the aptly named Operation Downfall. D-Day would have been PEANUTS in comparison
It would have consisted of two phases: Operation Coronet and Operation Olympic. Olympic was scheduled for November 1st, 1945, with the goal of invading the southernmost Japanese home island of Kyushu. It would have been spearheaded by forty two aircraft carriers, twenty four battleships and over four hundred assorted cruisers, destroyers and destroyer escorts. By comparison, today’s US Navy only has 271 deployable combat ships.
Fourteen Army and Marine Corps divisions would have fought and bled and died on those beaches, with the Fifth, Seventh and Thirteenth Air Forces providing tactical close air support. The Twentieth Air Force would have continued the job of strategic bombing, pummeling Japanese infrastructure in the hopes of slowing down the inevitable Japanese main counterattack. Thirty-five landing beaches would have been concentrated around the cities of Miyazaki, Ariake and Kushikino, most of which were as heavily defended if not more so than Omaha Beach in Normandy. For the record, as can be clearly seen on the maps below, we weren’t even planning on taking the whole island, just the southern third of it because casualty rates would have been that FUCKING high.
Here’s a close-up map of Olympic:
Operation Coronet was scheduled for March 1, 1946- no, that date is not wrong; this would have extended World War II into the fifties- and was supposed to march on Tokyo, the heart and soul of the Japanese empire. Twenty five Army and Marine divisions would have landed that day on two opposing beaches with the plan being to take the city in the largest pincer movement since Operation Barbarossa. For comparison, the entirety of all American, Canadian and British forces landing on D-Day amounted to twelve divisions.
It wasn’t hard at all for the Japanese to figure out where we’d be landing and they had some plans of their own. Operation Ketsu-Go aim was not to win Japan the war; they knew that was impossible at this point in the game. No, their entire goal was to kill as many Allied troops as possible before going down.
They had five thousand aircraft, just for use as kamikazes. During the Battle of Okinawa just months prior, they had launched fifteen hundred kamikazes, causing more than 10,000 casualties; with more favorable terrain on Kyushu their kill rates would only have risen. They also planned to target troop carriers as they ferried men to the beaches; this alone could have destroyed one third of the invasion force before it even arrived.
They also had a little over a thousand suicide submarines and suicide boats- literally motorboats filled with explosives- to ram Allied shipping. They also planned on using “human mines”- just men in diving gear who would swim out and detonate bombs as the American transports passed overhead.
On the beaches, the Japanese moved one million soldiers to Kyushu. They also forced civilians into the fight, training women, schoolchildren and old men to kill Americans with goddamn muskets, longbows and bamboo spears! Anything they had they were told to kill Americans with. They were strapping explosives to schoolchildren as suicide bombers- eerily similar to what US soldiers are facing right now in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
But that’s barely scratching the surface. What’s truly chilling is the predicted casualty rates. The very best estimate for Allied forces was in the hundreds of thousands, more likely in the millions; up to that point the US had lost “only” 240,000 men in combat; we would have doubled and then tripled that in the first week of the invasion alone. The Japanese, on the other hand, were facing upwards of nine million to ALL OF THEM. Civilians would be dying left and right from starvation, the bombings, the blockade; even the atrocities their own military would have committed against them. This is the same military that forced parents on Okinawa to kill their children and then themselves, this is the same military that in Nanking raped and killed upwards of three hundred thousand people; this is the same military that did shit that puts your worst nightmares to shame.
Of course, the truest irony of it all is that even if we had gone with Operation Downfall, wasting another fifteen million innocent lives in a war that had already cost us eighty million, is that some plans for Downfall called for the usage of atomic bombs anyway! Numbers vary from seven to twenty; seven is most likely. So even if we had invaded, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been destroyed anyway!
We were also planning on nuking the beaches to soften up Japanese defenses too. But think about that. Nobody knew about radiation at the time. We would have been marching our troops through the still glowing impact zone. We were this close to killing EVERYONE in BOTH armies. Compared to the 250,000 dead at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this seems like a blessing!
However, for me, the most thought-provoking reminder of how many people almost died is the fact that in the leadup to the invasion that ultimately never was, the USA manufactured over 500,000 Purple Hearts. These have been used in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else brave men have been injured or died defending our freedom…. and we still to this day have one hundred thousand of them left.
NEW YORK — cassyfiano writes: With a countdown of “five, four, three, two, one, smooch,” couples from across the world puckered up in Times Square on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the famous kiss celebrating the end of World War II.
“Ellie and I are deeply honored and privileged to represent the greatest generation here today.”
— Ray Williams, 91, of Blairsville, Georgia
A 25-foot sculpture depicting Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a sailor kissing a white-uniformed nurse towered over the commemoration of V-J Day, when Japan’s surrender to Allied forces was announced.
“It’s very beautiful to commemorate such an incredible event. Especially for us. We come from a country which was occupied by the Germans … and we’re still faced with all the horrifying stories of the war.”
— Roel van Dalen, visitors from Amsterdam
Ray and Ellie Williams, Navy veterans who married the day after V-J Day, kicked off the anniversary of the kiss Aug. 14, 1945. Read the rest of this entry »
On the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender in World War II, separating the legend from the history
Myth 1: Emperor Hirohito was a Golden God
After the overthrow of the Japanese Shogunate in 1868, the four southern tribes, the Satsuma, Choshu, Saba and Tosa, sought to embed the legitimacy of their new regime by the re-promotion of an eighth century myth that the Japanese Emperor was a God. The myths were set out in two official chronicles, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters: AD 712) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan: AD 720).
The powers of the Emperor did not survive as power shifted to the Shogun system and until 1868 the Imperial Japanese family continued to
exist largely in obscurity and often in relative poverty. As often happens with revolutionary regimes, a new national identity was required to justify and embed the country’s new military rulers.
An infant Emperor Meiji was adopted as the new order’s figurehead and self-justification. Japan’s new regime re-emphasized the role of the Emperor as a living God, making it the heart of an ideological indoctrination taught in the new state school education system. The Japanese Army took this further by the simultaneous incorporation of Bushido (the military scholar code) into its military programs. Thus the overthrow of the Shogun was portrayed less as a revolution and was characterized instead as the Meiji Restoration, a title that gave moral justification to a successful armed insurrection.
Myth 2: Hirohito was simply a constitutional monarch forced into war by his generals
In March 1946, some nine months after the Pacific War had been brought to an end, Emperor Hirohito made a testament about his role in the war. In a bizarre scene, Hirohito had a single bed set up on which he lay in pure white pajamas on the finest soft cotton pillows. In eight hours of statements, the Showa Tenno no Dokuhaku Roku (Emperor’s Soliloquy: his post-war testament) Hirohito absolved himself for all responsibility for the war by claiming that he was a constitutional monarch entirely in the hands of the military: ‘I was a virtual prisoner and was powerless.’
This was a lie. Although by convention Hirohito behaved as a constitutional monarch, the Meiji Constitution granted him absolute power – he was after all enshrined as a God. On three separate occasions during his rule he had demonstrated his absolute powers; in 1929 he forced the resignation of his prime minister; in 1936 he overruled his military advisors to insist on the harshest treatment of the young officers
involved in the coup d’etat known as the 26 February Incident in 1945; and finally in August 1945 he overruled his advisors by insisting on a Japanese surrender.
Hirohito had the power to stop Japan’s military adventurism in the 1930s but chose not to. As his former aide-de-camp Vice-Admiral Noboru Hirata conjectured, “What [his majesty] did at the end of the war, we might have had him do at the start.” Read the rest of this entry »
Harry Truman’s Atomic Bomb Decision: After 70 Years its Time to Replace Those Old Myths with Some New OnesPosted: August 6, 2015
J. Samuel Walker writes: President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945 is arguably the most contentious issue in all of American history. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have generated an acrimonious debate that has raged with exceptional intensity for five decades. The spectrum of differing views ranges from unequivocal assertions that the atomic attacks were militarily and morally justified to claims that they were unconscionable war crimes. The highly polarized nature of the controversy has obscured the reasons Truman authorized the dropping of the bomb and the historical context in which he acted.
The dispute over the atomic bomb has focused on competing myths that have received wide currency but are seriously flawed. The central question is, “was the bomb necessary to end the war as quickly as possible on terms that were acceptable to the United States and its allies?”
The “traditional” view answers the question with a resounding “Yes.” It maintains that Truman either had to use the bomb or order an invasion of Japan that would have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives, and that he made the only reasonable choice. This interpretation prevailed with little dissent among scholars and the public for the first two decades after the end of World War II. It still wins the support of a majority of Americans. A Pew Research Center poll published in April 2015 showed that 56% of those surveyed, including 70% aged 65 and over, agreed that “using the atomic bomb on Japanese cities in 1945 was justified,” while 34% thought it was unjustified.
The “revisionist” interpretation that rose to prominence after the mid-1960s answers the question about whether the bomb was necessary with an emphatic “No.” Revisionists contend that Japan was seeking to surrender on the sole condition that the emperor, Hirohito, be allowed to remain on his throne. They claim that Truman elected to use the bomb despite his awareness that Japan was in desperate straits and wanted to end the war. Many revisionists argue that the principal motivation was not to defeat Japan but to intimidate the Soviet Union with America’s atomic might in the emerging cold war.
It is now clear that the conflicting interpretations are unsound in their pure forms. Both are based on fallacies that have been exposed by the research of scholars who have moved away from the doctrinaire arguments at the poles of the debate. Read the rest of this entry »
Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t merely horrific, war-ending events. They were lifesaving.
Bret Stephens writes: The headline of this column is lifted from a 1981 essay by the late Paul Fussell, the cultural critic and war memoirist. In 1945 Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who had fought his way through Europe only to learn that he would soon be shipped to the Pacific to take part in Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese home islands scheduled to begin in November 1945.
Then the atom bomb intervened. Japan would not surrender after Hiroshima, but it did after Nagasaki.
I brought Fussell’s essay with me on my flight to Hiroshima and was stopped by this: “When we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live.”
“Would the Japanese have been awed into capitulation by an offshore A-bomb test? Did the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria, starting the day of the Nagasaki bombing, have the more decisive effect in pushing Japan to give up? Would casualties from an invasion really have exceeded the overall toll—by some estimates approaching 250,000—of the two bombs? We’ll never know.”
In all the cant that will pour forth this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the bombs—that the U.S. owes the victims of the bombings an apology; that nuclear weapons ought to be abolished; that Hiroshima is a monument to man’s inhumanity to man; that Japan could have been defeated in a slightly nicer way—I doubt much will be made of Fussell’s fundamental point: Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t just terrible war-ending events. They were also lifesaving. The bomb turned the empire of the sun into a nation of peace activists.
“We only know that the U.S. lost 14,000 men merely to take Okinawa in 82 days of fighting. We only know that, because Japan surrendered, the order to execute thousands of POWs in the event of an invasion of the home islands was never implemented. We only know that, in the last weeks of a war Japan had supposedly already lost, the Allies were sustaining casualties at a rate of 7,000 a week.”
I spent the better part of Monday afternoon with one such activist, Keiko Ogura,who runs a group called Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. Mrs. Ogura had just turned eight when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, the epicenter less than 2 miles from her family home. She remembers wind “like a tornado”; thousands of pieces of shattered glass blasted by wind into the walls and beams of her house, looking oddly “shining and beautiful”; an oily black rain.
And then came the refugees from the city center, appallingly burned and mutilated, “like a line of ghosts,” begging for water and then dying the moment they drank it. Everyone in Mrs. Ogura’s immediate family survived the bombing, but it would be years before any of them could talk about it. Read the rest of this entry »
Miracles Protected by the Virgin Mary — Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki runs at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture until April 15
KYODO – Shinichi Koike reports: More than 500 items confiscated from Japanese Christians during their brutal persecution in the 19th century from the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Era are back in Nagasaki for the first time in about 150 years.
“The exhibition is taking place because the central government has recommended that churches and other Christian locations in Nagasaki be listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.”
Some 550 items are on display in the special exhibition “Miracles Protected by the Virgin Mary — Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki,” which runs at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture until April 15. They include 212 important cultural properties loaned by the Tokyo National Museum, which rarely loans so many important objects at one time.
“It shows the history of Christianity in Japan from the introduction of the faith by Francis Xavier in 1549, to the birth of the “hidden Christians” caused by brutal crackdowns and the confession of their beliefs to a foreign priest by a small group of Japanese in 1865.”
“We made a special decision to loan them because this is a well-planned exhibition,” said Toyonobu Tani, chief curator of the Tokyo museum, which received an application for the Nagasaki Prefectural Government last June.
The exhibition is taking place because the central government has recommended that churches and other Christian locations in Nagasaki be listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. It shows the history of Christianity in Japan from the introduction of the faith by Francis Xavier in 1549, to the birth of the “hidden Christians” caused by brutal crackdowns and the confession of their beliefs to a foreign priest by a small group of Japanese in 1865.
“The last crackdown aroused fierce protests from European countries, prompting the Meiji government to lift its ban on Christianity in 1873.”
Satoshi Ohori, head of the Nagasaki museum, said the availability of the national treasures makes the exhibition “epoch-making” because it shows the proud history of Christianity in Japan and the highly spiritual nature of the Japanese.
Crosses, rosaries and other items on display were confiscated from Christians in the village of Urakami and never returned. A Tokyo museum official described them as “negative heritage,” and there are calls in Nagasaki for their return.
The exhibition, which includes a portrait of Xavier and Pope Gregory XII, who met four young Japanese boys sent by Christian Lord Otomo Sorin in 1585 as part of the first Japanese embassy to Europe, is thus seen as a step toward conciliation between descendants of persecuted Christians and the central government.
Members of a cultural committee formed by descendants belonging to St. Mary’s Cathedral, better known as Urakami Cathedral, in the city of Nagasaki, were invited to a private viewing of the show on Feb. 19.
“We saw proof of our ancestors’ belief,” said Katsutoshi Noguchi, one of the members. “I hope (the exhibition) will enable lots of people to share recognition that this sad history should not be repeated.”
The confession of faith by a small group of hidden Christians was seen as a miracle overseas, but the Tokugawa shogunate carried out a series of brutal crackdowns on them in Urakami.
The last and biggest of four crackdowns, triggered by the arrest of the whole village by the Nagasaki magistrate in 1867, expelled some 3,400 villagers to various parts of Japan. The crackdown also resulted in the deaths of more than 600 through torture, execution and other methods used to force people to renounce their faith. Read the rest of this entry »