Hiroshima: No More Apologies
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Politics and Activism

Hiroshima: No More Apologies

Why the Atomic Bombings were the right thing to do.

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Hiroshima: No More Apologies
The Japan Times

May 22, 2016, marked a truly groundbreaking day for much of the world. On this day President Obama, while in route to Japan for the forty-second annual G7 Summit, was about to make history as the first-ever US president to set foot in the city of Hiroshima. The name “Hiroshima” has left a footprint in human history that most people today in the twenty-first century have become familiar with. This year, August 6 will mark seventy-one years since the atomic bomb “Little Boy”, the first ever to be used in warfare, was dropped on Hiroshima towards the end of the Second World War. The bombing was responsible for the deaths of 140,000 Japanese civilians, as well as thousands of others who were later killed by radiation that was produced by the initial blast. Yet, as history tells us, Hiroshima played a critical role alongside a second atomic bombing on the city of Nagasaki, three days later, in finally provoking Emperor Hirohito to force his country to “endure the unendurable”; on September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered to the victorious Allied Powers.

Now, in 2016, Obama has shocked the world when he announced to the government and people of Japan that the United States will not be handing out any expression of apology for what many – especially Americans – strongly believe was an “unnecessary evil”. As a well-read student of military history, this news immediately made my day. Finally, after seven decades, a President of the United States has stepped up to publicly confront the masses who have constantly bashed the actions imposed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After seventy-one years, it is high time that those who have long detested the atomic bombings as weapons of murder start to realize that, in actuality, the events which unfolded on these two pivotal cities were the beginning of a long-lasting peace between the United States and Japan.

Many others, I know, will still probably disagree with the ethicality of President Harry Truman’s decision to bomb Hiroshima simply because it resulted in the killings of innocent civilians who were not directly involved in the war – or to put it more simply, they were not soldiers actively serving on the frontlines. While that may be true, it does not mean there weren’t any positive side-effects to unleashing the deadliest nuclear weapon the world had yet seen.

Here are just a few reasons why Hiroshima did more good than harm:

1. The war had been going on for far too long – and at a terrible cost.

By August 6, 1945, the Second World War was almost one month away from the sixth anniversary of its outbreak in 1939, when the forces of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. In those six years, sixty million lives (military and civilian) were lost between the opposing Allied and Axis Powers. Before Hiroshima, a staggering number of major cities like London, Warsaw, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Berlin, Dresden, and Tokyo had been very badly damaged by the sheer brutality of the conflict. Given the unprecedented scale of death and destruction, six years of war already seemed like too much for the world to handle. Fortunately, the atomic bombings prevented any continuation of bloodshed from exceeding the year 1945.

2. The Japanese were prepared to fight to the death.

The conduct of Japan’s armed forces through the course of the Second World War can be traced back to their samurai ancestors, whose ancient traditions once dominated the island nation for a thousand years. Though the samurai had fallen out of politics once Japan was on the road to becoming a modernized state, their culture remained a significant part of the Japanese character well into the 1940s. This was especially obvious within the military, where every Japanese soldier, sailor, and pilot fought by the centuries-old samurai code, bushido – meaning “way of the warrior”. Throughout Japan’s war against the Allies in the Pacific Theater, bushido instilled into every Japanese combatant a ‘do-or-die’ mentality that taught them to fight and kill his enemy until he himself was either killed or victorious. Surrender and living as a prisoner-of-war were unacceptable in bushido; if the Japanese soldier could not fight, he committed seppuku (ritual suicide) to avoid capture. Before the atomic bombings, an Allied invasion of Japan seemed inevitable once the war entered the summer of 1945. Just as inevitable was that the Japanese government would be compelled to use everything – and everyone – at its disposal to protect the mainland. Japan’s lines of defense against the Allied forces stretched from the coast to the deep interior of the country. Holding these defenses was a mix of foot soldiers, fanatical kamikaze pilots, and able-bodied civilians, each of them more than willing to risk life and limb in the name of the Emperor. Allied leaders calculated that a direct attack on Japan, despite the favorable odds of it being successful, would cost the lives of a million of their own troops. The Japanese, on the other hand, were estimated to lose at least ten times that many people if they resorted to fighting to the bitter end for every inch of their homeland – an educated guess that would have more than likely turned into a blatant reality. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined, produced little more than 200,000 human casualties in the space of two days, but nevertheless guaranteed a decisive end to the war. In hindsight, this was a small price to pay compared to the overwhelming number of dead on both sides that would have otherwise been sent to fight and die in a long and unnecessary battle of attrition.

3. The atomic bombings saved Japan from falling to communism.

Aside from the horrendous loss of human life, the most determined critics of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings have argued that, with or without the anticipated invasion of Japan, victory for the Allies was still a foregone conclusion. This argument hinges off the fact that the Soviet Union had become a major player in the Pacific Theater once Germany was finally defeated in May 1945. Soviet military assistance in the struggle against Japan first became evident when the Red Army invaded Manchuria on August 9, only hours before Nagasaki was decimated by the second atomic bomb. While the Soviets did prove to be an instrumental factor in bringing the Japanese to their knees, their political motives after the war were nothing if not questionable. To the democratic Allied leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the Soviet role in the war against the Axis was viewed as an excuse for their leader, Joseph Stalin, to grab more territory for his communist regime. The Red Army had already conquered half of Europe, including the eastern part of Germany, as a result of its hard-fought battle to overthrow Hitler. Once the Soviets had taken Manchuria, it only seemed like a matter of time before they leapt at the opportunity to seize all of Japan. Fortunately, the atomic bombings put an end to this fear once and for all. It was because of the sacrifices made in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Japan has not fallen victim to a communist dictatorship like those which still plague the likes of China, North Korea, and Cuba. Instead, when the storms of war had lifted, Japan’s government, economy, and way of life as a whole were reconstructed through the model of Western democracy. Seventy-one years later, Japan is still prospering as a reformed parliamentary state.

In short, no apologies should be given for Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Period. Most Americans, of course, will advocate this stance typically because of reasons like Pearl Harbor, the Rape of Nanking, or any of the other countless atrocities committed by the Japanese during the war. However, while none of these actions should be ignored, forgotten, or erased from the history books, the United States has much bigger reasons to not feel sorry for enforcing one of the most vital decisions of the twentieth century. Thanks to the atomic bombings, the United States had liberated Japan from the fascist politicians who brainwashed the entire country to carry out mass genocide in the name of the Emperor as a scapegoat for their own barbaric racial ideologies. More importantly, though, the United States would not have saved entire generations of Japanese men, women, and children from being sent to their deaths in a long, desperate last stand on their own backyards without bringing the names of Hiroshima or Nagasaki into the front pages of history.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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