The Controversial Decision

The Controversial Decision

Japan's Situation
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II. The Japanese Situation

Gar Alperovitz asserts in the being of his text that the Japanese Army was in fact defeated and the use of the Atomic Bomb was unnecessary to defeat the Japan.[Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 18.] Morton also touches on this issue very briefly and states that a major question at the time had whether the Japanese had been beaten. [Louis Morton. The Decision to Use the Atom Bomb. (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army. 1990.), 493.] Alperovitz begins talking about the common and generally well-known theory of the state of Japan and it’s Military by the end of the war. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 17.] In his text, Alperovitz includes a quote by Robert J.C. Butow describing Japan’s state:

“…the scales of war had been tipped so steeply against the Japanese that no counterweights at their disposal could possibly have balanced them…the defense perimeter that Japan had created been cracked and penetrated; worst of all, Japan’s military potential was dropping rapidly with her industrial capacity…” [Ibid.]

As a result of the United States superior industrial capacity, the lack of a European German victory and the breakdown of Japan’s industrial base, Japan was faltering in 1945. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995),18] To add the already dire Japanese situation the United States Navy and Army Air Corps had as Alperovitz says, “Mercilessly pummeled” Japan by November of 1944. [Ibid.]

With this, the Japanese government and military was defeated, meanwhile the United States Military was gearing up for what they believed to be the most difficult campaign of the war. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 19] However, in reality according to Alperovitz Japan was beaten and therefore willing to surrender before the bomb would be dropped. [Ibid.]

Meanwhile though, Japan (probably) sensing the impending invasion by the United States and Great Britain sought out help from the Soviet Union. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 20] Despite prior assurances by Stalin to Roosevelt about assistance with the Japanese invasion, Japan attempted to curtail the United States effort for unconditional surrender by requesting assistance from the Soviet Union, who was not officially at war with Japan yet. [Ibid.]

Alperovitz concludes that the United States had knowledge of Japan’s decline, however whether or not they knew that they could end the war without an invasion or atomic bomb. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 33.] With these factors in mind, why did then the United States decide to bomb Japan? Alperovitz claims it was dealing with Truman’s fixation on the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Empire. [Ibid., 34.]

However the idea of an unconditional surrender threatened this idea of the Japanese Emperor being revered as a living deity, which was well known to the United States government. [Gar Alperovitz. The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1995), 35-36.] This brings Alperovitz to his conclusion on Truman’s decision the United States had no guarantee what the loss of life would be in taking the island, and with no guarantee of the Soviet Union’s assistance, and the reassurances that the Emperor would remain in charge, Truman used the bomb to force the Soviet Union’s involvement and Japan’s capitulation. [Ibid., 85.]

With this being said Alperovitz claims that the United States didn’t need to use the atomic bomb or an invasion. However, is Alperovitz asserting then, that Truman did use the atomic bomb in order to bait Stalin into declaring war? However finally, with Alperovitz’s claims then Truman’s goals where aimed towards a Soviet response.

However, many scholars such as D.M. Giangreco state that many members of the cabinet had developed causality estimates. One of the most telling is that Herbert Hoover, former President of the United States (1929-1933) submitted a report similar to that of Truman’s advisors: 500,000-1,000,000. [D.M. Giangreco. “A Score of Bloody Okinawas and Iwo Jimas: President Truman and Casualty Estimates for the Invasion of Japan,” University of California Press Vol. 72, No. 1 (2003): 110.]

However, his monthly mortality rate per month was 100,000 men, this is significantly higher than previous estimates. [D.M. Giangreco. “A Score of Bloody Okinawas and Iwo Jimas: President Truman and Casualty Estimates for the Invasion of Japan,” University of California Press Vol. 72, No. 1 (2003): 107.] Many advisors (including Hoover) had also concluded that the Japanese Army had three and half million troops at their disposal. [Ibid.] The reports also showed that Japan was trying to produce close five million troops, all of which were well armed and prepared to fight the Allied invasion. [Ibid.]

Cover Image Credit: Goodimages

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