Was there any other option for retaliation on Japan other than the use of weapons of mass destruction?Alternative ways for gaining peace and/or victory?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I both agree with and disagree with the above post.  It is true that the firebombing of Tokyo was every bit as deadly and destructive as the atomic bombs, yet apparently was not terrible enough to make them surrender.  So one could assume that a blockade might not have worked either, and would, in fact, have been slow motion death for tens of thousands of Japanese as they starved to death.  No morally better than the bomb.

What if, instead of demonstrating the bomb on a deserted island, they bombed Mt. Fuji, the largest mountain in japan, visible to much of the country, and also a great and historical religious symbol to the people and the Emperor.  Perhaps that would have convinced them to surrender, or convinced the Emperor to allow them to.  Of course, we'll never know.

There is another consideration.  Using the bomb announced to the world that we had it, and it worked.  This began a very, very costly arms race with the Soviets (hundreds of billions that could not be spent on social needs) and even today we are dealing with the legacy of nuclear weapons spreading to other countries, and possibly into the hands of terrorists.  I'm not sure that was worth a quicker, easier victory over Japan by using the atomic bombs.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is similar to another question asked.  In the end, I think that there was an inevitability factor that was brought into the equation.  The belief in America at the time was that there was an emergence of two specific powers in the world between itself and the Soviet Union.  To be able to "swing the biggest stick," from the film "Fat Man and Little Boy," was quite a motivation in being able to display America's own superiority with nuclear weapons.  There was little to indicate other nations such as the Soviet Union were willing to sign off on not pursuing nuclear ends.  In this paradigm, it became almost inevitable that one nation would be able to successfully detonate the use of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction before others.  The conflict with the Japanese helped to highlight this pressing reality, ushering in the Atomic Age and the emergence of the Cold War.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sure there were other ways, but all of them would have had at least one of the following problems:

  • They would have not worked
  • They would have been just as bad as the atomic bombs.

The US could have demonstrated the bombs on some deserted island.  But there's nothing to say that the Japanese military leaders would have surrendered.

The US could have blockaded Japan by sea and bombarded it by air.  This might not have worked either AND it would have been just as hard on the Japanese people -- maybe more since it would have affected more of them than the A-bombs did.

The US could have invaded.  That would have been worst of all for both sides because huge numbers of people (including Japanese civilians) would surely have died.

krishna-agrawala | Student

I believe the question has reference to the dropping of Atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by the United States towards the end of World War II. This was an event which played a decisive role in forcing Japan to surrender and end the war immediately.

Definitely, there were other options available, and it is almost certain that Japan would have lost the war even without the use of Atom bomb. But then what would have been the costs of such alternatives for Japan as well as the Allies. The Japanese people had already displayed their strong determination to fight to death rather than compromise their honour by surrendering. Under this condition the major and sudden shock of the atom bomb, perhaps managed to shake the faith of Japanese people in their traditions such as hara-kiri, and made them adopt a more practical approach of surrender in face of imminent defeat. Without such a shock, perhaps the extended war would have caused much greater losses for Japanese people themselves.