Why was the bombing of Hiroshima necessary?Why was the bombing of Hiroshima necessary?

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carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Judgments made concerning the dropping of the atomic bomb must be based on research, rather than sentimentalizing the loss of Japanese lives.  If one did not live in July and August of 1945, then before making a decison on the validity  behind the atomic bombing, look at the reasons for the determination.

In the first place, America did not want to enter World
War II.  However, after the surprise attack onf Pearl Harbor,  killing over 2,000 Americans and destroying almost the entire Pacific fleet, it was forced to respond.  There was no justification for that bombing!

After the war began, in the European and the Pacific theaters, approximately, 450,000 American lives were lost.  Furthermore, 240,000 were wounded.  There was no justification for the killing of these American soldiers who had been forced into battle.

In 1945, the Japanese, through diplomatic channels, told the American government that it was unwilling to concede to the allied forces.  When the decision was made to drop the bomb, the American President and government warned Japan on several occasions and by several mean. The Japanese were told:   the United States had a new bomb beyond all present capabilities and would use it to end the war if Japan did not surrender. No response. The Japanese would never surrender.  They were willing to fight until the last woman and child were dead.

During 1945, America and the allied forces, had been bombing Tokyo and other cities constantly.  The dead and wounded tolls from these bombings far exceeded the loss of life in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet, the conventional bombing failed to persuade Japan.

Japan's latest effort to destroy American forces was the kamikaze strikes.  Japanese pilots, willing to commit suicide to kill Americans, would bear down on US ships crashing into them at full speed. Tthe kamikaze suicide attacks on Allied ships just at Okinawa alone had produced  horrifying numbers:

34 Allied warships sunk

368 Allied ships damaged

4,900 Allied sailors killed;

and 4,874 Allied sailors wounded.

Japan would never surrender!

What choices did the US have in ending this brutal war?

Yes, civilians were killed.  If the bomb were to be dropped,  it had to make an impact.  Hiroshima was an industrialized city. In addition, it had a huge army base in the vicinity.  Remember also that the aircraft of the times were not pinpoint accurate as they are today, so the shape of the city and the weather also played a part in the decisions. The Japanese had to be shown that America was ready to end the war. Japan had to be shown that it had no chance of winning the war.  It along with the allies faced more devastation loss in lives.  Even though the cost was terrible, the atomic bombs used against Japan were justified.  The war had to end to prevent further American and allied loss of life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kamikaze

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I completely understand the sentiment of what you are saying rrteacher, but the President of the United States isn't in charge of protecting humanity.  Rather, he is entrusted with protecting the lives of American citizens.  I'm not saying it was good or even right, but as our leader it was the best decision to end a war America never wanted to be involved in.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think the decision must be understood in light of the unimaginable loss of life on all sides during the war. Attacks on civilians had been part of the war since its beginning. Yet I still would argue that it was a crime against humanity. The fact that it could have been necessary as well tells us much about the terrible nature of the conflict.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Everyone who tries to vilify the act of bombing the Japanese should be reminded that the United States did not enter the war as an act of aggression, and was forced to defend itself against Japan after Pearl Harbor.  I'm not saying that just because a nation is defending itself it can throw morality out the window, but it is easy to judge history from the comfortable chairs from which we type.  The USA chose the most effective way to end the war and the loss of American life.

My grandfather served in the Atlantic Theater, and undoubtedly would have been in harm's way if the bomb hadn't been dropped.  I, for one, am thankful that the American government took a course of action to protect American lives.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Japanese historians have concluded that it was necessary to end the war quickly to prevent the Soviets from occupying more territory in both Europe and Asia; the quickest way to end the war was by use of the Atomic Bomb and thereby to induce a quick Japanese surrender. There had already been discussion of surrender by the Japanese cabinet, a fact of which the Allies were well aware. The Japanese only asked that they be allowed to retain the Emperor's status, which turned out to be the case in the end. However, there was substantial discomforture in Allied circles that Franklin Roosevelt had practically given away the farm to Stalin during the Yalta Conference. Roosevelt was ill at the time, and perhaps made agreements that he otherwise would not have made. With Roosevelt dead and the Soviets becoming a greater menace by the day, it was necessary to bomb Hiroshima to end the war quickly and stop the Soviet advance. Even so, I agree with the above posts which state that it was a crime against humanity. The number who died there is beyond belief.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I would have to agree with Post #3.  I think the end of the war could have come about with less drastic measures and with a significant number of civilian casualties reduced.  The United States wanted to try out their new bomb and they felt justified in using it against Japan to frighten them into ending the war. 

When I see and hear the aftermath of what happened to the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when those bombs were dropped, it makes me sick.  Yes, maybe our military was targeting certain military and industrial sites, but they had to have known innocent civilians would be affected.  Maybe, deep down inside, they knew that killing innocent civilians would be more effective in ending the war than just targeting an oil depot would. 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Actually, most military historians do not consider the bombing to have been "necessary"; the same military objectives could have been acheived with conventional weapons. Some in fact consider it "a crime against humanity". The point was a display of power that would have a devasting psychological effect not only on Japan but on other countries as well. This event marked the beginning of nuclear proliferation, a wasteful, dangerous, and expensive phenomenon which diverted many countries' resources which could have been used inuseful infrastructure projects into building bombs. Note that the post-war rise of Germany and Japan as economic powers is in part due to their not diverting resources into militarization but into economic rebuilding.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The use of the atomic bombs against Japan was necessary because the Japanese were not willing to surrender and were, instead, willing to fight to the death to prevent the invasion of their country.  Therefore, without the atomic bombs, the war would have dragged on much longer and would have killed and wounded huge numbers of Americans and Japanese.

On various Pacific islands, the Japanese had proven that they would not surrender.  On places like Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, they fought almost to the last man, inflicting terrible casualties on the Americans along the way.  At Okinawa, they started using kamikaze suicide attacks by airplane as well.  This showed that they would defend any invasion of Japan in the same way.

This made the bombing necessary.  If the Americans had had to invade, the war would have lasted longer.  American support for the war might have waned.  The Soviet Union would have taken more territory in East Asia.  Above all, many more lives would have been lost.  Some estimates projected 1,000,000 American casualties in an invasion of Japan.  This number would have been dwarfed by the number of Japanese deaths, particularly if Japan had carried out plans to get essentially all civilians to participate in the defense.

In these ways, the bombing was necessary in order to save lives, both American and Japanese, and to get the war over with as quickly as possible.

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