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Old 05-28-2016, 02:46 PM   #1
Thundercrack85
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Default Hiroshima

Since Obama's historic visit to the site of the first atomic bombing which many are calling an apology tour, there seems to be a lot of discussion on this. I feel he handled it fairly well.

Personally, I still view the bombing as necessary and justified, if horrible. But a lot of people disagree. Some with better reasons than others. I'm curious to see what others think.

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Old 05-28-2016, 10:08 PM   #2
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If the story that Japan was going to surrender is true, then bombing them just to show Russia our bombs are better then your bombs was terrible and gives the US no moral high ground when it comes to nuclear weapons. Now if Japan refused to surrender then I guess you can argue it saved alot of lives in the long run.

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Old 05-28-2016, 10:41 PM   #3
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America is the only country to deploy the use of nuclear weapons. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined killed more than 130,000 people (78,000 instantly), including women and children. The statement that Japan was going to surrender, however is untrue.

They flat-out refused to accept the terms of surrender in the Potsdam declaration. The Empire of Japan had every intention of stretching the war out, knowing that they had an advantage in a ground campaign. They also know that refusing to accept the terms of surrender would result in what the allied forces referred to as "prompt and utter destruction".

Is it justified? That is hard to say. The allied forces made it clear that Japan would suffer greatly if they refused to surrender. It is hard to sit back as a nation after giving an enemy nation an ultimatum. The allied nations couldn't really just say "damn, Japan called our bluff."

Personally, I do not think the use of nuclear weapons should be an option. Most of the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civilian. But I also do not know what the correct action should have been at that time. An ongoing campaign in the Pacific theater would have been extremely costly; monetarily, AND in allied forces blood. The world learned something that day. It was learned at a devastating cost to the Empire of Japan. The fact that no nation has engaged in nuclear warfare since then definitely speaks loudly.

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Old 05-28-2016, 11:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hiroshima

Was Pearl Harbor neccessary? No. Neither was this Hiroshima or Nagasaki. None of those things had to happen. But they did. Plain and simple. Personally it was sad and we should always remember those who were list. But we should stop bringing these issues up in regards to the opposing country. As it only raises further hostilities and opens old wounds. Imo. But thats just me.

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Old 05-28-2016, 11:42 PM   #5
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It is tough -- or even impossible -- to play armchair historian when it comes to wartime decisions like these, since you can't recreate the true conditions of being at war with another country. That said, there are a few things about Japan's surrender during WW2 that aren't really well known.

The way the story is told nowadays usually amounts to the following shorthand: "Aug 6 1945 - Hiroshima bombed, Aug 9 1945 - Nagasaki bombed, Japan surrenders shortly after". I can't tell you how many times I've seen/read this narrative -- a narrative that is both true and false. It is true because these dates and events are well known and documented, but it is completely false because it leaves out other equally or more important events at that time. The better and more objective timeline is as follows:

Jul 26 1945 - Allies issue the Potsdam Declaration, demanding an unconditional surrender from Japan. Historical documents show that Japan afterwards engages in backchannel negotiations through the Soviets to add four main conditions to the surrender in their favour.

Aug 6 1945 - After no official response to the declaration is received from Japan, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Aug 9 1945 - Unexpectedly, the USSR declares war on Japan, invading and almost immediately capturing Manchuria. The US drops a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Aug 12 1945 - a new offer of surrender is given to Japan by the US/Allies, this time granting the most important condition that Japan had been demanding -- the retaining of the figurehead Japanese Emperor. Historical documents show that the US were -- rightfully so -- concerned about Stalin grabbing land as WW2 ended, and this changed the political will regarding accepting this Japanese demand.

Aug 15 1945 - after being given assurances that the Emperor would not be harmed, Japan officially accepts the new terms of surrender.

So in retrospect, the surrender of Japan following the atomic bombs is perhaps more a strange quirk of history than a strict causal relationship. Indeed, since more civilians died during the fire bombing of Tokyo and other cities (total deaths of about half a million, with over 100,000 in one night), it isn't like the smaller death toll from the atomic bombs was particularly meaningful to Japan at the time. Besides, history shows us clearly that killing a large number of a country's civilian population in war simply angers that country and causes them to completely dehumanize their enemy, to the point that surrender or even negotiation is impossible.

I think that if the bombs had never been dropped, and history had still unfolded the way it did with Russia invading when their pact of non-aggression was set to expire, then we might be living in a world today where atomic weapons had never been used in war. As I said at the start though, when playing armchair historian it is impossible to know for sure and to recreate the conditions of being at war, which is why I always try to present such information in as non-judgmental a way as possible when dealing with this particular emotionally-charged issue.

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Old 05-29-2016, 12:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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Originally Posted by RoryTate View Post
It is tough -- or even impossible -- to play armchair historian when it comes to wartime decisions like these, since you can't recreate the true conditions of being at war with another country. That said, there are a few things about Japan's surrender during WW2 that aren't really well known.

The way the story is told nowadays usually amounts to the following shorthand: "Aug 6 1945 - Hiroshima bombed, Aug 9 1945 - Nagasaki bombed, Japan surrenders shortly after". I can't tell you how many times I've seen/read this narrative -- a narrative that is both true and false. It is true because these dates and events are well known and documented, but it is completely false because it leaves out other equally or more important events at that time. The better and more objective timeline is as follows:

Jul 26 1945 - Allies issue the Potsdam Declaration, demanding an unconditional surrender from Japan. Historical documents show that Japan afterwards engages in backchannel negotiations through the Soviets to add four main conditions to the surrender in their favour.

Aug 6 1945 - After no official response to the declaration is received from Japan, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Aug 9 1945 - Unexpectedly, the USSR declares war on Japan, invading and almost immediately capturing Manchuria. The US drops a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Aug 12 1945 - a new offer of surrender is given to Japan by the US/Allies, this time granting the most important condition that Japan had been demanding -- the retaining of the figurehead Japanese Emperor. Historical documents show that the US were -- rightfully so -- concerned about Stalin grabbing land as WW2 ended, and this changed the political will regarding accepting this Japanese demand.

Aug 15 1945 - after being given assurances that the Emperor would not be harmed, Japan officially accepts the new terms of surrender.

So in retrospect, the surrender of Japan following the atomic bombs is perhaps more a strange quirk of history than a strict causal relationship. Indeed, since more civilians died during the fire bombing of Tokyo and other cities (total deaths of about half a million, with over 100,000 in one night), it isn't like the smaller death toll from the atomic bombs was particularly meaningful to Japan at the time. Besides, history shows us clearly that killing a large number of a country's civilian population in war simply angers that country and causes them to completely dehumanize their enemy, to the point that surrender or even negotiation is impossible.

I think that if the bombs had never been dropped, and history had still unfolded the way it did with Russia invading when their pact of non-aggression was set to expire, then we might be living in a world today where atomic weapons had never been used in war. As I said at the start though, when playing armchair historian it is impossible to know for sure and to recreate the conditions of being at war, which is why I always try to present such information in as non-judgmental a way as possible when dealing with this particular emotionally-charged issue.
Well, history tends to favor the victors.

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Old 05-29-2016, 12:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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Originally Posted by ernesth100 View Post
Was Pearl Harbor neccessary? No. Neither was this Hiroshima or Nagasaki. None of those things had to happen. But they did. Plain and simple. Personally it was sad and we should always remember those who were list. But we should stop bringing these issues up in regards to the opposing country. As it only raises further hostilities and opens old wounds. Imo. But thats just me.
Bataan Death March didn't have to happen either, but it did.

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Old 05-29-2016, 02:39 AM   #8
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I do think it is important to remember that the Japan we faced in those days is not the Japan of today. Same for those people. Imperial Japan murdered and enslaved millions in Asia. It was a fundamentally malevolent force. It violated all the rules of war, both in regards to civilians and military personnel. The Japanese people were radicalized, and millions were ready to fight to the death.

I find that most Japanese are aware of this, which is why they generally don't hold a grudge against America. At least, the non far-right.

I also think that the idea that America used the bombs just to show off to the USSR is silly. Truman pushed for the Soviets to enter the war, and there was a lot of disagreements in Washington over the future of Japan, and Soviet Union's involvement.

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Old 05-29-2016, 03:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Hiroshima

Japan didn't give us a choice. We had to kill thousands of Japanese to save a million American troops from the island-hopping campaign. I appreciate the President for making history by reaching out, but we're not going to apologize for the horrors of a war that we didn't start.

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Old 05-29-2016, 06:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Hiroshima

No telling how many millions on both sides would have died if a ground invasion of japan had occurred.

My grandfather fought in WW 2 ( Navy) I can't say he would have fought in a ground invasion, but i'm sure he would have been close to it.

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Old 05-29-2016, 09:36 AM   #11
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Well, history tends to favor the victors.
As does the legal process. Speaking of which, there is one significant difference regarding Japan following WW2. If you ask regular Japanese citizens whether their military leaders committed war crimes, and whether they deserved the punishments and prosecutions they received for their deplorable actions during WW2, the overwhelming majority would answer yes.

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Old 05-30-2016, 02:50 AM   #12
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I think it's time to apologise. Lots of good reasons, all previously discussed by there's one more.

It would be a good way to show Japan how to answer to its history which would encourage them to make an official apology to South Korea. It is in the world's interest, especially America, that South Korea and Japan, two allies of the US, learn to work together better to withstand possible aggression from a booming China and the constant threat posed by North Korea

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Old 05-31-2016, 04:29 AM   #13
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Default Re: Hiroshima

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/wo...ima-japan.html

Full text of Obama's speech.

Nowhere does he apologize.

Most of the speech is a call for Hiroshima to be a reminder of the cost of war and call to action to make better choices as a global society to make better choices to avoid such consequences.

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Old 05-31-2016, 12:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/wo...ima-japan.html

Full text of Obama's speech.

Nowhere does he apologize.

Most of the speech is a call for Hiroshima to be a reminder of the cost of war and call to action to make better choices as a global society to make better choices to avoid such consequences.
right, but to a lot of idiots out there, even acknowledging the cost and horrors of war is an "apology"

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Old 06-01-2016, 03:39 AM   #15
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Was anyone here assuming he was going to apologise? I thought the thread was about should he apologise?

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Old 06-02-2016, 08:58 PM   #16
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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America is the only country to deploy the use of nuclear weapons. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined killed more than 130,000 people (78,000 instantly), including women and children. The statement that Japan was going to surrender, however is untrue.

They flat-out refused to accept the terms of surrender in the Potsdam declaration. The Empire of Japan had every intention of stretching the war out, knowing that they had an advantage in a ground campaign. They also know that refusing to accept the terms of surrender would result in what the allied forces referred to as "prompt and utter destruction".
Actually the Japanese government knew that the war was lost. The did not have an advantage of a ground campaign and knew that the homeland would fall after the Battle of Okinawa. They had every intention of surrendering if the Allies presented acceptable terms. The Japanese government was no longer fighting to win or even protect most of the homeland, they were fighting to preserve the monarchy in some form.

You also have to keep in mind that the Allies worded the Potsdam Declaration very poorly. They did not state what the terms of "unconditional surrender" were and gave them a statement that they knew full well the Japanese government would reject. And the Allies worded it very poorly for various reasons. The Soviets wanted to get in the Pacific War so they could capture Japanese territory in Sakahlin Island, the Kuril Islands, Hokkaido, and take over Japanese spheres of influence such as Manchuria and Korea. Prolonging the war benefitted the Soviets. And the Americans had every intention of nuking Japan to demonstrate the power of their new weapon. Truman and Churchill did not trust Stalin one bit and wanted to use the atomic bomb to scare them along with hoping that the Japanese would surrender before the Soviets started their participation in the Pacific (which they didn't). Prolonging the war to that end was in the viewpoint of the Americans and British beneficial to them.

If the Potsdam Declaration was clearer on what unconditional surrender was and allowed the preservation of the Japanese monarchy, Japan would have most likely accepted the terms of surrender.

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Is it justified? That is hard to say. The allied forces made it clear that Japan would suffer greatly if they refused to surrender. It is hard to sit back as a nation after giving an enemy nation an ultimatum. The allied nations couldn't really just say "damn, Japan called our bluff."

Personally, I do not think the use of nuclear weapons should be an option. Most of the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civilian. But I also do not know what the correct action should have been at that time. An ongoing campaign in the Pacific theater would have been extremely costly; monetarily, AND in allied forces blood. The world learned something that day. It was learned at a devastating cost to the Empire of Japan. The fact that no nation has engaged in nuclear warfare since then definitely speaks loudly.
The problem is that the atomic bomb had nothing to do with Japan's surrender. Behind the scenes the Japanese thought that the Americans had more bombs and we're still willing to continue fighting. The reason why the Japanese surrendered was because the Soviets betrayed them and entered the Pacific War. They knew that with the Soviets now involved they had no choice but to surrender right away to the Americans because any deal the Americans would offer would be better than any deal with the Soviets involved.

So when that is taken into account, it really demonstrates that the atomic bombings were completely pointless and really aren't justified.

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Old 06-02-2016, 10:40 PM   #17
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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Actually the Japanese government knew that the war was lost. The did not have an advantage of a ground campaign and knew that the homeland would fall after the Battle of Okinawa. They had every intention of surrendering if the Allies presented acceptable terms. The Japanese government was no longer fighting to win or even protect most of the homeland, they were fighting to preserve the monarchy in some form.

You also have to keep in mind that the Allies worded the Potsdam Declaration very poorly. They did not state what the terms of "unconditional surrender" were and gave them a statement that they knew full well the Japanese government would reject. And the Allies worded it very poorly for various reasons. The Soviets wanted to get in the Pacific War so they could capture Japanese territory in Sakahlin Island, the Kuril Islands, Hokkaido, and take over Japanese spheres of influence such as Manchuria and Korea. Prolonging the war benefitted the Soviets. And the Americans had every intention of nuking Japan to demonstrate the power of their new weapon. Truman and Churchill did not trust Stalin one bit and wanted to use the atomic bomb to scare them along with hoping that the Japanese would surrender before the Soviets started their participation in the Pacific (which they didn't). Prolonging the war to that end was in the viewpoint of the Americans and British beneficial to them.

If the Potsdam Declaration was clearer on what unconditional surrender was and allowed the preservation of the Japanese monarchy, Japan would have most likely accepted the terms of surrender.


The problem is that the atomic bomb had nothing to do with Japan's surrender. Behind the scenes the Japanese thought that the Americans had more bombs and we're still willing to continue fighting. The reason why the Japanese surrendered was because the Soviets betrayed them and entered the Pacific War. They knew that with the Soviets now involved they had no choice but to surrender right away to the Americans because any deal the Americans would offer would be better than any deal with the Soviets involved.

So when that is taken into account, it really demonstrates that the atomic bombings were completely pointless and really aren't justified.
I'm curious to see if many high ranking Japanese officials had a plan to escape into exile. My guess is that Japan didn't have the connections that the Germans did that caused hundreds of Germans and other European Nazis to flee to South America. On the other hand, the lack of an escape plan caused many of them to be tried for War Crimes. All of them were dead or imprisoned within five years after the war, unlike a lot of their European counterparts. Think about it, by 1950 all of the members of Tojo's Wartime cabinet, including Tojo himself were dead or imprisoned for life while many Nazis were living comfortably in South America.

In terms of justice for the crimes committed in World War II, The Japanese were easier to try because of the lack of an escape plan. Look at how long it took for many former Nazis who went on the run to be tried. It took 15 years before Adolf Eichmann was captured. Josef Mengele was never captured and died in Brazil 30 years after he escaped. Erich Priebke managed to escape capture for 50 years. Hell, a few Nazis escaped to America.

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Old 06-02-2016, 10:48 PM   #18
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I have to disagree with that, Hippie Hunter. The Soviet entry into the war was a big factor (especially in accelerating the process) in Japanese surrender, but the atomic bombs (especially the second one) were a deciding factor, at least for Hirohito. If they dropped a bomb on Tokyo, it was game over for Japan (or at least the imperial family and the government). Japanese intelligence had gotten intel out of a tortured American pilot, who said they another bomb ready. The Americans were planning to nuke Tokyo only days after Hirohito's surrender.

The whole point of Nagasaki was to prove to Japan that America had multiple atomic weapons ready to deploy, since they thought some Japanese leaders might think the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a prototype (which some did).

Nagasaki changed the whole mindset of Japan's ability to fight for better peace terms. The plan had been to let the Allies invade, and fight until the body count was so high that they would compromise. After Nagasaki, the Japanese military brass realized that the Americans could just bomb Japan into oblivion.


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Old 06-02-2016, 11:25 PM   #19
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You also have to keep in mind that the Allies worded the Potsdam Declaration very poorly. They did not state what the terms of "unconditional surrender" were and gave them a statement that they knew full well the Japanese government would reject. And the Allies worded it very poorly for various reasons.
One of the reasons for this that you don't mention -- but that is very likely -- is that the demand for an unconditional surrender was done mostly/entirely for political posturing and re-election reasons in the US. Many believe that Truman did not want to be labeled as "soft during the war" by his political opponents, and he especially didn't want to be seen as giving into demands from a completely defeated enemy. This motivation also explains why the actual change in wording in the new surrender demand on Aug 12 still contains the demand for an "unconditional surrender", yet elsewhere contradicts this by agreeing to the Japanese condition of retaining the Emperor (albeit in a vague way that caused a lot of confusion). The only reason anyone can explain that kind of incongruity in an official government document is that Truman could then claim in an election that he had won an "unconditional surrender" because it said so on the signed paper, even though that wasn't the case in reality. Still, as long as the perception of the surrender being unconditional held out, he would have a better chance at re-election.

I know that it sounds callous that people's lives were ended by what was essentially an election campaign, but one must remember that during WW2 the "Japs" weren't even considered human by the US, nor were the Americans seen as human by the Japanese for that matter. That is one of the aspects of war that we simply cannot fathom from where we sit, as we view the fear and propaganda at the time from the outside.

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Old 06-02-2016, 11:27 PM   #20
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I have to disagree with that, Hippie Hunter. The Soviet entry into the war was a big factor (especially in accelerating the process) in Japanese surrender, but the atomic bombs (especially the second one) were a deciding factor, at least for Hirohito. If they dropped a bomb on Tokyo, it was game over for Japan (or at least the imperial family and the government). Japanese intelligence had gotten intel out of a tortured American pilot, who said they another bomb ready. The Americans were planning to nuke Tokyo only days after Hirohito's surrender.

The whole point of Nagasaki was to prove to Japan that America had multiple atomic weapons ready to deploy, since they thought some Japanese leaders might think the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a prototype (which some did).

Nagasaki changed the whole mindset of Japan's ability to fight for better peace terms. The plan had been to let the Allies invade, and fight until the body count was so high that they would compromise. After Nagasaki, the Japanese military brass realized that the Americans could just bomb Japan into oblivion.
Japan thought that the United States had way more bombs than just two and they assumed that Kyoto and Tokyo were the next targets. They were still willing to fight even with those cities destroyed. The Japanese were far more shocked by the Soviets attacking them than the atomic attacks, and they also took the Soviet entry in the war as betrayal because the Soviets tricked them that they were on peaceful terms. The Soviet entry in the war forced the Japanese to recognize that the Americans would provide a much better deal than what the Soviets would offer and hope that they would allow the monarchy preserved in some form.

Read Racing the Enemy, it's by a historian who reads and speaks English, Russian, and Japanese and read the various official reports and communications between the Americans, Japanese, British, and Soviets.

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Old 06-02-2016, 11:35 PM   #21
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It was also the perfect test on several fronts. Not only a weapon test but to test the resilience of one of the few cultures and countries that was able to defy us so efficiently despite facing every odd. I'm not just talking about the 1940's but our first interaction with them which didn't turn out so good.

In the end the US did Japan a favor even if unintentionally. The Japanese came back even stronger and more advanced. Then again the Japanese people for me are amongst the most impressive group of human beings to ever grace the planet.

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Old 06-02-2016, 11:37 PM   #22
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One of the reasons for this that you don't mention -- but that is very likely -- is that the demand for an unconditional surrender was done mostly/entirely for political posturing and re-election reasons in the US. Many believe that Truman did not want to be labeled as "soft during the war" by his political opponents, and he especially didn't want to be seen as giving into demands from a completely defeated enemy. This motivation also explains why the actual change in wording in the new surrender demand on Aug 12 still contains the demand for an "unconditional surrender", yet elsewhere contradicts this by agreeing to the Japanese condition of retaining the Emperor (albeit in a vague way that caused a lot of confusion). The only reason anyone can explain that kind of incongruity in an official government document is that Truman could then claim in an election that he had won an "unconditional surrender" because it said so on the signed paper, even though that wasn't the case in reality. Still, as long as the perception of the surrender being unconditional held out, he would have a better chance at re-election.

I know that it sounds callous that people's lives were ended by what was essentially an election campaign, but one must remember that during WW2 the "Japs" weren't even considered human by the US, nor were the Americans seen as human by the Japanese for that matter. That is one of the aspects of war that we simply cannot fathom from where we sit, as we view the fear and propaganda at the time from the outside.
To an extent, Americans were still very bitter over Pearl Harbor, including Truman and politically, showing the slightest bit of mercy looked like exactly as you say, soft. But everyone knew that the war was over. Japan knew that unless they knocked the US out of the war very quickly that they didn't have the resources to defeat the United States. And both sides knew that Japan was already militarily defeated, it wasn't a matter of if, but when.

Deteriorating relations with the Soviet Union played more of a role in Potsdam's poor wording than the perception of looking soft. Truman hated Stalin right from the get go and looked upon him the same way that Churchill did as opposed to his predecessor who was more trusting of him. They even worked to make sure that the Soviets weren't a part of the declaration.

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Old 06-02-2016, 11:52 PM   #23
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In the end the US did Japan a favor even if unintentionally. The Japanese came back even stronger and more advanced. Then again the Japanese people for me are amongst the most impressive group of human beings to ever grace the planet.
Do you really think murdering 200,000 civilians was a favour to Japan?

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Old 06-03-2016, 12:26 AM   #24
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Default Re: Hiroshima

We did what he had to back in WWII. Obama going and saying a few words doesn't undo our victory or the implications that came with our decision to deploy the bomb. The complaints seem like much ado about nothing.

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Old 06-03-2016, 12:58 AM   #25
Thundercrack85
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Default Re: Hiroshima

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Originally Posted by Mad Ones View Post
Do you really think murdering 200,000 civilians was a favour to Japan?
Strangely yes. Japanese officials themselves basically said that the bombs allowed them to surrender without losing face. Granted, a lot of them were then hanged for war crimes, but the atomic bombs basically made surrender the only logical option. All the sake in Japan, and banzai charges don't do a thing against daily atomic bombings, all but the most fanatical imperialists accepted that after Nagasaki.

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