News Hiroshima bomb: Japan marks 75 years since nuclear attack

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Bells have tolled in Hiroshima, Japan, to mark the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the world's first atomic bomb.

But memorial events were scaled back this year because of the pandemic.

On 6 August 1945, a US bomber dropped the uranium bomb above the city, killing around 140,000 people.

Three days later a second nuclear weapon was dropped on Nagasaki. Two weeks later Japan surrendered, ending World War Two.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-53660059


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
 

Urwumpe

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Might be a slightly nuclear topic here.

From a global perspective, 75 years later, it is sad that it happened and we would have decided otherwise, knowing what damage it caused and how little effect it actually had on the Japanese decisions at that time.

From all the perspective of the actors, 75 years earlier, it was inevitable to happen, once the decision for using the bomb at all fell.

The second bomb even dropped because the organisational processes and chain of command made it impossible to stop, even if all the Japanese government would have decided to capitulate as soon as possible after Hiroshima. Even more sad the second bomb was already in freefall, when the Japanese Army again insisted on a maximal peace during a meeting, with Japan keeping what it had conquered and no disarmement at all - essentially preserving the status quo at 1941.
 

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Little chance of negotiation with the military dictatorship by then. I doubt if they would have listened to their own scientists regarding the bomb.

An invasion of Japan would have been horrendous, using the bomb was probably inevitable once it was available.

Didn't know about the mutual authorisation.
Consultation with Britain and Canada

General Thomas Handy's order to General Carl Spaatz ordering the dropping of the atomic bombs
In 1943, The United States and the United Kingdom signed the Quebec Agreement, which stipulated that nuclear weapons would not be used against another country without mutual consent. Stimson therefore had to obtain British permission. A meeting of the Combined Policy Committee, which included one Canadian representative, was held at the Pentagon on July 4, 1945.[95] Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson announced that the British government concurred with the use of nuclear weapons against Japan, which would be officially recorded as a decision of the Combined Policy Committee.[95][96][97] As the release of information to third parties was also controlled by the Quebec Agreement, discussion then turned to what scientific details would be revealed in the press announcement of the bombing. The meeting also considered what Truman could reveal to Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, at the upcoming Potsdam Conference, as this also required British concurrence.[95]

Orders for the attack were issued to General Carl Spaatz on July 25 under the signature of General Thomas T. Handy, the acting Chief of Staff, since Marshall was at the Potsdam Conference with Truman.[98] It read:
The 509th Composite Group, 20th Air Force will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. To carry military and civilian scientific personnel from the War Department to observe and record the effects of the explosion of the bomb, additional aircraft will accompany the airplane carrying the bomb. The observing planes will stay several miles distant from the point of impact of the bomb.
Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further instructions will be issued concerning targets other than those listed above.[99]
That day, Truman noted in his diary that:
This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo]. He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one.[100]
 

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I'd argue that the fact that the bomb got used at the *end* of a war, regardless of the moral justifiability of its use, is probably very fortunate. Otherwise, it could have ended up being used in the next war, once many more bombs had been stockpiled, without the world having learned caution by having seen it used in anger.

As to the justifiability of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, I really don't think Truman could have been faulted for making either decision. Nukes are horrible things, but the US is *still* giving out Purple Hearts from the batch manufactured for the invasion of Japan 75 years later, and Japanese casualties would likely have been as bad or worse.

Of course, the next question is, if you don't drop the bomb on Hiroshima, do you drop it on the invasion beaches during Operation Downfall? On the one hand, you're not dropping it on a large civilian population. On the other, there was at least some anticipation that it might be necessary to send American troops onto the beaches right on the heels of the nukes.

---------- Post added at 07:35 ---------- Previous post was at 07:24 ----------

I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo]. He and I are in accord.

Interestingly, Stimson had honeymooned in Kyoto. So he had a very good reason not to nuke it:

"Honey? Remember that nice resort we stayed at on our honeymoon? I've just received reconnaissance photos of the smoking crater. Honey? Are you mad?"

*Mrs. Stimson detonates in wrath and levels half of Washington.
 

Urwumpe

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Still - this pretty much assumes that a US invasion was the only alternative. Of course, there had not been many good options around.

Also, from todays perspective, both bombs did not make Japan give up as expected. While especially the second bomb caused the Emperor to decide for a full capitulation to avoid a third bombing, the military leadership did literally everything possible to prevent this.

I am sure, many people in the western world did not understand, how much political power the military had in Japan and how little the civilian administration was able to control the events.
 

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Still - this pretty much assumes that a US invasion was the only alternative. Of course, there had not been many good options around.

Also, from todays perspective, both bombs did not make Japan give up as expected. While especially the second bomb caused the Emperor to decide for a full capitulation to avoid a third bombing, the military leadership did literally everything possible to prevent this.

I am sure, many people in the western world did not understand, how much political power the military had in Japan and how little the civilian administration was able to control the events.

There wasn't really much of a civilian administration. Other than the imperial throne itself, the most important nominally civilian offices were held by members of the military. The emperor was a civillian, and was in an odd position: He was isolated in the imperial palace, where the information he received could be controlled, and, if anybody was feeling to rebellious, they could in theory apply duress to control him. On the other hand, the military was indoctrinated to die for him and see him as the ultimate authority, so if he decided to flex his muscles, there was a decent chance that he'd manage it. The big thing that the atomic bombings did was convince him that he needed to risk flexing his muscles to end the war. Sure, he might have been prevented from doing so, but if he had not even tried, it is certain that the war would have continued, whereas we know from the fact that he did try and succeed that his chances of success were non-zero. And at least some of the people involved in the plot were involved because they thought that the emperor had made the decision to end the war under duress, and would recant if rescued. One of the units involved ran into the emperor's brother and stood down when he convinced them that the decision to surrender was really the emperor's own decision.

The really big question is how close the emperor was to deciding to end the war without the bombs. Would the prospective casualty-count of a full-blown invasion have caused him to end the war once he was staring it in the face?
 

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From the Peace Memorial Monument in Hiroshima:

Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.

I believe "the evil" is not just about Hiroshima—it includes all the destruction inflicted upon civilians in Chongqing, Dresden and everywhere else in the world.
 

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How about the evil inflicted on China ?
 

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Having read a fair bit on the subject, (mostly by way of exhausting youtube's supply of documentaries about that era) I've actually concluded that not only that horrible event was inevitable at the time due to how Japanese leaders were being rather "difficult" - It was perhaps some strange kindness (though a particularly unpleasant one) to have done anything to force the war to an end at that particular time.

The alternative scenario would have been unimaginably more horrifying, yes, more so than a pair of nukes (which weren't really even as destructive as other bombing missions done with less novel ordinance (such as the far deadlier fire bombings))

What Japan had in store should the war have extended into late 1945, was not only a US invasion in a mind-boggling scale (which was predicted to cost about a million allied casualties) - But on the other side of the islands, there was the even more trouser-soiling presence of a Russian army still larger than that, and with a previously unfinished bone to pick with the Japanese.

Had the war not stopped exactly right there and then as it did, it's pretty much safe to say that afterwards, there would not be a country left to call Japan.

This scenario would totally suck for several reasons, as the Japanese have proven quite excellent friends and makers of outstanding videogames and great food in the decades since.

Imagine a world without Mario, or Sushi... That might have been our lot, should the war have been allowed to continue the way it was headed.



It might also be argued that perhaps as the not-so-reasonable species we are, Humans were bound to have nuked themselves at some point in their history.

Having done it in that particular point in time, might have been the lesser of whatever unknowable evils could have been, if instead some other less self-critical culture happened to be the one pushing the button in anger for the first time...


Also, it's worth noting how ever since war got so absurdly nasty that even the winners weren't too happy about what they did to get there, if one would add all the casualties of every war that took place ever since that day, it wouldn't match even a fraction of the dread statistics of 1944 alone.

So despite what history-ignorant people tend to say about "the world getting more dangerous every day", the numbers prove quite the opposite. This less-than-peaceful planet of ours has actually never been as safe.

This video puts it all in quite eye-opening perspective: https://vimeo.com/128373915


Makes one think, people who say those things never considered what it'd be like to have Genghis Khan for a neighbor :uhh:


note: my exact figures and numbers might be some ways off (as I write this off the top of my head) - so don't quote me on that. The general point still stands, though.
 
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Urwumpe

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How about the evil inflicted on China ?


Maybe mistook Chongqing (The HQ of the Chinese republic forces during WW2) for Nanking (A city and site of a massive Japanese massacre)


Also its still a relatively new historic fact in Japan, that this massacre of about 200,000 people happened. Some parts of Japanese culture still call this Chinese propaganda, despite for example German witnesses.


Generally - the Japanese culture at that time had no high regard for human lives of their own people and considered most other people less valueable than domestic animals. It was a madness that also exists today.
 

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Trying to remember the book John Keegan(UK military historian) wrote about why the Japanese army were so brutal in their campaigns toward civilians and prisoners of war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Keegan

It was more about the history of war and humanities? attitude.
 

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In Japan ?


Worldwide - you always find some people who think that they are part of a "priviledged race" just by the mere circumstances of their birth. Or have "God on their side".



Sadly there is no God around to kick them into their astern when ever they say such nonsense. Or worse: Do so. :(
 

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Bombing of Chongqing was one of the first case of strategic bombing.


Interesting, did not make it into history here. Here the strategic bombing history already starts in WW1, with Guernica (1937) being the more popular example of the 1930s.


Still, Guernica was already a much smaller attack in terms of bombs dropped than a single bombing of Chongqing. :(
 

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Well, there's a thing:

 
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