Was the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified? – Part 3
- To Justify Its Cost
- As A Warning to the Soviet Union
- Anti-Japanese Racism
At Potsdam, Truman told Stalin that the United States had developed a new weapon of immense destructive capabilities. This was not news to Stalin. Due to successful spying efforts, he had known that the United States was attempting to build a bomb since 1943.
News of Japanese atrocities during the war exacerbated the situation, leading to even more virulent racism. While not as widely publicized as Nazi Germany war crimes, Imperial Japanese was equally guilty of crimes, including mass killing, rape, forced labor, medical experimentation, chemical and biological warfare, and cannibalism.
The United States government even sponsored a propaganda film My Japan, which depicts the Japanese population as hard working and industrious in contrast to a hedonistic America. It was a form of reverse propaganda. That film can be viewed today at the Internet Archive, within the Content Advisory of “Explicit Racism and Extreme Violence.”
An opinion poll conducted in 1944 showed that an astonishing 14% of the American public was in the favor of the complete extermination of the Japanese race.
Even President Truman was not immune to making racist remarks. Writing with incredulous language, he made this comment in his dairy the very same day that the Trinity test took place.
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 or the new.
On the second day after the Nagasaki bomb, Truman stated:
“The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him like a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.”
Conclusion: this three part blog post has taken many hours to research and write. During this effort, I have realized how complex and involved this subject is and feel I have barely did a credible job including everything that was essential. I have not intended to portray Imperial Japan as a victim. While I believe that the deliberate targeting of civilian populations is without excuse and justification, the defeat and dismantlement of such a morally reprehensible regime was essential to world peace.
If you have stayed with me and read it all, and found information you have not seen before I ask that you examine it with an open mind. History is not always what it seems to be and I believe there is little advantage in clinging to myths and misperceptions.
Of course the years since World War II have been much kinder to the Japanese. The occupation was benevolent for the most part. Two laws were immediately enacted. No occupation force was to assualt any Japanese national. No occupation force was to eat any of the scarce food supply. General Douglas MacArthur ruled Japan as the defacto national leader and left Japan as a well loved figure. Japan regained her sovereignty in 1952 with the signing of the San Francisco Treaty. The occupation ended and Japan forged an economic powerhouse second only to the United States economy.
As we should all know, despite thousands of nuclear weapons being built in the years since 1945, no atomic weapon has ever been exploded in anger since Nagasaki was attacked. My prayer is that those two horrible bombings taught the world a lesson that cannot be ignored.