Could the bombing of Hiroshima be considered a war crime?

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
That the apology wasn't even to the Americans and it still took 50 years says how necessarily have he atomic bombing was. The Japanese Emperor cancelled a visit to Pearl Harbor becaus he might have been expected to issue an apology to the Americans shows how unrepentant the Japanese really were, and how any claim the Japanes were seriously considering surrendering.

The apology issued to the Japaness people was because the it pissed off the Americans so much, and Japan suffered as a result. The Japanese were only sorry about it because of the negative consequences for Japan, otherwise it would have issued the policy to the US and the American people. 50 years later, and they still couldn't apologized to their victims, only to themselves.

If they had broken off diplomatic earlier, would Pearl Harbor attack have been as asuccessful? If Pear Harbor had been on a war time alert, would it have succeed? If the US fleet had been in a war time readiness alert, and the Japanese fleet detected long before it was in striking range , what would have happened? The success of the Pearl Harbor attack was like the result of those peace negotiations.
 

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,719
San Antonio, Tx
Well, my father fought them in WWII, and was also stationed at Hickam Field, during the attack on Pearl. He saw a lot of fighting, as a gunner in a bomber, and finally got shot up in 1944, and sent home. He did not start a fight with them, they picked the fight with him. If you are going to walk up and punch someone in the face, for no particular reason for such extreme violence, then be prepared to get it taken to you.

I would almost bet that if the Japanese were to be able to build the A-bomb, I bet they would have used it.
Of course, you’re right. They had the theoretical knowledge and at least three separate research efforts but did not have sufficient U-235 to test much of anything. They probably also didn’t have an appreciation of just how complicated the construction of an A-bomb in real time would be. I understand from an earlier reading that Germany did send some U-235 their way but how much, I don’t know.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,863
Lisbon, Portugal
I don't see a moral difference between the fire bombing of Tokyo with conventional bombs and the atomic bombing, they both killed about the same number of people, except the atomic bombing brought an end to the war, the Emperor specifically cited the atomic bombing as a major factor for surrender and did not mention the.Soviet entry into the war at all in his surrender speech.
This is more complex than it appears to be. Yes, the real reason for the Emperor to surrender was the use of Atomic bombs and that is what was specifically cited in his surrender speech, but we are talking of what happened in the Japanese home islands and among the Japanese High Command.
The Japanese military in China and Southeast Asia reacted differently - they announced they would not comply with the surrender order. Those soldiers were not at all affected by the firebombing and Atomic bombings upon Japanese cities and they were probably not even aware of the power and destructiveness of those new bombs, so it didn't mean anything to them.
The Japanese High Command had to come up with an official surrender letter to the Japanese forces overseas, but in this one, they emphasized the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in order to convince the military that the war could not go on favorably to Japan.
If the Japanese military in overseas insisted on keeping up with the fight, while disobeying the Emperor and the High Command, the Allied forces could face a very particular situation in which they had to neutralize those marauding Japanese military units that would be still operating in the continent.

As for the alleged Japanese peace efforts, if they were truly interested in surrender they would have a had a counter peace terms proposal available and they did not, showing they were not truly serious about surrender. It was just a delaying tactics, just as their "peace negotions" before Pearl Harbor were delaying tactic just to lull American suspicions. While.thd Japanese were engaged so called peace negotions their fleet was actually steaming ahead for a sneak attack. Given that history, Americans just would not have trusted any Japanese attempts at "negotiation" and they would have been right not to do so. Any Japanese attempt.at "negotiation" would have just been a dealing tactic by the Japanese and the Americans wouldn't been fooled a second time. Given Japanes repeated attempts.to rewrite their history books, nothing th y now say can be trusted to be either accurate or truthful.

It must be pointed out the Japanese were perfectly able to surrender without alnegotiations after the second atomic bomb was dropped. Nothing stopped the Japanese from surrendering before, they had clearly lost the war, but they refused to.
By late Spring of 1945, the Japanese wanted to end the war, they already reached a consensus that the war was unwinnable and they were in a every dire, if not catastrophic, situation. They wanted it to finish by ending Japan in the most favorable way they could accomplish. What was unacceptable for them was the surrender terms demanded by the Potsdam Declaration - they didn't want an unconditional surrender, which the US and the Allied forces insisted as the only way to end the war.

Japan wanted to surrender in the best terms possible and they believed the only way they could do it, is by having an ultimate show of force in the mainland - they wanted to wait until American forces land on the mainland and they could unleash such heavy casualties that would demoralize the US and make them accept a more negotiable end to the war with Japan instead of complete unconditional surrender. That's all what Japan wanted by the eve of the Atomic attack on Hiroshima. They were no longer thinking about winning, they were thinking about surviving (by that I mean keeping the Japanese political order and the militarist rule intact).
 
Jan 2019
13
Croatia
Hiroshima and Nagasaki=justifiable MILITARY targets.They was millitary presence in both of the towns.
And honestly nukeing(nuking?)was more efficent then invasion of the Japanese mainland.Becouse japanese never surendered they would charge with their bayonets completly outnumbered 10 to 1,and that didnt happen just once or twice during the war it happened allmost everytime they were losing.Those were called Banzai charges,most famous one was on island of Saipan.
I would recomd this video on this topic:
Sorry for my broken english,not native speaker :)
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
This is more complex than it appears to be. Yes, the real reason for the Emperor to surrender was the use of Atomic bombs and that is what was specifically cited in his surrender speech, but we are talking of what happened in the Japanese home islands and among the Japanese High Command.

The Japanese military in China and Southeast Asia reacted differently - they announced they would not comply with the surrender order. Those soldiers were not at all affected by the firebombing and Atomic bombings upon Japanese cities and they were probably not even aware of the power and destructiveness of those new bombs, so it didn't mean anything to them.
What some troops the field thought is irrelevant if the Homeland surrenders. They could not long continue without the support of the Homeland. And do you have anything like.contrmproary facts that was the case? What letter, memo from the time stated that Japanese in those locations refused to surrender? Anything bassd on what some Japanese said years later after the war worthless testimony.

The.decission and reasons of the Japanese in the home islands have fa greater importance in the course of the war.


The Japanese High Command had to come up with an official surrender letter to the Japanese forces overseas, but in this one, they emphasized the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in order to convince the military that the war could not go on favorably to Japan.
They emphasized the Soviet Union actions because their soldiers were still fighting the Soviet Union, and failure to do so would have made their soldiers' actions pointless.

Note, the letter would have never been drafted in the first place if the Emperor hadn't decided to surrender, and his decision was based on the atomic bombings. If the Emperor hadn't decided to surrender, the would not have been written and issued, so the fact it was worded to emphasize the role of fighting the Soviet Union to Molly the feelings of the troops fighting the Soviets does not alter the surrender was based solely on the.atomic bombing. The command who wrote the letter did so because the Emperor ordered them to. They would not have surrendered without the Emperor's direction. The troops would not continue to fight when directly ordered not to by the Emperor.

If the Japanese military in overseas insisted on keeping up with the fight, while disobeying the Emperor and the High Command, the Allied forces could face a very particular situation in which they had to neutralize those marauding Japanese military units that would be still operating in the continent.
The command would not continue to fight when ordered to surrender by the Emperor and recieving no support from the homeland.

By late Spring of 1945, the Japanese wanted to end the war, they already reached a consensus that the war was unwinnable and they were in a every dire, if not catastrophic, situation.
Where are the sources from the time period to support your claims? Again, nothing said years after the war can be trusted.

Note even if you can't win, that does not mean you are willing of planning to surrender. You could be planning to fight to a draw, and get a truce. What you say later supportz.this view.

They wanted it to finish by ending Japan in the most favorable way they could accomplish. What was unacceptable for them was the surrender terms demanded by the Potsdam Declaration - they didn't want an unconditional surrender, which the US and the Allied forces insisted as the only way to end the war.
They could have come up with a counter proposal if they were serious about surrendering, but the Japanese did not.

To achieve the best possible terms meant ensuring the war dragged on until the Americans tired of fighting. If the US invaded, they planned to bleed.rhr US as much as possible until.the US agreed to terms favorable to Japan. The Japanese were not interesred I surrendering, they want.a truce and end to fighting, which is different to a surrender. Potsdam terms.had nothing to do with the Japanes not surrendering earlier. The Japanese never compiled alternate surrender terms. The Japanese wanted a truce, not a surrender. If serious, the Japanese could have come up with an alternate set of terms.

Again, you have not provided any sources.


Japan wanted to surrender in the best terms possible and they believed the only way they could do it, is by having an ultimate show of force in the mainland - they wanted to wait until American forces land on the mainland and they could unleash such heavy casualties that would demoralize the US and make them accept a more negotiable end to the war with Japan instead of complete unconditional surrender. That's all what Japan wanted by the eve of the Atomic attack on Hiroshima. They were no longer thinking about winning, they were thinking about surviving (by that I mean keeping the Japanese political order and the militarist rule intact).
What you say shows the Japanese wanted a truce, not a surrender. They figured that if they inflicted enough casualties the Americans would agree to it. Note, what you say is that the Japanese were not planning to surrender until the Americans invaded, showing how necessary the dropping of the atomic bombs . The Japanese could not get their favorable terms without inflicting great casualties on both the US and themselves (the Japanese would not be able to inflict defeats the casualties rheir plan required without suffering casualties as great or greater themselves). To me, that does not indicate they wanted to surrender they.wanted to stop fighting, a truce not a surrender. What you say justified the atomic bombing, since they Japanese were only planning to "surrender" after great loss on both sides.

Note, the Soviets.don't play any role in tbat scenario. Their involvent had no impact on the Japanese plans.
 
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robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,863
Lisbon, Portugal
Some aspects of your post seem to be correct - the Japanese were not wishing for surrender per se, what they were wishing for was a negotiable peace - in fact there is no record whatsoever that any of the top decision-makers in Japan proposed a set of concrete circumstances in which Japan capitulate prior to Hiroshima. The evidence available shows that in June, a memorandum from Kido ( Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan and closest advisor of the Emperor) to the emperor proposed that the emperor intervene not to surrender, but to initiate mediation by a third party. The mediation would look to settle the war on a general framework that echoed the Treaty of Versailles: Japan might have to give up her overseas conquests and experience disarmament for a time, but the ultrarnationalist and militarist old order in Japan would remain in charge - certainly there would be no occupation and no internal reform.

Your argument presents that the causes of the Japanese surrender pits the atomic bombs against Soviet entry, but there was even more at play than just these two events. The Emperor and its top advisors and decision-makers feared something more than the bombs and the Soviets. On August 13, Navy Minister Yonai labeled the bombs and Soviet intervention as "gifts from the gods" because, he said, "this way we don't have to say that we have quit the war because of domestic circumstances." That alludes to something interesting. Both the Imperial surrender prescripts issued by Hirohito (the one broadcast to the Japanese public on August 15 and the written one for the armed forces at 17) alludes to the "domestic" situation.
Those references are also mentioned in the issue Kido raised to the Emperor in June: the deteriorating situation brought on by blockade and bombing could trigger an internal revolt that would topple not only Hirohito from his throne, but also destroy the whole imperial institution. In other words, like the typical ultra right-wing quasi-fascist of the early 20th century - they were really paranoid of a possible communist/socialist revolution and takeover.

The other issue, and you seemed to underestimate, was the uncertain compliance of the armed forces with the surrender, and also the fear of an internal revolt by disgruntled subjects (which in fact happened, although unsuccessfully), or that the armed forces might ignore the Emperor's orders. Your view that ending the war required only one decision in Tokyo reflects a very myopic vision. Ending the war, or more precisely ending all combat, really required two steps: someone with legitimate authority had to make the political decision that Japan would surrender, and then Japan's armed forces had to comply with that decision.

The US Joint Chief of Staff in April 1945 came roughly with the same conclusions: their worst nightmare was not the "invasion of the Japanese home islands", but the prospect that there would be no organised capitulation of Japan's government and armed forces. For the JCS there was no guarantee they could find a Japanese government that would surrender, and if it did, that Japan's armed forces would comply with the surrender order (Joint Chiefs of Staff 924/15, 25 April 1945).

If vast military units in the Asian mainland refused to comply with the surrender order, that could very well completely destabilize the political situation in the mainland. It could encourage and give impetus to the military hard-liners that still existed in Tokyo. It could make the attempt anti-surrender coup successful and make the Emperor hostage for a period of time. In such a scenario, the war would be prolonged and it would be even more uncertain and difficult for the US to conclude the war.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,709
Hiroshima and Nagasaki=justifiable MILITARY targets.They was millitary presence in both of the towns.
And honestly nukeing(nuking?)was more efficent then invasion of the Japanese mainland.Becouse japanese never surendered they would charge with their bayonets completly outnumbered 10 to 1,and that didnt happen just once or twice during the war it happened allmost everytime they were losing.Those were called Banzai charges,most famous one was on island of Saipan.
I would recomd this video on this topic:
Sorry for my broken english,not native speaker :)
The question is how representative the dynamics of the Japanese defense of islands in the island hopping campaign should be regarded? That's where the really suicidal stuff appeared.

The Japanese surrender to killed rate dropped from aboout 1:700 i Burma in 1941, when they were winning, to 1:10 on Okinawa in 1945 when they were losing. (There's also a problem in the island hopping campaign of in particular the USMC relatively unwilling to take prisoners, while the US Army did to a higher degree.)

That's of course not counting Manchuria in 1945, where somewhat competing claims put the Japanese casualties from the fighting at 40 000 to 80 000, but with a POW figure of surrendering Japaness troops of about 600 000. And that was against the Soviets, the pre-war hereditary mortal enemy the Japanese had spent decades thinking would be their main adversary in the next big war, and whom they really dreaded.

The problem is that the Japanese armed forces in WWII weren't really that consistent about most things. It's like the POW situation. Absolutely horrific in many instances, and well testified and proven. Otoh, one of the larger destinations of POWs taken by Japan in WWII was Korea, and accounts of atrocities from there aren't really appearing. In Korea the Japanese mostly followed the Geneva Convention. (Everything was also helped by the fact that Korea still was a more agricultural society, producing a food surplus. As the Allied blockade of Japan strangled food imports, the Japanese there ended up rather hungrier than in Korea. There was by comparison more to eat in Korea, also for POWs.) The POW death rate in Korea (2,7%) was literally 1/10th of the average death rate in Japanese POW facilities (which does of course prove how shocking brutality against POWs was the usual outcome with the Japanese, with the Korean situation as an exception). It's also lower than fx the death rate of British POWs in German hands in WWII (3,5%).

Really not intending to somehow try to indicate that the Japanese atrocities didn't occur, didn't matter, etc. Only that in the matter of consistency, about almost anything, the Japanese in WWII very pretty damn poor at it. Which means extrapolation from any single event, and even sets of events, to try to categorically declare that the Japanese were absolutely this or that way, are problematic. Context matters, because outcomes clearly varied. Sometimes a lot.
 
Likes: robto

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
You can't judge the quality of the Japanese by their performance in Manchuria when the Soviet Union invaded. By the time the Soviet Union invaded , Manchuria was staffed with second rate troops and equipment, the better quality troops and equipment having g been drained off to fight in more critical areas. The Japanese Navy refused to waste resources defending it.

And after the atomic bomb was dropped, I am sure there were rumors flying around of immenant surrender, which would have sapped the fighting spirit of the troops.

Burma was another area of marginal importance to Japan, and you have wonder about the quality of the troops there. Places like Okinawa were more important, and likely better quality troops would have been placed there.
 
May 2017
588
France
It is with the debarkment of Normandy the best service that the USA have never made for the humanity.Since 1931, the Japaneses,the "elite people of the Asia"-like the nazis in Europe-attacked and slaughtered everybody: (Chineses,Mandchous,Coreans,Hollands,Commonwealth,French,Singapour,South East Asia,Americans etc.…).The conditions of occupation,detention and life were absolutely terrifics.And after their defeat,they wouls speak about Law ???
It is not serious.In France when we knew that they received bombs everyday,it was every evening the disco party with the music of Duke Ellington....
Naturally,all the humanists disapprove wars and the death of peoples,but the problem is that the Japaneses had comportments of beasts,and that they merited the worse punishment possible.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,709
You can't judge the quality of the Japanese by their performance in Manchuria when the Soviet Union invaded. By the time the Soviet Union invaded , Manchuria was staffed with second rate troops and equipment, the better quality troops and equipment having g been drained off to fight in more critical areas. The Japanese Navy refused to waste resources defending it.

And after the atomic bomb was dropped, I am sure there were rumors flying around of immenant surrender, which would have sapped the fighting spirit of the troops.

Burma was another area of marginal importance to Japan, and you have wonder about the quality of the troops there. Places like Okinawa were more important, and likely better quality troops would have been placed there.
The point was that there was rather less consistency in how the Japanese armed forces performed in WWII than often assumed.

Then there is a process of deciding which bits to count, and which bits to dismiss as not significant. Then there might also be a discussion about how that was done.
 

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