Could the bombing of Hiroshima be considered a war crime?

Dec 2009
6,860
What Manchuria establishes is part of the inconsistency, which had more to do with what was going on with the Japanese themselves than with their adversaries.
Actually, the quality of the Japanese troops on the island campaigns were pretty consistent, with the Japanese fighting tenaciously on island after island. It is nonsense to think that the Japanese would not bring their A team to fight the Americans on their home islands, and that the Japanese wouldn't fight with the same tenacity that they fought on Okinawa. There is no logical reason to assume that the Japanese would behave like in Manchuria, and not like Okinawa, not on their own Homeland, which are islands.

Saying it is "unknown" how the Japanese would fight is a copout. By that same standard, nothing is certain in life "except death and taxes", but the Americans had very good and reasonable expectation of how the Japanese would fight. It would have been criminal negligence of the highest order to assume that Japanese would fight more like the way they did in Manchuria rather than like they did in Okinawa. Your assertion that the Japanese fighting performance was totally random, like a flip of a coin, is just complete and utter nonsense.

It was a safe and justified assumption to asdume that the Japanese would do their best when fighting on their own home ground, and any commander who acted on any other assumption would have been negligent and incompetent.

The scenarios about the bombs + invasion tend to rely on assumptions about consistency of Japanese behaviour that don't necessarily hold up all that well. It depends on how the Japanese would have reacted, and Japanese reactions varied. Which Manchuria, among other things, shows. (The argument is less that "It would have been like Manchuria", and rather that Manchuria shows that it is perfectly possible the Japanese would have responded in some unexpected way.)
Nonsense. Your claims that the Japanese performance was totally random is not warranted by the historical facts. The Japanese performance may not have always been stellar in peripheral fields, but they consistently fought hard throughout the war in the islands, and Japan is an island.

I know I've said it before, but the dropping of the bombs literally made the outcome of those other possibilities unknowable.
Other future possibilities are never knowable by your same standard. It is unknowable whether world peace wouldn't have suddenly erupted if you hadn't been birth. Your birth prevented us from knowing those other possibilities, the other outcomes in world where you were never born are unkownable for certain. But we can make some reasonable estimstes of what would likely have happened with a high degree certainty.


But that's also why these discussions never go away. The scenarios have been proposed since WWII are intended to close the debate, but are by nature post-fact justifications of the US choice. That choice once done can't be undone. But the justifications tend to treat things as fact that are not possible to actually establish as such. It never happened, they are fundamentally counter-factual. So the debate re-spawns.
Any alternate history is unknown able for certain. But we can be pretty confident of what would likely have happened.
 
That is true.The capitulation of Japan could be only obtained with the bomb.And it has saved millions of lives,and of course the Japanese people,who could not be considered as totally responsive of the strategic errors,and the extraordinary quantities of crimes (of war and of humanity) commited by the gang of Tokyo (the army,the zaibatzus,and the yellow nazis who have utilized Hiro Hito like a muppet).It was the analysis of my teacher,Jean Claude Courdy (University Paris XI) the best french specialist of Japan.
 
Oct 2011
24,493
Lago Maggiore, Italy
I have already expressed my opinions regarding this matter. Probably I can summarize the main two point:

1. a conduct during a war can be considered a "war crime" only if, when this happens, there are at least conventions condemning similar actions or the motivations inspiring them. Genocide and racism were already known as "wrong conducts" in some way at international level when WW II ended. The legal bases on which they judged the Nazi war criminals were, anyway, overall national [American, English, French, Russian ...]. They created a precedent: the opportunity to gather national legal systems to prosecute the criminals who acted during a conflict.

2. Firebombing of European and Japanese cities was [in my opinion] well more near to a war crime than the usage of single superpower bombs like nukes. The reason is simple: in war the usage of a standard weapon is licit. A bomb is a standard weapon. No international convention in 1945 said something about limitations of the power of a bomb. A nuke was [and is] a superpower bomb. Why not to use it during a conflict? There were and there are no reason not to use a nuclear bomb in a war. It's a bomb ...

A firebombing is something well different: it's a prolonged action of bombing carried out by a certain number of planes [not little] targeting a civilian target [a city], with the declared purpose to diminish the popular support to this or that dictatorial regime. Nice purpose, but the mean ...

And, as I've already underlined in other occasions, the firebombing of Tokyo killed more persons than any real nuclear attack.
 
Jun 2014
5,861
Lisbon, Portugal
Actually, the quality of the Japanese troops on the island campaigns were pretty consistent, with the Japanese fighting tenaciously on island after island. It is nonsense to think that the Japanese would not bring their A team to fight the Americans on their home islands, and that the Japanese wouldn't fight with the same tenacity that they fought on Okinawa. There is no logical reason to assume that the Japanese would behave like in Manchuria, and not like Okinawa, not on their own Homeland, which are islands.
Hundreds of thousands of civilian militias would take part in the defense of the home islands - and those are not A team Japanese soldiers for sure.
Besides, in the Okinawa campaign an unprecedented number of Japanese soldiers actually surrendered to the American forces and actually, the more the Americans got closer to the Japanese islands in their island hopping campaign, the more likely Japanese soldiers surrendered.

Of course, in the hypothetical invasion of Kyushu, American forces would fight the most fanatical and well-prepared Japanese forces, and the fighting would be extremely hard, but it's also true that American soldiers would face very ill-prepared and incompetent Japanese military and militia units, and we should accept that probably tens of thousands of those Japanese fighting men would also surrender - the battle for Kyushu for sure would not produce the same rate of Japanese prisoners as in the battle of Tarawa two years earlier.

By the way, can you present me the sources that explain that the Kwantung army were composed of second-rate soldiers?

Note: You didn't comment my last response to you...
 
Jun 2011
275
The Old Dominion
From Japanese Monograph # 106 Naval Operations Against the Soviet Union

Text of Soviet Declaration of War 8 Aug 1945:
With the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, Japan has become the only major nation which insists on continuing the war. The demand made by the United States, Britain, and China on 26 July for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces has been rejected by Japan. Therefore, the proposal submitted by the Japanese Government to the Soviet Union concerning mediation in the Far Eastern War has lost all foundation.
“In view of Japan’s rejection of the surrender, the Allied countries have proposed that the Soviet Union expedite the end of hostilities and lessen the number of victims by participating in the war against Japanese aggression.
“To procure universal peace for the Allied countries as early as possible, the Soviet Government, as a matter of duty, accepted the proposal of the allied countries and took part in the Allied declaration of 26 July of this year. The Soviet Government considers that this Soviet policy will accelerate the restoration of peace and save various nations from further sacrifices and suffering, and that this is the only way in which the Japanese people will be enabled to avoid the destruction which was suffered by Germany after she rejected the offer of unconditional surrender.
“In view of this point, the Soviet Government declares that the Soviet Union enters into a state of war with Japan tomorrow, 9 August.”


Japanese command viewpoint from same:
“Japan was not in a position to issue a declaration countering that of the Soviet Union which was on 9 August, nor did Japan intend to change the operational policy which placed the United States and Great Britain as Japan’s foremost enemy. It was expected that war with the Soviet Union would, for some time, be unfavorable on the Asiatic mainland as well as in some island areas, but it was hoped that the units stationed in the areas would put up a good fight. The most important problem was the extremely obstinate attacks on the Homeland by Allied task forces. Although the expected strategic attacks on possible landing beaches were not conducted, it was no possible to determine whether there were any signs of potential enemy landings on the Homeland. Operations by the Soviet Union were expected only in the form of air attacks against the Homeland and it was believed that the Soviet forces would not launch a landing operation. Therefore, the Pacific front remained the operational front for the mainland forces.”
 
Dec 2009
6,860
Hundreds of thousands of civilian militias would take part in the defense of the home islands - and those are not A team Japanese soldiers for sure.
Which means the Americans would be heavily outnumbered, and large number of civilians would get killed, further supporting the claim the atomic bombings saved civilian lives. And there are still all the first rate and trained Japanese soldiers to fight.

Besides, in the Okinawa campaign an unprecedented nu[mber of Japanese soldiers actually surrendered to the American forces and actually, the more the Americans got closer to the Japanese islands in their island hopping campaign, the more likely Japanese soldiers surrendered.
Ah, no. 90% of he soldier died before surrendering at Okinawadd,,, so even if 100% of off he Japanese died on the other islands, the unprecented surrending you claim is not really that much different. Is that supposed to be a fundamentally great imporvemrnt if only a mere 80% of the Japanese died before surrendering on the home islands?

Of course, in the hypothetical invasion of Kyushu, American forces would fight the most fanatical and well-prepared Japanese forces, and the fighting would be extremely hard but it's also true that American soldiers would face very ill-prepared and incompetent Japanese military and militia units, and we should accept that probably tens of thousands of those Japanese fighting men would also surrender - the battle for Kyushu for sure would not produce the same rate of Japanese prisoners as in the battle of Tarawa two years earlier. [/Quore]

They would face these forces only after they had to go through the fanatical hard fighting Japanese soldiers first. And there were a lot more civilians than American soldiers. Combining the 2 would produce far more casualties.

By the way, can you present me the sources that explain that the Kwantung army were composed of second-rate soldiers?
Kwantung Army was far below its authorized strength; most of its heavy equipment and all of its best military units hand transferred over to the Pacific Theatre over the counter rse of the proceeding 3 years to contend with the advance of American forces https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovier_invasion_of_Manchuria
Note: You didn't comment my last response to you...
Which was?
 
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Jun 2014
5,861
Lisbon, Portugal
Which means the Americans would be heavily outnumbered, and large number of civilians would get killed, further supporting the claim the atomic bombings saved civilian lives. And there are still all the first rate and trained Japanese soldiers to fight.
I do not ascribe to the idea that the Atomic bomb did not save civilian lives or were unnecessary.

Ah, no. 90% of he soldier died before surrendering at Okinawadd,,, so even if 100% of off he Japanese died on the other islands, the unprecented surrending you claim is not really that much different. Is that supposed to be a fundamentally great imporvemrnt if only a mere 80% of the Japanese died before surrendering on the home islands?
80% among Japanese soldiers, and I told you that hundreds of thousands of militias would join the fight, and I expect them to surrender by the tens of thousands when they faced combat with American forces.

My comment #436
I was responding to you.
 
Sep 2012
8,724
India
The justice of the Victors is usually immoral, even if it is justifiable legally. The bombing of innocent civilians went on in WWII from both sides-- Axis as well as Allies. And till today, no one has questioned it strongly enough for it to be included in the war crimes list. The USA army, the self appointed paragon of justice killed unarmed, surrendering German troops, after landing in Europe on D-Day. Nobody has so far felt bothered about the Napalm / Agent Orange bombing of North Vietnam, nor any qualms expressed about the WW II bombing of Hamburg and/or Dresden. The defence that these cities or North Vietnam as a whole, contained military personnel along with civilians may be a legally correct justification but immoral. All countries at war with each other happen to contain military personnel mixed with civilians. Highly convenient for bomber crews who cannot know what is what but highly immoral.
 
Sep 2012
8,724
India
The justice of the Victors is usually immoral, even if it is justifiable legally. The bombing of innocent civilians went on in WWII from both sides-- Axis as well as Allies. And till today, no one has questioned it strongly enough for it to be included in the war crimes list. The USA army, the self appointed paragon of justice killed unarmed, surrendering German troops, after landing in Europe on D-Day. Nobody has so far felt bothered about the Napalm / Agent Orange bombing of North Vietnam, nor any qualms expressed about the WW II bombing of Hamburg and/or Dresden. The defence that these cities or North Vietnam as a whole, contained military personnel along with civilians may be a legally correct justification but immoral. All countries at war with each other happen to contain military personnel mixed with civilians. Highly convenient for bomber crews who cannot know what is what but highly immoral.
 

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