Could the bombing of Hiroshima be considered a war crime?

Sep 2014
I’d suggest other means of pressure, diplomatic,economic or military but not something as drastic as nuclear bomb. I’m aware of the Trinity test, but dropping a real bomb is a real-time test when one could see the real impact of it, and in my opinion, that’s what Americans wanted.
I can't feel pity for the Japanese during WW2. Why you sympathize with them, my sympathies are with the Chinese and Koreans.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
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.

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).
Then they were delusional.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
That is precisely the counter-factual argument advanced after the bombs had been dropped, yes. Absolutely no way of testing it or confirming it at all. And it was presented precisely as something not to be disputed.

Yet the debate never goes aways, does it? Can't be proven, can't be disproven.
OK, let’s stick to verifiable facts; 1) the US dropped two bombs: one on Hiroshima; the other on Nagasaki; 2) following the bombings of these two cities, the Emperor insisted that the Japanese Empire surrender, because of this “most cruel weapon” (something like that); 3) even then, military rebels attempted to stop the recording of the Emperor’s surrender message, but they couldn’t find it in the imperial residence; 4) after playing the recording, Japan’s surrender to the Allies was initiated and the rest is history.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
Hence, killing the Jews was not a war crime since they were resisting in acts like the warsaw guetto uprising.
What an odious thing to say. You’re not embarrassed? You should be!

It is now a well established consensus among historians since Overy (2013) that strategic bombing was a failure and a waste of allied resources. Effectively, the strategic bombing campaign over Germany failed to significantly reduce civilian morale and reduce production of equipment and munitions to reduce the effectiveness of the German armed forces.

The Allies sacrificed the lives of 120,000 airmen and 40,000 planes, half of which were extremely expensive strategic bombers, for no strategic benefit. Besides murdering 360,000 German civilians and destroying 3 million houses.
I agree that the bomber offensive over Europe was wildly overrated. Military planners may have been under the delusion that aerial bombing with conventional weapons could win a war all by itself. No one knew if it would work and in fact, it did not. This is not, however, the same thing as dropping a nuclear bomb from a single bomber over Japan which actually motivated the Emperor to call for an end to the war. Contrast this with the fire bombing of Japanese cities which by themselves did not motivate the Japanese to surrender.

The Japanese brought this cataclysm on themselves. Sew the wind; reap the whirlwind.

Which obviously failed since the Allies lost about 13 million soldiers killed in action or from wounds, mostly Soviet soldiers. Stalingrad and Kursk were worse than the Somme in terms of Allied losses. It's just that the UK did not help the USSR directly and instead choose to "pretend" to help by performing large scale terrorism.

Why not? It's reduction of enemy's partisan manpower. If killing civilian people from other nations using bombs is perfectly valid then its also perfectly valid to kill people using guns or gas.
You are trying to give the Germans a free pass for murdering 6 million Jews? Really? The actual numbers of people killed in German concentration camps - not just Jews - was much higher.

You can raise the issue of how the bomber offensive against Germany was unsuccessful but that is applying reverse logic to apply what we know now about the bomber offensive but did not know when the bomber offensive began. You might also consider getting off your “high horse” while you’re at it.

It is only a difference of degree not a difference in nature. Of course, it was more brutal to kill Jews in concentration camps than it was to kill civilians in the Hamburg or Dresden raids.

Although the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are also very much like concentration camp killings:
Good lord. Try to get a grip. This is far-out nonsense. Lovely how you sympathize with the Japanese for starting a war that cost the lives of millions and for what? What really motivated the Japanese, other than greed, was that Europe was already embroiled in a horrible war; their only possible enemy was the United States and the Japanese hoaxed the US into pretending to negotiate while their fleet - the Kido Butai - was already at sea steaming for Pearl Harbor.

Japan was a small poor country without the industrial and technological capabilities to defend itself properly (unlike Germany), hence why Japan surrendered without being physically invaded and 140,000 metric tons of bombs dropped over Japan killed a similar number of people as 1,260,000 tons of bombs dropped over Germany. By August 1945 Japan lacked any substantial means of defense, hence why a single B-29 could easily invade Japanese airspace without having a significant risk of being shoot down.
Poor Japan, forced to attack its neighbors without warning or notice, murder countless Chinese citizens, and generally rape and pillage everywhere they went. Maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t have done any of it. But that might force you to actually change your ill-starred argument.

The civilian population or Hiroshima and Nagasaki was being used as human test experiments of an experimental new weapon by the US government. Essentially, the atomic bombings were more of a weapons demonstration to scare Stalin and his 500 divisions that could easily destroy all US and British forces in continental Europe rather than an attack specifically aimed at Japan. Morally I see it as being in a similar level as the holocaust.
Also not true. Please provide “proof” of you what you’re talking about because I haven’t seen it yet.

The justification of "ending the war" was nonsense: Japan had already been thinking about surrendering in 1943 after Midway and Stalingrad it was clear that the war was lost, they fought on because of the unreasonable demands of the Allies of unconditional surrender. Finally, Japan's proposed peace terms in January 1945 were already identical to what happened when they surrendered in August 1945. The war dragged on because the US was being completely unreasonable and Japan had actually no means to hit back by 1945: their airforce and navy had no fuel and so they were locked inside their tiny islands and were slowly starving, they were obviously not a credible military threat to the Allies by that point.
If the Japanese were “thinking” of surrendering after Midway, don’t you think they might have told the Allies? They didn’t, because they weren’t “thinking” about any such thing.

Also, there has been reasonable argument that Japan's decision to surrender in August 1945 was more due to the entry of the Soviet Union in the war rather than the terror bombings (which have been performed in Japan in a large scale since march 1945).
This is patently untrue.

Also, the degree of physical destruction of conventional incendiary bombing in the wooden Japanese cities was similar to nuclear bombs' destructiveness as well as the loss in civilian life: before the atomic bombs Japan had lost 68 cities to conventional bombing, losing 2 more wouldn't make a difference.
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Likes: bboomer


Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
It most certainly was a war crime of the greatest magnitude.

Truman made sure that the Japanese would not surrender at Potsdam terms, by removing the indemnity offered to the Emperor that existed in the first draft of Potsdam declaration. He planned to drop the bomb in any case. He actually made sure the war didn't end until he had the chance to drop the bombs.

Truman was one of the most sadistic, pathological mass murderer ever, at par with Hitler, Pol Pot & co.
Not true and unworthy of this forum.
Jul 2016
The Japanese were NOT going to surrender. This the Allies knew, they'd been reading the Japanese diplomatic mail since the late 1930's, so any nonsense about negotiating through the Soviets or OSS types in Switzerland was exactly that, nonsense. No one in the Foreign Ministry had the authority to make concrete agreements, no one in Moscow or Berne had authority to speak for the Japanese government on actual termination of hostilities, it was all smoke and mirrors and from the messages back and forth (if one were bother to look them up, which you will need to do for yourself since it is your claim that the Japanese were REALLY trying hard to surrender) 'twas just so much weaseling. Not to mention the Soviets were just leading the Japanese on, they were not going to lift a finger to help the Japanese end the war, they wanted their piece of the pie as well. And, of course, as we know, the Japanese foreign ministry was not running the show back home, the Army and the Navy ran the show and would throw the foreign ministry under the bus in a heart beat (read: have them taken out and shot) if they thought there were, indeed, truly serious negotiations with anyone.

After Potsdam Japan was threatened with "a rain of destruction such as the world has never seen" if surrender is not forthcoming. Japanese military and diplomatic messages intercepted by the signals intell folks clearly indicated the Japanese had no intention of surrendering ... troop levels on Kyushu kept going up and up, directed by an army group HQ in Hiroshima so, casualties include some 30,000 Japanese soldiers. Japanese message circuits still indicate no plans to surrender and troops continue to move into Kyushu, now up to about 480,000. The powers in Toyko (read, the Army and the Navy) make no move, no hint, towards surrender. Obviously they aren't getting the message. Primary is socked in so divert to secondary with major naval war production facilities and dockage. In Tokyo a captured American fighter pilot being interrogated tells his inquisitors that Tokyo was next. Suddenly they get the message ... Japan surrenders. Good thing, they had no idea that Tokyo was under serious consideration for the next drop . . . surprise, yes, it was.

Again, had the Japanese wanted to surrender, all they had to do was say so. One might note they had no problem reaching out after Nagasaki so it was not like they had no clue. But, alack and alas, they did not. Had they wanted to surrender before Hiroshima all the had to do was say so. After Hiroshima, still, all they had to do was say so, they did not. Sorry, but there seemed from the Allies side to be a little impatience with the Japanese government's refusal to cede the issue even after specific warnings, thus, a bomb, and when that bomb apparently did not get their attention, another. It was never a matter of "let's go kill everyone in Hiroshima" or "Oh, that worked well, let's do the same at Nagasaki (or more correctly, I believe, Kokura, as Nagasaki was a secondary target). No, it was Japanese had failed to respond to Potsdam, failed to reach out on their own, so drop the bomb, get their attention. They are still were not paying attention, so, drop the second bomb. Now they are paying attention.

The bottom line was had the Japanese wanted to surrender, all they had to do was say so, to the people who mattered, the Allied forces closing in on their islands . . . they did not.

Let us see your serious attempts at surrender emanating from either Moscow or Berne. Show us the messages to and from the Japanese Foreign Ministry and their representatives to the point "Tell them we would like to surrender under the conditions offered."

And just out of idle curiosity, what, pray tell, would be your alternative, were you calling the tune?
Just to add to this good post, we must remember when anybody discusses "Japan wanted to do this..." or "Japan wanted to do that..." what they're talking about. They are talking about the "people." They aren't talking about the Diet. They're talking about the six ministers who made up the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, aka the Big Six. Add one more name, the Emperor, who would ONLY VOTE if the Big Six agreed unanimously on something. Which meant the Emperor only acted once the Big Six agreed, and then he would rubber stamp whatever they wanted, as the Emperor never veto'ed anything they had previously voted on.

Now, let's get to the juicy part.

Even AFTER the Nagasaki bomb was dropped, even AFTER the Soviet Union had declared war and was invading Manchuria, half of the Big Six were still wanting to only propose a surrender on the following terms (as provided in Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, by Richard B. Frank)

1. Guarantee of the Imperial Position
2. Self disarmament
3. Japanese control of any war-crimes trials
4. No Allied occupation of Japan

Does anyone in their right mind thing these were realistic conditions to end the war in summer of 1945? That the Allies would allow essentially an end to hostilities and disarmament controlled by the Japanese (which means they wouldn't obey). Or that they'd really try to go after their own war criminals, even though the Big Six and Emperor's finger prints were all over most of them?

It took a couple days are arguing, where the Emperor voiced his opinions, where the pro-surrender faction of the Big Six voiced their opinions, with much dead of night heated discussion, before the pro-War Big Six members were finally brow beat enough to accept unconditional surrender. At which point they voted unanimously, the Emperor signed off on their vote, and then the surrender messages were sent through intermediaries to the Allies, while the Emperor made his regarding to be read to the Japanese people. Which specifically states that the reason for surrender was the atomic bombs.

"Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."

As you can read for yourself, even the Emperor flat out stated why the war was ended.

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
Back then, the public did not know enough about the power of the nuclear bomb. There were not any independent media at the time, whistle blowers or investigative journalism. On the other hand, Americans needed to test the nuclear bomb and the circumstances at the time were perfect, and Americans to seized the opportunity to use nuclear bombs.
Nonsense. If American public knew of the bomb, they would have insisted it be used to bring the war to an end, and their brothers, sons and fathers home S fast as possible. Every day the war lasted, a loved one had potential for dying, and American prisoners were being starved Rock death in Japanese prison camps.

No negotiation would have worked, since the Japanese forfeited all trust during the Pearl Harbor attack. The Japanese were negotiating all the while their fleet was steaming for an attack, their peace negotiations being just a ruse. The Japanese knew the terms to surrender, and Americans would not have wasted time negotiating with people who had forfeited all rights to be trusted.

How much damage Japan could have caused when Germany surrendered and the Europe itself was devastated by war? It was indeed possible to use other means to make Japan surrender and not kill 250.000 and cripple the rest of the population for decades to come.
Japan could have killed millions of foreign civilians and prisoners of war under its control, that is the harm it could do. It was starving to death Allied prisoners, the prisoners who survived and many did not, looked like concentration cap inmates.

Some say t was necessary, but would we use the bomb today to bomb countries that are direct sponsors of wars around the world, I don’t think so.
No, but the atomic bomb isn't needed to defeat the countries today, none ofnrhd ones engaged in combat are big and powerful enough to require iitntondefeat them, and the atomic bomb isn't much use against terrorist.
Jul 2016
Americans are not sorry for dropping nukes on two cities while Japan has issued so many war apologies in last 70 years. Might is right.
Love how a few Japanese making apologies means Japan the nation did it. But some Americans, especially on an internet forum, aren't sufficiently apologetic for ending a rather nasty war with the least casualty producing way and in your mind that means they speak for America as a whole.

Do you represent Pakistan with your opinions, do you speak for all Pakistanis in that nation and abroad? Or just for yourself?


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Love how a few Japanese making apologies means Japan the nation did it. But some Americans, especially on an internet forum, aren't sufficiently apologetic for ending a rather nasty war with the least casualty producing way and in your mind that means they speak for America as a whole.
"Least casualty producing" lands somewhere between a fervent hope and an article of faith. It's still effectively unknowable exactly what the Japanese would have done if the nukes had not been deployed. That is after all located in the realm of counterfactual history. Which ensures that the debate never goes away, because the moral ambiguity can never be fully dismissed.

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