Could the bombing of Hiroshima be considered a war crime?

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,487
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Wanting peace doesn't mean accepting defeat.

The Japanese strategy to defend Japan, Ketsu-Go, was designed to end the war. It would kill and wound so many Americans they would be willing to take a ceasefire with few Japanese concessions made.

Since war is a continuation of politics by other means, the Japanese defensive strategy was a negotiating tactic.

So were the atomic bombs.
Arguably though, they only continued because Stalin was still leading them on as to the possibility of a negotiated peace. Even after Potsdam, Togo was still making overtures to the Russians.

Conjecture on my part, obviously.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,756
San Antonio, Tx
Wanting peace doesn't mean accepting defeat.

The Japanese strategy to defend Japan, Ketsu-Go, was designed to end the war. It would kill and wound so many Americans they would be willing to take a ceasefire with few Japanese concessions made.

Since war is a continuation of politics by other means, the Japanese defensive strategy was a negotiating tactic.

So were the atomic bombs.
Good point.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,198
Kansas
Arguably though, they only continued because Stalin was still leading them on as to the possibility of a negotiated peace. Even after Potsdam, Togo was still making overtures to the Russians.

Conjecture on my part, obviously.
But it would definitely be Stalin's MO though.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,198
Kansas
A negotiated peace certainly wasn't in Stalin's interests.
No I meant as in leading them on with false hope while continuing with whatever plan he had in place. Japan fighting on causes the Western Allies to soak up casualties while the Soviets continue to make their post war plans.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,756
San Antonio, Tx
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.
I’m so glad that Japan was considering surrendering in 1943. Too bad they didn’t tell any of ther people they were actually fighting. What nonsense.

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.
Then why didn’t the Japanese just surrender? Oh, because there were forces working hard in Japan to make sure it did not surrender. Nor were the Japanese toothless in 1945 witness the furious resistance of the Japanese at IWorks Jima and Okinawa, AND the fact that the Japanese had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of aircraft stored in caves for use in the “final battle” against the invaders. They must have had sufficient fuel left to power these kamikazes in a last paroxysm of death and destruction.

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). 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.
Well, if you sow the wind, don’t be surprised if you get the whirlwind in return.
 

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,547
Amelia, Virginia, USA
I believe it was first communicated to Stalin on June 30 by the Japanese ambassador to Moscow.
That the Japanese would surrender if the status of the emperor were guaranteed?
That’s not so.
As aggienation has pointed out, talks with the Soviets were unofficial; kept secret from actual decision makers.The US was aware of this. Taken as evidence that the Japanese government was still not willing to surrender.
There were unofficial overtures in Switzerland as well. Tokyo ignored our would-be peace broker. This, too, was taken as evidence of Tokyo’s refusal to accept reality.
The Americans intercepted numerous communications ordering resistance to the death. Japan continued building forces for the defense of Kyushu. Japanese forces continued to fight, or st least refuse to surrender (Luzon, Bougainville, etc).

The Japanese had agency. Hirohito deserves much of the blame (as you alluded to), and certainly (I would think obviously) more than, say, Truman.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,756
San Antonio, Tx
War crime?- for sure.....and maybe not

Hiroshima considered a war crime?

For sure.....the immolation of women, children, the lame, the old, and ofcourse the destruction of hospitals, schools etc and the maiming and poisoning of survivors into peacetime, even into the next generation- it's a shocker....

but as a 'shock' to bring about the end of a war which was killing thousands everyday, it could be argued, and I think argued with a lot of moral post facto rationisation, that it saved lives- but I don't buy that argument.

The real crime is ofcourse Nagasaki, the japanese Diet and cabinet having only just convened to discuss the Hiro bomb and the declaration of Soviet belligerence when the second bomb fell. ie the second bomb fell too quickly for the japanese decision making cycle to have digested the first. That is a raw deal.
At least now you're having an honest discussion and not attempting to claim something fictional as real. Now it comes down purely to opinion and nothing else.

First, in hindsight, all those who thought it would have mattered were wrong. Second, they gave their own opinions and recommendation and nothing more. Third, as commander in chief, it was Truman's final say, and he was actually correct because even after nuking them twice the Japanese govt was still not willing to follow most of the Potsdam Declaration. Fourth, while there were many who wanted to add stipulation protecting the throne of Hirohito, there were many others in the administration who did not. Go read about James Byrnes and how he rewrote the first draft, which did include a stipulation for the Emperor, as well as acknowledging the Soviet Union as a partner). He was Secretary of State and a key insider of the Truman administration, nicknamed the "Assistant President" and was Truman's closest adviser and mentor. Overall the reason Truman did it was to appear strong, a political decision that relates to most things politicians do.

And in the end, he was correct. Half the Big Six, after getting hit with two atomic bombs, were still in disagreement over the US occupying Japan, supervising war crime trials (can you imagine the Japanese Minister of War supervising them, when he and others in his inner circle ordered most of them?).

So why did all the others disagree? Because that was their opinion, which ended up to be wrong anyway.
Great stuff, Aggie...