Gaining a WW2 unconditional Japanese surrender from naval blockade?

Jul 2016
japan would never have unconditionally surrendered- and in fact- did not.
Their surrender was on the condition that the Emperor stay in "power" and not face trial.
Here is a copy of the actual surrender document that was signed by the Japanese Foreign Minister and Chief of the Army General Staff, which formally ended the war. That document gives the conditions in which Japan surrendered. Your job is go through that primary source and prove your statement is correct.
May 2019
Salt Lake City, Utah
Japan made several tentative negotiation attempts to surrender if they were allowed to keep their gains in China and some of the island defenses

The surrender document special stated that the surrender was unconditional and that the Emperor's position would be decided at a later date.

In fact, McArthur because of what is now an Article 32b investigation and recommendation by a flag level officer, Hirohito was permitted to remain as Emperor.
Oct 2009
San Diego
well- technically- I suppose you are right-

Japan did not ask conditions... but they GOT them anyway.
The US command and president had discussed offering conditions- and the condition they agreed upon was that the emperor would remain in place and not be tried.
And those ARE the conditions the Japanese received.


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
well- technically- I suppose you are right-

Japan did not ask conditions... but they GOT them anyway.
The US command and president had discussed offering conditions- and the condition they agreed upon was that the emperor would remain in place and not be tried.
And those ARE the conditions the Japanese received.
Wrong. The US offered NO conditions, and the Japanese received NONE.

The Emperor's non-trial was decided AFTER the surrender was signed.
Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
There was a significant amount of high level military opinion that questioned the the use of the bomb, before and after its use, and the assumption of the necessity of an eventual invasion.

Below are some quotes I have collected over the years, a small few of which I have cross-checked - usually in the case of memoirs. This is certainly not a full explication of military opinion at the time but it seems to me that the use of the atomic bomb to prevent an invasion, for which there was apparently universal acceptance of unimaginable death rates, was very probably a false dichotomy.

In his memoirs General Dwight Eisenhower wrote: "In 1945 ... Secretary of War Stimson visited my headquarters in Germany, [and] informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act... During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and second because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face.'

Eisenhower made similar private and public statements on multiple occasions. For instance, in a 1963 interview he said simply: " wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy (Chief of Staff to President Truman):

"The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

In his memoirs Leahy minced few words:

[T]he use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. . . .In being the first to use it, we . . . adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

Privately, on June 18, 1945, seven weeks before the atomic bomb was used Leahy recorded in his diary:

"It is my opinion at the present time that a surrender of Japan can be arranged with terms that can be accepted by Japan and that will make fully satisfactory provisions for America's defense against future trans-Pacific aggression. "

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet stated in a public address given at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945:

"The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war... The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan..."

In a private 1946 letter to Walter Michels of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists, Nimitz observed that "the decision to employ the atomic bomb on Japanese cities was made on a level higher than that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946:

"The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment...It was a mistake to ever drop it... [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it...It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before."

Time-Life editor Henry R. Luce later recalled that during a May-June 1945 tour of the Pacific theater:

"...I spent a morning at Cavite in the Philippines with Admiral Frank Wagner in front of huge maps. Admiral Wagner was in charge of air search-and-patrol of all the East Asian seas and coasts. He showed me that in all those millions of square miles there was literally not a single target worth the powder to blow it up; there were only junks and mostly small ones at that.

Similarly, I dined one night with Admiral
[Arthur] Radford on the carrier Yorktown leading a task force from Ulithi to bomb Kyushu, the main southern island of Japan. Radford had invited me to be alone with him in a tiny room far up the superstructure of the Yorktown, where not a sound could be heard. Even so, it was in a whisper that he turned to me and said: "Luce, don't you think the war is over?" My reply, of course, was that he should know better than I. For his part, all he could say was that the few little revetments and rural bridges that he might find to bomb in Kyushu wouldn't begin to pay for the fuel he was burning on his task force."

Rear Admiral L. Lewis Strauss, special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy from 1944 to 1945 (and later chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission) stated his belief that the use of the atomic bomb "was not necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion..."

Strauss recalled:

"I proposed to Secretary Forrestal at that time that the weapon should be demonstrated. . . . Primarily, it was because it was clear to a number of people, myself among them, that the war was very nearly over. The Japanese were nearly ready to capitulate...My proposal to the Secretary was that the weapon should be demonstrated over some area accessible to the Japanese observers, and where its effects would be dramatic. I remember suggesting that a good place--satisfactory place for such a demonstration would be a large forest of cryptomaria [sic] trees not far from Tokyo. The cryptomaria tree is the Japanese version of our redwood. . . . I anticipated that a bomb detonated at a suitable height above such a forest...would [have] laid the trees out in windrows from the center of the explosion in all directions as though they had been matchsticks, and of course set them afire in the center. It seemed to me that a demonstration of this sort would prove to the Japanese that we could destroy any of their cities, their fortifications at will..."

In his autobiography (co-authored with Walter Muir Whitehill) the commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet and chief of Naval Operations, Ernest J. King, stated:

"The President in giving his approval for these [atomic] attacks appeared to believe that many thousands of American troops would be killed in invading Japan, and in this he was entirely correct; but King felt, as he had pointed out many times, that the dilemma was an unnecessary one, for had we been willing to wait, the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials."

Private interview notes taken by Walter Whitehill summarize King's feelings quite simply as: "I didn't like the atom bomb or any part of it."
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Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
There was a significant amount of high level military opinion that questioned the the use of the bomb, before and after its use, and the assumption of the necessity of an eventual invasion. - continued from previous post

The commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked told a New York Times reporter when asked whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender answered:

"The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air."

In his 1949 memoirs Arnold observed that "it always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse."

Arnold's deputy, Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker, summed up his understanding this way in an internal military history interview:

"Arnold's view was that it [the dropping of the atomic bomb] was unnecessary. He said that he knew the Japanese wanted peace. There were political implications in the decision and Arnold did not feel it was the military's job to question it."

Eaker reported that Arnold told him:

"When the question comes up of whether we use the atomic bomb or not, my view is that the Air Force will not oppose the use of the bomb, and they will deliver it effectively if the Commander in Chief decides to use it. But it is not necessary to use it in order to conquer the Japanese without the necessity of a land invasion."

Eaker also recalled: "That was the representation I made when I accompanied General Marshall up to the White House" for a discussion with Truman on June 18, 1945."

On September 20, 1945 the famous "hawk" Major General Curtis E. LeMay (as reported in The New York Herald Tribune) at a press conference said as follows:

LeMay: "The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb."

The Press: "You mean that, sir? Without the Russians and the atomic bomb? "

LeMay: "The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all. "

A few days after Hiroshima, the opinion of Air Force General Claire Chennault, the founder of the (the Flying Tigers) - and Army Air Forces commander in China was reported in The New York Times:

"Russia's entry into the Japanese war was the decisive factor in speeding its end and would have been so even if no atomic bombs had been dropped..."

Douglas MacArthur (General of the Army):

"There was no military justification for the dropping of the bombs. The war might have ended weeks earlier, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the [Japanese] emperor."

The day after Hiroshima was bombed MacArthur's pilot, Weldon E. Rhoades, noted in his diary:

"General MacArthur definitely is appalled and depressed by this Frankenstein monster [the bomb]. I had a long talk with him today, necessitated by the impending trip to Okinawa..."

Former President Herbert Hoover met with MacArthur alone for several hours on a tour of the Pacific in early May 1946. His diary states:

"I told MacArthur of my memorandum of mid-May 1945 to Truman, that peace could be had with Japan by which our major objectives would be accomplished. MacArthur said that was correct and that we would have avoided all of the losses, the Atomic bomb, and the entry of Russia into Manchuria."

Saturday Review of Literature editor Norman Cousins also later reported that MacArthur told him he saw no military justification for using the atomic bomb, and that "The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor."

In an article reprinted in 1947 by Reader's Digest, Brigadier General Bonner Fellers (in charge of psychological warfare on MacArthur's wartime staff and subsequently MacArthur's military secretary in Tokyo) stated:

Obviously...the atomic bomb neither induced the Emperor's decision to surrender nor had any effect on the ultimate outcome of the war."

Colonel Charles "Tick" Bonesteel, 1945 chief of the War Department Operations Division Policy Section, later recalled in a military history interview: "[T]he poor damn Japanese were putting feelers out by the ton so to speak, through Russia..."

Brigadier Gen. Carter W. Clarke, the officer in charge of preparing MAGIC intercepted cable summaries in 1945, stated in a 1959 interview:

"We brought them [the Japanese] down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn't need to do it, and we knew we didn't need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn't need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs."

In a 1985 letter recalling the views of Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, former Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy wrote:

"...very vivid in my mind…I can recall as if it were yesterday, [Marshall's] insistence to me that whether we should drop an atomic bomb on Japan was a matter for the President to decide, not the Chief of Staff since it was not a military question...the question of whether we should drop this new bomb on Japan, in his judgment, involved such imponderable considerations as to remove it from the field of a military decision."

In a separate memorandum written the same year McCloy recalled: "General Marshall was right when he said you must not ask me to declare that a surprise nuclear attack on Japan is a military necessity. It is not a military problem."
Oct 2015
All said after the war was over, by people who had no part or responsibility for it.

There was never any conference or meeting or soul-searching decision to use the bombs. The weapon was available and it was going to be used if the Japanese did not respond to the Potsdam declaration.

Ask any soldier, sailor or Marine scheduled to participate in Operation OLYMPIC what he thought of the use of the atomic weapons. What do the opinions of "Brass Hats", who get religion after the fact, amount to compared to the opinions of combat troops who survived Okinawa or Iwo Jima only to face the prospect of a worse struggle on Kyushu or Honshu?

The whole argument is silly. Why are 150,000 people vaporized by atomic bombs somehow worse than 15 million people incinerated by jellied gasoline, slowly starved, dying of beri-beri or typhus, tortured in disgusting "medical experiments" or massacred in Nanking. It was all unspeakably awful. The deaths that are most regrettable are those that died in 1937-1945 all over Asia because of the brutal, unnecessary aggression of the Japanese militarists.
Likes: dvch
Jul 2016
Very common internet list, a large part this myth still exists in the internet age.

Many of those were taken MASSIVELY out of context. There were quite a few of those individuals who were jaded that they alone weren't allowed to be the instrument of Japan's unconditional surrender, basically ego. The Navy wanted to do their siege. Lemay wanted to keep firebombing, MacArthur wanted to invade. There are only a few who legitimately were against an atomic bomb, and most that claimed they were said those remarks later in hindsight of the 50-60s Cold War standoff.

Many others besides are based on massively incorrect assumptions that the Japanese would have agreed to a one condition surrender months earlier when even after TWO atomic bombs the Big Six were still split between three ministers for one condition, and three ministers for four conditions. This might be what some were led to believe at the time or immediately afterwards while misinterpreting MAGIC messages that were ONLY from a single member of the Big Six (Togo, the foreign minister, and not known to any other), but historically we know that it took two atomic bombs to get even the one condition possibility.

Post war some attempted to claim that various signal intercepts proved the Japanese were trying to surrender. THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE. Again, and this might be the tenth time its had to be brought up in this thread because too many ignore facts because "Evil Nukes!", while Togo the foreign minister was attempting talks to start peace overatures, that was NOT known to the rest of the Big Six.

It was secretly authorized by the Emperor in a way that couldn't have led to anything since all Big Six ministers plus the Emperor all had agree unanimously to get ANYTHING done.

The correct order of events are the Big Six had not even discussed any type of surrender together, until AFTER the second atomic bombing, and then they argued for a full night as half of them still had ridiculous demands (no occupation, self disarmament, Japanese control over Japanese war crime trials), as well as the safety and preservation of the emperor. It was only by Aug 11-12 that they could get down to unconditional surrender.
Feb 2014
The Japanese came to the table with the Soviet invasion. No nukes needed so a naval blockade would have equally been effective. The axis wanted to surrender to the allies and not the Comintern

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