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A different take on the lives saved by the bomb

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by dash rip rock, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    On the otherhand it's worth noteing that shortly after the Nagasaki bomb (a matter of hourst) the Japanese announced that they accepted (with some reservations) the Pottsdam decree. It's pretty clear that the bombs allowed the Japanese government to accept unconditional surrender. The Soviet Union as a conduit for peace feelers was hardly necessary.
     
  2. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Yes they didi accept the Potsdam Declaration, with one caveat:

    So, the Japanese did accept the majority of the declaration, their terms were something less than unconditional. I get the impression that the Soviet move into Manchuko carried as much weight as the bucket of sunshine dropped on Hiroshima and the additional bucket of devine light on Nagasaki only solidified half of the cabinet.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If it had I would have expected them to surrender right after the Soviet attack. Note also that accepting Potsdam with one caveat is a lot closer to unconditional surreder than their previous stances. The first bomb clearly had a major impact but there is evidence that the Japanese considered it a "one off". The Soviet attack didn't directly threaten the home islands and the Japanese had already pretty well stripped Manchurai as far as military potential is concerned. The second bomb made it clear that it wan't a "one off" and they had no idea at that point how fast they would come. The implication is that the second bomb is what pushed things over the edge.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I agree. The "double whammy" did the trick. Marquis Kido lead the group that demanded the surrender, IIRC, and convinced the Army head of Homeland Defense to accept it.
     
  5. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    The bombing of Nagasaki occured on the same day (Aug. 9) as the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, and the Japanese surrender was announced to the Allies on Aug. 15. In the case of either it was a matter of days, and given their close proximity it is difficult to establish, based on timing alone, which had more weight. Though ultimately that question is irrelevent. Neither are the reason Japan surrendered, Japan surrendered because it had lost the war. The Soviet intervention and the bombs merely dictated the timing of the inevitable surrender. They were employed as face saving devices that allowed Japan to surrender without actually admitting its armies had been overcome. Rather the bombs and the intervention allowed the Japanese to suggest that they had been defeated by overwhelming numbers, Soviet betrayal of the neutrality Pact, and a vast array of destructive technology weilded by an enemy who would destroy Japan without hesitation.

    Not really, retention of the existing political order in japan, namely the position of the Emperor, had been the key element of Japanese policy regarding surrender for a long time, and certainly elements of FDR and Truman's inner circle were well aware of that - certainly they were by the time the decision to use the bomb came about.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    For some reason I was under the impression it occured earlier but this makes the case against it being pivotal as about all they would have had to work with at the point where they made the decision would have been the Soviet declaration of war and some preliminary reports that the Soviets had actually attacked in Manchuria.
    But it was clear that Japan had lost the war well before that. Indeed by 44 there was little doubt about the outcome.
    It was quite clear even prior to that that Japan's military had failed. Surrender in the face of the Soviet invasion and atomic devices did nothing to alter that.
    [/quote]
    Not really, retention of the existing political order in japan, namely the position of the Emperor, had been the key element of Japanese policy regarding surrender for a long time, and certainly elements of FDR and Truman's inner circle were well aware of that - certainly they were by the time the decision to use the bomb came about.[/QUOTE]
    But the retention of the Emporer wasn't the only element they wanted and they wanted to negotiate it. It's also worth noteing that the allied response did not acceed to the Japanese caveat and the Japanese surrendered anyway.
     
  7. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Here is a excerpt from Wikipedia on the issue:
    Seems to me like 8 days would be more than sufficient to throw in the towel, and given the above, I suspect that the decision was a result of not only the bombings and the invasion of Manchuria; but, the willingness of the Allied powers to allow the Emperor to remain as a figure head. In my opinion the surrender of Japan was something less than unconditional, hence the dispute as to the necessity of the second bomb. The short math on the subject indicates that regardless of any further agression, Japan would not accept terms that did not provide for the retention of the Emporer and I believe the Allied powers took this into account when they accepted Japan's terms.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Then that's our first point of disagreement.
    But they didn't accept Japan's terms. If you look at the response it essentially restates Pottsdam, the Japanese caveat was not specifically rejected but it was stated that the goverment of Japan post war was up to the allied occupation forces and Japan accepted this response.
     
  9. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    People generally, much to my dismay mis-interpret the meaning of "unconditional surrender". This doesn't mean NO TERMS, this means accept the terms offered, or continue to fight.

    The nation offering the surrender terms sets them, the vanquished accept them without imposing any terms of their own.
     
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  10. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    But, of course, Japan did impose a term of their own (the position of the Hirohito) - which the US accepted.


    Certainly, however up until the Soviet invasion of Manchuria the Japanese still held both the options I outlined earlier. The aim of staying in the way post-1944 was not because they held the view that the war could still be won, or that surrender ideologically unacceptable, it was to gain the best possible terms from surrender. The invasion and the bombs trumped their last aces.

    And it is remarkable that you do disagree, formerjughead stated a fact - not an opinion.

    To quote General Anami and Prime Minister Suzuki:

    "I want to be sure that in case the enemy doesn't accept our proposal [acceptance of Potsdam with the stipulation that no change be made in national polity] we will fight to the very last man." - Anami

    "You have my word" - Suzuki

    From Edwin Hoyt, Japan's War: The Great Pacific Conflict 1853-1952 (New York, 1986), p. 405.

    The US accepted the surrender and agreed to honour that condition - which was not part of the terms they dictated at Potsdam. Thus the surrender was not unconditional.
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Did they?

    The Potsdam Declaration reads as follows
    Potsdam Declaration | Birth of the Constitution of Japan
    Care to point to the section were the removal of the Japanese Emperor is mentioned as one of the terms of surrender.

    Also, when Japan asked that the Emperor remain as the sovereign ruler of Japan, did not the US respond with:
    HyperWar: Japan Surrenders

    So, while Japan may have tried to "impose a term of their own". The Allied powers rather eloquently denied them their "term".
     
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  12. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Fine point "Takao", because it isn't mentioned, and the retention of Hirohito in a subservient role had been discussed and accepted by FDR long before the end of the war was even in sight. And no, it wasn't Gen. MacArthur's idea. That had been put forward by Joseph Grew and other oriental scholars while the war was raging on, and we hadn't yet turned the tide.

    His position was that by making Hirohito subservient to an as yet un-named Allied Supreme Commander, it would do two things. One it would remove him from the status of "deity", and second by not trying him as a war criminal the Japanese populace would more readily accept the occupation by the former "hated enemy", and move into the "western democratic" style of governance rather than the Communist style. This too was on the mind of Truman as the war was winding down, and the USSR was looming on the horizon as our next ideological foe.
     
  13. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    Well, actually the "war criminals" provision and the "authority and influence" provision were considered, and understood, by both Japan and the USA to potentially include national polity - as Hoty points out on page 400. Furthermore, simply because Potsdam could be read either way does not alter the fact that the Japanese demand retention of the existing national polity (or they would continue fighting) any less of a condition.

    Sorry, but your reading of the statement is plainly in error. I suggest you read that again, because at no point does it make any definative comment either way, in fact it states:

    "the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers, who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms."

    Which effectively said that the American's hadn't made their minds up and would leave the decision until MacArthur was there on the ground. It states that the government of Japan would have to be left to the Japanese people, but it does not, in any way shape or form, state that the imperial throne would be dissolved. Anyway, the US later clarrified its position to the Japanese minister in Stockholm who confirmed that, contrary to Soviet demands, there would be no deposing of the Emperor. See Hoyt p. 407.
     
  14. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Here is a portion of an old post of mine from last year:

    There were three ideas circulating around D.C. as to Japanese "responsibility" and as to what should be done with Hirohito post war. The first option was the one put forward by the former ambassador to Japan; Joseph Grew, as well as Hugh Burton, and Joseph Ballentine (the Asia scholars) in America proper. This idea was supported by Gen. MacArthur when he heard of it; i.e. retain the Emperor but make him subservient to the Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP). That was to be MacArthur eventually, but when put forward who was to be the SCAP not a known certainty.

    The second was to abolish the Chrysanthemum throne completely, and form completely secular and politically democratic society. This was rejected as being too foreign to the Japanese culture to be enforced from without. If it occurred from inside, that was all well and good, but a totally new version of democracy has ever been successfully imposed on an unwilling civilization (to this day).

    The third option was to force Hirohito to abdicate, be tried for his complicity in the war, and be replaced by one of his many brothers in a constitutional monarchy modeled on the British system. (see Japan Diary, W. Sloane p. 340)

    This third option was seen as the least advantageous, and in the words of MacArthur himself, the Japanese would see this as:

    "...the greatest betrayal in their history, and hatreds and resentments engendered by this thought will unquestionably last for all measurable time. A vendetta for revenge will thereby be initiated whose cycle may well not be completed in centuries, if ever." (later writing that)… "and a condition of underground chaos and disorder amounting to guerrilla warfare in the mountains and outlying regions result."

    MacArthur continues with this. "I believe all hope of introducing modern democratic methods would disappear, and that when military control finally ceased some form of intense regimentation probably along Communist lines would arise for the masses."

    Only the first option seemed to offer the ability to peacefully occupy Japan, and halt the communist influence which might be "fermenting" in the background. The second option was unrealistic, and the third option would be akin to putting the spirtiual son of the goddess of Shintoism on trial. That was sure to cause internal unrest which may never be able to be contained. Even though Shintoism was removed from the "official religion" status, and government funding ceased, it wasn’t really banned.

    USA then directed reforms which included the release of all political prisoners, the legalization of most political parties, including the Communist Party, and pro-union legislation (the Trade Union Law, passed December 1945). The Peace Preservation Law (1925) under which thousands of leftist critics of the government had been arrested, imprisoned or executed, was scrapped. The Special Higher Police force was abolished, and many of its former leaders put on trial. The vote was granted to women, and the US began a drive to break up the huge zaibatsu corporations and launched an agrarian reform act which would abolish the landlord class in the countryside. And the use of the rising-sun battle-flag (rays emanating from a central orb) was restricted.

    The US inspired constitution would abolish laws which discriminated against women, reform the criminal, and civil laws and decentralize the police and impose a provision which committed Japan to democracy, regular elections, and explicitly forbade Japan from resorting to warfare to solve international disputes.

    And the US began to purge members of the old regime and elite, and would eventually prohibit 200,000 specific individuals from holding public office in the future. Some other men who did eventually hold office were an embarrassment, but they only came to office after the US had ended its occupation of Japan in 1952. The ordinary Japanese embraced the reforms, and in the Diet elections of April 1946, 95% of the candidates had never held office before, and 39 women were elected. The treaty that led to US withdrawal in 1952 confirmed the loss of all territories seized by Japan in the 20th century.

    The US was to maintain bases in Japan, and Japan began being strongly aligned as a Cold War ally of America. In the final years of occupation America had shifted from reform to reconstruction. With this Japan had been substantially re-shaped, and in my opinion for the better. Of course all of this is just my take on the situation.

    This is from post #2 in thread:

    http://www.ww2f.com/war-pacific/39921-had-truman-refused-let-hirohito-off-hook.html
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    They let Hirohito stay, that's obvious. They did a wink and a nod toward the Potsdam Declaration. Ben Frank agrees that it was not an unconditional surrender. The importance of the Emperor was weighed against the end of hostilities and the decision was easy, "let 'em keep him."
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Thank you brndirt1,

    Grew always believed that if the status of the Emperor had been spelled out in the Potsdam Declaration, the Japanese most likely would have surrendered before the Atomic bombs and the Soviet invasion.

    IIRC, the first official US document concerning the Emperor of Japan was "Status of the Japanese Emperor" from May 25, 1943. The conclusion reached was the it would be greatly beneficial to retain the Emperor, both for stability in Japan, and to bring about changes in Japan that the US so desired. This was reassessed about a year later, late April - early May, 1944 by the Committee on Post War Programs. Here, they looked at three possibilities: 1) Keeping the Emperor - which would likely lead to consternation among the US public and US Allies, 2) Relieving the Emperor of all power - This would make it very hard for the US Occupation Forces to complete their work & once they left, the Japanese would likely reinstate the Emperor, and 3) A partial retention of the Emperor - While it would please no one, it would be acceptable to most, and it allow the US Occupation Forces the most leeway to accomplish their given tasks.
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Sorry Chris, but you stopped before you got to the really GOOD PART.
    Plainly spells it out. It will be up to the people of Japan, as to how they wish to be ruled.
     
  18. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I believe this is true, however the problem with including the Emperor's status into the Potsdam Declaration, i.e. retaining the monarchy in any form would have been repugnant to the American populace if announced as "policy". Even though the USSR didn't sign the Potsdam document, they supported it "unofficially".

    Including the retention of the emperor even in a "figurehead" position in the public pronouncement, might have insulted our ally who was in reality a new nation which came to power by the overthrowing and assassination their own royal family, and as of that date not yet engaged militarily in the far east.

    There were delicate balances being juggled here, retaining the support of one constitutional democracy (the UK), the support of another ally (USSR) and getting them to involve themselves in the far east, and getting the Japanese to surrender on terms the western allies dictate to them. Not that simple a process in actuality, and well played by the "simple man from Independence Missouri", who was a consummate poker player BTW.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The US State Department had come to that conclusion, that governing an occupied Japan would be far easier with the Emperor still on the throne, than if he were removed, by mid-1943, and their further efforts only reinforced their belief.

    However, they faced an up-hill battle to convince everyone else that keeping the Emperor was the best course of action.
     
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  20. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    Again, you clearly need to re-read that, because it in no way states that the position of the Emperor would be jeopardised. It states that the Japanese government would become the will of its people (i.e. the inclusion of democratic process at an unspecified level) not the abolition of the monarchy. The two are not mutually exclusive. The Americans knew that and the Japanese did too. As I stated:

    "It states that the government of Japan would have to be left to the Japanese people, but it does not, in any way shape or form, state that the imperial throne would be dissolved."

    And indeed it was not, Hirohito retained his throne until his death in 1989 - albeit in a politically disempowered position. But that reduced position only came later.
     

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