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Old 08-14-2015, 11:29 AM   #1
gangnam holmes
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Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

In the split second after MacArthur signed his signature below, WW2 ended...

Should Japan apologize?
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:49 PM   #2
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

They have. Like, dozens of times.

The US, by contrast, has never apologized for the use of nuclear weapons on Japan.
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Old 08-14-2015, 02:55 PM   #3
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

FWIW, all of the people responsible for all of the carnage in WWII are dead.

Nobody alive today has anything to apologize for(regarding WWII).

Learn from the past and hopefully build a peaceful future. All the rest is BS political posturing.

Last edited by Kurn, son of Mogh; 08-14-2015 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by Turn Prophet View Post
They have. Like, dozens of times.

The US, by contrast, has never apologized for the use of nuclear weapons on Japan.
Nearly as many people died in the firebombing of Tokyo. Should the US apologize for that also?
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Old 08-14-2015, 10:37 PM   #5
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by DrChesspain View Post
Nearly as many people died in the firebombing of Tokyo. Should the US apologize for that also?
More people, I'm pretty sure (than in either individual atomic bombings). In my opinion? Yes. But I don't particularly want to politard this further. I'm just a little disheartened that the OP was unaware of just how large a political issue that remedying the ills of WWII are/were in Japan. Granted, in recent years there have been some troubling developments, but in most of the intervening decades, official Japanese policy was pretty contrite regarding WWII conduct. Probably more so than any of the other combatants.
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Old 08-14-2015, 11:36 PM   #6
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by Turn Prophet View Post
They have. Like, dozens of times.

The US, by contrast, has never apologized for the use of nuclear weapons on Japan.
Hi Turn Prophet:

I think it's well understood that Japan planned to eventually kill all prisoners of war, mostly by just working them to death and starving them, but the use of nuclear weapons did gain these people their freedom before they met their planned fate. So isn't this, all by itself, a reason for no apology from the United States for the use of nuclear weapons?

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Old 08-14-2015, 11:42 PM   #7
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by DrChesspain View Post
Nearly as many people died in the firebombing of Tokyo. Should the US apologize for that also?
Hi DrChesspain:

Just a side note, but it's my understanding that the United States had run out of firebombs before the nuclear bombs were dropped. And if this wasn't the case, many more people would have been killed by these incendiary devices than actually were.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-15-2015, 11:55 AM   #8
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi DrChesspain:

Just a side note, but it's my understanding that the United States had run out of firebombs before the nuclear bombs were dropped. And if this wasn't the case, many more people would have been killed by these incendiary devices than actually were.

Best wishes,
Mason
According to MacArthur (I recall in the book "American Caesar"), 1.2 to 1.5 million military and civilian. Much more than Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The atomic bombs saved lives, ironically.
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Old 08-16-2015, 07:42 PM   #9
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

Didn't they estimate there would be 1 million+ American casualties if there was a conventional invasion of Japan? No doubt the Japanese casualties would have been even higher in that scenario. Using atomic weapons resulted in fewer deaths overall.
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Old 08-17-2015, 04:18 PM   #10
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi DrChesspain:

Just a side note, but it's my understanding that the United States had run out of firebombs before the nuclear bombs were dropped. And if this wasn't the case, many more people would have been killed by these incendiary devices than actually were.

Best wishes,
Mason
But the US was continuing to use conventional and incendiary bombing in the days intervening between Nagasaki and the actual surrender. And this misses the point that the US could have produced more in relatively short order because its industrial capacity already dwarfed Japan's, not even taking into account the utter ruin of Japan's cities. Japan was at near total mercy of the US due to air and naval supremacy at that point.
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Originally Posted by gangnam holmes View Post
According to MacArthur (I recall in the book "American Caesar"), 1.2 to 1.5 million military and civilian. Much more than Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The atomic bombs saved lives, ironically.
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Originally Posted by campfirewest View Post
Didn't they estimate there would be 1 million+ American casualties if there was a conventional invasion of Japan? No doubt the Japanese casualties would have been even higher in that scenario. Using atomic weapons resulted in fewer deaths overall.
No and no. I am amazed that these estimates continue to resonate in the American consciousness. MacArthur's estimates, and those of his team surrounding Operation Downfall were based on faulty intelligence, and moreover, the incredibly shaky and frankly racist assumption that Japanese civilians would resist US personnel with deadly force and fight "to the last man." There is no evidence to support this, aside from the constant civilian defense drills that Japan ran, which were par for the course among fascist powers (and there was relatively modest civilian resistance in Germany by 1945 as the Wehrmacht collapsed), and not altogether dissimilar from drills run in the US. There was an overwhelming sentiment that the Japanese were fanatical and nearly automaton-like in their loyalty to the emperor, which had been reinforced by years of propaganda and "yellow peril" media circulated in the US. The likelihood of a coordinated resistance on the scale MacArthur imagined (which was always a "worst case scenario") is profoundly unlikely, as the average Japanese civilian had little training and was increasingly malnourished by 1945.

Japan had been reduced to utter ruin by summer 1945 and had already been seeking a negotiated surrender using the Soviets as an intermediary. The US rejected calls for anything other than "unconditional surrender," yet in the aftermath of the atomic bombings, the US did in fact accept the condition that Hirohito would be allowed to remain on the throne, and Japan might well have accepted that condition before the bombings as well.

67 cities had been almost totally destroyed by US bombing even before Hiroshima. More civilians died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone than there were total US fatalities in the entire Pacific theater of the war. The "saving lives" rationale is incredibly hollow. Japan had almost no capacity to fight, and was having to invent its own highly optimistic estimates for repelling US invasion just to continue to survive. They trained thousands of kamikaze pilots, but barely had enough functioning aircraft to deploy them, and their petroleum reserves were almost non-existent. That is why they didn't even bother to scramble air defense against Enola Gay, because the commanders assumed that it was simply a US feint meant to waste Japan's air resources.

As for the much-quoted MacArthur, hardly the portrait of humility or a man reluctant to use brute force, several of his contemporaries had a much grimmer view of the use of nuclear weapons:

Quote:
Originally Posted by William Leahy
Once it had been tested, President Truman faced the decision as to whether to use it. He did not like the idea, but he was persuaded that it would shorten the war against Japan and save American lives. It is my opinion that the 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 because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and that wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Arnold
It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisenhower
I had been conscious of depression and so I voiced to (Sec. Of War Stimson) my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly 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 this very moment, seeking a way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face.'
Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCloy
I am absolutely convinced that had we said they could keep the emperor, together with the threat of an atomic bomb, they would have accepted, and we would never have had to drop the bomb.
Even Truman himself was aware of Japanese peace overtures through back channels:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truman's diary
P.M. [Churchill] & I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap [sic] Emperor asking for peace.
Japan, as much as the US, was concerned about the prospects of Soviet rather than American occupation. The US could have used the carrot approach to turn Japan to the American sphere, but they opted for the stick, for a variety of reasons, but "saving lives" is an invented one, a rationalization meant to make the US look beneficent and merciful. This had been the rationale for aerial bombings of all sorts for years, to no avail.

This isn't to say the atomic bombings were particularly savage in comparison to other contemporary bombings. I tend to agree with Dan Carlin that once the basic logic and rational of aerially bombing civilians as a means of legitimate warfare is adopted, the choice to drop a nuclear bomb is rather a trivial one. So the impact of US bombings as a whole should be under scrutiny.

But the question still stands as to the "necessity" of the bombings. The most damning piece of all, from the most comprehensive military analysis of the campaign after the war, when heads were cooler:
Quote:
Originally Posted by US Strategic Bombing Survey, 1946
Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
And this was no bleeding-heart retrospective; the study's tone and findings were fairly positive when it came to aerial bombings overall.

The US dropped "the bomb" for a variety of reasons: political, strategic, even scientific. But revising the decision as some sort of morally upstanding act that saved lives is a convenient fiction, and one that has led Americans away from examining its military conduct in subsequent conflicts as well.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:20 AM   #11
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Originally Posted by Turn Prophet View Post
But the US was continuing to use conventional and incendiary bombing in the days intervening between Nagasaki and the actual surrender. And this misses the point that the US could have produced more in relatively short order because its industrial capacity already dwarfed Japan's, not even taking into account the utter ruin of Japan's cities. Japan was at near total mercy of the US due to air and naval supremacy at that point.


No and no. I am amazed that these estimates continue to resonate in the American consciousness. MacArthur's estimates, and those of his team surrounding Operation Downfall were based on faulty intelligence, and moreover, the incredibly shaky and frankly racist assumption that Japanese civilians would resist US personnel with deadly force and fight "to the last man." There is no evidence to support this, aside from the constant civilian defense drills that Japan ran, which were par for the course among fascist powers (and there was relatively modest civilian resistance in Germany by 1945 as the Wehrmacht collapsed), and not altogether dissimilar from drills run in the US. There was an overwhelming sentiment that the Japanese were fanatical and nearly automaton-like in their loyalty to the emperor, which had been reinforced by years of propaganda and "yellow peril" media circulated in the US. The likelihood of a coordinated resistance on the scale MacArthur imagined (which was always a "worst case scenario") is profoundly unlikely, as the average Japanese civilian had little training and was increasingly malnourished by 1945.

Japan had been reduced to utter ruin by summer 1945 and had already been seeking a negotiated surrender using the Soviets as an intermediary. The US rejected calls for anything other than "unconditional surrender," yet in the aftermath of the atomic bombings, the US did in fact accept the condition that Hirohito would be allowed to remain on the throne, and Japan might well have accepted that condition before the bombings as well.

67 cities had been almost totally destroyed by US bombing even before Hiroshima. More civilians died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone than there were total US fatalities in the entire Pacific theater of the war. The "saving lives" rationale is incredibly hollow. Japan had almost no capacity to fight, and was having to invent its own highly optimistic estimates for repelling US invasion just to continue to survive. They trained thousands of kamikaze pilots, but barely had enough functioning aircraft to deploy them, and their petroleum reserves were almost non-existent. That is why they didn't even bother to scramble air defense against Enola Gay, because the commanders assumed that it was simply a US feint meant to waste Japan's air resources.

As for the much-quoted MacArthur, hardly the portrait of humility or a man reluctant to use brute force, several of his contemporaries had a much grimmer view of the use of nuclear weapons:









Even Truman himself was aware of Japanese peace overtures through back channels:

Japan, as much as the US, was concerned about the prospects of Soviet rather than American occupation. The US could have used the carrot approach to turn Japan to the American sphere, but they opted for the stick, for a variety of reasons, but "saving lives" is an invented one, a rationalization meant to make the US look beneficent and merciful. This had been the rationale for aerial bombings of all sorts for years, to no avail.

This isn't to say the atomic bombings were particularly savage in comparison to other contemporary bombings. I tend to agree with Dan Carlin that once the basic logic and rational of aerially bombing civilians as a means of legitimate warfare is adopted, the choice to drop a nuclear bomb is rather a trivial one. So the impact of US bombings as a whole should be under scrutiny.

But the question still stands as to the "necessity" of the bombings. The most damning piece of all, from the most comprehensive military analysis of the campaign after the war, when heads were cooler:

And this was no bleeding-heart retrospective; the study's tone and findings were fairly positive when it came to aerial bombings overall.

The US dropped "the bomb" for a variety of reasons: political, strategic, even scientific. But revising the decision as some sort of morally upstanding act that saved lives is a convenient fiction, and one that has led Americans away from examining its military conduct in subsequent conflicts as well.
Hi Turn Prophet:

I believe that the idea of saving lives was sort of an accidental outcome of the nuclear bombs. Clearly, if the United States would have invaded Japan, some lives would have been lost and obviously that did not happen.

But to throw a little twist into this, I have seen stuff (on various documentaries) that George Marshal had notes about using atomic bombs to soften up the Japanese landing beaches right before the US troops landed. Assuming this is true and would have happened, many US service men would have probably died from radiation sickness.

So again, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have saved lives.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:53 AM   #12
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

It's also really easy to criticize the use of nukes with the lens of hindsight. So, sure, looking back, there were probably better options. But at the time, with a population sick of war, sick of rationing, sick of getting letters telling them of another friend or relative being killed, it was perfectly reasonable for the people of that era to take what appeared to be the easy way out.
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:56 PM   #13
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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It's also really easy to criticize the use of nukes with the lens of hindsight. So, sure, looking back, there were probably better options. But at the time, with a population sick of war, sick of rationing, sick of getting letters telling them of another friend or relative being killed, it was perfectly reasonable for the people of that era to take what appeared to be the easy way out.
Isn't that the point of an apology? To make atonement for actions that you might not have thought through at the time.

Look, war is war and civilians were obviously on the table since the rules had shifted in the First World War, but in hindsight, it was clear to most that obliterating cities did not advance the war aims as much as thought, and was not the conduct of an allegedly morally superior combatant. Even LeMay, practically the architect of US bombing policy, admitted that he and others might well have been charged as war criminals if the US had lost the war for almost totally indiscriminate bombing.

I'm not talking about whether the bombing was a mistake at the time, though there is ample evidence that many strategic planners had major qualms about it (as did the planners of the bombings of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, etc). As I said previously, once you have crossed the line that obliterating whole cities from the air is an acceptable thing to do (as the US and Britain had already done dozens of times in the war), the decision to do so with fewer bombs becomes trivial. But the question in the OP was whether Japan should apologize for its role in the war. I pointed out that they had, many times. And if Americans believe that some of their conduct in the war was wrong in hindsight, it might be worth apologizing too. But the US can't even get to the "it was wrong" stage.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:19 PM   #14
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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And if Americans believe that some of their conduct in the war was wrong in hindsight, it might be worth apologizing too. But the US can't even get to the "it was wrong" stage.
Nor should they.

No one needs ever apologize for something they did not do. Period. End of discussion.

Faux apologies are empty rhetoric.
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Old 08-21-2015, 07:18 AM   #15
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

Would it have been OK to have nuked Hanoi and saved 60k American lives?
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Old 08-21-2015, 08:59 AM   #16
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

Death is death.

Less than 1% of WWII casualties civilian and military were due to A bomb use. I do not accept that a life in Hiroshima is any more valuable than any of the other 50 million lives worldwide on all sides of the conflict.

The A bomb discussion is a political one, not a "I care about these lives" one. What rational person without a political point on Nukes to make would value the other lives less?
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Old 08-21-2015, 03:04 PM   #17
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Would it have been OK to have nuked Hanoi and saved 60k American lives?
Since that would've carried with it a non-zero probability of nuclear retaliation from the USSR or China, statistically, at least, it probably would have cost more lives.
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:45 AM   #18
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Would it have been OK to have nuked Hanoi and saved 60k American lives?
Hi sweep:

The problem with nuking Hanoi, as Kurn, son of Mogh points out, was that North Vietnam was, at that time, a Soviet Client state. So nuking Hanoi could have started a nuclear exchange, and many more than 60,000 people could have then been killed.

Best wishes,
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Old 08-23-2015, 01:22 PM   #19
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Re: Sept. 2, 1945 - Japan Surrenders 70th Anniversary

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Would it have been OK to have nuked Hanoi and saved 60k American lives?
How can you equate a 2015 mindset to that of a 1945 mindset after years of war? Aided with 70 years worth of hindsight it's easy to think how things could have been dealt with differently. But at the time and in the specific situation the decision deserves far less criticism.

Japan threw the first punch, would not surrender and kept fighting. Of the alternatives of the bomb or an invasion I have no problem with the decision.
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