Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Given the Situation, They Forced the Most Humane Solution

The Bomb as a friend of humanity: who would have thought? I have some family problems with inheritance, an interesting moment when greed is revealed to trump all other considerations, in some individuals, and one experiences the sadness of finding out what really makes them cockroaches, tick… The kind of situation when one seeks comic, or, if that doesn’t work, cosmic, relief. 

Further sinking me deeper, a friend, a tenured research physicist from a top institution, so really a brain, told me he couldn’t read my essays, they were too deep. I must admit the pressure is great, I am without any doubt, a creature of the abyss, similar to Damascius, the last philosopher of Antiquity, who had to flee Athens in 529 CE, chased by the rabid Christian terrorists… And went to seek refuge among the Sassanids.

Paradoxically deep and dark, where the light and explanation needs to be brought in, but hasn’t been brought in yet, provides the relief of tragedy. When one compares one’s sedate life to the tragedies visited onto others, immediate relief ensues. So it is when the climber finally finds a flat, grassy meadow.

***

My friend Chris Snuggs, is visiting Japan: Hiroshima, Nagasaki… Yes, Chris, a polyglot, and professional teacher of many a nation, turned at some point into a fanatical Brexiter, and he has been baffled by my fostering the evil fascist EU when so many of my own lessons brought him to condemn it! See, how tolerant I am:

Chris Snuggs: “Had to visit the Peace Memorial Museum, but it was as expected not a bundle of laughs. It is beautifully done as one expects in Japan, but too sad. I have to do some research. I tried already, but it is all a bit confusing and I have no definitive answer. Patrice might know! The thing is, did the Americans HAVE to drop a second bomb after Hiroshima? Was the Emperor really so stubborn not to order his men to stop fighting after Hiroshima? Or were the Americans trying to make a point to the Russians and/or just practising with their new toy? 

It is true that after the first bomb, the Japanese still DID NOT surrender, but could not the Yanks have bombed an uninhabited island to drive the point home that surrender was the only option? In Nagasaki (only chosen because the primary target that day – Kokura – was obscured by cloud), 70,000 people died instantly when the bomb exploded, ALMOST ALL CIVILIANS, including thousands of Koreans, Chinese and others, as Nagasaki was/is a major international port and entry point to Japan. Another 70,000 or so died in the days, weeks and months that followed, and an unknown number of cancers years later. 

But the terrifying thing for us today is that the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were TINY compared to what exists today…”

***

It wouldn’t take many of those for civilization to have really a bad day.

The Strategic Nuclear Bombings Were Planned with Extreme Care:

Yes, Patrice knows, Patrice has written a lot on the subject, for an immense variety of reasons, not limited to the way people react to the subject!

Atomic Bombings Were An Emergency. More Than 10,000 People Died Each Day, From Japanese Occupation, all over Asia:

Only 672,000 Japanese civilians died from World War Two, virtually all of them killed in American air raids (including the two atomic bombs).

To draw a thoroughly inappropriate laughter, one could say Hiroshima and Nagasaki were emergency care in more ways than one.

The rest of this essay will address the questions Chris brought, with my usual method to dig deep here and there. But the short of it is that the nuclear bombings were nearly miraculously timed to force Japanese leaders into a different state of mind, which imposed peace to their agitated selves. Overall, the nuclear bombings, the way they happened, saved millions of lives. 

Atom bombing an uninhabited island would have made the immensely tough generals and admirals leading Japan laugh at the stupidity of the Americans. It would have given them hope that they were fighting imbeciles. So, maybe, after all, they had a chance to defeat the idiots…

Top Japanese leaders knew, from the in-house Japanese nuke programs, that the Americans couldn’t have that many atom bombs. Militarily, the Japanese cities were production centers (differently from Germany which, because of heavy British and then US bombing, had to displace production out of cities). Kokura’s arsenal was the target of the day. The Japanese navy, with thousands of fully functional medium to small ships and hundreds of small subs was a big problem for US war planners, as they approached the Japanese archipelago, with its inner seas and complex waterways. 

Many options, and would even say, all the options were discussed before the atomic bombings, including a demonstration atomic bombing at night over Tokyo Bay, to enlighten the Japanese leadership. Or bombing a deserted island. Or tell in advance of a demonstration. Or forget the bomb. Each option had drastic negatives…

What if the bomb was a dud? Would the evil dictators of Japan laugh out loud? What if the Japanese air force brought up 100 fighters to oppose the B29s, after they were told where and when they were coming? What if the damage to rice fields failed to persuade?

In any case it was the population of Japan who needed to feel the heat, and that heat needed to be transmitted to the young officer corps. Only them could persuade the military dictators of Japan to surrender. As it turned out, Emperor Hirohito’s courageous intervention prevented the third planned strategic nuclear bombing (the third Pu core, the Demon Core, was ready by August 16 to be dropped on August 19. Japan surrendered the 15th).

***

After being attacked for two hours by hundreds of US aircrafts, super battleship Yamato, on suicide mission to Okinawa, explodes. The mushroom cloud rose seven kilometers high. More than 3,000 crew pulverized.

We have bigger and better today:

Indeed a typical warhead in a French or US nuclear tipped missile is 250K, about 17 times Hiroshima. Each submarine missile can carry up to 10 atom bombs. The new Sarmat heavy Russian ICBM whose capabilities Putin said “are much higher” than the Cold War Soviet SS-18 ICBM because it will carry “a broad range of powerful nuclear warheads” and the Sarmat “has practically no range restrictions.” The Sarmat is reported by the Russian state  as capable of carrying 10 warheads of 800-kilotons or 15 warheads of 350-kilotons. 10 warheads of each 40 times Nagasaki…

In theory there is a limit of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, for the USA and Russia, each. But how to check that? Considering that Putin gloated about having a nuclear propelled, indefinite range cruise missile, the Russian leadership sounds wacko. Yes, nuclear propelled, that’s what Vladimir said. I am for nuclear propulsion… but in space. Running tests of such devices in the atmosphere is idiotic. 

***

The Japanese High Command Intended To Fight To Death For Another Year:

Japanese nuclear bomb physicists saw the Hiroshima mushroom cloud rising. So a highly qualified part of the Japanese government knew immediately that a nuclear bomb had been used. Looking at its evil red streaks, the physicist could immediately tell that it was a Uranium 235 device.  

The population in Hiroshima had no doubt what happened: within hours 35 US prisoners were dead at the hands of the vengeful populace of the Hiroshima metro area. 

The Japanese high command had no intention to surrender. It had launched the war, it intended to finish it. As it is, Japan has just two places favorable to a large disembarkment. One is next to Tokyo, and the Japanese high command had massed an extravagant quantity of weapons, including 5,000 planes underground in one facility alone. The other places, the southern tip of Kyushu, the southernmost island, was so heavily defended, the Japanese high command couldn’t imagine how the western allies could land. Moreover, three Japanese emergency nuclear bomb programs were making very fast progress, and Japanese generals hoped to use a nuclear bomb on the US troops.  

While Japan no longer expected to win the war, Japan’s leaders believed they could make the cost of invading and occupying the Home Islands too high for the Allies, leading to an armistice rather abject surrender. The Japanese plan for defeating the invasion was called Operation Ketsugō (決号作戦 ketsugō sakusen) (“Operation Codename Decisive”). The Japanese planned to commit the entire population of Japan to resist the invasion, and from June 1945 onward, a propaganda campaign calling for “The Glorious Death of One Hundred Million” commenced.[48] The main message of “The Glorious Death of One Hundred Million” campaign was that it was “glorious” to die for the god-emperor of Japan, and every single Japanese man, woman, and child should aspire to do so when the white devil Americans arrived.[48] Analysis by both American and Japanese officers at the time indicated that the Japanese death toll would have numbered in the millions. Scaling up what had happened at Okinawa reinforced the dismal prospects: at Okinawa, stupid civilians gathered around grenades, and blew themselves up, rather than suffering being ordered around by big ugly American monsters they were conditioned to excoriate.

***

The US planned to land in Kyushu, Operation Olympic, and the Japanese knew it: US command knew that the Japanese military, expecting 90 US divisions, was massed there, Iwo Jima style (plenty of tunnels). The Japanese armed forces ready to reject the US in Kyushu numbered one million… and 10,000 kamikaze planes, which would be harder to detect on radar than at Okinawa, because of the mountains. Japanese planners expected to sink one third of the invasion forces’ transport, from the Kamikaze alone.

So the US command planned to use not just five (5) million men, 42 fleet aircraft carriers, but also massive quantities of neurotoxic gas, and nuclear bombs. US planners expected up to one million US casualties. Seven Fat Man-type plutonium implosion bombs would be available by X-Day, which could be dropped on defending forces. American troops were advised not to enter an area hit by a bomb for “at least 48 hours”; the risk of nuclear fallout was not well understood, and such a short amount of time after detonation would have resulted in substantial radiation exposure for the American troops.

***

Because of cloud cover, the Nagasaki bomb dropped into the wrong valley. One of the biggest Roman Catholic churches in Asia at the time, the Urakami Cathedral was hit by the nuclear shockwave. It was rebuilt in 1959.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Psychologically Rammed the Japanese Leaders Into Where They Would Not Have Otherwise Gone: Peace

Hiroshima, a Uranium bomb, then Nagasaki, a Plutonium device. The next one to be atom bombed was supposed to be the capital of the north, Sapporo. After the second strategic nuclear bombing, the emperor, a scientist, had all he needed to explain to the generals that this had to stop. And the only way to stop it was unconditional surrender. Hirohito was the formal leader of the co-conspirators of the war of imperial Japan onto the world, and he was supposed to be a god, so… 

The emperor ordered an end to the suffering, a ceasefire of all Japanese forces, “bear the unbearable. The other war criminals didn’t take it lightly. The top general actually tried a coup, 4 days later (by then the US had been told of the coming surrender, and the Sapporo bombing was delayed) . When he realized the enormity of what he was doing, he committed seppuku:”My death is my apology for my crime”. This was the first time the Japanese heard his voice. The entire Kamikaze command, including the famous admiral leading it, took flight in dozens of planes, and was never heard of again. They probably all plunged into the sea somewhere. 

A few days later, the first US soldiers showed up in a tense, but disciplined, subdued Japan. The nuclear bombing gamble had worked. 4 months later, McArthur, head of the US/UN forces in Japan, learned of the Japanese nuclear bomb programs, thought he had been lied to, and infuriated, ordered all and any Jap nuclear equipment to be destroyed. The New York Times, learning of the cyclotron thrown at the bottom of Tokyo Bay, not privy to the reason of the general’s rage, accusing him of war crimes.

*** 

We have bigger and better bombs today, and this is THE major problem:

Yes, even more than biosphere collapse. The MAD doctrine doesn’t just rest on mutually assured destruction, but on the fact Russia and China and the USA are giant land empires. The other two official nuclear weapon states, Britain and France have gigantic maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (France has the world’s largest, about 8% of total world EEZ). The USA, controls around 21 million square kilometers of the planet, only behind Russia, which controls a total of around 25 million square kilometers.

So the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) have no interest to disturb the present world order, which they profit from (this makes Brexit even more infuriating, as it threatens the UK, hence the present structure of the UNSC…)

However, war is possible by short circuit, because of idiotic launch-on warning systems which the US and Russia have… That should be discontinued ASAP.

Restricting nuclear weapons to a few states which have neither historical inclinations, nor any interest to launch a world war, has been a factor of peace.  

But things are changing.

***

Savage Japan got away lightly from the mayhem it launched in Asia, up to 50 million killed: 

Even the German Third Reich lost only around 10% of its population, killed. However, civilizations completely annihilated in rather short wars have happened in the past. Not just the Aztecs, or Incas, but the Assyrians, the Baghdad Caliphate (Islam with a civilized face, didn’t last), but also the Tangut empire, also known in Mandarin as the Xi Xia, a huge Buddhist empire which shouldn’t have contradicted the Mongols too much.

A catastrophic nuclear war is entirely possible. Two avenues to avoid it: arms reduction, the Non Proliferation Treaty, and then, the old fashion way, technological superiority. The US, Europe, Israel, are developing increasingly anti-missile systems. Tough, yes.

But remember this: there is such a thing as being more civilized. When Western soldiers (French, British, Dutch, Australian, New Zealander, Americans; by chronological order of apparition) surrendered to Japanese forces while they could still resist, it was viewed as a crime. Yes, you read that right. Japan Bushido code was that demanding. Actually, by 1945, the Japanese high command, ordering capital ships to make a suicide attack on Okinawa, also ordered sailors explicitly to violate the Bushido code: Japanese sailors were to save themselves, if they could, to rebuild Japan after the war,

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: rarely was the cost of saving face so high.    

Patrice Ayme

Not the first time I consider all the preceding:

LEARNING TO THINK RIGHT BY STUDYING THE ETHICS OF ATOMIC BOMBINGS ON JAPAN.

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One Response to “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Given the Situation, They Forced the Most Humane Solution”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Nobody likes to be reminded of these tough times. Maybe that’s very wrong, to forget

    Like

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