Justin Erenkrantz

English 112 - Sec. 5

Sunday, March 7, 1998

Was It Worth It?

In The U.S. Was Right, John Connor asks whether the U.S. should have dropped the atomic bomb. By dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Connor suggests that countless lives were saved on both sides of the conflict. Japanese tradition holds surrender as a fate worse than death, so the Japanese soldiers would not surrender without heavy losses. Mr. Connor goes on to document examples of the Japanese willingness to die rather than surrender. Only 17 out of 5,000 Japanese soldiers were still alive after the battle of Tarawa island in 1943. Less than 1,000 out of 32,000 soldiers survived the Allied attack on the island Saipan. 10,000 Japanese civilians also lost their lives during that conflict. On Iwo Jima, the Japanese soldiers defended the island as if it were their homeland and the American forces sustained more casualties then they did during the invasion of Normandy. At Okinawa, 110,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives as did 100,000 Japanese civilians. The US Navy lost 10,000 lives due to kamikaze attacks. The US Marines and Army lost more than 50,000 men each. The loss of lives in these battles were enormous, but it would pale in comparison to an Allied invasion of the Japanese homeland.

The Allied forces knew that the Japanese were gearing towards a massive stand of their homeland because they had cracked the Japanese intelligence ciphers. Some people claim that the Japanese were considering surrender in the days leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima. Mr. Connor claims that this was only a diplomatic ploy to buy time because the militaristic regime indicated a fight to the death was near and wanted time to prepare. More than 5,000 airplanes had been scattered throughout the country ready for kamikaze attacks on Allied forces. The Japanese were ready to inflict tremendous casualty rates on Allied forces in hope of gaining some brownie points when they ultimately surrendered. Army Chief of Staff George Marshall estimated that U.S. casualties in an invasion could reach as high as 500,000. Several of Mr. Connor's Japanese colleagues remember practicing with spears to kill the Allied grounds troop. If it came to that, they knew that they would probably die.

The United States gave Japan one last chance for surrender on July 27th. By July 30th, Japan had officially rejected the ultimatum. In less than a week, the first atomic bomb was dropped . Some people within the United States government wanted to first demonstrate the power of the atomic bomb before actually targeting sites. Our government finally decided that it would bomb Hiroshima. The Japanese government immediately censored all news concerning the bomb and sent their own scientists to investigate the damage from the bomb. After the first bomb was dropped, the Japanese government began to fracture. The militarists wanted to hold out for better terms, while the other group favored surrendering before any more loss of life. Finally, the Japanese Emperor finally expressed his desire for peace. So, the atomic bomb did exactly what it was supposed to: save lives and end the war.