The Morality of the U.S. Bombing Hiroshima
On August 6 and 9, 1945, the only atomic bombs ever used in
warfare were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The mass destruction and numerous deaths caused by those bombs
ultimately put an end to World War II.
Was this the only way to end the war, however? Could this killing
of innocent Japanese citizens had been avoided and the war still ended
quickly. This paper will go into this controversial topic. First, a summary
of the events leading up to the bombing and the events that followed:
With the end of the European war, the Allies focused their efforts
on Japan. Though they were losing miserably, the Japanese continued to
The Potsdam Proclamation was issued to the Japanese. It made no
mention of Japan's central surrender condition, the status of the Emperor.
In Japan, the Emperor was viewed as a god. Therefore, Japan rejected the
The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Russia declared war against Japan. Japan, because of its military,
still refused to surrender. The Japanese government voted against surrender.
Japanese believe in "death before dishonor."
Japanese peace advocates feared for the safety of the Emperor.
They begged him to break with tradition and make government policy by
calling for peace now. As a result of the Emperor's call to surrender, the
entire Japanese cabinet, including the military, agreed to surrender. The
cabinet saw that this would allow the Emperor to be retained.
The Japanese would have fought to the death if they did not feel
the Emperor would have been spared. They may have been fighting a
losing battle, but they saw unconditional surrender as a threat to the
President Truman had been advised of the importance of the Emperor
to the Japanese.
Japan was seeking Russia's help to end the war in July 1945. The
U.S. was aware of this at the time through intercepted Japanese cables. But, the
U.S. did not keep up with this change in Japan's position. Instead the U.S.
chose military methods of ending the war rather than diplomatic methods.
The desire for revenge helped make military methods more attractive.
After the creation of the atomic bomb was complete and before it
was dropped there was uncertainty to whether or not it should be used.
Many scientists argued that it should not be used. Truman had a difficult
decision to make. He had much advice given to him towards making a
Leo Szilard's first version of his petition was more strongly worded
than the final version. Regardless, on July 3, 1945, he presented to
President Truman his reasoning for not using the atomic bomb on Japanese
cities. It was signed by 58 other scientists.
Rejecting the pretense that the targets would...