Japan Subdued: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the War in the Pacific (1961)

35% of the US troops engaged in Okinawa were casualties, meaning they were killed, missing, or wounded. That is why many people believed that an attack on the mainland itself would have the same kind of casualty rate, if not higher.The book mentions about the plan to use 9 atomic bombs if Operation Olympic had been put into effect, six to be used in the initial attack, three others held in reserve to use on Japanese forces trying to reinforce their positions.

There was a US group called the Interim Committee which, on June 1 of 1945, said the atomic bomb should used against Japan as soon as possible. This was again an attempt to stop the loss of American lives.

They also said the bomb should be used on a “dual” target, one with military value but also one that was surrounded by houses and other buildings “susceptible to damage.” It was the idea of destroying the factory and the houses of those who lived nearby and worked in the factory.

The committee also advised that the bomb should be used without advance warning.

The book notes that Japan was basically at the mercy of the US, although the military leaders did not want to admit that. Around eight million were homeless. Three major urban areas had been firebombed into ashes. Rice stocks for civilians were down 60% from 1941.

The battle for Kyushu, known as Operation Olympic, would have involved a large number of Japanese troops, but their ammunition and supplies of oil were limited. There would have been one great battle, but once their supplies ran out they would have had no way to stop the American advance.

The book notes, like others, that the Japanese did have thousands of planes in reserve for kamikaze attacks. Many of the planes were old and the only thing they would have been useful for at all was that kind of attack.

The impression that the Japanese government gave to the US was that it was going to keep fighting on, no matter what. Thus, using the atomic bomb was considered a reasonable response to such an unreasonable stand.

The book discusses the argument that, if FDR had said the surrender conditions did not include getting rid of the Emperor, then the Japanese might have chosen to surrender as early as July.

The book also discusses a US Strategic Bombing Survey that said Japan probably would have surrendered by the beginning of November, 1945, even if the atomic bomb had not been used.

Kamikaze attacks had cost the US some 34 ships, 16 of those during the battle for Okinawa. There is no doubt that there would have been high losses due to the kamikazes if the Japanese had actually been invaded.

”The primary and sustaining aim from the start of the great exertion to make the bomb was military, and the impelling reason for the decision to use it was military-to end the war victoriously as soon as possible.”

The book is one of several that says that one reason the bomb was demonstrated somewhere first was that there was still a fear that the bomb would not work, and a demonstration that was a dud would cause problems.

The reason the fear was justified was that in the test of the bomb that was done, it was tested on a non-moving platform. Dropping the bomb from a plane would change the conditions considerably, and some scientists were not positive that it would still work under those conditions.

Another argument against a demonstration use of the bomb was that the US didn't have many of them at the time. Also, dropping the bomb on a real city would have a much stronger psychological effect than dropping it on an uninhabited area.

The Japanese had no way of knowing that we did not have a big supply of the bombs, so by using two of them fairly close to each other it could have caused the Japanese to fear that the US had a large number of the bombs ready and would have kept on dropping them.

An argument against announcing beforehand what city would be bombed was that this would have allowed the Japanese a chance to shoot down the plane carrying the bomb.

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