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Pearl Harbor 5 Essay, Research Paper


On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy willfully and deliberately attacked Pearl Harbor, and the Pacific War began. On August 6, 1945 the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, and marked the beginning of the end of the Pacific War. Ever since the end of the Pacific War, many people have asked the question. Should the United States have used the atomic bomb? The use of the atomic bomb was the most plausible alternative forced upon us by the Japanese.

One alternative to the use of the atomic bomb would be a full-scale invasion of the Japanese main islands, which would cost more lives than we, as a nation, were willing to spend (Noble). Although, there have been arguments that this option would have worked, and with little casualties.

Some Americans and Japanese contend that the army of Japan was on its last legs. That maybe true, but the fact that the army would no longer fight was false. The Japanese soldiers were fanatical, and to them the greatest honor was to die for Japan. This is evident in Japanese naval warfare. Kamikazes became a formidable threat in the last days of the naval war in the Pacific, showing the Japanese soldiers will to die for their country s cause. There are also stories of Japanese soldiers blowing themselves up along with American soldiers, instead becoming a prisoner. The word surrender was a four-letter word to the Japanese soldiers, and a full-scale invasion most likely would not change those beliefs.

The notion that the Japanese civilians would quickly call for surrender if an invasion were implemented also might be incorrect. Much of the Japanese population was of the belief that surrender was not an option, and there was much honor at stake. During the battle of Saipan, over half the population walked off a cliff instead of surrendering to the United States. If an invasion of the main lands had been implemented, the population would ve likely joined in the fight, causing many more problems for the American ground forces.

Others have stated that the entrance of the Russian army in the Pacific would be the push needed for the surrender of Japan. However, Stalin was not a too dependable character. Stalin had been promising for months to enter the war against Japan, but still had made no such declaration by August 6, the day of the first bomb, used against Hiroshima (Noble). Besides, the Russians had just finished fighting an exhaustive war against Germany. They lost much of their military strength, the soldiers were tired, and they would have to be transported half way around the world to be able to enter the fray. Therefore, it would have been doubtful that the Russians would be able to help very much.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that, even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion (USSBS Summary Report, 26). This is one of the conclusions made in the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. Many people would read this statement and become outraged, but they re a few things to consider when thinking about this option of conventional bombing.

While the use of conventional bombing would have been less costly for America, as far as lives are concerned, it would have been devastating for Japan. Given that 185,000 casualties were sustained during the first Tokyo attack on 9 March 1945 (USSBS Summary Report, 20).

“In the Central Pacific, many of the islands the Japanese expected us to attack were bypassed, and the garrisons left to whither and die. Survey examination of the bypassed islands in the Pacific and interrogation of the Japanese survivors confirmed their intolerable situation. Their planes and ground installations were destroyed by air attack. Cut off from any supplies or reinforcements, except occasionally by submarine, their food ran out. On certain of the islands, Japanese actually ate Japanese” (USSBS Summary Report, 13). Prolonging the war with conventional bombing would have resulted in even greater suffering for these soldiers, and for any civilians unfortunate enough to be on the same islands.

One may ponder the use of the atomic bomb in Japan and come to the quick conclusion that it was wrong. We had neither right nor reason to use it. We caused unacceptable of casualties to Japan, and in an inhumane way.

The greatest oxymoron in history would be to put humane and war into the same sentence. Unconditional surrender of Japan was not something to be seen in the near future. Other options pointed to heavy casualties to both sides. Bringing and end to the Pacific War was not going to be pretty or humane no matter what option was used. By dropping the atomic bomb, America ended the war quickly. Greatly reducing the number of casualties that might have been suffered had the war been extended.

Works Cited

United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Pacific War 1 JULY. 1946: 15+: http://www.anesi.com/ussbs01.htm

Noble, Mike. Dropping the Bomb http://oasis.bellevue.k12.wa.us/sammamish/sstudies.dir/hist_docs.dir/atomicbombs.mn.html: 19 Nov. 1999:

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