In-Depth: The decision to use the atomic
bomb against Japan was made in light of increasing casualty rates among
American soldiers as the war in the Pacific progressed, which led to a
ghastly estimate of probable casualties for a prospective invasion of the Japanese mainland. There had been 17,000 and 31,000 American casualties
on the islands of Leyte and Luzon, respectively, during the campaign to
liberate the Philippine. These figures were relatively light compared
to what followed on Iwo Jima, where there were about 26,000 U.S. casualties, and at Okinawa — nearly 47,000 Americans had been killed or wounded between April and July 11, 1945.
Estimates for the initial phase
of the invasion of the Japanese home islands were set at 50,800 for the
first 30 days of the campaign, and over 105,050 for Kyushu alone. The Joint War Plans Committee
projected that about 220,000 American casualties would be the minimum
for an invasion of Kyushu and the Tokyo Plain region of Honshu if both
were required to force a Japanese surrender. This projection was
comparable to the total casualties sustained during the campaign through the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, plus the Normandy campaign and the Battle of the Bulge in the European theater.
Japanese had sought to negotiate an end to the war prior to the use of
the atomic bomb. But their leadership was divided, and unwilling to
accept the terms of unconditional surrender
that the Allies insisted upon, opting instead for extending the war to
weaken the Allies negotiating position in the eventual peace talks. So
it continued through July and early August 1945.
On August 6, 1945 the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing between 90,000 and 166,000 people. Then on August 9 — the same day that Russia entered the war in the Pacific by invading Manchuria — the atomic bombing at Nagasaki was carried out at Nagasaki by the crew of the Bockscar, killing between 39,000 and 80,000 people.
Following an attempted coup by Japanese military leaders who wanted the war to continue, the emperor announced Japan’s surrender to the the U.S. and its Allies on August 15.Of Note
: President Obama visited
Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park in May 2016, and while he didn't apologize
for America's use of the atomic bombs against Japan, he did call for "a world without nuclear weapons." Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Insomnia Cured Here)