Did the dropping of the atomic bomb save lives?

User Avatar

Wiki User

2007-09-25 13:01:47

Best Answer

There are strong arguments on both yes and no. Both arguments are introduced, and the historical facts are listed below.

The supporting arguments state that the President Truman needed to decide whether he should send in the military and live with the estimated 750,000 or more deaths (there are various numbers from Maximum of 46,000 of official estimate by the Supreme Council to 4,000,000 in common belief; refer to historical facts) that would result, or drop the bomb and force the Emperor to surrender. In this argument, the question lies whether the President could face the nation if he refused to use The Bomb and U.S. troops were killed, when the nation was told that those deaths were unnecessary. In addition, recently, there occurred arguments about the number of Japanese citizens who would have died in the conventional war. Wartime poverty and lack of resource was to the limit. Conventional incendiary bombing (firebombing) were taking lives of people. Traditional Japanese housings were susceptible to fire due to their wood and paper structures. This bombing of the cities actually killed additional 200,000 people by the end of the war. There would have been more deaths if the landing operation was actually carried out (no official estimates).

The opposing arguments state that the atomic bombs were not necessary to end the war. The swift ending of the war after the atomic bombing made a strong impression of American military success and much obscured other critical factors. The atomic bombing was carried out despite the fact that President Truman was aware that Japan would fold up no time soon. The question here is, why was the order approved before the Potsdam declaration was issued, while other nations at Potsdam Conference pointed out that the surrender would be easily attained if the Emperor and the polity would be maintained, and when even President Truman himself was convinced that Japan would fold up before August? (refer to historical facts) First, the power balance with the Soviet Union was the key. There is a view that President Truman intentionally extended the war by withdrawing the clause, to balance the power with the Soviet Union. President Truman was so wary of Stalin that he felt the need to display the power to inhibit its progression. Japan making peace early through the Soviet Union meant to lose the chance and to let the Soviet Union to gain Japanese land. Also, although the United States needed the Soviet Union to join the war to control the Guangdong Army in Manchuria, the landing of the Soviet Union on mainland Japan had to be avoided for the same purpose. The fact that the United States occupied Japan in the post-war order was critical and turned beneficial to the national security of the "West" during the cold war. Second, the weapon developed with over $2 billion USD ($23 billion in 2007 dollars based on CPI) of budget and with more than 130,000 people had to be experimented, and the uproar of the war did not allow the involved to reconsider. Third, it is suspected that President Truman did not pay as much attention to Asian civilians due to the sense of racial superiority based on remarkable colonialism among the Allied Nations. In these arguments, the atomic bombs were used for the interest of the government of the United States, not to end the war, and did actually add to the numbers of war victims and casualties. The arguments supporting atomic bombing are led by an exaggerated post-war governmental proclamation that had no relation to official estimates, to make citizens to believe to shake off the guilt and to doge the international accusations that were rising.

Some believe that "the atomic bombs" saved lives, some do not. 418,500 Americans and 3100,000 Japanese (including some who were brought into from the surrounding Asian countries), 72,000,000 people in the world died during the WW2. Every life that was lost was precious and irreplaceable. Those who lost lives through the battle must have fought believing and proud of the country as well as being a member of a family. The history always has multiple sides of the stories. "What if" in history is rarely meaningful. Every nation has the mission to promote the best interest of the nation and its constituents. 20th century was where that became prominent in the deadliest form of armed might. We can only try to track down the facts by documents, memos, and a lot of the time, by vague memories of the involved, keeping in mind that those can never be neutral. Nobody involved would be free from strong emotions or guilt. Yes or No should be left to the judgment of each person. And let us keep in mind that the monopoly of this power did not end up in monopoly or did not lead to an end of conflict.

Supreme Council held at the White House on Jun 18, 1945 discussed the landing operation in mainland Japan. The president was already Harry Truman. There were three plans and the estimated numbers of casualties of American soldiers are as follows; Plan1: 127,500 (including 25,000 deaths), plan2: 193,000 (including 40,000 deaths), plan3: 230,000, (including 46,000 deaths). Marshall and MacArthur estimated the total number of casualties as much less, 31,000 to 65,000. The maximum estimated number of deaths at this point was 46,000. This is ten-folds less than the common belief. It is noticeable that the number kept growing in President Truman's memory after the war. It turned from 46,000, to 250,000 in 1948 in a letter to his sister, to 500,000 in 1955 in his memoir, to 1000,000 in 1953 in a letter to Professor Kate at Chicago University.

Japan had fought the war in Okinawa Island until Jun 22, 1945 where 190,000 people including 120,000 civilians died. At this point, Japan secretly started to work towards peace through the Soviet Union while Japan-Soviet Neutrality Pact was active. The aim was to end the process by early Jul 1945 when Potsdam Conference was said to be held. Japanese leaders insisted that the protection of the Emperor and the retention of the national polity after the war. At the same time, Japanese leaders had convinced the citizens that they should fight to the death to defend the Emperor, who they considered to be a God. What Japan did not know was that the Soviet Union already agreed to join the war against Japan at Yalta Conference (Feb 4-11, 1945). The Soviet Union was to join the war three months after Germany should surrender. (Germany surrendered May 8, 1945.)

Also, it is worth noting that the target of the atomic bombs was Japan from the very beginning, on the contrary to the belief that they were originally developed to counteract the Nazism and was used against Japan after its surrender. May 5, 1943 at the first meet of Military Policy Committee of the Manhattan Project, Germany was declined as the first target of the bomb, and Japanese fleet station in Truk was decided instead. April 23, 1945, before the German surrender, Colonel L. Groves wrote to Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson that the target was consistently Japan.

President Truman came to know via decoding that Japan had been working towards peace with the Soviet Union. The diary of Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson on Jul 16, 1945 shows "I also received important paper in re Japanese maneuverings for peace. It seems to me that we are at the psychological moment to commence our warnings (to surrender) to Japan. …the recent news of attempted approaches on the part of Japan to Russia impels to urge prompt delivery of our warning." President Truman was also told directly by Stalin about the peace making process with Japan at Potsdam Conference (Jul 17- Aug 2, 1945). The diary of President Truman of Jul 17, 1945 shows "He'll be in the Jap War on August 15th. Fini Japs when that comes about. ----I can deal with Stalin. He is honest-but smart as hell." Meanwhile, President Truman was told of the successful test of the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb) in Alamogordo, New Mexico on Jul 16, 1945. Diary of President Truman of Jul 18, 1945 shows "Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. Believe Japs will fold up before Russia comes in." Jul 24, 1945, President Truman told Stalin about the planning of atomic bomb, although Stalin had already known through the spying activities. The memories of Churchill and other attendee about this conversation are not coherent.

Previous to the actual decision, Jun 27, 1945, Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph A. Bard wrote the Bard memorandum; " I have had a feeling that before the bomb is actually used against Japan that Japan should have some preliminary warning for say two or three days in advance of use. The position of the United States as a great humanitarian nation and the fair play attitude of our people generally is responsible in the main for this feeling." Bard resigned Jul 1, 1945.

Jul 20, 1945, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, General Eisenhower advised President Truman that the atomic bombs were not necessary to the end the war against Japan.

Jul 25, 1945, the atomic bomb plan was officially approved by President Truman while he was still in Potsdam. "20th Air Force will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. To carry military and civilian scientific personnel from the War Department to observe and record the effects of the explosion of the bomb, additional aircraft will accompany the airplane carrying the bomb. The observing planes will stay several miles distant from the point of impact of the bomb. 2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further instructions will be issued concerning targets other than those listed above. 3. Discussion of any and all information concerning the use of the weapon against Japan is reserved to the Secretary of War and the President of the United States."

Jul 26, 1945, a day after the atomic bombing was approved, Potsdam Declaration was issued. The Allied Nations were aware that Japan was close to surrender, and that it would easily do so if the clause to protect the Emperor and the national polity should be left untouched. But President Truman insisted that this clause to be effaced.

Japanese Emperor showed affirmative reply to the cabinet on Jul 27, 1945. Still, said to be awaiting peace through the Soviet Union, Jul 28, 1945, Japan officially announced "no comment". Yet, this was translated as rejection by the journalism in the Allied Nations.

Aug 6, 1945 0815, the atomic bomb "little boy" exploded in Hiroshima. Although exact statistics not known, 90,000 to 140,000 people died, 87,000 injured. Aug 7, 1945, The United States declares the usage of Atomic bomb and that there would be an unseen destruction if Japan would not accept the conditions for surrender. Japan objected through Switzerland to the usage of this indiscriminate weapon over civilians. Aug 8, 1945, Japanese Emperor and the cabinet decided to end the war without waiting for the reply from the Soviet Union. The official announcement to the Japanese military was postponed till Aug 9, 1945. Aug 9, 1945 1102, the atomic bomb "fat man" exploded in Nagasaki. 73,884 died, 74,909 injured. This bombing took place in the middle of Japanese cabinet meeting in the presence of the Emperor while discussing the conditions to accept Potsdam declaration. Two bombs erased about half of the population, mainly civilians, of each area.

Aug 8, 1945, while the world was in a turmoil with the first use of the atomic bomb, the Soviet Union crossed the Manchurian border, against the Japan-Soviet Neutrality Pact. Manchuria was still dominated by Japan since Sino-Japanese War in 1894-5, and this act was a violation of the International Law.

Aug 10, 1945, Japan replied to Allied Nations to surrender on condition that the polity was to be maintained. Aug 12, 1945, the Allied Nations replied that the Japanese polity should be determined by free will of Japanese citizens. Aug 13, 1945, Japanese army planned on a coup d'état to continue the war to maintain the polity and the protection of the Emperor. Aug 14, 1945, Japanese Emperor summoned the cabinet against the customary to stop the coup d'état, and announced the acceptance of Potsdam declaration. This was officially announced to the Allied Nations. Aug 17, 1945, Disarmament of Japan. The attack of the Soviet Union lasted until 2 Sep 1945 when Japan signed the surrender, detaining 600,000 Japanese men to force labor in Siberia. Japan-Soviet Neutrality Pact was never officially annulled.

User Avatar

Wiki User

2007-09-25 13:01:47
This answer is:
User Avatar
Study guides

World War 2

20 cards

What year was japan's World War 2

What describes an important outcome of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War 2

What was a goal of the Bolshevik party in Russia in 1917

Why did the German Empire deserve to take over parts of Czechoslovakia

See all cards
115 Reviews

Add your answer:

Earn +20 pts
Q: Did the dropping of the atomic bomb save lives?
Write your answer...
Still have questions?
magnify glass
Related questions

How much money did America save by dropping the atomic bomb on japan instead of going into battle?

Answer One reason for using the atomic bomb was to shorten the war and save the lives of American and also Japanese soldiers who would die in the invasion. How do you put a price tag on lives???????????

Did Truman save lives during the atomic bomb?

He did.

What is the main reason president Harry Truman gave for ordering an atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima?

He thought dropping the bomb would save American lives by making the Japanese surrender.

How did the atomic bomb save Japanese lives?

It prevented an American invasion.

Who dropped atomic bomb on japan to save American lives?


Was the choice to drop the atomic bomb on Japan hard for Harry S. Truman?

No he thought it was the best solution and would save millions of american lives, along with the lives of allied troops. He fully supported the idea of dropping the bomb fully.

Did dropping the atomic bomb save the US money?

Yes, but for the most part it just saved Japan from overpopulation.

Why did America want to save Americans lives by dropping atomic bombs?

To avoid an invasion of Japan

What was Trumans aim in decidingto drop the atomic bomb was to?

End the war and save American lives

The official reason for dropping atomic bombs on japan was?

To save American lives by ending the war and avoiding an invasion

What are 3 pros of dropping the atomic bomb?

I never state a war action as a pro. All war actions are not good. The pros here came from a link named " Pros of Dropping the Atomic Bomb" The pros for dropping the bomb are that the war ended faster when Japan saw how devastating the atomic bomb was. The atomic bomb leveled both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the United States had not dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, then the United States would have been forced to invade Japan, which was making preparations for the invasion. The thought process with dropping the bomb was that it would save hundreds of thousands of American soldier's lives. With dropping the atomic bomb, the United States had to be the one's making the atomic bomb. So even though many lives were lost in using this weapon, with the United States developing it first, this helped in preventing other nations developing it first, which may have led to an atomic bomb being used on us. Many Japanese civilians were reported starving to death and this was a result of the Japanese Army taking all of the food, leaving little left for regular families. By dropping the atomic bomb, there was the tragedy of civilians dying, however with a drawn out war with Japan, how many of those civilians would have died from starvation? Would it have been more than the casualties lost by the atomic bomb? Another pro was that after dropping the atomic bomb, all POW soldiers were released from Japan! With the atomic bomb, The United States would become a superpower. The United States had always tried to keep peace, and having the atomic bomb gave it the leverage needed, as other nations saw the devastation created by this weapon, which ha led to negotiations and peace talks rather than war.

Would the allies defeat japan without the atomic bomb?

The Americans were ready to invade Japan when the bomb was used, and it was used to "save American lives."

People also asked