The 6th of August and the 9th of August are the anniversaries of what I think are possibly the most reprehensible atrocities of war ever committed, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I think that this was an abhorrent waste of life, and to think that people actually justify it makes me really angry.
This is why:
26 Jul 1945
The Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender or the Potsdam Declaration was issued by US President Harry S Truman, UK PM Winston Churchill¹, and President of the Republic of China² Chiang Kai-shek.
The Ultimatum delivered to Japan stated that it would face "prompt and utter destruction" but no mention of the bomb was made.
30 Jul 1945
Japan initially rejected the terms of surrender but wanted to have it modified so that the Japanese Government would still retain the Emperor. Japan requested two weeks leave to discuss the terms of surrender; this was granted. This would have meant that a Japanese surrender would have been submitted on the 13th of August.
2 Aug 1945
Emperor Hirohito flies to Vladivostok for a conference with Stalin. At this point we either have to concede that Hirohito was either looking for an ally for negotiations with Potsdam, or perhaps to for Japan to become a Soviet Protectorate. I guess we'll never know.
3 Aug 1945
The US Air Force destroys Vladivostok's air strip and port facilities citing that intelligence had detailed "important activity in that area". It has never been stated by US official just what that "important activity" was, but it effectively locked Hirohito in Soviet territory.
5 Aug 1945
After considerable debating, the Japanese War cabinet was deadlocked 6-6 on whether or not to accept the terms of surrender. Because the casting vote was that of Hirohito himself, the Japanese PM Kantaro Suzuki issued a statement of "Mokusatsu" with regards the instrument of surrender.
This is where it gets interesting. What does "Mokusatsu" mean? Mokusatsu literally means two concepts: "silence" (moku), and "kill" (satsu). This can be taken in a multitude of ways. Either it's as aloof as "no comment" in English or it can just mean to let a subject die. Considering that the Japanese War cabinet thought that they still had 8 days to come up with an answer and that Hirohito himself could not cast the deadlock breaking vote, Mokusatsu from a Japanese perspective is perfectly reasonable, but to the Allies it was seen as hostile.
6 Aug 1945
The city of Hiroshima is devastated by the dropping of a nuclear bomb and 140,000 people were instantly killed. After the Hiroshima bombing, President Truman announced, "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth."
9 Aug 1945
The city of Nagasaki is also like Hiroshima, levelled by a nuclear bomb strike. 90,000 people were killed instantly.
10 Aug 1945
Major General Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, sent a memorandum to General of the Army George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, in which he wrote that "the next bomb should be ready for delivery on the first suitable weather after 17 or August 18."
12 Aug 1945
Hirohito surrenders with the following address:
"Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers."
The truth is I have no idea whether or not Hirohito intended to surrender or negotiate a close to the war by the 13th of August. Whatever the case, the fact remains that he was never allowed to, by virtue of the fact that either because of something as shabby as mistranslation or deliberate pigheadedness³ on the part of Truman and his War Council, the destruction of 230,000 innocent people happened at an order; I think needlessly.
For all the bickering that goes on behind world leaders desks, people often forget that it's servicemen and civilians who actually bear the brunt of warfare. A Japanese person sitting at home minding their own business is no more or less valuable than an American, a Briton, a Ghanaian, a Bolivian or whoever else you'd like to nominate.
I don't care if they are the enemy, the fact remains that most enemies if given the chance would prefer to be left alone with the morning's newspaper and a cup of coffee than be sent off to fight for their country; especially if they didn't really need to.
Since this is the anniversary of the destruction of so many lives, I would like to nominate someone in counterpoint. Neville Chamberlain more or less knew that war with Germany was inevitable but that he delayed it for two and a half years, saving unknown countless lives. Although he is seen as a weak leader for not engaging Hitler, I think that he was well aware that it wasn't going to be him personally that was doing the fighting, but other people's sons, brothers, daddies and mates.
Now justify it for me.
¹Churchill resigned as PM on 27th Jul 1945
²The People's Republic (Communist) didn't start until 1949
³"pigheadedness" appears to be an actual word that the spell checker recognises