Essay: Do we owe Japan an apology for our decision to drop two atomic bombs on their country during World War II?

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  • Subject area(s): Politics essays
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  • Published on: August 24, 2019
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Do we owe Japan an apology for our decision to drop two atomic bombs on their country during World War II? No, not necessarily. The war was the single most costly conflict the American people had ever experienced. President Harry Truman’s decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in the summer of 1945 was a horrific, yet necessary factor in ending World War II. The bombs saved countless American lives and forced Japan to surrender, which brought an end to three years, eight months, and 22 days of conflict for the United States [8].

President Truman was only responsible for the decision to drop the bombs, not to have them made. The bombs were ultimately approved to be built by Franklin Roosevelt. It was Roosevelt who first learned about the new ideas of nuclear fission and uranium to create bombs through great physicist and Nazi Germany refugee, Albert Einstein. Einstein informed him of Nazi Germany’s plans with the new scientific developments, and how they were going to build a bomb. Not the scientific facts, but rather, the fact that Germany was securing their uranium and planning to build a bomb of their own sparked Roosevelt’s interest. After Germany attacked Poland and world War II had officially begun, the race to build the bomb ensued. American, British, and German scientists were all working to scientifically prove Einstein’s ideas, and to fabricate plans for the bomb. The British scientists ended up finding the procedure first, and shared their findings with the American scientists. Shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and Germany declaring war with America, Franklin Roosevelt gave the orders to build the bomb [4].

By 1945, it was clear to both America and Japan that Japan would not win the war. American leaders knew that despite the odds, Japanese soldiers would continue to resiliently defend themselves against the United States, as surrender was cowardly and dishonourable in Japanese culture. We saw the Japanese represent this cultural trait earlier in the war during the battle on Iwo Jima, where they continued to fight until almost their last soldier. Only 200 of the 21,000 Japanese troops were taken prisoner by American Marines [1]. Japan fought and lost many more lives when they were already completely defeated by America. They were prepared to never surrender in future combat during the war. A less-desired solution to bring about the end of the war was the final invasion of Japan by American soldiers to force their surrender. The issue with this solution was that it would bring about a catastrophic number of casualties to the American forces. President Truman was not fond of this attempt. He said that it would be worth it to prevent the “many thousands of American troops that would be killed in invading Japan” [10]. On the other hand, Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, argued that an invasion would end the war more surely and quickly than other alternatives [7]. These quotes show some of the controversy that happened between government leaders while making the decision. No one was really on the same page. In 2018, there are many more people that believe the bombs were unnecessary and the decision to drop them was racist and cruel. There are strong arguments for and against Truman’s decision, but before anyone can make a legitimate decision, they first must take into account what the times were like during the war. One argument is that the only reasons were to emphasize political dominance and keep the Soviet Union at bay. This argument does make some sense, as America was worried about the Soviet Union’s use of nuclear weapons during the war. Dropping the bombs showed them the mass destruction their weapons were capable of when used in battle, which helped to make them rethink their use of nuclear weapons. The part of this argument about political dominance is frankly an irrelevant factor when talking about the decision to drop the bombs. President Truman was faced with either losing more American lives or ending the war very quickly. It is not apparent that there were many thoughts of dominance, as he was focusing on restoring America’s morale [2].

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