January 24, 1972: Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi is Captured

Tuesday, January 24, AD 2017


If there were any question as to the fanaticism, or raw courage and determination if one prefers, of the Japanese military during World War II, the tale of Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi would have answered it.  For 28 years after the liberation of Guam he survived in the jungles, initially with nine other soldiers.  He learned in 1952 that Japan had lost the War, but he did not surrender because Japanese soldiers did not do that.  On January 24, 1972 he was discovered by two local villagers on Guam who subdued him and brought him from the jungle with minor bruising.  On returning to Japan he said, “It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned.”

Two Japanese soldiers of World War II surrendered in 1974 and none since then.  Shoichi Yokoi married, became a popular television personality and advocated leading an austere lifestyle.  He passed away in 1997, his tombstone being the one purchased by his mother in 1955 under the assumption that he was dead.

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2 Responses to January 24, 1972: Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi is Captured

  • Donald, your historical posts are always informative and fascinating. Thanks.
    Maybe you could do one on an A.A. Historical Note  …..
    Bill Wilson (AA’s founder along with Dr. Bob Smith) was born on November 26, 1895, and passed away on January 24, 1971.
    (at the age of 75 )………..46 years ago, today!!
    He and Dr. Bob based the AA program – its 12 Steps and 12 Traditions – on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, St. Paul’s Love Chapter in 1st Corinthians 13, and the faith without works is dead philosophy of the Epistle of St. James.
    For this once drunken dope fiend but now a recovering alcoholic drug addict that’s what works.

  • If Yokoi went back to Japan he would have been executed anyway.

Feeding Japan

Friday, November 6, AD 2015


The most pressing problem facing General Douglas MacArthur as the post war ruler of a devastated Japan was the prospect of famine.  MacArthur immediately set up feeding stations throughout Japan in order to feed the tens of millions of Japanese who had been left completely indigent as a result of the War.  News of this filtered back to the states and was ill received in an America still angry from a War begun by a sneak attack and in the throes of mourning 400,000 war dead.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned MacArthur against the gratuitous use of US supplies to relieve Japan.

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2 Responses to Feeding Japan

  • Francis Marion refused to admit war claims against the Tories after the Revolutionary War ended, to insure peace. General MacArthur was right to feed the citizens of Japan when World War II ended. The children of Japan remember the goodness and generosity of the Americans to insure their survival. It is nothing less than the Good Samaritan did for the victim who fell among robbers.
    “Give me bread or give me bullets.” could only have come through the Holy Spirit. “It was MacArthur’s shining moment.”

  • Best way to destroy an enemy is to convert them to a friend. 😀

October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

Monday, October 19, AD 2015



General MacArthur wasted no time in letting the Japanese government know precisely the direction that the new Japan would take. By his directive of October 4, 1945,  (SCAPIN-93) he ordered the Japanese government to remove restrictions on the civil, political and religious rights of Japanese citizens.

Five days after the directive, the Japanese prime minister resigned, unwilling to carry out this sweeping change.  His successor released all political prisoners, repealed or abrogated fifteen laws restricting the rights of the Japanese people and began a far sweeping purge of government officials wedded to the old regime. 

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One Response to October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

  • Japan had a competitive parliamentary system prior to 1938, albeit one with a limited franchise of the sort characteristic of post-Napoleonic Europe. Shy of a quarter of the adult population cast ballots in the 1930 elections, A generation earlier, it had been below 5%. Not sure how free public deliberation was, or what sort of immunities the general public had in dealing with the authorities. The military paid no heed to elected officials after 1930. In our time and place, it’s the legal profession who appear to be beyond control.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

Thursday, October 8, AD 2015


While he was Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, General MacArthur had a framed quote on his wall.  The quote is from the Roman conqueror of Macedonia Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, or at least the words that Livy put into the mouth of Paullus:

Do you give full credit to whatever I shall write to you, or to the senate; but do not by your credulity encourage mere rumours, of which no man shall appear as the responsible author.  For, no man is so entirely regardless of reputation, as that his spirits cannot be damped; which I have observed has commonly occurred, especially in this war.  In every circle, and, truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass Macedonia should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet. And they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on his trial. These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own authority be diminished through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation.  I am not one of those who think that commanders ought never to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who did every thing of his own single judgment. What then is my opinion?  That commanders should be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those, especially, who are skilled in the art of war, and who have been taught by experience; and next, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the country, who see the enemy; who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, embarked, as it were, in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.  If, therefore, any one thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, which may prove advantageous to the public, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia. He shall be furnished by me with a ship, a horse, a tent; and even with his travelling charges.  But if he thinks this too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not, on land, assume the office of a pilot.

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2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

  • I am sure our resident European expert in ancient languages, MPS, will correct me if I err, but wasn’t this an excerpt from chapter 22 of Livy’s book 44? Let us see if I got this right – it’s been 30+ years since I read any Livy in the original tongue, so hopefully I have not embarrassed myself.
    Vos quae scripsero senatui ac vobis, iis modo credite et cavete ru mores credulitate vestra alatis, quorum auctor nemo extabit. Nam nunc quidem, quod vulgo fieri, hoc praecipue bello, animaduerti, nemo tam famae contemptor est, cuius non debilitari animus possit. In omnibus circulis atque etiam, si displacet, in conuiviis sunt, qui exercitus in Macedoniam ducant, ubi castra locanda sint sciant, quae loca praesidiis occupanda, quando aut quo saltu intranda Macedonia, ubi horrea ponenda, qua terra, mari subvehantur commeatus, quando cum hoste manus conserendae, quando quiesse sit melius. Nec, quid faciendum sit, modo statuunt, sed, quidquid aliter, quam ipsi censuere, factum est, consulem veluti dicta die accusant. Haec magna impedimenta res gerentibus sunt: neque enim omnes tam firmi et constantis animi contra adversum rumorem esse possunt, quam Q. Fabius fuit, qui suum imperium minui per vanitatem populi maluit, quam secunda fama male rem publicam gerere. Non sum is, Quirites, qui non existumem admonendos duces esse: immo eum, qui de sua unius sententia omnia gerat, superbum iudico magis quam sapientem. Quid ergo est? Primum a prudentibus et proprie rei militaris peritis et usu doctis monendi imperatores sunt; deinde ab iis, qui intersunt gerendis rebus, qui loca, qui hostem, qui temporum opportunitatem vident, qui in eodem velut navigio participes sunt periculi. itaque si quis est, qui, quod e re publica sit, suadere se mihi in eo bello, quod gesturus sum, confidat, is ne deneget operam rei publicae et in Macedoniam mecum veniat. Nave, equo, tabernaculo, viatico etiam a me iuvabitur; si quem id facere piget et otium urbanum militiae laboribus praeoptat, e terra ne gubernaverit.

September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

Sunday, September 27, AD 2015

Emperor and Shogun

When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan. 

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One Response to September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

  • My father loved history, not as much as fluorine and other halogens perhaps, but a former co-worker of his said Dad would hide away in his office reading some history book while pondering some problem in the lab. After doing so, he’d come out with the solution to the vexing problem. Thank you for including these tidbits on the blog.

Japan Remains One Country

Monday, September 21, AD 2015

01General Derevyanko1

One of the more decisive decisions of the Occupation of Japan, that Japan would remain one state, was made early in the process by General MacArthur.  The Soviets planned to occupy the northern island of Hokkaido and establish a puppet Soviet regime, identical to what was occurring in East Germany.  If this had succeeded, Japan could have been divided into a Communist North Japan and a Democratic South Japan for the length of the Cold War.  Appeasement of the Soviets was still very much in favor at the State Department, and it is possible that if the Soviets had simply begun landing in Hokkaido, that Washington may have capitulated on that point.  After all, the Soviets were full members, with Great Britain, in the Allied commission to supervise and monitor the Supreme Commander in Tokyo.  The Soviets also insisted upon a tri-partite division of Tokyo, similar to what was being done in Berlin.  MacArthur would have none of it.

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4 Responses to Japan Remains One Country

  • Now there’s some nightmare fodder. Japanese culture melded with the Soviet, rather than American, culture…

  • Yes Foxfier, Images of Socialist Samurais come to mind. Also coming to mind, is the trouble Dr. Carson is having after opining that a Muslim President would be unacceptable. Would the same trouble attach to someone saying as much about a possible Japanese president during the nineteen forties? As to the “religious test” prohibition in the Constitution, not all things licit are expedient.

  • It’s just lazy emotion-in-place-of-thought; the question of if a philosophy is compatible with the constitution has zero to do with if the constitution would forbid someone holding that philosophy from holding office.

  • If the Muslim held to Sharia Law, there would be no way to reconcile that with the Constitution.

September 14, 1945: Statement by MacArthur

Monday, September 14, AD 2015




The task confronting MacArthur seventy years ago in Japan was absolutely staggering.  As Supreme Commander Allied Powers, he found himself in charge of a devastated Japan. Most of its major cities were collections of rubble.   The Japanese rail system was in shambles from Allied bombing.   Most of the Japanese merchant fleet was now sailing the bottom of the Pacific. An immense famine was manifestly waiting in the wings.  The Japanese shattered medical system was unable to cope with rampant disease.   Finally, the Japanese economy was at a virtual standstill, awaiting the repatriation of millions of Japanese troops stationed overseas to add to the ranks of the unemployed.  To top this off, MacArthur also had to fend off loud demands from politicians and ordinary American citizens that Japan be punished, anger at the unprovoked war still being raw in the United States.  MacArthur, ever sensitive to public opinion, on September 14, 1945 released a statement to give some inkling to his fellow countrymen of the situation in Japan:


September 14, 1945

New York Times.

I have noticed some impatience in the press, based upon the assumption of a so-called soft policy in Japan. This can only arise from an erroneous concept of what is occurring.

The first phase of the occupation must of necessity be based on military considerations which involved the deployment forward of our troops and the disarming and demobilization of the enemy. This is coupled with the paramount consideration of withdrawing our former prisoners of war and war internees from internment camps and evacuating them to their homes.

Safety and security require that all of the steps shall proceed with precision and completeness, lest calamity may be precipitated.

The military phase is proceeding in an entirely satisfactory way.

Over half of the enemy’s force in Japan proper is now demobilized and the entire program will be practically complete by the middle of October. During this interval of time, safety and complete security must be assured.

When the first phase is completed, other phases as provided in the surrender terms will infallibly follow. No one need have any doubt about the prompt, complete, entire fulfillment of the terms of surrender. The process, however, takes time. It is well understandable that in the face of atrocities committed by the enemy there should be impatience. This natural impulse, however, should be tempered by the fact that security and military expediency still require an exercise of some restraint. The surrender terms aren’t soft and they won’t be applied in kid-glove fashion.

Economically and industrially as well as militarily, Japan is completely exhausted and depleted. She is in a condition of utter collapse. Her governmental structure is controlled completely by occupation forces and is operating only to the extent necessary to insure such an orderly and controlled procedure as will prevent social chaos, disease and starvation.

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5 Responses to September 14, 1945: Statement by MacArthur

Father Barron and the Bomb

Thursday, August 13, AD 2015

Here is a guest post by Greg Mockeridge:


It should go without saying that readers of TAC are familiar with the work of Fr. (soon to be bishop) Barron. His presence on You Tube is ubiquitous. He has also produced the Catholicism series, featured not only on Catholic media outlets like EWTN, but also on secular outlets like Pbs. In and of themselves, using outlets such as these to get the message of the Church out are commendable. And certainly Fr. Barron has done some good work along these lines and has earned a rather immense popularity as a result. Again, in and of itself, being popular is not a bad thing. But popularity can be just as dangerous in Catholic circles as in secular circles. In fact, I would say it is even more dangerous in Catholic circles than secular, given that it is done under the aegis of Catholic orthodoxy.

Any honest Catholic who has paid attention to what has gone on in popular orthodox Catholic circles cannot deny that there are serious problems with the way many Catholics, clergy and lay alike, prominent in orthodox circles have conducted themselves over at least the last decade. For example, we have seen the mean spirited and calumnious treatment by Mark Shea of those, Catholic and non-Catholic, who take views on geopolitical matters that conflict with his. It doesn’t matter to Shea that such views are both consistent with Catholic teaching and factually compelling. Even worse is the manner with which bishops like Archbishops Chaput and Cordileone speak on matters such as capital punishment, going to the extreme of falsely asserting that the death penalty system is administered in a racist manner against minorities. We have also seen Cardinal Timothy Dolan engage in race baiting calumny against the state of Arizona over SB 1070, which allows, pursuant to what has been federal law since 1940, for local law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of those they have reason to believe are in the country illegally. We also have the scandal of the USCCB, in their annual Fortnight for Freedom campaign, listing certain state immigration laws as violations of religious liberty equal to that of the Obama Goonsquad (err Administration) forcing employers to provide coverage for contraception in their health insurance plans, despite conscience objections baed on religious conviction. Equating these two things cannot by justified by any stretch of the Catholic imagination.
Although I wouldn’t say Fr. Barron has gone to the lengths of the examples listed above, he is not without his serious problems. I first saw problems with Fr Barron when he gave a glowing review of Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion. This book was bad in its own right, bad research methodology and some bad religion of its own. Douthat nakedly  misrepresents Catholic teaching with regard to socio-economics as well as misrepresenting Michael Novak. Douthat’s portrayal of the torture issue is no different in substance than that of Mark Shea, sans the snark. How any respectable orthodox Catholic, much less one who is an influential cleric, can give a glowing review of such a dishonest piece of work is beyond baffling.
Then Fr. Barron, in this article for the National Review of all publications, draws parallels between the anti-Catholic sentiment of many of the American Founding Fathers and the pro-abortion movement of today. To be sure, many of our founders did harbor anti-Catholic sentiment, but to draw the parallels Fr. Barron did is not only without merit, but downright appalling. No such parallels are anywhere close to existent. I would say that the pro-abortion movement is not anti-Catholic as an end in itself, but sees Catholic opposition to abortion as a threat. In fact, these very same people are very favorable to the elements of Catholicism they think comports with their “social justice” worldview and often invoke it in an attempt to buttress their views.
So, it should be of no surprise that when Fr. Barron deals with an issue like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the 70th Anniversary of which passed a few days ago), his analysis would be woefully devoid of Catholic moral principles and a real good faith attempt to accurately present the circumstances within which President Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs.
Recently, I came across a video he did last year where he deals with the subject. In it, he confirms that hunch. And in the same manner he juxtaposes the anti-Catholic sentiment of our Founders with the pro-abortion movement of today, he does the same with drawing parallels with support for the bomb drops with rejecting Catholic sexual teaching. First of all, his assertion that “very few” wars in human history were just vis-a-vis Catholic moral teaching is a matter of opinion, namely his, not of fact. He repeatedly says “clearly” that things like carpet bombings as well as the atomic bombings did not comport with the principle of proportionality. Well, clearly, he is either ignorant of the circumstances within which these actions were taken or he is counting on the ignorance of his viewers. And, unfortunately, counting on the ignorance of many orthodox Catholics on issues like this is a well-founded assumption. Proportionality has do with the bad effect being avoided being greater than the bad effect inflicted. And in the cases he discusses, especially with regard to the atomic bombings, the case for the principle of proportionality being met is compelling. I would say it is incontrovertible. He says nothing about the principle of double effect and how it may apply to this situation.

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37 Responses to Father Barron and the Bomb

  • Great article. Fortunately for me, I have such an abrasive personality that the problem of the world liking me is very remote.

  • What a terrible analysis. I gather it makes you feel good to think that the American experiment has been a Catholic project since the beginning. You are suffering from a bad case of Americanism– a heresy diagnosed by Pope Leo XIII in 1899 –and today is more virulent than ever. http://bit.ly/1QicjiA ,http://bit.ly/1dQBTyU The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a close moral case. The problem is consequentialism –a moral heresy that since that day has become the most popular moral heresy in the postmodern world. http://bit.ly/1D7TKx5 It has been condemned by every pope since it happened and ever major Catholic theologian including Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen who, along with many others, believed that Hiroshima was far more than just a military /political operation (as you wish to analyze it) but a singular event that resulted in the moral chaos which gave rise to the Sexual Revolution and the Culture of Death. http://bit.ly/1gFpUpy

  • “You are suffering from a bad case of Americanism”

    Ah, Americanism, the phantom heresy!


    Gibbons was on good terms with both Pope Leo, who gave him his cardinal’s cap, and Pope Pius of whom he wrote a biography. Americanism was an imaginary heresy, largely the result of Pope Leo XIII being ill-informed about conditions in America and paying too much heed to idiots among American clerics who delighted in attempting to stir up trouble over nothing. Modernism was a real enough heresy, although Pope Pius tended to throw the baby out with the bath water and completely orthodox Catholic scholars suffered along with complete heretics.

    Cardinal Gibbons and the rest of the American heirarchy responded that no one among them taught these propositions that were condemned:

    1.undue insistence on interior initiative in the spiritual life, as leading to disobedience
    2.attacks on religious vows, and disparagement of the value of religious orders in the modern world
    3.minimizing Catholic doctrine
    4.minimizing the importance of spiritual direction

    They were really scratching their heads on this one and had a hard time figuring out why the Pope was concerned with a non-problem in this country.

    This tempest in a papal tea pot had more to do with the French Church. A biography of Father Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists and now a Servant of God, was mistranslated into French and portrayed Father Hecker as some sort of flaming radical which he was not. This book became popular among liberal Catholics in France. As usual the relationship
    between the French Church and the Vatican was turbulent at this time. Pope Leo XIII’s concern about “Americanism” could have better been labeled a concern about “Frenchism”. Purportedly Leo XIII was reluctant to attack the Church in America, which he had often praised, and made his rebuke of “Americanism” as soft as possible.

    “We having thought it fitting, beloved son, in view of your high office, that this letter should be addressed specially to you. It will also be our care to see that copies are sent to the bishops of the United States, testifying again that love by which we embrace your whole country, a country which in past times has done so much for the cause of religion, and which will by the Divine assistance continue to do still greater things. To you, and to all the faithful of America, we grant most lovingly, as a pledge of Divine assistance, our apostolic benediction.”

    The statements of loyalty from the American heirarchy were sufficient for the Pope and “Americanism” vanished from history as quickly as it appeared.

  • “The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a close moral case.”

    Agreed. It was clearly the best of the bad options Truman confronted.

    “It has been condemned by every pope since it happened and ever major Catholic theologian”

    Incorrect on both counts.

    “but a singular event that resulted in the moral chaos which gave rise to the Sexual Revolution and the Culture of Death.”

    One of the sillier things that Bishop Sheen said, for which there is bupkis evidence. By the way Becky, did you know that both Bishop Sheen and the Popes supported nuclear deterrence during the Cold War? Nuclear deterrence only worked because of the certainty that if we were attacked by the Soviet Union or China with nuclear weapons, we would unleash nuclear weapons on their cities that would make the atom bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like firecrackers. This is a much more complicated area than you conceive of, and deserves far more thought than your cut and paste diatribe that you have used several times on this blog.

  • Thank you for posting this article. It contains thoughts I’ve had for quite some time. I am continually amazed how so-called orthodox Catholics periodically leave logic and reason behind, and frequently the truth, then tell me my contrary view is not Catholic. It’s almost as though they are trying to maintain their credibility/popularity with the left. Mr. Mockeridge lists several of the usual suspects, but sadly, there are quite a few more.

  • Chances are, 99.99% of the time those questioning the merits and positions of Fr. Barron had best re-calibrate themselves.

  • Fr.Barron, in spite of his perceived conservative orthodoxy, is a liberal. He has publically taught Adam and Eve aren’t historical figures. He’s also against the death penalty. So, his stand on the Bomb shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has taken the time to understand what he really believes.

  • “Chances are, 99.99% of the time those questioning the merits and positions of Fr. Barron had best re-calibrate themselves.”

    I remember visiting a center of Opus Dei once. They were debating the morality of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most felt it immoral but there were two who offered very cogent arguments on why they were. These individuals weren’t equated with those rejecting the sexual teaching of the Church. The group held that the Church had not definitively judged the bombings and that there was legitimate freedom in disagreeing.

    Perhaps Opus Dei is now a heretical sect. Or perhaps there is room to licitly disagree.

  • Wow, this article is a mish-mash. Ad hominem attacks against Fr. Barron (with whom I disagree about much, including my strong area of interest, capital punishment). Misapplication of the principle of double effect, the first requirement of which is that the act to be done must be good in itself or at least morally indifferent– dropping atomic bombs on civilians is not “good” or “morally indifferent” so double effect does not even apply. And throwing up counterfactual historical theories such as the laughable army of women, old men, and children that would supposedly have faced American troops. The Japanese could not even clothe these “troops” much less train or arm them. In any event, if they would have engaged our military, their deaths would not be morally attributable to our actions, but to their own and their government’s.

    This is yet another weak attempt to evade the clear teaching of Veritatis Splendor and Pope Saint John Paul II’s condemnation of the primary error in moral reasoning in our time, that of consequentialism, the idea that avoiding some perceived evil or attaining some great good justifies the direct commission of an immoral act.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not populated by the laughable militia we’ve now seen several references to… they were civilian populations with minimal military significance. Their destruction was not intended to advance a military goal, but simply to terrorize the Japanese government into surrender by the threat of further mass killing of civilians.

    That this direct, deliberate killing of tens of thousands of civilians, including women, children, the elderly, might have averted the need for an invasion of Japan, does not justify it according to traditional Catholic moral principles.

    I have seen no argument yet that does not run afoul of either Veritatis Splendor’s condemnation of consequentialism, or of the clear magisterial condemnation of the use of nuclear weapons:

    Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons—especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes. (CCC 2314; cf. Gaudium et Spes 80)

  • What a terrible analysis. I gather it makes you feel good to think that the American experiment has been a Catholic project since the beginning.
    The modern method [of argumentation] is to assume without discussion that [your opponent] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — ‘Oh you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth [and Twenty-First] Century.

    –C. S. Lewis, “Bulverism,” in God in the Dock, p. 273

  • Fr. Jone’s conclusion, by the way, is not a vindication of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is theoretically possible that the use of the bombs on a purely military target, for instance, an island like Iwo Jima which had been totally occupied by enemy troops, would be justified.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not significant military targets, but even if they had been, the presence of tens of thousands of civilians would violate Fr. Jone’s restriction of use of these weapons to military targets only.

    At any rate, the bombings were not a military necessity, but a perceived political one. Don’t take my word for it, if you’re interested in the views of actual military experts (not merely bloggers), check out what George Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur, William Leahy, Chester Nimitz, and Curtis LeMay said about the bombings, here: http://www.garalperovitz.com/2011/08/on-the-sixty-sixth-anniversary-of-the-bombing-of-hiroshima/

    No group of suspicious Catholic libruls there. But alas, even when military experts who were there and had far more intimate knowledge than any one in a combox could possibly have, it will not convince those who do not wish to be convinced, since maybe they’d have to admit that Truman made a poor choice.

  • Never thought to much of Father Barron since he said he didn’t know if hell really existed. I don’t guess he’s read the Bible.

  • , doesn’t sound like the Fr. Barron others are seeing. Comments like that are much the problem here. You mistake the “existence” of a place with the knowledge that it’s “populated”. The church has always said “yes” and “don’t know”.

  • Tom: On capital punishment, the death penalty, ordained and consecrated men and women are to serve God through the Catholic Church. Ordained priests, all priests are above the secular world of the state. Read John Henry Cardinal Newman on capital punishment and the duty and power of the state. It is among the most beautiful language, I have ever read. This is for Father Barron too. Being completely computer ignorant, I cannot supply a link.
    On the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First, I was alive at the time, being 73 years old now, People were exhausted, Rosie the Riveter, Uncle Sam, there was no more left in the American people fighting the war on two fronts. There was no more left. (Lisa Mitner who had discovered nuclear fission refused to help build the bomb, her nephew did, Oppenhiemer was revealed to be a double agent for the USSR, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were gassed for treason and bloodguilt during war.) There was no more left. No one really knew much about the BOMB. The scientists themselves believed that the nuclear fission started would consume the atmosphere and all the earth with its inhabitants would perish. The Enola Gay was to drop the bomb on Tokyo, but Tokyo was too far away. The twin cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war production. After the war, many of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki toured the globe with their skin hanging off as though it was melted, as it was, and on TV, pretty much accused the USA of being an aggressor and a monster.
    The bomb brought the Japanese war back to Japan. No apologies necessary. If Japan had won the war and global dominance, Fr. Barron would probably not even be here. What would Hitler and Hirohito face off bring?
    Let me tell you about how Czar Nicholas II waged war. 9 to 15 soldiers were sent out onto the battlefield with one rifle. When the first soldier fell, the second soldier picked up the rifle, down the line. That is how war was fought without proper armaments. I have no doubt that the Japanese, who believed that their emperor was a god, would have fought to the death. The threat was real. The enemy was not to be trusted. If the bomb saved one American soldier it was moral and licit. Would that he be John Basilone of Raritan, N.J.

  • Father Barron did not say that hell is empty of souls. Father Barron said that we, as people, cannot know if a person has gone to hell, which is true, but let me add that souls in hell are never remembered, so, if anyone is wondering if a certain person is in hell, he probably is not, if he is in your memory. The torments of hell are unimaginable. To experience hell, even through another person’s experience of hell is unsustainable. The children at Fatima would have died upon seeing hell but for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s hand. The children saw the souls of the damned falling like snow into hell and asked for First Saturday Penitence. Father Barron is correct when he says that the fires of hell are the love and mercy of God as rejected by the sinner, as death fixes our relationship with God as unchangeable. Heaven is the Beatific Vision forever and forever and forever.

  • Every time the issue of the atomic bombs (and other issues like it) come up within the Catholic Media Complex, the term “consequentialism” gets passed around like a joint in a hippie commune.

    With regard to Gaudium et Spes, it doesn’t say anything like “even though the line between combatant and non-combatant has been erased”. And that is an essential element in any moral analysis of the bombings.

    Mr. Check’s analysis is some of the same tripe his predecessor at Catholic Answers, Karl Keating, put out a decade ago. In the words of Pete Townsend, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    Apparently, Chris Check has no problems with the death penalty, seeing as how he executes a whole slew of straw men.

    Anyone who understands the nature of the enemies we faced in WWII (Japan even more so than Germany) knows why the Allies were insistent on the unconditional surrender. It prevented WWIII, which would have occurred within about a decade after WWII if not sooner.

    I find Mr. Check’s article all the more painful because he was an artillery officer in the Marine Corps. And he has to know much of what he says is not true.

    Father of Seven, I agree with you. The list of bad actors is much longer than the list I provided. I didn’t want to get too far afield in my article. To give a thorough treatment of the problem would require a book.

  • This about the battle of Okinawa. While this is from Wikipedia and thus subject to error, one can see that there was already a fairly robust conscription of civilians including “middle school seniors.” The number conscripted represents about 10% of the estimated civilian population of Okinawa at the time. Ultimately almost 100,000 civilians died in the invasion.

    “The Japanese land campaign (mainly defensive) was conducted by the 67,000-strong (77,000 according to some sources) regular 32nd Army and some 9,000 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) troops at Oroku naval base (only a few hundred of whom had been trained and equipped for ground combat), supported by 39,000 drafted local Ryukyuan people (including 24,000 hastily drafted rear militia called Boeitai and 15,000 non-uniformed laborers). In addition, 1,500 middle school senior boys organized into front-line-service ‘Iron and Blood Volunteer Units…'”

    More on the Boeitai:

    “The Boeitai was a Japanese “home guard” force of World War II. It was established by the War Ministry in June 1944 in response to the worsening war situation facing Japan, and initially comprised all reservists in the 20-40 age group including those who would not normally be liable for military service under the Japanese conscription system. The Imperial Japanese Army’s area armies had responsibility for raising and administering Boeitai units, and there was considerable variation in how these formations were structured and used. Boeitai units were established in the Japanese home islands, Okinawa, Korea and Formosa. Unlike regular Japanese Army soldiers, Boeitai personnel were not indoctrinated to fight to the death or consider themselves to be imperial subjects.

    “Around 20,000 local Boeitai conscripts were involved in the Battle of Okinawa during 1945, with most initially serving as labourers or in support roles but some augmenting frontline Army units. Most of the Okinawan Boeitai were teenagers or aged in their 30s and 40s. As the fighting continued, many of the support personnel were assigned to combat duties despite not being provided with any training for this role or effective weapons; some Boeitai personnel were ordered to conduct suicide missions in which they attempted to blow up tanks with satchel charges. In addition, several Okinawan Boeitai groups fought as partisans armed mainly with spears and grenades.”

    For those who were planning the invasion of Japan and considering the use of the bomb, the thought of a militarized Japanese population was a realistic expectation.

  • Tom:

    The mass conscription that turned the entire country of Japan into a military base was the very military objective (which was the word actually used) described by Fr. Jone. And there is nothing “laughable” about the massive bloodbath, made more bloody by the chaotic civilian involvement, that would have resulted from an invasion of mainland Japan.

  • Truman was a democrat. Enough said.
    “. . . At any rate, the bombings were not a military necessity . . .” Not sure about that.
    My opinion, to the extent that (fallen, fallible) civilian and military authorities were convinced that the bombs would quickly induce surrender, there would be both military necessity and purpose.
    Hiroshima, I believe, was the location of an army corps HQ. Hit the snake in the head. However, my target preferences would have been first Imperial Army HQ and then (if it was not a heap of radioactive ashes) Hirohito’s palace. That’d show millions of murderous fanatics that the Emperor is not god.
    Herein I’m channeling Curtis Lemay. If the shia mullahs both want the end of the world and the bomb, I suggest someone (Israel maybe ) detonate a demo model over the next mass meeting. Now, Obama and the rest of the western losers are acting like Chamberlain and Quisling on steroids.

  • I think its time to rename this blog, “The Americanist Dissenting Catholic.”

  • wj,

    I missed the arguments for the opinions you are disputing.

  • Why tamper with the title? To simply cast aspersions?
    Location identified.
    Religion identified.
    As to assent and dissent, there are reflections of morals guided by the faith taught carefully by our Lord, thanks be to God.

  • a dose of moral sanity from ed feser, philosopher and orthodox Catholic:


  • jpk,

    Ed Feser is a great philosopher. So he knows that killing the innocent, no matter what the reason, is wrong. He, contra many Catholics of disordered thinking, also defends the death penalty:


    I juxtapose these issues because he knows of double effect, he knows one can use lethal means to stop an aggressor and he would know to engage the arguments posted above rather than provide a bland comment.

  • Philip,

    IProf. Feser does reference the PDE in the combo box thread of the post I referenced above. He writes (August 11, 2010 at 10:30 AM) in response to another commentor:


    Yes, naturally (as a natural law theorist) I subscribe to PDE. But PDE doesn’t justify Nagasaki. It would do so only if the bombers were not trying to kill people who they knew to be innocent, but were instead trying to destroy munitions factories or some such thing, and the civilian deaths were a foreseen but unintended byproduct. But that is not what they were doing. They were, again, trying to kill the civilians.

    You might respond “But they were doing so only for the sake of ending the war sooner.” True, but irrelevant, and to think it is relevant evinces a misunderstanding of PDE. PDE doesn’t say “As long as your ultimate goal is OK, you can justify whatever means you need in order to achieve it.” The act of intentionally bombing thousands of innocent people is itself intrinsically immoral, and the reason you are doing it doesn’t change that. The act of intentionally bombing a city for the sake of destroying munitions factories is (according to PDE) a different act, even if you know civilians will die as a result, because killing the civilians is not part of the intention behind the action.

    Feser also agrees in another thread how bad the Japanese were, and how it is in consequence extremely difficult to stick to moral principles in the face of grave evil. The link to that thread is here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/01/unconditional-surrender.html, and here is a relevant quote but the whole article and comment discussion is worth the read:

    Third, for that reason it is probably true that the atomic bombings saved many lives, both Allied and Japanese, that would have been lost in an invasion. It is also probably true that it saved the lives of POWs like Zamperini. Given Japan’s wicked “kill-all” policy of massacring POWs before they could be liberated – which had been carried out already many times in other parts of Japan’s empire – it is likely that only the abrupt end to the war the shock of the bombings made possible could have prevented the implementation of that policy in the home islands. Critics of the bombings should not pretend otherwise: If they hold (as they should) that we should never do what is intrinsically evil, regardless of the consequences, then they should admit that Hiroshima and Nagasaki force them to put their money where their mouths are, if any real-world example does.

    I agree that Prof. Feser is a great philosopher and a Catholic gentleman. That is why I’m thankful that he is out there providing sound reasoning consonant with the Catholic faith on such weighty issues. I certainly need all the help I can get.

  • But that does not address the question if a large part of the civilian population had been militarized.

  • As I said above, the term “consequentialism” gets passed around the Catholic Media Complex like a joint in a hippie commune. And Feser takes a nice long toke. Nowhere does he address the the issue of mass conscription that erased the line between combatant and non-combatant. Neither does Jimmy Akin. To do so would lay bare just how ridiculous their argument are.

  • Please give a principled response to Feser below:

    What matters is that any consequentialist must allow that it is at least in principle legitimate intentionally to kill the innocent for the sake of a “greater good.” And from the point of view of us reactionary, bigoted, unprogressive natural law theorists and Catholics, that is enough to make consequentialism a depraved doctrine. For it is never, never permissible to do what is intrinsically evil that good may come – not even if you’d feel much happier if you did it, not even if you’ve got some deeply ingrained tendency to want to do it, not even if it will shorten a war and save thousands of lives. Never.

  • “at least in principle legitimate intentionally to kill the innocent for the sake of a “greater good.””

    Actually the Church has allowed the killing of the innocent in War to serve a “greater good”. The Crusades would have been impossible if the innocent had an all embracing exemption from harm that critics of Mr. Truman think they should possess. What is being argued here, among other issues, are questions of intentionality, foreseeability and just how much of a target needs to have military applications before it is licit to bomb the target. All this of course is being debated in an atmosphere of the neo-Pacifism embraced by the Church since World War II, a new stance for the Church, probably the product of the very simple fact that contemporary popes no longer wage wars, unlike the vast majority of their predecessors. However, even with this neo-Pacifism the popes of the Cold War did endorse nuclear deterrence that rested on obliterating entire civilian populations in retaliation for a nuclear attack. I think this poses a problem for the Hiroshima critics that I have never seen them address.

  • The principled response is that I agree. There is no reason to commit evil so that good may come of it. However, you continue to miss the point.

    But yet we are allowed to go to war. The reason is (as with the death penalty) is that the state can use lethal force to defend itself and others. This has been consistent Church teaching. The discussion is, if the Japanese had de facto conscripted the majority of their population, then in fact the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were not bombings directly aimed at civilians but at regular and irregular (conscripted) military.

    Yes, there would still be civilians in those cities, but the Church has always accepted that there may be casualties among civilians if the intentions was to target the army (or militarily related targets) and not civilians, there was proportionate reason to do so and that the act did not proceed through the killing of civilians (the argument from PDE.) Thus, for example, the Church allowed besieging cities, knowing that there would be harm and death among civilians, in order to defeat an aggressor army.

    Here, now I will help you. The argument will now turn on two points. That the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had in fact been conscripted (at least in principle) and that their numbers were proportionate reason to use the bomb given the effects of the bomb that could be foreseen (the deaths of civilians.)

  • Gentlemen, thank you for your responses. I will think more on the issue.

  • First: Japan is guilty for the deaths of all the innocent people who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in the war Japan started.
    Second: Reparations being demanded and paid to the people interned in Arizona by the government, interned because they were Japanese is nonsense. These people were in protective custody. The kids across the street were “the germans”. In a Polish neighborhood, a hail of stones greeted them every time they came around. They were “the germans.” Mussolini and Mrs. Mussolini were dragged through the streets by their feet, tied upside down in the public square and beaten with sticks.

  • Consequentialism is a term used by Pope Saint JPII to describe just the type of moral reasoning occurring in these discussions.

    I suppose the late Pope might be viewed as a hippie passing a joint around, but I prefer to see his teaching in VS a mere reiteration of the Church’s timeless moral reasoning, which was in effect even during the Crusades, during which any direct killing of innocents would never have been viewed as morally justified. The Crusades were carried out by lay armies, not by moral philosophers. Abuses happened, and they were just that: abuses, not examples of moral behavior.

  • “The Crusades were carried out by lay armies, not by moral philosophers. Abuses happened, and they were just that: abuses, not examples of moral behavior.”

    If there was any condemnation by the Church at the time of the massacre of almost all the Muslim and Jewish population of Jerusalem after its fall to the First Crusade, I am unaware of it. The attitude of the Church towards War today has not always been the attitude of the Church towards War.

    Citations by authority are weak arguments Tom, as I am sure you would agree since you were certainly unconvinced by John Paul II’s statements against the death penalty.

  • Consequentialism is a term used by Pope Saint JPII to describe just the type of moral reasoning occurring in these discussions.

    Quote and source, please, if not an actual link to the entire context.
    You have shown a consistent pattern of interpreting statements in ways that are not supported by their actual content, and ignoring that which cannot be interpreted away.

  • Now, Veritatis Splendor did have a condemnation of consequentialism.
    Problem being, it’s got nothing to do with the form of an argument, it’s a matter of foundation claim.
    The condemnation is of those who go by that name who maintain that it is never possible to formulate an absolute prohibition of particular kinds of behaviour which would be in conflict, in every circumstance and in every culture, with those values.
    In other words, denial of inherently wrong actions being possible.
    About the only way this could reasonably get dragged into this discussion would be via an unexamined assumption that an action is inherently immoral coupled with a projection on to the other side that they agree and are arguing that an inherently immoral action is OK in this case.
    For example, someone who believed that cutting a living human is inherently wrong would have to come up with some sort of a system that worked that way to deal with surgery, even the very ancient sorts.

  • The Judicial system. Justice is predicated on intent. Surgery to save a life; and any law may be broken to save human life as in the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as self defense against an aggressor, or the Court ordering a blood transfusion for Jehovah Witnesses, not to intervene in their religion but to save a life, even an unborn child who becomes an aggressor against his own mother may be aborted justly. This last case scenario has never happened. The child would be removing himself from life-support, but it is the case of self-preservation and self -defense inscribed in our natures and in the Preamble.
    The intent to take a life is homicide and a sin and crime. The informed consent to commit homicide (attempted murder) and the intent to commit a grave mortal sin in informed consent, self-excommunicates a person from the church and makes an outlaw of a citizen, a persona non grata, and exile.
    This informed consent is the free will exercise of the will and a proof that man has a soul, a sovereign soul, from the very first moment of his existence, who directs his life and growth.
    America dropped warning leaflets on Hiroshima and Nagasaki warning the inhabitants of the bomb and instructing them to leave for two weeks prior to the bombing. America did not intend to kill any inhabitants. America intended to disable the cities and scare a surrender out the Emperor god. The Emperor god knew that the bomb was coming, yet Hirohito did nothing to save his people. Hirohito’s “subjects and loyal servants to the imperial state” perished. Are “subjects” and “loyal servants to the imperial state” waging a war of aggression innocent? Ought these” subjects and loyal servants to the imperial state” supposed to be in surrendered non-combatant state of being?

Japan’s Atom Bomb Program

Thursday, August 13, AD 2015


Most Americans are unaware that during World War II Japan had two programs seeking to build an atomic bomb.

In 1939 Dr. Yoshio Nishina,  a Japanese nuclear physicist, recognized the potential of the then theoretical atomic bomb.  ( In 1934 Professor  Hikosaka Tadayoshi theorized about such a bomb.)  In 1940 he spoke with Lieutenant-General Takeo Yasuda, director of the Army Aeronautical Department’s Technical Research Institute, about the potential of an atomic bomb.  The Japanese Army began its program to develop an atomic bomb in April 1941.

Meantime, the Japanese Navy began its own program creating the Committee on Research in the Application of Nuclear Physics chaired by Dr. Nishina in 1942.  The Navy’s project ended in 1943 when the Committee reported that while such a bomb was feasible it predicted that it would be difficult for even the United States, with all its resources, to harness the power of the Atom in time to have an impact on the War.

However, the Navy dropping out had no effect on the Army’s program which continued on to the end of the War, hampered both by lack of materials and by ever heavier US bombing.  How far the Japanese got is open to speculation as the project was veiled in the deepest secrecy during the War, and most documents pertaining to it were destroyed by the Japanese prior to the Surrender.

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4 Responses to Japan’s Atom Bomb Program

  • This doesn’t mean anything. Only heterosexual, tax-paying, white men are capable of doing evil.

  • One of the many, many interesting things about Takashi Nagai’s “The Bells of Nagasaki” is that he and some of his surviving physicist colleagues correctly speculated that the attack was atomic in nature on August 9. Apparently, nuclear weaponry was considered plausible by a large number of scientists.

  • This extract from the Tonizo Dossier may be of interest..

    Meeting on Uranium research at the Nishina laboratory. 6th July 1943.

    Attendance: Dr. Nishina, Gen. Nobu-uji, Ishida ( gishi / engineer ?)
    From page 4 of 5.

    Dr. Nishina; The minimum mass of uranium 235 is about 10Kg and is determined by the balance between the neutrons generated by fission and those lost though the surface. If too many are lost then there will be no sustained chain reaction. Though this critical mass is about 10 Kg, it will not make a bomb, there needs to be extra, assume an extra 10 Kg (1).
    Gen. Nobu-uji asks if this extra will also under go fission. Nishina says, no, only a portion will undergo fission, the rest will be lost in the explosion (2). At present it is not within our capability to implement such a device.
    There are other reasons why a bomb is not practical and therefore not recommended ( fu-tokusaku. In order to achieve the largest possible explosion, the bomb needs to be held ( hoji ) together for 1/30 to 1/20 [micro]* second and to achieve this it requires a large and heavy tamper or reflector (3). The weight would be enormous ( jindai ), therefore it is considered impractical and as a bomb not suitable ( tekito narazaru ).
    (1) Modern nuclear parameters yield a critical mass for U235 of about 17 Kg with a substantial reflector. The Hiroshima bomb used 80% U235 and was about 2.8 critical masses.
    (2) Only about 700 grams of U235 out of 64 Kg underwent fission at Hiroshima., the rest being lost in the explosion.
    (3) Due to the exponential increase of the fission process, 99.5% of the energy is released in the last 4.6 fission periods. At about 10 nano-seconds per period this is 46 nano-seconds or approx. 1/25 micro-second. During this period the energy released must overcome the inertia of the tamper holding ( hoji suru ) the device together.
    * The word micro is missing from the text, micro-second = haku man bun no ichi byo.

  • In Germany at about the same time, Heisenberg talked of the critical mass of U235 as having a radius 54 cm and weighing 10 tons.
    The dividing line between success and failure is perhaps not as obvious as it may appear.

August 10, 1945: Japan Offers to Surrender, With One Condition

Monday, August 10, AD 2015



Meeting just after midnight on August 9, 1945, in the first hour of August 10, 1945, with Emperor Hirohito present, the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War deadlocked yet again, 3-3 between peace and war factions.  Looking to Hirohito to break the deadlock, the Emperor suggested acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration if the Imperial Throne were preserved.  The Japanese government asked the Swiss government to present to the US its conditional acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.  Here is the text of the American Charge d’Affaires  to the Secretary of State conveying the news:



August 10, 1945

Sir; I have the honor to inform you that the Japanese Minister in Switzerland, upon instructions received from his Government, has requested the Swiss Political Department to advise the Government of the United States of America of the following:

“In obedience to the gracious command of His Majesty the Emperor who, ever anxious to enhance the cause of world peace, desires earnestly to bring about a speedy termination of hostilities with a view to saving mankind from the calamities to be imposed upon them by further continuation of the war, the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis a vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold sufferings entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following.

“The Japanese Government are ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam on July 26th, 1945, by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China, and later subscribed to by the Soviet Government, with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.

“The Japanese Government sincerely hope that this understanding is warranted and desire keenly that an explicit indication to that effect will be speedily forthcoming.”

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6 Responses to August 10, 1945: Japan Offers to Surrender, With One Condition

  • “…any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”

    Somewhere in Washington, aides are scrambling to include that historic phrase on the TOPTUS for future speeches–alliteration and all.

  • “…any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”
    of a defeated evil nation…

  • Don, how many weeks earlier to 8/10 had the Japanese tried to surrender? 3-4?? well before 8/6 and 8/9- and it was blocked by Stalin who wanted into the Sino war and did so in Manchuria on 8/8. asking Uncle Joe stalin for his ‘good office’….. he killed between 30-40 mil people.-
    from above…
    ‘ the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis a vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold sufferings entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following…………………….

    Was the bomb really necessary? Uncle Joe and all those other good Democrats –

  • “An inner cabinet in Tokyo authorized Japan’s only officially sanctioned diplomatic initiative. The Japanese dubbed this inner cabinet the Big Six because it comprised just six men: Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki, Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, Army Minister Korechika Anami, Navy Minister Mitsumasa Yonai, and the chiefs of staff of the Imperial Army (General Yoshijiro Umezu) and Imperial Navy (Admiral Soemu Toyoda). In complete secrecy, the Big Six agreed on an approach to the Soviet Union in June 1945. This was not to ask the Soviets to deliver a “We surrender” note; rather, it aimed to enlist the Soviets as mediators to negotiate an end to the war satisfactory to the Big Six–in other words, a peace on terms satisfactory to the dominant militarists. Their minimal goal was not confined to guaranteed retention of the Imperial Institution; they also insisted on preservation of the old militaristic order in Japan, the one in which they ruled.”


  • your Frank esq. quote is encouraging me to see another side to this issue – the ‘shock value of the bomb’ for the japanese peace party [sic] …… Really – i am expanding my view on this in my mind after 30 yrs or so…….N.B.:Kido Koichi , Lord keeper of the privy Seal is not mentioned in Franks gang of 6- maybe he was in under a nome de plume http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008633.html
    ….As Asado points out, the dropping of the two atomic bombs was the equivalent of American aid to Japan’s beleaguered peace party. Thus, Kido Koichi, the emperor’s main advisor, agreed that “we of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war.” He agreed, in other words, with the very man Nobile attacks, Henry L. Stimson, who understood the “profound psychological shock” the bomb would have. As Asado writes: “This ‘strategy of shock’ worked, for it encouraged the peace party to redouble its efforts to bring about a decision for surrender.”… Both the Japanese peace group and the U.S. advisors accepted the atomic bomb and its use as the main instrument for ending the war, a linkage that Asado notes “rested on the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” It was, as Rear Admiral Takagi Sokichi said, one of the “gifts from Heaven,” since it averted an impending and probable military revolt by the Japanese generals, and hence guaranteed acceptance of the Potsdam terms.

  • i mis sequenced Koichi Kido’s given and surnames. The Lord high keeper of the privy seal …..and sometime visitor to titi pu.

Hiroshima Survivors

Friday, August 7, AD 2015


At my first law firm I worked with a charming Irishman, Tom Ryan.  Dead now sixteen years, during World War II he was a staff officer with the Eighth Air Force in Europe.  At the conclusion of the struggle on that continent he was slated to participate in the invasion of Japan.  He referred to himself as a Hiroshima survivor.  The late Paul Fussell, literary critic, I heartily recommend his The Great War and Modern Memory, served as an infantry Lieutenant in the fighting in France and Germany during  World War II.  He too was tagged to take part in the invasion of Japan. A political liberal after the War, in 1981 he wrote an essay entitled Thank God for the Atomic Bomb  in which he spoke for Hiroshima survivors like him:


When the atom bombs were dropped and news began to circulate that “Operation Olympic” would not, after all, be necessary, when we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live. We were going to grow to adulthood after all. The killing was all going to be over, and peace was actually going to be the state of things.

When the Enola Gay dropped its package, “There were cheers,” says John Toland, “over the intercom; it meant the end of the war.” Down on the ground the reaction of Sledge’s marine buddies when they heard the news was more solemn and complicated. They heard about the end of the war with quiet disbelief coupled with an indescribable sense of relief.

We thought the Japanese would never surrender. Many refused to believe it. . . . Sitting in stunned silence, we remembered our dead. So many dead. So many maimed. So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war.

These troops who cried and cheered with relief or who sat stunned by the weight of their experience are very different from the high-minded, guilt-ridden GIs we’re told about by J. Glenn Gray in his sensitive book The Warriors. During the war in Europe Gray was an interrogator in the Army Counterintelligence Corps, and in that capacity he experienced the war at Division level. There’s no denying that Gray’s outlook on everything was admirably noble, elevated, and responsible. After the war he became a much-admired professor of philosophy at Colorado College and an esteemed editor of Heidegger. But The Warriors, his meditation on the moral and psychological dimensions of modern soldiering, gives every sign of error occasioned by remoteness from experience. Division headquarters is miles—miles—behind the line where soldiers experience terror and madness and relieve those pressures by crazy brutality and sadism.

Indeed, unless they actually encountered the enemy during the war, most “soldiers” have very little idea what “combat” was like. As William Manchester says,

“All who wore uniforms are called veterans, but more than 90 percent of them are as uninformed about the killing zones as those on the home front.”

Manchester’s fellow marine E. B. Sledge thoughtfully and responsibly invokes the terms drastically and totally to underline the differences in experience between front and rear, and not even the far rear, but the close rear. “Our code of conduct toward the enemy,” he notes, “differed drastically from that prevailing back at the division CP.” (He’s describing gold-tooth extraction from still-living Japanese.) Again he writes:

“We existed in an environment totally incomprehensible to men behind the lines . . . ,”

even, he would insist, to men as intelligent and sensitive as Glenn Gray, who missed seeing with his own eyes Sledge’s marine friends sliding under fire down a shell-pocked ridge slimy with mud and liquid dysentery sh-t into the maggoty Japanese and USMC corpses at the bottom, vomiting as the maggots burrowed into their own foul clothing.

“We didn’t talk about such things,” says Sledge. “They were too horrible and obscene even for hardened veterans…. Nor do authors normally write about such vileness; unless they have seen it with their own eyes, it is too preposterous to think that men could actually live and fight for days and nights on end under such terrible conditions and not be driven insane.”

And Sledge has added a comment on such experience and the insulation provided by even a short distance: “Often people just behind our rifle companies couldn’t understand what we knew.” Glenn Gray was not in a rifle company, or even just behind one. “When the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came,” he asks us to believe, “many an American soldier felt shocked and ashamed.” Shocked, OK, but why ashamed? Because we’d destroyed civilians? We’d been doing that for years, in raids on Hamburg and Berlin and Cologne and Frankfurt and Mannheim and Dresden, and Tokyo, and besides, the two A-bombs wiped out 10,000 Japanese troops, not often thought of now, John Hersey’s kindly physicians and Jesuit priests being more touching.

If around division headquarters some of the people Gray talked to felt ashamed, down in the rifle companies no one did, despite Gray’s assertions. “The combat soldier,” he says, knew better than did Americans at home what those bombs meant in suffering and injustice. The man of conscience realized intuitively that the vast majority of Japanese in both cities were no more, if no less, guilty of the war than were his own parents, sisters, or brothers. I find this canting nonsense. The purpose of the bombs was not to “punish” people but to stop the war.

To intensify the shame Gray insists we feel, he seems willing to fiddle the facts. The Hiroshima bomb, he says, was dropped “without any warning.” But actually, two days before, 720,000 leaflets were dropped on the city urging everyone to get out and indicating that the place was going to be (as the Potsdam Declaration had promised) obliterated. Of course few left.

Experience whispers that the pity is not that we used the bomb to end the Japanese war but that it wasn’t ready in time to end the German one. If only it could have been rushed into production faster and dropped at the right moment on the Reich Chancellery or Berchtesgaden or Hitler’s military headquarters in East Prussia (where Colonel Stauffenberg’s July 20 bomb didn’t do the job because it wasn’t big enough), much of the Nazi hierarchy could have been pulverized immediately, saving not just the embarrassment of the Nuremberg trials but the lives of around four million Jews, Poles, Slavs, and gypsies, not to mention the lives and limbs of millions of Allied and German soldiers.

If the bomb had only been ready in time, the young men of my infantry platoon would not have been so cruelly killed and wounded.  All this is not to deny that like the Russian Revolution, the atom-bombing of Japan was a vast historical tragedy, and every passing year magnifies the dilemma into which it has lodged the contemporary world.

As with the Russian Revolution, there are two sides—that’s why it’s a tragedy instead of a disaster—and unless we are, like Bruce Page, simple-mindedly unimaginative and cruel, we will be painfully aware of both sides at once.

To observe that from the viewpoint of the war’s victims-to-be the bomb seemed precisely the right thing to drop is to purchase no immunity from horror. To experience both sides, one might study the book Unforgettable Fire: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors, which presents a number of amateur drawings and watercolors of the Hiroshima scene made by middle-aged and elderly survivors for a peace exhibition in 1975. In addition to the almost unbearable pictures, the book offers brief moments of memoir not for the weak-stomached:

While taking my severely wounded wife out to the river bank . . ., I was horrified indeed at the sight of a stark naked man standing in the rain with his eyeball in his palm. He looked to be in great pain but there was nothing that I could do for him. I wonder what became of him. Even today I vividly remember the sight. I was simply miserable.

These childlike drawings and paintings are of skin hanging down, breasts torn off, people bleeding and burning, dying mothers nursing dead babies. A bloody woman holds a bloody child in the ruins of a house, and the artist remembers her calling, “Please help this child! Someone, please help this child. Please help! Someone, please.”

As Samuel Johnson said of the smothering of Desdemona, the innocent in another tragedy, “It is not to be endured.” Nor, it should be noticed, is an infantryman’s account of having his arm blown off in the Arno Valley in Italy in 1944:

I wanted to die and die fast. I wanted to forget this miserable world. I cursed the war, I cursed the people who were responsible for it, I cursed God for putting me here … to suffer for something I never did or knew anything about. (A good place to interrupt and remember Glenn Gray’s noble but hopelessly one-sided remarks about “injustice,” as well as “suffering.”) “For this was hell,” the soldier goes on, and I never imagined anything or anyone could suffer so bitterly I screamed and cursed. Why? What had I done to deserve this? But no answer came. I yelled for medics, because subconsciously I wanted to live. I tried to apply my right hand over my bleeding stump, but I didn’t have the strength to hold it. I looked to the left of me and saw the bloody mess that was once my left arm; its fingers and palm were turned upward, like a flower looking to the sun for its strength.

The future scholar-critic who writes The History of Canting in the Twentieth Century will find much to study and interpret in the utterances of those who dilate on the special wickedness of the A-bomb-droppers. He will realize that such utterance can perform for the speaker a valuable double function. First, it can display the fineness of his moral weave. And second, by implication it can also inform the audience that during the war he was not socially so unfortunate as to find himself down there with the ground forces, where he might have had to compromise the purity and clarity of his moral system by the experience of weighing his own life against someone else’s. Down there, which is where the other people were, is the place where coarse self-interest is the rule. When the young soldier with the wild eyes comes at you, firing, do you shoot him in the foot, hoping he’ll be hurt badly enough to drop or mis-aim the gun with which he’s going to kill you, or do you shoot him in the chest (or, if you’re a prime shot, in the head) and make certain that you and not he will be the survivor of that mortal moment?

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14 Responses to Hiroshima Survivors

  • Silly me, I thought this was a post about these people:


    A taste:

    So many had, in an instant, lost those dearest to them. Eiko Taoka, then 21-years-old, was carrying her 1-year-old infant son in her arms aboard a streetcar. He didn’t survive the day. “I think fragments of glass had pierced his head,” she recounts. “His face was a mess because of the blood flowing from his head. But he looked at my face and smiled. His smile has remained glued in my memory.”

  • Yep, and Mr. Fussell noted those other Hiroshima survivors Jeff, just as you ignored his group of Hiroshima survivors, which is about par for critics of Truman. Silly you indeed.

  • From earlier in the same article:

    “Another bright enlisted man, this one an experienced marine destined for the assault on Honshu, adds his testimony. Former Pfc. E. B. Sledge, author of the splendid memoir With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, noticed at the time that the fighting grew “more vicious the closer we got to Japan,” with the carnage of Iwo Jima and Okinawa worse than what had gone before. He points out that

    what we had experienced [my [i.e. Fussell’s] emphasis] in fighting the Japs (pardon the expression) on Peleliu and Okinawa caused us to formulate some very definite opinions that the invasion . . . would be a ghastly bloodletting. It would shock the American public and the world. [Every Japanese] soldier, civilian, woman, and child
    would fight to the death with whatever weapons they had, ride, grenade, or bamboo spear.

    “The Japanese pre-invasion patriotic song, “One Hundred Million Souls for the Emperor,” says Sledge, “meant just that.” Universal national kamikaze was the point. One kamikaze pilot, discouraged by his unit’s failure to impede the
    Americans very much despite the bizarre casualties it caused, wrote before diving his plane onto an American ship “I see the war situation becoming more desperate. All Japanese must become soldiers and die for the Emperor.”
    Sledge’s First Marine Division was to land close to the Yokosuka Naval Base, “one of the most heavily defended sectors of the island.” The marines were told, he recalls, that

    due to the strong beach defenses, caves, tunnels, and numerous Jap suicide torpedo boats and manned mines, few Marines in the first five assault waves would get ashore alive—my company was scheduled to be in the first and second waves. The veterans in the outfit felt we had already run out of luck anyway…. We viewed the invasion with complete resignation that we would be killed—either on the beach or inland.

  • These words of His Holiness Ven. Pope Pius XII, our wartime Pope, are sobering and worthy of reflection. They were made as part of a talk given to the Word Medical Congress on Sept. 30, 1954:
    “Is modern «all out warfare», especially[atomic, biological, chemical] warfare, permissible as a matter of principle? There can be no doubt, particularly in view of the untold horror and suffering induced by modern warfare, that to launch such war other than on just grounds (that is to say, without it being imposed upon one by an obvious, extremely serious, and otherwise unavoidable violation of justice) would be an «offense» worthy of the most severe national and international sanctions. One cannot even in principle ask whether atomic, chemical, and bacteriological warfare is lawful other than when it is deemed absolutely necessary as a means of self-defence under the conditions previously stipulated. Even then, however, every possible effort must be made to avert it through international agreements or to place upon its use such distinct and rigid limitations as will guarantee that its effects will be confined to the strict demands of defence. Moreover, should the use of this method entail such an extension of the existing evil as would render man wholly incapable of controlling it, its use should be rejected as immoral. In such an instance it would no longer be a question of «defence» against injustice, and of the necessary «safeguarding» of legitimate possessions, but of the pure and simple annihilation of all human life within the radius of action. Under no circumstances is this to be permitted.”

    Ven. Pius XII was far better acquainted than we are, 70 years after the fact, of the insane, diabolical war conduct of the Axis powers, but also aware of the threat to humanity that Nuclear Weaponry presented to our world. I don’t interpret his words as a condemnation of past decision making but as a warning to mankind of what awaits us if we fail to turn to God.

  • This was Japan’s war and the Enola Gay brought the Japanese war home to them.

  • I read about a lot of sufferring in this post. That is why I went aboard a submarine. Death by implosion from torpedo impact would be quick. I am a coward. I could not do what those soldiers did or endure what those victims had to endure. War is hell if not worse than hell. Terrible as the atomic bombs were, they had to be used. Thank God during the Cold War those weapons aboard my submarine did not have to be used.

  • Chris, now, come on, what did Pius XII know? He was just a librul, Amurica-bashing rad trad or a reader of the National Schismatic Reporter, dontcha know. Take your pick.

    He obviously did not understand the nuances that the bombs were necessary because without wiping out defenseless civilians in a thoroughly beaten country, American soldiers would had to have died in a pointless invasion, there were no other possible recourses than land invasion, and terrorizing the Japs into surrender by showing our willingness to obliterate civilian population centers was totally moral. To the extent some pope or Catechism or Catholic moral principle gets in the way, why, it must give way to the “practicality” of the situation. The ethics of the act, in short, are derived from the situation, kinda like situational ethics. Got it?

  • chris c.-
    Thank you for that; I now know better why none of the “it was immoral” folks have quoted the Pope at the time on the subject; I’d thought they’d avoided him because of the Soviet smear on his reputation.
    That he did not give the statement they would want– he didn’t say it was impermissible.
    That’s a scaled up version of deadly force considerations, matching the amount of damage involved.

  • I dunno. We didn’t need to fight WWIII. My guess one reason was both super-powers’ nucular arsenals and the doctrine of “mutually-assured destruction” which seems to have been one reason. Thank God the US didn’t (as the left-wing geniuses wanted and Obama is doing today) surrender and unilaterally disarm.

  • Tom, your reply to chris made no sense. You sound like you are floundering.

  • Tom D-
    I don’t know how common it is, but I suspect that it’s a kind of “reading what you wish to read” thing; some folks, when they favor don’t do this and see an authority saying be careful, take it to be an order of don’t do this. I’ve run into it more in bio-ethics, with the major example that comes to mind being a guy who took an official work that said Snowflake babies divided our experts, we can’t make an official finding because one side says save babies and the other says be careful lest it legitimize the horror that resulted in them as meaning thou may not have Snowflake babies.
    So, he reads a Pope saying “it’s not OK in all situations” and understands “it’s not OK.”

  • It’s kind of like those folks who respond to someone asking “how late to Mass can you be and fulfill your obligation” with rants about how you should NEVER be less than five minutes early, etc.
    Fails to answer the question and quite possibly does actual spiritual harm to others, especially as they actively prevent those with a well supported answer from answering, and are preventing people of good will from Communion when they SHOULD be receiving.

  • Foxfier, I think Tom was trying to be sarcastic in some way, but the point of the sarcasm was really obscure. The meaning of Pope Pius XII’s statement is plain and clear. If Tom were trying to state that we were not interpreting it correctly then he did it in a really bizarre manner. I really could not get the point of it. I have the feeling he was just upset and banged out whatever his emotions led him to.

August 7, 1945: No Japanese Surrender

Friday, August 7, AD 2015



One of the arguments of critics of Truman’s use of the atomic bomb, is that a demonstration could have been made of it without blood being shed, over the ocean for example, the Japanese would have seen the power of the bomb and surrendered.  Well, we know that is incorrect.  We know that because the Japanese did not surrender after Hiroshima.  We also know that the Japanese had no intention of surrendering after Hiroshima.  Discussions within the Japanese cabinet were deadlocked until the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, with the dominant war faction claiming that the US probably had no more atomic bombs and that their strategy of holding out, inflicting a defeat on an American land invasion, and then negotiating from strength, was the best strategy for Japan.  The deadlock continued on August 9, 1945 when the atomic bombing of Nagasaki caused the war and peace factions to agree to bring their differences to the Emperor.

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12 Responses to August 7, 1945: No Japanese Surrender

  • The Japanese culture was such that to be taken captive in battle was thought to be an incredible disgrace–they would often kill themselves in
    order to keep from giving up or being captured.

    The attempts to apply modern American cultural reasoning re: these issues to the thinking of the Japanese military in the 1940s is ridiculous. If the Japanese had been using American reasoning, the Japanese would have never bombed Pearl Harbor.

    These folks, who rant & rave against the EXTREMLY limited use of nuclear weapons, usually never mention the unprovoked attack on our naval forced at Pearl Harbor that came w/o any warning.

  • These ranters and ravers are the same self-righteous bunch that rant and rave against any dissent from their tidy little cocoon of Progressive ideology. As that package is complete and without error, to oppose it is to demonstrate some sort of emotional and/or intellectual inferiority.
    The kindest Progressives will simply condescend, with or without the charity of correction, in order that you may know and be content with your status an untermensch; the harshest will consign you to “the wrong side of history” and dismiss you with some sarcastic analysis of your lack of erudition, worldliness or genetic integrity.
    In any event, they’re really fun to piss off. Progressive apoplexy is high comedy indeed.

  • I have thought a lot on this subject, but those first three sentences, put together like that, are compelling in a way I had not fully considered. A counterargument is that details from Hiroshima after the attack were sketchy, while a well staged demonstration (perhaps involving Japanese scientists and other leaders invited to the first test in New Mexico) could have stated the surrender rolling.

    But that counterargument requires all of the invited personalities to have been, well, of the same frame of mind as today’s anti-nuclear critics. It is entirely possible that some invitees would have immediately thought of countermeasures to take so as to continue the fight even with the promised use of nuclear weapons.

    Another, more minor point, is that a demonstration would have required the expenditure of another bomb. Remember, the success of the first test was not guaranteed, so the Japanese could not have been invited to that one.

  • In 1946 the U.S. Navy thought their ships at anchor around Bikini Atoll survived two atomic bombings rather well.
    Until the geiger counters starting going off. And even then it took an expirement involving unexposed film and a freshly caught fish to convince the admirals that there was no way they could sail those ships home.
    So I think it unlikely a demonstration in July ’45 would have convinced the Japanese of anything, simply because nobody as yet could fully comprehend the terrible power of the A-bomb.
    That’s a long way of saying if losing a real city didn’t compel the Japanese to surrender, how was the obliteration of a mocked up American town in the middle of the New Mexico desert supposed to convince them?

  • Horrible weapon, that bomb. I suspect that the failure to surrender even then was precipitated not by fear of dying, regardless of the method, but by the fear of agreeing to losing–dishonor being far worse than death.
    If I recall, the Emperor’s “surrender” speech sounded much like a modern liberal’s apology–you’d have thought they had won.

  • These ranters and ravers are the same self-righteous bunch that rant and rave against any dissent from their tidy little cocoon of Progressive ideology.

    Again, Mr. McKenna is an alt-right denizen whose usual shticks would be neo-confederate historiography and making a case for capital punishment (without ever specifying the boundaries of that). The Shea votaries are a mess of crabs-in-the-bucket whose distinguishing feature is a loathing of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

  • Great point about the Bikini test Ernst. Although, we didn’t build mock towns at nuclear tests until 1949 or so.

    Don L, you are also correct. It would seem that much of the Japanese resistance to surrender was also projection on their part. Their expectations of military occupation appear to have been based entirely on how they had treated others when they were the occupiers. This probably also explains why they fell all over themselves opening up official brothels before the Allies arrived at the end of August.

  • The Japanese culture demanded that death before disgrace was the policy. Death was the only choice the Japanese people and military had. Perhaps if the atomic bomb in the ocean would have caused an earthquake and tsunami and death would have come to Japan this way, it might have worked.

  • The Japanese culture demanded that death before disgrace was the policy.

    And their idea of disgrace was nuts.
    You know how in bad kung-fu movies, one of the things that’s mocked is that a whole group of guys is dancing around, and they kindly attack Our Hero one at a time?

    Their military actually did that. In sea and on land. One group of Marines was sure they’d die, because they were outnumbered hugely, and then the Japanese only attacked in groups that slightly outnumbered them.
    Good tactics meant that you respected the enemy, and we’re not Japanese, so saying you thought those (insert insult here) over there were AS GOOD AS US was dishonorable.

  • This thread is long on ad hominem and ends-justifies-the-means un Catholic reasoning, short on demonstrating how the bombings in any way comport with the clear teaching of the Church, which, like the messenger or not, is abundantly clear about the immorality of direct killing of civilians in wartime in such an indiscriminate manner.

    Ad hominems are the last resort of one without a rational argument.

  • And of course, if the Japs *really were* going to fight to the last man, woman and child, and believed in death before surrender and dishonor… then why did they surrender at the loss of two cities? If it’s true that they were, to a man, woman, and child, committed to death before surrender, why did they surrender? Because they saw the futility of continuing? They would have seen the same futility if we had conventionally attacked them after a long and crippling blockade.

    But we didn’t even try a less destructive method, likely because Truman was worried about the Soviets grabbing territory if the war was prolonged any further. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s civilians had to die in order to terrorize the Japanese government into quick surrender.

  • “And of course, if the Japs *really were* going to fight to the last man, woman and child, and believed in death before surrender and dishonor… then why did they surrender at the loss of two cities?”

    Because the Emperor told them to. If he had told them not to surrender, they would have fought on to the last, which is what they did in almost every Pacific battle they fought. The Emperor surrendered because he realized, finally, with the atomic bomb the jig was up. Even then the Imperial Army attempted a coup to carry on the fight.

August 5, 1945: Briefing For the Hiroshima Mission

Wednesday, August 5, AD 2015

At midnight August 5-6, Colonel Paul Tibbets held a final briefing for the 26 men who would fly the three planes for the Hiroshima mission.  Enola Gay, named after Tibbets’ mother, would carry the atomic bomb and be piloted by Tibbets.  The Great Artiste would measure the blast with special instruments.  A then unnamed plane, later known as Necessary Evil, would photograph the bomb and carry scientific observers.  At the end of the briefing a 25 year old Protestant Army Chaplain, Bill Downey, gave the following prayer:

Almighty Father, Who wilt hear the prayer of them that love Thee, we pray Thee to be with those who brave the heights of Thy heaven and who carry the battle to our enemies. Guard and protect them, we pray Thee, as they fly their appointed rounds. May they, as well as we, know Thy strength and power, and armed with Thy might may they bring this war to a rapid end. We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon, and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care, and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee, knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever. In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Interviewed in 1985 he noted that he was often asked what he would say to the survivors of the bombing:

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16 Responses to August 5, 1945: Briefing For the Hiroshima Mission

  • The chaplain would have been better off saying nothing to the survivors. Suffering people don’t need need to be lectured about about how wicked their nation was. If he couldn’t find consoling words, worthy of a minister of Our Lord, he should simply hold his peace.

  • The chaplain’s got a point about culpability though.

  • Yes, Ernst, but that is a worldly culpability. If he were helping a repentant Japanese citizen with confessing his sins it would be right (“I am sorry I bombed Pearl Harbor…”) but that’s not what he was doing. Here we have an American Catholic priest saying he is sorry for Japanese sins. The truth of course is he is not and cannot be sorry, he is just telling the Japanese they have no right to complain about their suffering. I agree with chris c, except to note that many Japanese indeed have never repented and might benefit from a lecture.

  • In point of fact, what we have here is a Protestant chaplain offering his pat answer to a common hypothetical. As I’m sure you’ll agree upon a closer reading.

  • You are correct Ernst. I missed the ‘Protestant’ in my scrolling. These fonts look very small and grey to me and if I enlarge them I lose other things on the page. I’ll have to slow down a bit. As to the rest, well, moral theology is often made up of hypotheticals. It’s a stock in trade.

  • Pretty sure the hypothetical the good chaplain was responding to wasn’t theological.

  • True again, but an answer with “sorry” throughout it touches on morality. It is his answer that steers into that territory.

  • And that brings us back to culpability [grin]

  • Agreed. It’s too bad more Japanese didn’t consider Christianity. They are a great people, but greatness is nothing in God’s eyes.

  • I am with the Catholic philosopher G.E.M Anscombe. She considered St. Thomas Aquinas (Principle of Double Effect), St. Augustine (just war) and New and Old Testament and concluded: It was a criminal act in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans. Nowadays the Catholic philosopher Edward Feser says the same thing.

  • Pedro,

    G.E. M. Anscombe and Edward Feser were not tasked with the defeat of an enemy who preferred death to surrender. They are entitled to their opinions, but not their own facts.

    Go ahead and stand with them. I am waiting for all of you revisionist Catholic historians to justify what the Japanese military did to the Catholic Filipino population.


    Truman understood what Charles Martel and great Catholic leaders such as Queen Isabel the Catholic, Don Juan of Austria and King John Sobieski understood. None of them asked for war but they took it to the Muslim invaders and thoroughly smashed them. None of them gave a rat’s rear end what philosophers thought because philosophers don’t fight evil. They write and talk.

    There is a time and a place to write and talk and there is a time and a place to fight. This is true no matter what the leftist anti-American Catholic or the hard core traddy American hating Catholic thinks.

  • Dear Penguins Fan,

    Yeah, for sure, there is a time and place to fight. I am also a huge fan of Crusaders. I love St.Louis IX, and Richard Lion Heart. And G.E.M Anscombe wrote more than half of his article War and Murder against pacifism.

    But, she was right it was a criminal act. Just war is no vengeance. And by the Principle of Double Effect (St.Thomas and St.Paul – Romans 3:8) one can not use a bad act to reach a good goal.
    Not even against Muslims (Francisco de Vitoria said).

  • one can not use a bad act to reach a good goal.

    Is there such a thing as a good act in war? Maybe we should have surrendered after Pearl Harbor. Think of all the lives we could have saved by doing so.

    Just war is no vengeance.

    I don’t think anybody at the time thought of the use of the atomic bomb as vengeful acts, although I wouldn’t doubt that a great many took some degree of satisfaction at the destruction caused by its use.

  • Yes, Ernst. War can be a good act, according to St.Augustine. And yes many good acts happen during wars.
    I and GEM Anscombe never said that Second War was a mistake and that the US should surrender. I and Anscombe never said that nuclear bombs are mistake per se.
    We are discussing Hiroshima. Read Anscombe. She was totally against pacifism.
    Regarding vengeance the Church says that it can be just. I agree with that.


  • So Pedro, would the starvation of 1-2 million Japanese in a blockade have been a ‘good act’? How about the deaths of Japanese children killed before they could crawl under American tanks with their explosives?
    If the answer is no, these are not good acts, then how does a blockade or invasion escape the ‘double effect prohibition’ you place on the atomic bombings? My answer is they don’t, especially the blockade option. The atomic bombings appear more immoral only due to their immediacy: view the others from God’s perspective, watch the recording in fast motion, and the immorality would not look much different.

  • President Truman made the decision to drop the first bomb after asking the Japanese to surrender. The Japenese refused. The Japanese also refused to surrender before the 2nd bomb was dropped. Truman’s military advisors had calculated that a quick end to the war through use of the bomb would save between 500,000 to 1,000,000 American lives. Doing what is necessary to save lives for which your are responsible is heroic!! And Truman, as commander-in-chief, was strictly responsible for US lives.

Volunteer Fighting Corps

Tuesday, August 4, AD 2015


On March 23, 1945 the Japanese government ordered the formation of the Volunteer Fighting Corps.  Contrary to the name of the organization, there was nothing voluntary about it.  All Japanese males from 15-60 and all Japanese women from 17-40 were considered to have “enlisted” in this organization.  This produced a force of approximately 28,000,000, overwhelmingly made up of old men, girls and women, since the Japanese had already conscripted virtually every male of military age.  The Japanese military was made responsible for training and arming this huge force.  In practice this often resulted in masses of Japanese civilians drilling with spears, Japan lacking sufficient small arms to intially arm the civilian-soldiers.

Hiroshima Volunteers

Although it had its comical “Dad’s Army” aspect, the mobilization scheme was deadly serious.  Volunteer Fighting Corps units in the event of invasion were to be “married” to regular units and provide combat support and combat services.  They would in effect serve as cannon fodder to spare the trained and armed Japanese regular Army units.  They were planned to serve as garrisons for the host of defensive bastions being constructed throughout Japan.  Special units were trained to conduct a guerilla war behind American lines as the invasion progressed.  The Japanese were proceeding forward with these plans with their usual efficiency, and by the planned invasion time of November 1945 the Volunteer Fighting Corps would have been a formidable force multiplier for the Japanese Army, albeit at the cost of hideous casualties among the impressed civilians.

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27 Responses to Volunteer Fighting Corps

  • Doubtless they would have been if American troops had had to fight their way through Hiroshima block by bloody block in Operation Olympic in November ’45. (One hundred thousand civilians died in block to block fighting in Manila at the beginning of ’45 and that is with MacArthur going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.) That of course assumes that they hadn’t died in the famine that historically MacArthur barely averted with massive shipments of food from the States following the surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course they might well have died prior to November in the carpet bombing of cities that would have ramped up as the invasion date neared.

    The persons morally responsible for every death in the Pacific War are the same people who led the nation during World War II that embraces pretended victimhood at this time each year.

  • Yes, this would truly be a fearsome force that would inflict most of the 50k American casualties planners expected upon invasion of Japan. Of course, no such invasion was even really needed, given that the Jap navy was gone, we had total air superiority, and could have simply strangled them into submission.

    But this laughable paper “army” does not in any way take away from the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki was full of civilians, American and Allied prisoners, and a few hundred garrison troops. When they were incinerated, they were in so sense of the word combatants.

  • Because starving civilians to death is less immoral.

  • Sorry for the non-sequitur. Wrong thread.

  • Glad to read Donald biting the bullet (so to speak) and having us bomb Japanese school children (as young as first grade — seven and eight years old?) as they might pose a threat during our hypothetical invasion. What about the Japanese babies? Did they have a role as part of the mobilization force?

    Meanwhile, I think it would help everyone to get out your Veritatis Splendor and do some serious study:

    74. But on what does the moral assessment of man’s free acts depend? What is it that ensures this ordering of human acts to God? Is it the intention of the acting subject, the circumstances — and in particular the consequences — of his action, or the object itself of his act?

    This is what is traditionally called the problem of the “sources of morality”. Precisely with regard to this problem there have emerged in the last few decades new or newly-revived theological and cultural trends which call for careful discernment on the part of the Church’s Magisterium.

    Certain ethical theories, called “teleological”, claim to be concerned for the conformity of human acts with the ends pursued by the agent and with the values intended by him. The criteria for evaluating the moral rightness of an action are drawn from the weighing of the non-moral or pre-moral goods to be gained and the corresponding non-moral or pre-moral values to be respected. For some, concrete behaviour would be right or wrong according as whether or not it is capable of producing a better state of affairs for all concerned. Right conduct would be the one capable of “maximizing” goods and “minimizing” evils.

    Many of the Catholic moralists who follow in this direction seek to distance themselves from utilitarianism and pragmatism, where the morality of human acts would be judged without any reference to the man’s true ultimate end. They rightly recognize the need to find ever more consistent rational arguments in order to justify the requirements and to provide a foundation for the norms of the moral life. This kind of investigation is legitimate and necessary, since the moral order, as established by the natural law, is in principle accessible to human reason. Furthermore, such investigation is well-suited to meeting the demands of dialogue and cooperation with non-Catholics and non-believers, especially in pluralistic societies.

    75. But as part of the effort to work out such a rational morality (for this reason it is sometimes called an “autonomous morality” ) there exist false solutions, linked in particular to an inadequate understanding of the object of moral action. Some authors do not take into sufficient consideration the fact that the will is involved in the concrete choices which it makes: these choices are a condition of its moral goodness and its being ordered to the ultimate end of the person. Others are inspired by a notion of freedom which prescinds from the actual conditions of its exercise, from its objective reference to the truth about the good, and from its determination through choices of concrete kinds of behaviour. According to these theories, free will would neither be morally subjected to specific obligations nor shaped by its choices, while nonetheless still remaining responsible for its own acts and for their consequences. This “teleologism”, as a method for discovering the moral norm, can thus be called — according to terminology and approaches imported from different currents of thought — “consequentialism” or “proportionalism”. The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the “greater good” or “lesser evil” actually possible in a particular situation.

    The teleological ethical theories (proportionalism, consequentialism), while acknowledging that moral values are indicated by reason and by Revelation, maintain that it is never possible to formulate an absolute prohibition of particular kinds of behaviour which would be in conflict, in every circumstance and in every culture, with those values. The acting subject would indeed be responsible for attaining the values pursued, but in two ways: the values or goods involved in a human act would be, from one viewpoint, of the moral order (in relation to properly moral values, such as love of God and neighbour, justice, etc.) and, from another viewpoint, of the pre-moral order, which some term non-moral, physical or ontic (in relation to the advantages and disadvantages accruing both to the agent and to all other persons possibly involved, such as, for example, health or its endangerment, physical integrity, life, death, loss of material goods, etc.). In a world where goodness is always mixed with evil, and every good effect linked to other evil effects, the morality of an act would be judged in two different ways: its moral “goodness” would be judged on the basis of the subject’s intention in reference to moral goods, and its “rightness” on the basis of a consideration of its foreseeable effects or consequences and of their proportion. Consequently, concrete kinds of behaviour could be described as “right” or “wrong”, without it being thereby possible to judge as morally “good” or “bad” the will of the person choosing them. In this way, an act which, by contradicting a universal negative norm, directly violates goods considered as “pre-moral” could be qualified as morally acceptable if the intention of the subject is focused, in accordance with a “responsible” assessment of the goods involved in the concrete action, on the moral value judged to be decisive in the situation.

    The evaluation of the consequences of the action, based on the proportion between the act and its effects and between the effects themselves, would regard only the pre-moral order. The moral specificity of acts, that is their goodness or evil, would be determined exclusively by the faithfulness of the person to the highest values of charity and prudence, without this faithfulness necessarily being incompatible with choices contrary to certain particular moral precepts. Even when grave matter is concerned, these precepts should be considered as operative norms which are always relative and open to exceptions.

    In this view, deliberate consent to certain kinds of behaviour declared illicit by traditional moral theology would not imply an objective moral evil.

    The object of the deliberate act

    76. These theories can gain a certain persuasive force from their affinity to the scientific mentality, which is rightly concerned with ordering technical and economic activities on the basis of a calculation of resources and profits, procedures and their effects. They seek to provide liberation from the constraints of a voluntaristic and arbitrary morality of obligation which would ultimately be dehumanizing.

    Such theories however are not faithful to the Church’s teaching, when they believe they can justify, as morally good, deliberate choices of kinds of behaviour contrary to the commandments of the divine and natural law. These theories cannot claim to be grounded in the Catholic moral tradition. Although the latter did witness the development of a casuistry which tried to assess the best ways to achieve the good in certain concrete situations, it is nonetheless true that this casuistry concerned only cases in which the law was uncertain, and thus the absolute validity of negative moral precepts, which oblige without exception, was not called into question. The faithful are obliged to acknowledge and respect the specific moral precepts declared and taught by the Church in the name of God, the Creator and Lord.125 When the Apostle Paul sums up the fulfilment of the law in the precept of love of neighbour as oneself (cf. Rom 13:8-10), he is not weakening the commandments but reinforcing them, since he is revealing their requirements and their gravity. Love of God and of one’s neighbour cannot be separated from the observance of the commandments of the Covenant renewed in the blood of Jesus Christ and in the gift of the Spirit. It is an honour characteristic of Christians to obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29) and accept even martyrdom as a consequence, like the holy men and women of the Old and New Testaments, who are considered such because they gave their lives rather than perform this or that particular act contrary to faith or virtue.

    77. In order to offer rational criteria for a right moral decision, the theories mentioned above take account of the intention and consequences of human action. Certainly there is need to take into account both the intention — as Jesus forcefully insisted in clear disagreement with the scribes and Pharisees, who prescribed in great detail certain outward practices without paying attention to the heart (cf. Mk 7:20-21; Mt 15:19) — and the goods obtained and the evils avoided as a result of a particular act. Responsibility demands as much. But the consideration of these consequences, and also of intentions, is not sufficient for judging the moral quality of a concrete choice. The weighing of the goods and evils foreseeable as the consequence of an action is not an adequate method for determining whether the choice of that concrete kind of behaviour is “according to its species”, or “in itself”, morally good or bad, licit or illicit. The foreseeable consequences are part of those circumstances of the act, which, while capable of lessening the gravity of an evil act, nonetheless cannot alter its moral species.

    Moreover, everyone recognizes the difficulty, or rather the impossibility, of evaluating all the good and evil consequences and effects — defined as pre-moral — of one’s own acts: an exhaustive rational calculation is not possible. How then can one go about establishing proportions which depend on a measuring, the criteria of which remain obscure? How could an absolute obligation be justified on the basis of such debatable calculations?

    78. The morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the “object” rationally chosen by the deliberate will, as is borne out by the insightful analysis, still valid today, made by Saint Thomas.126 In order to be able to grasp the object of an act which specifies that act morally, it is therefore necessary to place oneself in the perspective of the acting person. The object of the act of willing is in fact a freely chosen kind of behaviour. To the extent that it is in conformity with the order of reason, it is the cause of the goodness of the will; it perfects us morally, and disposes us to recognize our ultimate end in the perfect good, primordial love. By the object of a given moral act, then, one cannot mean a process or an event of the merely physical order, to be assessed on the basis of its ability to bring about a given state of affairs in the outside world. Rather, that object is the proximate end of a deliberate decision which determines the act of willing on the part of the acting person. Consequently, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “there are certain specific kinds of behaviour that are always wrong to choose, because choosing them involves a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil”.127 And Saint Thomas observes that “it often happens that man acts with a good intention, but without spiritual gain, because he lacks a good will. Let us say that someone robs in order to feed the poor: in this case, even though the intention is good, the uprightness of the will is lacking. Consequently, no evil done with a good intention can be excused. ‘There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just’ (Rom 3:8)”.128

    The reason why a good intention is not itself sufficient, but a correct choice of actions is also needed, is that the human act depends on its object, whether that object is capable or not of being ordered to God, to the One who “alone is good”, and thus brings about the perfection of the person. An act is therefore good if its object is in conformity with the good of the person with respect for the goods morally relevant for him. Christian ethics, which pays particular attention to the moral object, does not refuse to consider the inner “teleology” of acting, inasmuch as it is directed to promoting the true good of the person; but it recognizes that it is really pursued only when the essential elements of human nature are respected. The human act, good according to its object, is also capable of being ordered to its ultimate end. That same act then attains its ultimate and decisive perfection when the will actually does order it to God through charity. As the Patron of moral theologians and confessors teaches: “It is not enough to do good works; they need to be done well. For our works to be good and perfect, they must be done for the sole purpose of pleasing God”.129

    “Intrinsic evil”: it is not licit to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom 3:8)

    79. One must therefore reject the thesis, characteristic of teleological and proportionalist theories, which holds that it is impossible to qualify as morally evil according to its species — its “object” — the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behaviour or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.

    The primary and decisive element for moral judgment is the object of the human act, which establishes whether it is capable of being ordered to the good and to the ultimate end, which is God. This capability is grasped by reason in the very being of man, considered in his integral truth, and therefore in his natural inclinations, his motivations and his finalities, which always have a spiritual dimension as well. It is precisely these which are the contents of the natural law and hence that ordered complex of “personal goods” which serve the “good of the person”: the good which is the person himself and his perfection. These are the goods safeguarded by the commandments, which, according to Saint Thomas, contain the whole natural law.130

    80. Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”.131 The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”.132

    With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: “Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom 3:8) — in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general”.133

    81. In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: “Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

    If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain “irremediably” evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person. “As for acts which are themselves sins (cum iam opera ipsa peccata sunt), Saint Augustine writes, like theft, fornication, blasphemy, who would dare affirm that, by doing them for good motives (causis bonis), they would no longer be sins, or, what is even more absurd, that they would be sins that are justified?”.134

    Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act “subjectively” good or defensible as a choice.

  • Sorry for the non-sequitur. Wrong thread.

    Why you apologizing, Ernst? your statement:
    “Because starving civilians to death is less immoral.”
    Was actually entirely relevant to Tom’s “plan”

    Of course, no such invasion was even really needed, given that the Jap navy was gone, we had total air superiority, and could have simply strangled them into submission.

    Because apparently starving to death nearly ALL of the babies in Japan is a better outcome. Near genocide is apparently to be preferred to horrible consequentialism.

    Japanese school children (as young as first grade — seven and eight years old?) as they might pose a threat during our hypothetical invasion.

    So you don’t think children are a threat? Wish someone would tell… pretty much every nation in the world (as they all have a history of using kids in battle). But wait! Here comes Jeffrey to tell us how all of history and human experience is wrong and guns won’t work if someone under the age of fifteen pulls the trigger.

  • I guess Jefferey S. would have had it that we would have surrendered after Pearl Harbor.

  • Why you apologizing, Ernst?

    I was confused because I was doing too many things at once and none of them well.

    You know, multi-tasking.

  • “Glad to read Donald biting the bullet (so to speak) and having us bomb Japanese school children (as young as first grade — seven and eight years old?) as they might pose a threat during our hypothetical invasion.”

    Jeff, please try not to act more ignorant than you are. You know precisely what I was saying and you have no good response, so you bloviate. The dropping of the atomic bombs spared a great many more people in Japan, than the lives they took. All the bleating by you won’t alter that hard fact. Critics of Truman have no solutions to the problem he confronted so they engage in hand waving and useless emotimg. I thank God that you were not at the helm of this nation in ’45 for us to have incurred an additional one million casualties, several million more dead Japanese and who knows how many more dead Chinese and the other occupied people living under the Rising Sun.

  • “Yes, this would truly be a fearsome force that would inflict most of the 50k American casualties planners expected upon invasion of Japan.”

    Where do you get that rubbish Tom? The Joint Chiefs predicted in April of ’45 456,000 casualties for Operation Olympic. Throw in Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshu, and estimated casualties were 1,200,000, of which KIAs would have been 267,000. For comparison, taking Okinawa alone cost in excess of 100,000 American casualties, 20,0000 of them fatalities.

    “simply strangled them into submission.”

    Pretty words for starving to death several million Japanese. All the while on the Asian mainland at least 300,000 people a month in occupied territories, assuming no major military operations, would have been been killed by the Japanese occupation. Bravo, for such a “moral” alternative.

  • “The dropping of the atomic bombs spared a great many more people in Japan, than the lives they took.”

    (1) This is an educated guess — no one here has a time machine and gets to replay the past. But you do highlight…

    (2) The chief moral problem outlined in Veritatis Splendor — that as Catholics (you do consider yourself a Catholic, correct?) we cannot, ever, use the consequences of an action as the guide to whether or not the action is moral. If it is wrong to incinerate innocent Japanese babies, then we cannot do it — period, end of story. Or to put it in John Paul the II’s words:

    79. One must therefore reject the thesis, characteristic of teleological and proportionalist theories, which holds that it is impossible to qualify as morally evil according to its species — its “object” — the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behaviour or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.

    Once you accept what is moral and not moral, we can figure out what would have been an appropriate course of action. But our first job should be to say, “this action [incinerating hundreds of Japanese babies/little children] is unacceptable.”

  • Yes, this would truly be a fearsome force that would inflict most of the 50k American casualties planners expected upon invasion of Japan.

    Why not invent a fictional surrender offer?

  • Once you accept what is moral and not moral, we can figure out what would have been an appropriate course of action. But our first job should be to say, “this action [incinerating hundreds of Japanese babies/little children] is unacceptable.”

    Jeffrey, you’ve got three tools in your kit and two possible objects. What are your objects, what are your tools, and what does the state of the world look like in each circumstance? Get back to us when you have an answer and quit striking attitudes.

  • The chief moral problem outlined in Veritatis Splendor — that as Catholics (you do consider yourself a Catholic, correct?) we cannot, ever, use the consequences of an action as the guide to whether or not the action is moral.

    “[that] is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.” -William F. Buckley Jr.

    If your morals logically lead to the conclusion that it is best to let old ladies be hit by buses, there is a huge error in program or definitions that needs to be corrected.

  • Where do you get that rubbish Tom?

    It’s a meme I first saw in print around about 1981. IIRC it usually hits the letters-to-the-editor column in the exchange of brickbats the week after the surrender-offer meme has been floated.

  • If your morals logically lead to the conclusion that it is best to let old ladies be hit by buses, there is a huge error in program or definitions that needs to be corrected.

    Which is by way of saying those invoking ‘consequentialism’ are making use of what would be a reductio ad absurdam in some other circumstance.

  • “(1) This is an educated guess — no one here has a time machine and gets to replay the past. But you do highlight…”

    It is a dead certainty considering that the Japanese were unwilling to surrender after Hiroshima, and a military coup was attempted when Hirohito finally decided to surrender after Nagasaki. He, of course, in his surrender message indicated that the bomb was the reason why Japan was surrendering.

    “The chief moral problem outlined in Veritatis Splendor”

    Veritatis Splendor was not the best work of John Paul II, especially when he included this laundry list of intrinsic evils from Vatican II:

    “The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”.132 ”

    Some of those items are intrinsically evil and some are dependent upon the facts of the case. For example, a Dad captures the kidnapper of his child. He pummels the kidnapper until he reveals the hiding place of the child. That is “coercing the spirit” of the kidnapper, but it is most certainly not intrinsically evil. Deporting illegal aliens is not intrinsically evil. “Subhuman living conditions”, well that is pretty subjective isn’t it? Like most moral questions, if the Pope had been asked about such issues, I assume he would have used phrases like, “this is what I meant”, “it depends”, etc. Especially in wartime moral issues arise that do not have one size fits all answers. Any morality which will lead to a great many more deaths needs to be examined closely and not simply followed blindly. What may seem reasonable in a papal Encyclical or a combox discussion may need a good deal of caveats when it comes to real world application, lest in an attempt to follow the angels in theory, we unleash devils in reality.

  • Pretty sure the only blameless thing (morally speaking) to do in war is to lose it.

    I mean, if we’re going to adopt an absolutist position.
    Maybe I’m wrong. I’m still waiting for Jeffery or Tom to expound on the moral alternatives to the intrinsic evil of
    What exactly is the objective evil we’re rejecting out of hand?

  • Why are some people so fanatical about people dying under a nuclear explosion in Japan 70 years ago, at the expense of no fanaticism over other means of death?

    Because above all they fear it will happen to them someday. This is not really about Japan at all.

  • As Jeffry S points out, Veritatis Splendor points out the features of a moral act – that is the moral object, circumstances and intention. This is not a novel construct of John Paul II but rather goes back to Aquinas. All three must be good or at least neutral for a person to pursue the act. For example, giving alms is good. But doing so if one’s intention was to increase one’s prestige would be vain and thus immoral. Also, if one gave alms when one’s own children would suffer due to one’s own constrained circumstances, then this would be immoral

    He is also right in that consequentialism is wrong. For example, Obama’s executive order (and the USCCB’s support of this) was a consequentialist act in that he pursued a perceived good (aiding illegal immigrants) through a immoral means (an illegal executive order.) Of course if could also be immoral if he did it for the intention to increase Democratic voters (thus reducing the immigrants to means for his ends) or for cheap labor, rather than for then own good. It would also be immoral if the circumstances were such that our society could not accept a continued increase in immigrants.

    The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be immoral if done merely for the intention of “killing Japs” or if the circumstances that the Japanese were about to surrender. Deliberately targeting civilians would also be immoral and if it was argued that it was done to end the war or reduce casualties would be consequentialist and immoral.
    The problem becomes if, as posted, the Japanese were conscripting large numbers of civilians as combatants. Thus, one may be able to argue that such cities were actually large numbers of combatants and thus legitimate targets.
    But what of those few non-combatants present (babies etc. ) Now we would get into the question of double effect. I will not go into the details of this but point to the example of the hysterectomy of a gravid, cancerous uterus. On can in fact licitly perform the hysterectomy even though it results in the death of the baby. This, as long at there is proportionate reason (no other treatment possible and delay not advisable) and the intention was good (one intended only the removal of the uterus and not the death of the baby. The same reasoning has been used in the bombing of cities. If there was a sufficiently important target (some industry vital to the war effort of the enemy) then collateral damage (the death of babies) was seen as acceptable.

  • Hiroshima served as the base of the Second General Army, which commanded the defense of Southern Japan and was garrisoned by 43,000 troops, approximately 20,000 of whom died in the bomb blast. Nagasaki was an industrial powerhouse for the Japanese military:

    “The city of Nagasaki had been one of the largest seaports in southern Japan, and was of great wartime importance because of its wide-ranging industrial activity, including the production of ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials. The four largest companies in the city were Mitsubishi Shipyards, Electrical Shipyards, Arms Plant, and Steel and Arms Works, which employed about 90% of the city’s labor force, and accounted for 90% of the city’s industry.[169] Although an important industrial city, Nagasaki had been spared from firebombing because its geography made it difficult to locate at night with AN/APQ-13 radar.”

  • Why are some people so fanatical about people dying under a nuclear explosion in Japan 70 years ago, at the expense of no fanaticism over other means of death?

    Ignorance, I think.
    They believe roughly that an innocent population was chosen for malicious reasons and killed in a way that couldn’t be replicated in terms of damage.
    Some have simply never been taught the inconvenient facts. I hadn’t heard of the firebombing, and we were told that blackout curtains were to keep pilots from mistaking houses for military targets. As Donald has pointed out, Nagasaki wasn’t a purely civilian town– or just a well known religious spot.
    Some choose to ignore those facts, call people names, go to another spot and repeat the same false information.

  • Donald McClarey: Even though we regularly disagree about the Civil War times, we are in full agreement regarding the historical facts you have listed on this post. Bravo!

    “Jeff, please try not to act more ignorant than you are. You know precisely what I was saying and you have no good response, so you bloviate. The dropping of the atomic bombs spared a great many more people in Japan, than the lives they took. All the bleating by you won’t alter that hard fact. Critics of Truman have no solutions to the problem he confronted so they engage in hand waving and useless emotimg. I thank God that you were not at the helm of this nation in ’45 for us to have incurred an additional one million casualties, several million more dead Japanese and who knows how many more dead Chinese and the other occupied people living under the Rising Sun.”

    I am currently reading “Truman” by David McCollough. It along with the biography of Truman written by his daughter, which both quote original source documents extensively, are two of my favorite books. A reading the section of the McCollough’s book entitled “To The Best Of My Ability” will yield implicit & explicit reasoning (Truman’s & several of his close advisors) re: dropping the atomic bombs as well as the attempts made to get the Japenese to surrender before the dropping of the bombs. Unfortunately, the Japanese built their private homes in near proximity to the war industrial factories in which they worked. Japanese civilians were being slaughtered by basically carpet bombing by B-29s. “On May 14, five hundred B-29s hit Nagoya, Japan’s third largest industrial city, in what the New York Times called the greatest concentration of fire bombs in the history of aerial warfare.” “On May 23, five square miles of Tokyo were obliterated. Thirty-six hours later, 16 square miles were destroyed.” the purpose of developing the bomb as quickly as possible by the US govt was to use the bomb to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible–period.

    A memo, dated 6-4-1945, by Gen. Thomas Handy said that by achieving peace, the US wud be saving at least 500,000 US lives up to 1,000,000 US lives.

    Truman fought in WW 1 and led men into battle. He dealt with and interacted with the men whose live he was responsible for during battle for the rest of his life. Actually having to face war as a leader who is responsible to protect lives of people under your authority (dependent on your every decision for their safety–knowing you would get to see their dead, mangled body & bury it (maybe) if they died) would probably greatly clarify the reasoning of these self righteous, bovine feces, pychobable laden, pseudo-moralizing idiots.

    On page 400-401, it lists exactly the info Truman asked for in order to make the dreaded decision.

    As I understand it, Truman saw his responsibilty as the US Commander-in-Chief, a role he never wanted to have by the way, as being to end the war as quickly as possible in orde to save as many American lives as possible.

    Would, that every US commande-in-chief since his time would have seen their responsibility as being primarily to guard & save American lives!!!!

    It is very clear that those who criticize Truman’s actions offer no real exchangeable solutions that would have brought about the quick end of the war & the saving of American lives.

  • As a girl, I sat many times and listened to my father cry & grieve over loss of life in battle during WW 2. He only spoke about it to me, in private, during very quiet, solemn times. A daughter, who adores her father, seeing him son years after the war,because he was still trying to process the thousands of dead in individual locations/battles, has an incredible impact on her. Because my father cried every time the national anthem was played and he taught me the price it cost to hear it, I cried & still cry every time the national anthem is played. Daddy said that during the war so many young men had been killed in the war that younger women were marrying older men–because there were such few young men to marry. His brother was drafted into the army near the end of the war. His brother was 45 years old, married, & had 5 kids at the time he was drafted & sent to Germany. Dad said that the draft had started with single 18 year olds with no children.

  • ” Of course, no such invasion was even really needed, given that the Jap navy was gone, we had total air superiority, and could have simply strangled them into submission.”

    The British blockade of Greece killed 40,000 civilians (and Greece is not an island). How many Japanese civilians (certainly all food would go to the army) would you be willing to let starve to death?

    “The chief moral problem outlined in Veritatis Splendor — that as Catholics (you do consider yourself a Catholic, correct?)”

    The chief problem with your continued reliance on Veritatis Splendor is that it was issued 48 years after the bombs were dropped, making it very unlikely that Truman had a copy available.

  • “Yes, this would truly be a fearsome force that would inflict most of the 50k American casualties planners expected upon invasion of Japan”

    David McCollough’s book, “Truman,” mentions on page 400 the following projected numbers of American deaths related to THE FIRST 30 DAYS OF THE FIRST PHASE of a two phase invasion: 41,000 by an Admiral King; 49,000 by an Admiral Nimitz; 50,000 by Gen. MacArthur’s staff. It is stated that McArthur considered 50,000 deaths to be too high for the first 30 days of the first phase of the invasion–however, MacArthur was completely in favor of the invasion taking place (which was his nature.)

July 31, 1945: Letter From Stimson

Friday, July 31, AD 2015

Little Boy was assembled on Tinian on July 31.  The bomb could in theory be dropped the next day.  However a typhoon was moving towards Japan and weather would delay the bomb drop for several days.  Secretary of War Henry Stimson sent to Harry Truman a proposed statement to be released after the bomb drop:

Letter of Statement Draft
From: Henry Stimson, Secretary of War
To: Harry S Truman, President of the United States of America
Date: July 31, 1945

July 31, 1945
Dear Mr. President:

Attached are two copies of the revised statement which has been prepared for release by you as soon as the new weapon is used. This is the statement about which I cabled you last night. 

The reason for the haste is that I was informed only yesterday that, weather permitting, it is likely that the weapon will be used as early as August 1st, Pacific Ocean Time, which as you know is a good many hours ahead of Washington time.

This message and inclosure are being brought to you by Lt. R. G. Arneson, whom Secretary Byrnes will recognize as the Secretary of the Interim Committee, appointed with your approval, to study various features of the development and use of the atomic bomb. 

Faithfully yours,
Secretary of War.


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23 Responses to Truman Warns Japan to Surrender

  • Gee, I wonder if Tokyo Rose reported that they really said that the USA is asking to surrender to the Imperial forces, or was she hi-tailing it to her country estate?

    What a striking difference in cultures back then–this warning versus Pearl Harbor’s sneak attack.

    Could we air-drop a few million of these types of thing on our inner-city Planned Parenthood warriors against the innocent?

  • Gee, I wonder if Tokyo Rose reported that

    If I’m not mistaken, Tokyo Rose was a composite.

  • “If I’m not mistaken, Tokyo Rose was a composite.”

    Gee, does that then serve as evidence that Bruce Jenner had a soul mate way back then?

  • My Father, who taught and studied history told us that Japan was ready to surrender as long as their Emperor could be left in office. Truman said no and dropped the Bombs.
    A Song for Nagasaki (The Story of Takashi Nagai) by Paul Glynn is a book well worth reading. It is the true story of Takashi Nagi, a pioneer in radiology research ,and convert to The Catholic Faith.

  • Your Father was mistaken. The Japanese made no such offer of surrender if they could keep the Emperor.

  • The nerve of posting this war criminal and mass muderer on your so called “catholic” . Your site and your Vatican 2 religion was conceived like in that synagogue of satan member Truman and his gang of devil worshipers. His compassionate leaflets were just toilet paper his ABomb was very real conceived by his fellow freemasons
    Remove catholic from your diabolical site.

  • Thank you for your calm, reasoned analysis Biil. I trust that you pad your tin foil head gear?

  • I see you’ve attracted some of The Remnant‘s nuttier subscribers.

  • I did a little research on the referenced people – Takashi Nagai and Paul Glynn – in Carolann’s comment. Takashi Nagai had a sane attitude about atomic energy in the aftermath of the dropping of the atomc bombs on Japan. At the end of “Atomic Bomb Rescue and Relief Report,” he writes:
    “We should utilize the principle of the atomic bomb. Go forward in the research of atomic energy contributing to the progress of civiization. A misfortune will then be transformed to good fortune. The world civilization will change with the utilization of atomic energy. If a new and fortunate world can be made, the souls of so many victims will rest in peace.”
    Paul Glynn on the other hand is a different matter. Like most Australians, he appears to be reflexively anti-nuclear energy (much too the benefit of Australia’s coal industry which ironically releases more radioactivity in the form of uranium, radium and thorium naturally occurring in coal than any nuclear power plant releases). Glynn’s Marist Australia web site says that Takashi Nagai died of atomic disease. Having worked in naval and commercial nuclear energy for 30+ years, I have no idea of what atomic disease is, nor even after radiation exposure throughout my 3 decade long atomic career have I ever been afflicted with anything that could be construed as such a disease. So some more research revealed that Nagai died of leukemia which can occur from a variety of causes many of which are non-nuclear in origin (e.g., chemical toxin exposure, genetic anomaly, etc). Now perhaps Nagai’s leukemia may have been caused by acute radiation over-exposure (e.g., > 100 rads); I do not know. But Glynn seems to have a tendency towards sensationism instead of the reasoned thought process that Nagai embodied. Perhaps otherwise he is a good priest. I do not know the man. Yet when it comes to this topic – atomic energy – hysteria mongering needs to be refuted and revealed for what it is at every opportunity. A nuclear power plant is no more a nuclear bomb than a gasoline station is a napalm weapons factory.
    And yes, President Truman was right and correct to order the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan. That decision ended the war and prevented far more caualties on both sides – Japanese and American – than would otherwise have occurred. And yes again, I support a strong and powerful American nuclear arsenal because we have enemies – communist China, Russia, North Korea and a would-be-nuclear-armed Iran – against whom we must defend ourselves. But to all those opposed to “the bomb”, why do you NOT support recycling all that weapons-grade plutonium and uranium in commercial nuclear reactors (as Nagai would advocate) so that it will forever be unusuable for bombs? Could it be that your protests are all the hot air of inflated ego and moral self-righteousness as what you support enriches fossil fuel corporate executives?

  • “My Father, who taught and studied history told us that Japan was ready to surrender as long as their Emperor could be left in office. Truman said no and dropped the Bombs.”

    Carolann, the story is more complicated than that.

    First, Japan was NOT ready to surrender. There were elements in the Japanese government that were. That is not the same thing. The attempted military coup in Tokyo on August 12-15 1945 proves this to be so.

    Second, there were some backchannel communications between the two countries, but the heads of government were not involved (so Truman can’t be blamed). The Japanese asked “Can we keep the emperor?” to which they were told “The fate of the emperor will be up to the Japanese people to decide”. So the Americans in American-speak said “Yes” and the Japanese heard “No”. One can wonder if things would have been different if the answer were not lost in translation.

  • Paul, The thought was that Takashi Nagai died of constant exposure of radiation from the X-ray machine he used to diagnose his patients. If I remember correctly, he did not use a protective lead apron thereby risking his own life.
    However, you are correct. Leukemia can occur from exposures to chemicals. My niece suffered from AML Leukemia with no known risk factors.
    Before someone accuses me of being a leftwing nutcase, I happen to support our military and honor them. It’s the killing of innocent women and children that sickens me to the core.
    President Truman was WRONG on dropping those bombs. This is NOT only an opinion. Please check out–THe Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan –washingtonsblog.com (Oct 14, 2012).
    One snippet: U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group ASSIGNED by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan produced a report in July of 1946 concluded (52-56)

    “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is The Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 31 December 1945, Japan would have SURRENDERED even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war,and even if no invasion had been plannned or contemplated.”

    General (and later president) Dwight Eisenhower-then Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces said “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn”t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” –Newsweek 11/11/63.

    There’s lots more from Admiral William leahy-highest ranking member of the U.S. Military (1942-1949) Also quotes from General Douglas MacArthar and many more.

    The most important thing is THE TRUTH. If Pres. Truman had no choice in dropping the bomb, that would be horrible, but perhaps necessary. However, from reading the above and more it seemed not to be the case.

    Viva Cristo Rey!

  • Carolann, have you read Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan 1945-1947? Published in 2009, it is far more up to date than any previous study on the subject. It makes for very grim reading. It completely negates the argument made by the Strategic Bombing Survey.

    Was Truman morally wrong to drop the bomb? Of course he was. Then again, any course the U.S. would have taken during this time would have been immoral (we’ve had this debate on these pages before). A blockade would have horribly killed more Japanese by starvation. A “cease-fire” would have allowed the Japanese to continue the killing hundreds of thousands in their subjected lands. Hell to Pay accurately describes the casualties to be expected in an invasion. The only really moral choice was in Japanese hands, and that was surrender.

  • Carolann, thank you for the correction on the possible cause of Takashi Nagai’s leukemia. As for lead aprons, the tenth thickness of lead is 2 inches. In other words, to reduce radiation exposure to one tenth the incident level, a lead apron two inches thick is required. The equation is:
    A = Ao * (e^-(u*x))
    Where A = exposure rate in R/hr with shield in place
    Ao = exposure rate in R/hr without the shield
    e = 2.71828
    u = shiled thickness in cm
    X = linear attenuation coefficient in cm^-1
    Using that equation, one can see that a lead apron to be effective in shielding would be far to heavy and cumbersome to wear. Any lead apron offers minimal protection because of the thinness of the lead in the apron. Therefore, I question whether wearing an apron at all would do much to protect. However, x-rays are at a lower energy level than gammas. Nevertheless, in all my experience, x-ray technicians seclude themselves behind lead-shielded barriers during x-ray machine activation and not by wearing lead aprons. That said, if you have ever been at an airport, you would be routinely in the vicinity of x-ray machines (as are the TSA guards who operate the machines). Indeed, for a past employer I had worked as an Instrumentation and Controls technician, one of whose duties was in the maintenance of x-ray machines for the plant security department at a commercial nuclear power plant. I still do not have leukemia and if I ever contract the disease, then it will likely be a delayed after-effect from a mis-spent youth engaged in proscribed inebration activities.
    As for President Truman, I am not a historian. However, he ordered the bombs dropped and the war ended, the killing stopped. That is history (unless the Democrats try to change that as they are the history of their part in the US Civil War and subsequent civil rights movement a century afterwards). (Ironically, wasn’t Truman a Democrat?)

  • Thank-you Tom D. How awful if there were truly a translation problem!

  • Thank you Paul D. Very informative.

  • Sorry, Paul, W. Oops on the wrong initial .

  • No Tom D. I never read the book and probably won’t. We have enough grimness in our world today.
    Thank-you for the update. Many thanks to all. I’ve learned a lot .

  • I had heard of Takashi Nagai, and I had the distinct impression that another problem was that there were very few radiologists available in Japan in comparison with other countries. In effect the cumulative lifetime dose of a conscientious practitioner in Japan was higher than that of his non-Japanese counterparts – with more radiologists the risk would have been better spread. These were really brave men who knowingly sacrificed themselves for their patients. One has to wonder if the Bushido mentality had something to do with it.

  • “We have enough grimness in our world today.”
    I understand. Then again, I do think we have to face it as we each best can. There is a difference, after all, between a cross and a crucifix.

  • It looks to me that the Wikipedia entry on Takashi Nagai has been expanded since I last looked at it. It is well worth a read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Nagai The man was amazingly prescient, he lived in no fantasy world.

    BTW, the article mentions that the wartime shortage of photographic film caused him to use fluoroscopes to make diagnoses, and that his was partly responsible for his leukemia diagnosis in April 1945.

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  • The atomic bombs were terrible weapons, but no more terrible that the firebombing that took place earlier in 1945.

    Quoting Ike about the Bomb is a nonstarter for me. Where did Ike serve in WWII? Oh, that’s right. He was in Western Europe. I don’t recall hearing any American servicemen based in the Pacific making quotes about how the Americans and British should have marched into Berlin, or not allowed the Red Army to occupy Czechoslovakia, or should have done more to help the Poles who were fighting in the Warsaw Uprising (the 71st anniversary of the Uprising took place on August 1, and only a few Americans of Polish descent likely remembered to commemorate the moment in any way in this country).

    Japan was a terrible enemy. Japan never bothered to sign or go through the motions of observing the Geneva Convention. Japan sought the Bomb. Japan committed terrible atrocities against civilian populations in the Phillipines and at Nanking to mention just two. What you do will come back to you.

    War is an awful thing, but not the most awful of things.

  • Carolann, besides reading “Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall”, I suggest you also read “The Last Kamikaze”, the bio of Vice Admiral Matone Ugaki (by Edwin P. Hoyt, 1993).

    Chronicled there is the mindlessly furious death wish and death-grip that many like him, as well as Gen. Hideki Tojo, had on the Japanese people and even the Emperor until the very last days. We now have fairly full documentation of the plot to assassinate the Emperor Hirohito (Aug. 12-15, ’45): at that time, Hirohito expressed to his cabinet the need to accept the Potsdam declaration, even though he knew it would likely lead to his execution. Ugaki certainly shared a like-mind in the murder plot against Hirohito, although it hasn’t —yet—been proven he was an actual participant: however, he refused to sign the agreement (as did several high-ranking generals) to carry out the Emperor’s order to seek a surrender. As Vice-Admiral of the Imperial Navy, and #1 officer in charge of naval aviation, Ugaki should have been a signer: he was not. Ugaki was clearly, like so many other Japanese military, deranged, writing about this time to a colleague that: “Japan has 20 million people: it should be acceptable that ten million of them would be sacrificed for the Emperor and for Japan.” (i.e. in its home defense)

    Seeing all was for naught, on Aug. 15th, Ugaki took off, squeezing into a “Judy” 2-seater bomber (it already had its crew of 2 men) on one last flight, disregarding instructions that day on the radio-address by Hirohito for all military to surrender and lay down their arms, instead launching a final kamikaze attack on US forces in the vicinity of Okinawa. Fortunately, US forces were on high alert, anticipating rogue attacks: His plane was shot down, but not before the wrecked hulk was discovered by a US LST crew on the beach of an adjacent island.

    My point is: people like Ugaki were not stopped, even by their supposed oath of fealty to the Emperor, his last act in fact one of mutiny and insubordination. Your info about Japan’s leadership’s willingness to surrender is deeply flawed.

July 29, 1945: 509th Composite Group Receives Attack Order

Wednesday, July 29, AD 2015

Nobody knows

Into the air the secret rose
Where they´re going, nobody knows
Tomorrow they´ll return again
But we´ll never know where they´ve been.
Don´t ask us about results or such
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
the 509th is winning the war.

When the other Groups are ready to go
We have a program of the whole damned show
And when Halsey´s 5th shells Nippon´s shore
Why, shucks, we hear about it the day before.
And MacArthur and Doolittle give out in advance
But with this new bunch we haven´t a chance
We should have been home a month or more
For the 509th is winning the war

Anonymous, doggerel made up by pilots of other air groups about the “hush-hush” 509th

Activated on December 17, 1944, the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Corps was commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets, at 29 already a seasoned air combat veteran in Europe. The flying units of the Group, in addition to support units, consisted of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron and the 320th Troop Carrier Squadron, 1767 personnel, 15 B-29 bombers and 5 C-54 transports.  The Group was based and trained at Wendover Air Force Base in Utah.

Training was conducted in intense secrecy with the officers and men advised that any breach of security would be punished with the utmost severity, which might well include the death penalty.  Curious officers and men of other units were warned away at gun point.

The unit re-deployed to Tinian on June 11, 1945.  The unit engaged in numerous practice bombing missions, including twelve over targets over the Home Islands, with special “pumpkin bombs” replicating the dimensions of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb.

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One Response to July 29, 1945: 509th Composite Group Receives Attack Order

  • One very interesting fact in this post is that this was the only time in American history where nuclear weapons were just handed over to the military without close civilian oversight. At this point the only civilian influence was on the approved target list. After Nagasaki Truman imposed direct Presidential oversight on the use of nuclear weapons, and this policy has continued to the present day.