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.

Continue reading...

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.

September 2, 1945: Japan Surrenders

Friday, September 2, AD 2011

A fascinating newsreel of the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.  Note that MacArthur hands pens after he signs to General Wainwright and General Percival.  Both men had been prisoners of Japan for most of the War, and their gaunt skeletal presence at the surrender ceremony was a tribute to the Allied POWs who had been treated with a brutality scarcely believable.  MacArthur’s closing remarks deserve to be remembered:

Continue reading...

8 Responses to September 2, 1945: Japan Surrenders

  • Thanks much, Don, for posting this great video. In my opinion, MacArthur would have made a superb president. There was a special aura about him and he was one of the most beloved military leaders in history.
    To personalize this, I have a good friend — Charlie Marquardt, who lives in my hometown and is now 98 years old. Charlie’s hoping to make it to 100 and has been through a rough patch in recent days and hospitalized. I visit him often and thought he was a goner two weeks ago but he has since bounced back and is in rehab. I love that man. Anyway, I blogged about him on my website and here is the portion of my piece that’s relevant to the topic at hand:
    Charlie is from good hardy stock and from what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.” A Navy gunner’s mate on the USS Tennessee during World II in the Pacific, Charlie and tens of thousands of other Americans in uniform fought gallantly and many lost their lives or limbs in defending this great nation against the sworn enemies of freedom. During, 1944-45, the Tennessee, which had been damaged along with other U.S. battleships in the 1941 Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, and its crew saw a lot of action including key battles at Leyte Gulf, Surigao Strait, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

    The Tennessee fired more than 150,000 projectiles, took a few kamikaze hits including one near the end of the war in 1945 when a Japanese suicide plane hit the ship, killing 22 men and injuring 107. “We were in some fierce battles,” Charlie told me back in 2002. While some of the men died or were injured nearby, Charlie came away with a couple of perforated eardrums from the noise of the big guns. “We were in the turret most of the time. Up on deck, there were smaller weapons. I recall seeing dismembered arms and legs up there. There are some things you never forget,” he said during my 2002 interview with him.

    Marquardt and his fellow sailors witnessed the formal Japanese surrender Sept. 2, 1945, held aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The Tennessee and its nearly 1,200-member crew earned a Navy unit commendation and 10 battle stars for World War II service.

    There are no finer people than our World War II veterans and as the years fade and every day we lose more of them, Americans today should always remember their enormous sacrifices with everlasting gratitude.

  • In her 1957 social/political article “Honoria” Taylor Caldwell chronicles the rise and fall of the fictitious country she calls “Honoria”. She ends the article with a very foreboding rebuke of society. “It is a stern fact of history that no nation that rushed to the abyss ever turned back. Not ever, in the long history of the world. We are now on the edge of the abyss. Can we, for the first time in history, turn back? It is up to you.”

    Caldwell, one of my favorite writers (Dear and Glorious Physician (St. Luke) and Great Lion of God (St. Paul), along with Pillar of Iron (the life of Cicero), also penned this:

    “The nature of human beings never changes; it is immutable. The present generation of children and the present generation of young adults from the age of thirteen to eighteen is, therefore, no different from that of their great-great-grandparents. Political fads come and go; theories rise and fall; the scientific ‘truth’ of today becomes the discarded error of tomorrow. Man’s ideas change, but not his inherent nature. That remains. So, if the children are monstrous today – even criminal – it is not because their natures have become polluted, but because they have not been taught better, nor disciplined.” – On Growing Up Tough, chapter The Purple Lodge

  • My uncle (RIP) was a fine man. He served as a machinist’s mate on liberty ships engine rooms. He was a young man and a bit wild.

    His brother was getting married over a weekend and he had a pass to be at the wedding. So, he took a train and went. He didn’t calculate the travel time and returned late for his ship’s sailing.

    He was given “captain’s mast” punishment fined and busted, and assigned to another liberty ship.

    The ship he missed was the USS Mount Hood on which all hands were killed in an ammunition explosion in Manila Bay.

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

  • MacArthur Joe was a great man with great flaws, his greatest flaw being his vanity. Overall I tend to be an admirer, but I can assure you that there are people out there, including some World War II veterans, who become red with rage at the mention of his name.

    His finest moment was his “shogunate” in Japan where he took a completely defeated nation, on the verge of millions dying of famine, and, more than any other man, helped transfrom it into a peaceful and prosperous land. It was a miracle, and he does not get nearly enough credit for how skillfully he managed it. His greatest moment was when he had millions of tons of food shipped from the US in 1945-1946 to feed a starving Japan. By this time Americans knew fully how our POWs had been treated at the hands of the Japanese, and shipping food to that country was deeply unpopular. MacArthur stated that the Japanese people and their well-being were his responsibility and he was not going to see millions of them die on his watch of starvation. Reacting to criticism in Congress of feeding Japan, he sent off this blunt missive:

    “Starvation breeds mass unrest, disorder and violence,” he cabled Washington. “Give me bread or give me bullets.”

    It was MacAthur’s finest hour.

  • Yes, Don, I am aware of his vain side and egoism but his other virtues shone through.
    Here’s a poem I carry around in my wallet:

    MacArthur was so inspired by Samuel Ullman’s poem that he popularized it and kept a framed copy in his office while Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. He quoted it so often in his speeches that it became known as “MacArthur’s Credo.”

    The Poem:

    Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
    People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
    Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles
    the soul.

    Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair . . .
    these are the quick equivalents of the
    long years that bow the head and turn
    the growing spirit back to dust.

    Whether 70 or 16, there is, in every being’s heart the love of
    wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars, and the star-like
    things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events,
    the unfailing childlike appetite for “What Next?”

    You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt,
    as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear,
    as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

    So long as your heart receives messages of
    beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from
    the earth, from man and from the Infinite,
    so long are you young.

    When all the wires are down, and all the
    central places of your heart are covered with
    the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism,
    then, and only then, are you grown old indeed,
    and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Years ago, I read Manchester’s American Caesar. I was on the road and got it in each night before I hit the saloon.

    I think MacArthur was self-absorbed and consciously striving for arete – personal perfection (I think). As all classical, tragic heroes hubris was another flaw. I guess that became the “fatal flaw” when the General thought he could make Truman blink.

  • Shaw, many great military men had hubris, which is self-confidence to the max. Patton was one, Rickover another. I’d rather have a general or admiral with an inflated self-importance than a more reserved man (Ike?)

  • Joe,

    You’re right. Generals should be supremely confident.

    I can’t understand how I remember stuff Brother Anthony taught in Freshman Ancient Lit. in 1968, and I can’t remember . . . what was the topic?

    Even more amazing because: In school I was drinking more than thinking; and I misspent most of the last 40 years in banking.

    As I remember, the “formula” in Greek tragedy was the hero was undone (tragedy means it doesn’t end happily/well) because his over weaning pride caused either the gods or the people to ruin him.

    And, I think it was this: Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.