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Was The Dropping Of The Atomic Bombs On Hiroshima And Nagasaki Justified?

A single atomic bomb, the first weapon of its type ever used against a target, exploded over Hiroshima at 8:15 on the morning of August 1945. the attack came 45 minutes after the all-clear had been sounded from a previous alert. The explosion came as an almost complete surprise, and the people had not taken shelter. The bomb exploded slightly northwest of the centre of the city. Because of this accuracy and the flat land and circular shape of the city, Hiroshima was uniformly and extensively devastated. The entire densely or moderately built-up portion of the city was levelled by the blast and swept by fire. At Nagasaki three days later, the city was scarcely more prepared, though vague references to the Hiroshima disaster had appeared in the newspaper of 8 August.

The city remained on warning alert, but when two B-29’s were sighted, coming in the raid signal was not given immediately; the bomb was dropped at 11:02, and the raid signal was given a few minutes later at 11:09. Only about four hundred people were in the city’s tunnel shelters, which were adequate for about thirty per cent of the population. Was the dropping of the bombs justified? Was it right for America to drop these catastrophic weapons? Was it vital to dropping the atomic bombs? Could they have conquered Japan without them? This essay will determine whether the dropping of the atomic bombs was justified or not using sources and information about the event.

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The droppings of the atomic bombs were justified because of certain reasons. First, the war with the United States took place due to Japan’s invasions of China, the Indochinese Peninsula, and elsewhere. Therefore, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was also a consequence of Japan’s invasion of Asia. Second, Japanese citizens’ suffering resulted from the emperor’s “belated holy decision” to end the war. From the perspective of the peoples of Asia and that of the Japanese who suffered, it can be said that the emperor’s responsibility for the war is unmistakably heavy. It is said that when the atomic bombs were dropped, the peoples of Asia joyfully shouted, “Now we will be freed from Japanese rule!” To gain an understanding of these peoples, Japan must properly take responsibility for its own actions.

Japan had caused suffering and chaos in other countries, so America thought dropping the atomic bombs was a payback. An American report about the defences of Kyushu, parts of Japan, which the Americans were planning to invade, had said that minefields had been laid along the beach and at the back of the beaches are hills, which were heavily fortified. This meaning the Japanese were ready for the Americans and were heavily equipped and prepared. Also from the memoirs of Harry Truman, who became American president in 1945, had said that the fighting was going to be fierce and, therefore, might cost half a million American lives. Meaning that the Americans wanted to win the war against Japan. No matter what the consequences were, and to do so, they needed destructive atomic bombs.

The Japanese had launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor; the Japanese should have known what goes around comes around. They were to be hit three times as hard as Pearl Harbor with atomic bombs. The Japanese would not surrender. ‘There was no weakening the Japanese determination to fight. The total strength of the Japanese army was about five million men. The allies would be faced with the enormous task of destroying a force of five million men and five thousand suicide aircrafts belonging to a race that would fight to the death’ – an American secretary for war wrote this in 1947. Japanese were willing to fight against America until the death. This was a concern for America as they knew that the Japanese had about five million men and five thousand suicide aircraft; America had to fight back with power and chose the atomic bombs to do so. The Americans were going to do a demonstration to

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However, Alex McAllister showed how powerful the atomic bomb was decided not to because there was a danger of the test being a dud, and they did not want to waste the bombs. Even if they had shown a demonstration, the Americans thought it unlikely that the Japanese would surrender. From an interview with James Byrnes, American Secretary of state, twenty years later, ‘we were talking about the people who hadn’t hesitated at Pearl Harbor to make a sneak attack, destroying not only ships but the lives of many American sailors’. The Japanese had not hesitated planning an attack on Pearl Harbor, so the Americans did not hesitate to attack Japan. Although all these sources convince us that dropping the atomic bombs was justified, they were mostly written by Americans.

This makes these sources biased. The fact that Americans wrote the sources tells us that they are unreliable. However, they are speaking the truth, Americans spoke the truth, and they needed to convince people the dropping the bombs was justified. There are many reasons and sources to this part of the argument that the droppings of the atomic bombs were not justified. Within a radius of one kilometre from ground zero, men and animals died almost immediately from the tremendous blast pressure and heat. Houses and other structures were smashed, crushed, and shattered, and fires broke out. There was a tremendous amount of causalities, all horrific and very painful for the people of Japan. The exact number of dead and injured will never be known because of the confusion after the explosions.

Persons unaccounted for may have been burned beyond recognition in the falling buildings. No sure count of even the pre-raid populations existed. In this uncertain situation, estimates of casualties have generally ranged between 100,000 and 180,000 for Hiroshima and between 50,000 and 100,000 for Nagasaki. A plausible estimate of the importance of the various causes of death would have ranged as follows: Flash burns 20 to 30 per cent, Other injuries 50 to 60 per cent and Radiation sickness 15 to 20 per cent. Flash burns are the flash of the explosion, which was extremely brief, emitted radiant heat travelling at the speed of light. Flash burns followed the explosion immediately. Survivors in the two cities stated that people who were in the open directly under the explosion of the bomb were so severely burned that the skin was charred dark brown or black and that they died within a few minutes or hours.

A few instances were reported of arms or legs being torn from the body by flying debris. According to the Japanese, those individuals very near the centre of the explosion but not affected by flash burns or secondary injuries became ill within 2 or 3 days. Bloody diarrhea followed, and the victims expired, some within 2 to 3 days after the onset and the majority within a week. Autopsies showed remarkable changes in the blood picture-almost complete absence of white blood cells and deterioration of bone marrow. Mucous membranes of the throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines showed acute inflammation. Most of the radiation cases at greater distances did not show severe symptoms until 1 to 4 weeks after the explosion. However, many felt weak and listless on the following day.

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After a day or two of mild nausea and vomiting, the appetite improved, and the person felt quite well until symptoms reappeared at a later date. Within 12 to 48 hours, fever became evident. In many instances, it reached only 100� Fahrenheit and remained for only a few days. In other cases, the temperature went as high as 104� or 106� Fahrenheit. The degree of fever apparently had a direct relation to the degree of radiation exposure. Once developed, the fever was usually well sustained, and in those cases terminating fatally continued high until the end.  If the fever subsided, the patient usually showed a rapid disappearance of other symptoms and soon regained his feeling of good health.

The other symptoms commonly seen were a shortage of white corpuscles, loss of hair, inflammation and gangrene of the gums, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, ulceration of the lower gastrointestinal tract, small livid spots resulting from the escape of blood into the tissues of the skin or mucous membrane, and larger haemorrhages of gums, nose and skin. Source 1 from J Hersey’s account of the bomb’s effects had Alex McAllister said, ‘Father Kleinsorge found about twenty men in the bushes. They were all in the same nightmarish state. Their faces were wholly burned, their eye sockets hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks. Their mouths were mere swollen pus covered wounds, which they could not bear to stretch enough to admit the spout of a teapot. So Father Kleinsorge got a large piece of grass, drew out the stem to make straw, and gave them all the water to drink that way’.

These innocent Japanese people were in so much agony that they could not even open their mouths for a drink due to the wounds around their mouths. They had to drink from a straw. A girl as young as five saw these shocking things ‘the skin was burned of some of them and was hanging from their hands and their chins’ for a young girl to see such dreadful things at such an early age. She must have thought that humanity must be so cruel to do such a terrible thing. A British journalist had said, ‘people who were not only injured in the bombing are still dying mysteriously and horribly from an unknown something which I can only describe as the atomic plague’. This source was not written by a Japanese citizen nor an American it was written by a British person. This tells us that it cannot be biased, as the person is from two fighting countries.

The Americans had properly not thought of the after effect the bomb would have. The survivors of the bomb had to deal with radiation sickness, which was explained above. This is a Japanese eyewitness account of radiation sickness ‘. Survivors began to notice in themselves a strange form of illness. It consisted of vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea with large amounts of blood, purple spots on the skin, bleeding from the mouth, loss of hair and usually death. The Americans had not needed to use the bombs as source 11 explains, ‘ we thought we would be able to defeat the Americans on their first landing attack. But if the Americans launched a second or third attack, first our food supply would run out, then our weapons. The Americans could have won without using the atomic bombs’.

This source was from an interview with a secretary to the Japanese war minister. However, this source was written after the attack with the atomic bombs. So how do we know that the Japanese are not lying? They could have defeated the Americans. The Japanese did not want to surrender and, at one point, had a stronger side than America. The Americans did not even do a demonstration of what destruction the atomic bomb had. A not form the American nuclear scientist to the government in June 1945 ‘ a demonstration of the bomb might best be made on the desert or a barren island. Japan could then be asked to surrender. This tells us that if Japan had been given a demonstration, they would have possible surrendered because of what destruction one atomic bomb can cause. However, there was no demonstration and the atomic bomb was dropped, and thousands of lives were lost. The bombs huge amounts of suffering, sadness and human lives, and that can never be justified.

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Were the droppings of the atomic bombs justified or not? The dropping of the atomic bombs was not justified. Many sources tell us of the absolute pain that Japan had to go through because they fought strong and would not surrender. Thousands of innocent peoples lives were lost. Sources 1,4,5, and 6 tell us the horrific casualties that had happened as an effect of the atomic bombs. Although many people had died in the actual bomb explosion, many had died or been dying of radiation sickness, explained in source 6. Source 6 was written by a British journalist; he was from neither country and could not be biased about his report. Americans mostly wrote many sources that back up the evidence that the dropping of the atomic bombs was justified. This seems unfair, as the country that dropped the bombs was, in fact, America.

America cannot say that Japan was heavily equipped with weapons as they do in source 8 and decide that they could not defeat them and have to go to such drastic measures as dropping the atomic bombs. If America had only dropped the one bomb on Hiroshima, that would still have been uncalled for act upon the Americans; however, to drop a second bomb on Nagasaki was certainly not justified. Alex McAllister However, one of the sources supporting that the dropping of the bombs was not justified was written after the war. This was source 11 from an interview with the secretary to the Japanese war minister. This had said that if America had gone ahead and attacked twice or maybe a third time, Japan would have been defeated because of a lack of weapons and food supply.

How did they know that that was what was going to happen? Japan did not want to surrender and had five million men and five thousand suicide aircraft. They are saying that America was the stronger country when at that moment, Japan clearly was. Furthermore, the Americans did not have to use the atomic bombs to win, said the secretary to the Japanese war minister, but as mentioned before, Japan at that moment was the stronger country. Some of the sources were unreliable, such as those mentioned above, written by Americans and others written after the war. Therefore, the dropping of the atomic bombs was not justified, and the second bombing of Nagasaki was uncalled for act upon the Americans.

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Was The Dropping Of The Atomic Bombs On Hiroshima And Nagasaki Justified?. (2021, Sep 10). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from