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A Tale of Two Cities: The Necessary Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Vengeance is a punishment inflicted on a foe for hurting the individual or their loved one physically, emotionally, or mentally. Like the old saying goes, eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Although you feel content and successful to triumphantly get back at the enemy, a taste for vengeance can destroy lives, on both sides of the table, or across the enormous Pacific Ocean. Children of all ages mastermind rebellious plans to get back at a certain person, and give them a taste of their own medicine. However, revenge, in all its magnitude, ultimately destroys both parties. Just like children brawl in public parks and schools for retribution, the country of stars and stripes and the all mighty Japan devised a decisive plan to hit the other harder with the sacrifice of kamikaze airplane pilots, the construction and testing of nuclear bombs, and the intricate techniques and weapons utilized for a despicable victory. As anger, contempt, and resentment consumed the two nations, the United States and Japan go one on one to gain dominance and greater power, resulting in immeasurable, surreal effects. Pandora’s box was opened, and the question of whether to get revenge at Japan with an atomic bomb was posed. The decision, although controversial, was ultimately necessary to end World War II.


In 1939, U.S. physicists had learned that Nazi Germany was constructing an atomic bomb, one of unprecedented power. On August 2, 1939, Albert Einstein, a historical genius, warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt of this danger. Soon in June 1941, the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development was formed, and was given full control over the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb quickly and effectively. After four years of research and construction, an atomic device was tested on July 16, 1945, in a barren desert in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The explosion was equivalent to more than 15, 000 tons of TNT. Roosevelt’s Successor, President Truman, considered using this weapon to defeat Japan in a fast and effective way. Japan’s refusal to the Potsdam Declaration made the President’s decision to use the explosive.


On August 6, 1945, U.S. General Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr. flew an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, from Tinian Island in the Marianas, and at around 8:16 a.m., “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima. Literally, all hell broke loose, for the blast produced enormous amounts of heat on impact. The blast dust and radioactive debris created a black, mushroom-shaped cloud above Hiroshima. The bombing caused great destruction of nearly 4.4 square miles ( Nuclear Weapon. 2016. 6).  Nearly anything combustible in the bomb’s vicinity was leveled to the ground. The bombing of Hiroshima was not only inhumane and unethical, but it cost the lives of 80,000 people in counting. Then on August 8, 1945, the U.S.S.R. took advantage of the weakened country and declared war. A days after, the U.S.S.R. attacked Manchuria, and the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” on Nagasaki, a coastal city, overwhelming Japan. The bombing of Nagasaki not only obliterated 1.8 miles of terrain, but it killed an average of  35,000 to 40,000 people (John Graham Royde-Smith. 2016.62). Japanese civilians faced extreme burns, death, injury, and sickness. To this day, radiation remnants are still found in the cities’ ruins, causing cancer, specifically thyroid cancer, among many inhabitants.


Although they were solely part of the war effort, the bombings were experiments tested on innocent, Japanese civilians. Scientists who had achieved to construct the bombs were eager to test their invention. In fact, both atomic bombs were made up of distinct elements. “Little Boy” contained high amounts of 140 pounds of uranium, while “Fat Man” consisted of highly enriched plutonium ( Nuclear Weapon. 2016. 2). Both atomic bombs were tested on humans, or in this case lab rats, to establish the effectiveness of these bombs. To end, one might argue that dropping both atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not only a crime against humanity, but a brutal, callous, and cowardly act of war.


Japan’s military leaders were persistent to form a Pacific Empire, and so they began to fulfill that aspiration in 1931. That year, Japan gained dominance in Manchuria, which was located in northeastern China. Then in 1937, Japanese troops gradually swept into the heartland of China. To stop the Japanese from advancing, the U.S. sent assistance to strengthen Chinese resistance, which prolonged the war. Later in 1941, when Japan invaded Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the United States president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, imposed a ban on any oil shipments and other vital war materials to Japan. Despite the oil shortages, Japan planned to attack the U.S. fleet in Hawaii to eliminate their naval competitor and threat. On December 7, 1941, at about 7:55 a.m., Yamamoto Isoroku, Japan’s greatest naval strategist, planned a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii.


It was a calm Sunday, and soldiers were casually doing their routine work. A U.S. Army private ignored the large flight of planes on his radar screen, since a flight of U.S.  B-17s was expected. They didn’t realize it was a foreign enemy intrusion until the first Japanese Kamikaze pilot planted a missile. Japanese Kamikaze pilots who flew the red-dotted plains deliberately crashed into U.S. ships. In their minds, these nationalistic men died for their country and for God. In fact, a total of 360 Japanese enemy planes were launched. In a matter of two hours, 3,400 American soldiers died. When comparing Japan’s losses to the United States’,  Japan lost fewer than 100 men, about 60 planes, five small submarines, and about two submarines (Pearl Harbor Attack. 2016.1). With these outcomes, the United States had an obvious reason to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan, but with a greater impact. Since the U.S. aided Chinese resistance and prolonged the deadly war, it had to defeat Japan and eventually put an end to World War II in a way less costly of American lives than an ordinary invasion of Japan.
From July 17 to August 2, 1945, the Soviet, American, and British leaders held a conference, code-named “Terminal,” to discuss operations against Japan. On July 26, 1945, the Potsdam Declaration was issued calling Japan to “surrender unconditionally.” In this document, Japan was to “proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.” This document told Japanese leaders their fate if they refused to hang a white flag. Unfortunately, the Japanese were not willing to go down and allow their country to face deep shame. If Japan did surrender, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in addition to a war between Japan and the U.S.S.R., would most likely be nonexistent. Japan brought these bombings on themselves. It disregarded the Potsdam Declaration, and therefore, the U.S. had the authority to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In short, all the cards were laid, and Japan drew one for disaster.


Japan had surprised the United States with a bombing of Pearl Harbor, inducing the U.S. to join the fight in World War II. In all its power, the U.S. had therefore full authority to intervene in Japanese affairs. In addition, when the U.S. proposed the Potsdam Declaration to Japan warning of “prompt and utter destruction,” the relentless country still refused to capitulate their armed forces. Even after the U.S. dropped “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan continued to persist, given that it was lacking oil and military weapons. This demonstrates not only Japan’s obstinacy, but also its tenaciousness in hopes of a possible victory. Though it was a bitter pill to swallow, Japan finally surrendered its forces after the bombing of Nagasaki on August 14, 1945. In terms of their surrender, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito would position would be maintained. To conclude, although the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were catastrophic and appalling, with the evidence provided, it’s obvious that they were necessary to put an official end to World War II.
 

 

 

References

World War II. (2016). In Encyclopædia Britannica. 

Nuclear weapon. (2016). In Encyclopædia Britannica. 

Pearl Harbor attack. (2016). In Encyclopædia Britannica. 

Japan surrenders. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2016, 

The Berlin (Potsdam) Conference, July 17-August 2, 1945 (a) Protocol of the Proceedings, August l,
1945. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2016,




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