Key points for discussion for the lecture by Akira Kimura, professor of Peace Studies at Kagoshima University, held on August 8, 2009 in Nagasaki for the group of International Peace Exchange Seminar with participants from Ritsumeikan University, American University, and from Canadian Universities (UBC, SFU, Royal Roads). Summary made by translator Satoko Norimtsu, based on Kimura's lecture notes.
Departure from the “Atomic-bomb Myths”
Re-examination of the “atomic-bomb myths” = revision of “nuclear deterrence theory”
1. Background of and reasons for the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki
Prevailing views in the U.S.:
- A-bombs were dropped to end the war early
- A-bomb did end the war early
- A-bombs saved 1/2 million – 1 million lives of U.S. soldiers by avoiding invasion of Japan’s mainland
- A-bombs also saved millions of Japanese lives by ending the war early
- Japan has no right to question the morality of atomic-bombing because of its aggressive war against Asia and the atrocities it committed including the Nanjing Massacre
- Hyde Park Agreement (September 1944) between U.S. and U.K. changed the target of atomic-bombing from Germany to Japan. The Allies changed their mind about Germany, which was losing the war, before the success of the a-bomb test. They dropped the bombs on Japan, which was also losing the war, after the success of the a-bomb test. (potential racism)
- U.S. had intercepted and known about Japan’s wish for the Soviets to act as an intermediary since the spring of 1945. U.S. also urged Stalin to ignore Japan’s request.
- In the Potsdam Declaration, the U.S. demanded an unconditional surrender, knowing that the preservation of the Emperor System in some form would lead to Japanese surrender. Truman had virtually decided to drop a-bombs on Japan before the Potsdam Declaration.
- Truman ignored the scientists’ advice for the U.S. to warn about the scale of atomic-bombing by, for example, dropping one off the Bay of Tokyo.
- During the Yalta Conference, an agreement was made for the Soviet Union to join the war against Japan within three months of the German surrender. This agreement was made in response to the request from the U.S. for the Soviets to destroy the Kwantung Army and the promise of rewards of the Northern Territories and the interests in the railways and ports. This agreement was still valid at the time of the atomic bombing.
- What was more influential to the Japanese surrender was the Soviet entry into the war rather than the two atomic bombs.
- What finally led to the Japanese surrender was neither the Soviet entry to the war or the atomic-bombing. It was Byrnes’s response that hinted at the maintenance of the Emperor System.
- Human experiments of a-bombing
- Retaliate against Pearl Harbor and abuse of POWs
- Perception of white supremacy and racism against Japanese
- Pressure from the Congress and citizens for justification of the 2 billion dollars spent on the development of a-bombs
See these articles for more information.
Hiroshima After Sixty Years: The Debate Continues by Gar Alperovitz
The Decision to Risk the Future: Harry Truman, the Atomic Bomb and the Apocalyptic Narrative by Peter Kuznick http://www.japanfocus.org/-Peter_J_-Kuznick/2479
The Atomic Bombs and the Soviet Invasion: What Drove Japan’s Decision to Surrender? by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tsuyoshi-Hasegawa/2501
See also the video of a talk by David Laskey, a Canadian veteran and an anti-nuclear activist, and huband of late Kinuko Laskey, a Hiroshima Hibakusha.