Hiroshima & Nagasaki:
Was It Justified?

World War II is known for acts of heroism on both sides, as well as controversial decisions. One major event that has long been debated was the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The political landscape before the bomb was dropped prevented a Japanese surrender. The war would have taken much longer had an invasion been attempted. An invasion would have cost more lives for both sides than the bombings. The Allies were justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The first reason the bombing was justified was that it was the most viable way to force the Japanese to surrender. The Allied offer of the Potsdam Conference on July 26, 1945 stipulated that the war would end only when the Japanese surrendered and gave up Emperor Hirohito. This offer was completely unacceptable to the Japanese, who, at the time, regarded their emperor as a god. President Harry S Truman was in a situation where he could not change the terms of the offer, because the American citizens wanted Hirohito imprisoned, if not executed. Changing the terms of the offer would also be regarded as a sign of weakness on the Americans' part, which was unacceptable during a time of war.

Another reason that the Americans were justified in dropping the bomb was that it ended the war much more quickly than would an invasion. The second of the two atomic bombs was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 and the Japanese surrendered 5 days later on August 14, 1945. The alternative to the use of the atomic bomb, an invasion over land, had been scheduled for November 1 had the bombing not succeeded or had it been cancelled. This invasion could have dragged on for months, if not years, and the war easily would have carried on into 1946.

The third, final, and most important reason the Americans were justified in dropping atomic bombs on Japan was that the bombings claimed far less lives than would have been taken during an invasion. Between the two cities, there was estimated to have been approximately 115,000 deaths as a result of the bombings. President Truman estimated that as many as one million American soldiers would have died in an invasion of Japan, as would most of the two million Japanese soldiers stationed in the home islands, as well as many civilians. President Truman intended the atomic bomb to be a way to end the war at a minimum cost of American and Japanese lives.

The use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a justified strategy on the Allies' part. A Japanese surrender was impossible due to the political landscape before the bombings. The war would have dragged on much longer had the bomb not been dropped and an invasion carried out instead. The bombings claimed fewer lives than an invasion would have. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought a decisive end to the Second World War, as well as ushering in the nuclear age; changing the world forever.

"The Decision to Drop" http://www.atomicmuseum.com/tour/decision.cfm (February 6, 2000)
"The Decision to Drop the Bomb" http://www.nhk.or.jp/nuclear/e/text/unit-3a.htm (February 6, 2000)

I wrote this essay for my grade 10 Canadian History class. The assignment was to defend or attack the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most people in the class opted to argue it was unjustified. I, ever the non-conformist, chose to argue it was justified.
amoeba: You are completely right. In retrospect, I really should've worked that into the essay. Apart from the fact that I didn't put enough thought into it for that idea to occur from me, I couldn't've worked it in because my teacher was really adamant that it be a five paragraph essay, if I worked a sixth paragraph in there would be hell to pay.

I like your analogy.