Debate:Was the United States Justified in Nuking Japan?

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Feel free to add your own spin on the story. Please keep it civil!
Information icon.svg This debate was created by HeartOfGold.

Sections exist in this debate in order to reduce edit conflicts. If you want to form your own response, do so in a === section. If you want to respond to another user's repsonse, do so in a ==== section after the === section in question. Rather than break up paragraphs, try to create a new section or sub section, and quote as necessary. If you must break up paragraphs, please cut and paste the signature located at the end of the paragraphs your breaking, including the original time date stamp, and paste it at the end of each broken paragraph. (feel free to reword this if you know what I mean but think I did a poor job articulating it).

Debate point[edit]

Was the United States justified in nuking Japan?



HeartGold: Yes. For two reasons, one widely repeated, the other less so. First, the United States was justified because it saved the lives of American and allied soldiers. Our government has a duty and obligation to treat our own citizens as much more valuable than our wartime enemies (soldier or civillian--though I am not for unnecessary and wanton bloodshed, civilians in Japan worked for their military/industrial complex, and were legitimate and strategic targets). The Japanese were fanatical soldiers who only very rarely surrendered, and even though the United States could have won the war without the help of the bomb, doing so would have cost thousands of American lives. Even Robert McNamara (Secretary of defence under Kenedy) says we were justified in an extended interview contained in the documentary The Fog of War. Second, Japan was ruthless and evil in their treatment of other asian peoples who were not Japanese. The treated and propagandized against the Chinese as "weeds," used them as subjects in painful medical, chemical, and biological studies, and generally treated conquered races as bad if not worse than the Germans treated the Jews in Europe. HeartGold tx 22:34, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Responses to HeartGold[edit]

Being a non-American civilian myself, I certainly don't agree that American soldiers' lives are worth more than the lives of non-American civilians: (non-drafted) soldiers know what they signed up for; they know they can get killed and that they can be sacrificed by their COs, innocent civilian's lives are always worth more!

I do agree that the dropping one atomic bomb was the least worse best course of action as a full scale bombing assault of a large city would cause even more casualties (see Dresden), the Americans were at the time, unaware of the radiation threat and the swift ending of the war saved more lives than were lost at Hiroshima.

However, I condemn the use of a second bomb and I believe the first bomb should have been used to destroy a large Japanese military base on an island, instead of a city.

"If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them."

Leó Szilárd (Manhattan Project scientist)


I don't think HoG meant it quite that way. Through the eyes of a military commander, the lives of his soldiers are (and must be) more important than the lives of civilians from the enemy country.Prof0705 10:38, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

I don't agree with that, a soldier who is willing to sacrifice civilians loses his honour and his humanity, he would be nothing but a ruthless killing machine and wouldn't deserve to be called a hero. If you're not willing to sacrifice your own life, then don't sign up, it's as simple as that! MiddleMan

It largely depends on how the circumstances surrounding the civilians' deaths. I by no means advocate kicking down a door to kill civilians, or killing out of spite. But in certain situations, it is justified. The object of war is to kill, destroy and maim in order to occupy ground and push an objective. That cannot be done if soldiers lives are lost trying to minimize civilian casualties. A good example is when a group of soldiers came under fire from some enemy soldiers hiding in a mosque. The mosque also held some civilians. The building could have been assaulted and cleared to minimize civilian casualties, but that would have cost alot of soldier's lives. So we hit it with artillery fire. Problem solved, objective taken, lives saved. Our lives. Sacrificing a life is different than throwing it away, and killing machines is what we are. Forget all that crap on the Army recruiting posters, there ain' a whole lot of honor in war.Prof0705 10:57, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

Not trying to create a debate within a debate here, but a pinch of gas would have knocked everyone inside the mosque unconscious.

And no, my concept of honour doesn't derive from recruiting posters, if those soldiers weren't willing to sacrifice to themselves to preserve the lives of women and children they are not soldiers, they may be mercenaries in it for the money, or brainwashed drones, but not soldiers.

Of course when you find yourself in a where every guy on the streets could be out to kill you and you can't even walk safely past a mosque, you might ask yourself what your business was in that place anyway. MiddleMan

@ Middleman. As a soldier myself I must disagree with the assertion that soldiers are willing to sacrifice themselves for the civilians of a hostile party/nation/army. Soldiers in both the draft and professional armies of American history have long held that their buddies are the most important lives on the battlefield; nowhere in the oath a soldier takes is there mention for the level of sacrifice your morals require. If this were the case, then our military would find itself exhausted from trying to save civilians. Imagine that your getting shot at by a group of people, some armed some not. Absolute terror grips you as bullets ping off the ground and you take a ricochet into your non firing hand. Your best friend beside you takes two in the chest and is convulsing while screaming for his mother. You know that your best friend has minutes to be dragged to an aid station or he will die and that mob is approaching. Do you fire into the group to save yourself and your buddy or do you let them overtake you and kill both you and your friend? I would pull the trigger and it would be completely legal under the United State's Code of Military Justice. Read the Art of War some time, it defines soldiers almost as we do today and that 2000 year old book advocates the killing of civilians in situations that would otherwise result in a loss of combat power.
Also gas, even tear gas, is illegal for American military forces to deploy in combat. The laws of war are a bit funny when it comes to individual weapon systems and in a firefight you must use what you have.
In war civilian's die, it is a utilitarian imperative to ensure that civilian deaths are kept to a minimum. Yet this ethos is exploitable by the unconventional fighter. To assume a magic solution like the gas statement is to miss the point of military ethics. There is no clean solution, only the one with the least blood, both in the short and long term.--DylanB 05:26, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


As I remember reading though, Japan was dependent on outside sources for virtually all of their raw materials. Their oil came from the South Pacific and Indonesia, the steel with which they built their ships came from the US. Given the strategic position of Japan towards the end of the war, they would have had to surrender because they no longer had access to raw materials. A naval blockade may have been able to break the Japanese command. Of course, the nukes we dropped were no worse than firebombing Tokyo, which I believe killed more people than both nukes combined. However, in response to your second point, those were the actions of the government and military of Japan. There weren't too many fisherman or school kids out experimenting on Korean prisoners. How often are is the government really under the control of the people? There are some instances of our own government testing biologial and chemical weapons on our own citizens. Did you know about that? Could you stop it if you did?

Responses to Prof0705[edit]

"...they would have had to surrender because they no longer had access to raw materials." Logic says they would have had to surrender many times in smaller battles, but they largely did not. "...the nukes we dropped were no worse than firebombing Tokyo..." Or the firebombing of Dresden. Today, we have smart bombs, smart rockets, and are even making smart artillary and someday probably smart bullets. The need for carpet and firebombing has dwindled in the eyes of many military planners. But at the time (WWII), smart bombs were experimental German contraptions, easily thwarted by allied scientists. (The Germans actually had and used television guided radio and wire controlled bombs in WWII to bomb U.K. ships--but the British figured out ways to thwart these devices). The problem in Japan, as in Iraq, is that information and misinformation is also a weapon of war, and enough of the masses can be persuaded to keep on fighting even in the face of defeat.

In hindsight, a case might be made that the war was unjustified. Like the U.S. wanting a new order in the middle East, Japan was trying to establish a new order in the Far East. Like the U.S. in Iraq, though to a greater extent (at least so far), the Japanese were under a great deal of world pressure via the League of nations to get out of Manchuria. The McCullem memo suggests that the U.S. new that Japan was acting like a bully, and outlined 8 points that were reasonably anticipated to goad the Japanese into attacking the United States. But much of this information was not available to military commanders responsible for waging and concluding the war with Japan. In war, decisions are made in a fog, and based on the information at hand to relevant military commanders, nuking Japan was the only reasonable and viable option to conclude the war with Japan admitting defeat. And, for all of our supposed xenophobia, both conquered powers, Japan and (west) Germany grew to be great economic powers who profitted from peace and defeat. HeartGold tx 09:03, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

"Logic says they would have had to surrender many times in smaller battles, but they largely did not." But in many of those cases, the tools of war were still available for use. At the end of he war, Japan was almost completely isolated, its navy no longer able to control sealanes, and its air force largely destroyed. Yes, the populace could be persuaded to continue fighting, but eventually the fuel runs out, the steel is all on the bottom of the ocean, and for all intents and purposes, the Japanese are reduced to using swords and rocks.Prof0705 10:27, 30 May 2007 (CDT)
Not that I am arguing that it was wrong. At the time, considering what the aims of the country were, the bombs were used at the right time in the right place. I just think that the true reasons should be known.Prof0705 10:30, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

I find that the use of the atomic bomb is less just than firebombing Tokyo regardless of the loss of life. There was at least some tactical advantage in firebombing Tokyo. Damage to Tokyo's heavy industry was slight until firebombing destroyed much of the light industry that was used as an integral source for small machine parts and time-intensive processes. Firebombing also killed and made homeless many workers who had been taking part in war industry. Over 50% of Tokyo's industry was spread out among residential and commercial neighborhoods; firebombing cut their output in half.

Contrast this to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where people have in hindsight attempted to put justifiability where there is none (see my thoughts below). --e|m|c [TALK] 22:10, 16 February 2008 (EST)

Targets for the atomic bombing were listed in order of their strategic military significance. However weather conditions eliminated some of the larger military targets due to cloud cover forcing the second bomb to be dropped over a relatively insignificant target. The justification was that Japanese propaganda was stating that the Americans had only one bomb. The second bomb was used to disprove that statement and threaten total annihilation through repeated atomic bombing (an empty threat as there were only two in theater). So while the A-bomb targets had less of a tactical advantage, there was a strategic rational for hitting the targets they did and bypassing Tokyo as a target (Nuking Tokyo would have meant that there would be no was to consolidate any possible surrender). Strategic targets take priority over tactical ones.--DylanB 05:27, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


As this debate started on my Talk Page, I'll copy what I said here, and post Human's response in the section below:

This, for me, is a tricky subject. Being a sixteen-year-old, I'm certainly not as well-read as I'd like to be on several matters, and this is one. MacArthur (I think it was him) told Truman it would cost one million U.S. casualties to invade the Home Islands of Japan. MacArthur had proven pretty accurate in predicting casualties in previous engagements. A million people is a hell of a lot. Given the tenacity with which the Japanese held Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other islands they posessed before the war began, it would almost certainly have been an exhausting, decade-long struggle. Had we not dropped the bombs, it probably would have lasted into the 50s, perhaps even longer. The USSR was securing control of their "gains" in Eastern Europe, and Truman at Yalta (or maybe Roosevelt at Potsdam? One of those conferences, anyway) had asked Stalin for help against Japan. Dropping the bomb before the Soviets could mobilize against Japan (and therefore have a say in the reconstruction, like what happened with Germany) probably saved Japan and half of East Asia from Soviet-brand communism.
Having said that, I don't completely agree with the decision to do so. I could understand blowing away every airport, naval base, and troop barrack we could find. However, I'd like to think that a nation that prides itself on being "civilized" wouldn't nuke innocent civillians. I find that detestable. I could maybe understand the first bomb being dropped. It shocked the hell out of them, and they were considering throwing in the towel. They understood the stakes. We had accomplished our objective. Dropping a second was simply over-extreme. I don't think that another show of such force was necessary.
A little liberal revisionism to close it out: I've read theories that we dropped the bombs on poor little Japan to show the USSR what was going to happen to them in the next few years if they stood in our way. Now, I don't subscribe to this theory, but it's an interesting idea to chew on. If it's the case (which I doubt there is much supporting evidence for), that's really disturbing, and I would be even more disillusioned than I already am. GodlessLiberal 15:32, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Responses to GodlessLiberal (and HG) by Human[edit]

Some of what Godless and I say may seem a bit non sequitur-y, since HG changed his original text a bit in reaction to our comments. But that's fine.
  • Just to chime in a bit here, randomly... I know this is a blank appeal to authority, but my ex is a historian, and she lists "showing Stalin our new toy" and "keeping the USSR out of eastern Asia" as two big reason for Truman dropping the bomb.
  • Considering how the western peoples have used the A-bomb (we dropped two, on civilian population centers), I don't think we have a great moral high horse to sit up on.
  • When I was younger, I used to riff on how Nagasaki justified Hiroshima - heck, if they didn't surrender after that, a second helping was certainly necessary! But it's a weak argument. We could just as easily have evaporated an island held only by their military, then cabled them and offered to do another one if they thought we only had one Bomb, before starting on "mainland" cities.
  • The fire bombing of Dresden was equally horrific.
  • MacArthur could have been wildly wrong, some historians cite documents showing that the Japanese were close to surrender anyway - but, we wanted it quickly, as prev. stated, before Stalin could mobilize and get some of the pie.
  • And a last point, using black and white ideological markers such as "McNamara (liberal)" [HG removed what I am referring to from his text]doesn't advance discussion, it shifts it to "not one of mine" and so one. Think of all the "conservatives" that Andy denies on CP, and even the random identification conflicts between HG, RobS (here) and TK (anywhere). And HG at CP. Likewise, look at most of us pawns of Soros on this site, I doubt any two of us agree all down the line on political issues, or even what constitutes "junk science", etc.
  • And a sort of PS, I grew up, not uniquely, of course, thinking "what would I do if I knew, undisputably, that I had only six hours to live (AFB, Navy nuclear sub repair shop, and a nuclear power plant all within 20 miles)? I felt no such worries as we went to war against Iraq, although I did have this said to me by one young lady: "But he has nuclear missiles pointed at us!". He had no nuclear weapons, and he certainly had no ICBMs to mail them with.

Just my .02, well, more like .12 or so. humanbe in 18:32, 29 May 2007 (CDT)


I'm coming into this VERY late, but I want to add my bits.

The US had just developed the nuclear bomb. All of the full ramifications of this invention had not been discovered yet, and anything we say about the decision is colored by the knowledge we now have. Yes, many of the decision makers understand that the bomb was levels of magnitude more destructive, and Truman himself was opposed to using a weapon that would totally destroy a whole city.

That said, the destruction of cities and civilians was part of the ethos of that war. What the US meant do to Hiroshima was no worse than what the Japanese did to Nanjing; the Germans did to Stalingrad, Leningrad, and attempted to do to London; or the US/UK did to Dresden. It was part of the nature of "total war." Especially compared to the prospects of invading the islands and house to house fighting that would make Stalingrad look like a picnic.

Now, if it was to be done over, knowing what we know about fallout and radiation, it would be the height of a war crime to do it again. However, at the time, it made perfect sense.

Radioactive afikomen[edit]

Well, from a utilitarian point of view, yes, it was justified. From an unbiased point of view, all lives are equal. It doesn't matter if soldiers know or choose to go and fight, with the possibility of dying, a life is a life is a life, regardless of choice. Are we to justify suicides as a glorious manifestation of free will? Or for what it is, a decision driven by depression and despair? Now, we know that Japan was willing to fight the United States for every square centimeter of mainland Japan (or whatever the term for the two biggest islands is). The casualties to the soldiers fighting, on both sides, and the civilian casualties, would have doubtlessly added up to more than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by order(s) of magnitude.

Now, I am not suggesting that Japan be grateful to the US for nuking them. In fact, being Jewish, and having the Holocaust hammered into me at every opportunity ("Never again"), I like to think I can empathize with them. If not directly with the absolute horror of what happened (being far too young to have been present), then at least with the cultural impact.

Electrified mocha chinchilla[edit]

Most people concede to the idea that it was just of us to nuke Japan if we were saving the lives of so many Americans, a sort of "cost-benefit" analysis which somehow determines morality on the subject. A surprising argument I've noticed as well is the consideration given to the mentality of Japan's combatants and of their maltreatment of the Chinese. The determination of the conscripted Japanese soldiers (which I would loudly proclaim was the result of the influences of Buddhism in Japan at the time) and the rape of Nanking has no relation to, and cannot be used as moral justification for, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The hint that it was justice for Japan's atrocities against China and other Asian countries is ridiculous and without explanation.

I'd also like to address an interesting point that has since been brought up: "...all of the full ramifications of this invention [the atomic bomb] had not been discovered yet, and anything we say about the decision [to use the bomb] is colored by the knowledge we now have." If we could suppose that our leaders did not have enough information due to the lack of advanced testing (whether it was due to the timeframe of events or our leaders' impatient desire to use the weapon), we can safely say our leaders were not adequately informed and ought not to have made the decision to use the weapon in the first place. But we cannot fully make this claim, because the fact of the matter is that our leaders and scientists not only knew the important details of the weapon's capabilities to make a decision, but in some cases overestimated the results. For example, they knew the effects of radiation on the human body, and they knew the atomic bomb exposed individuals within a certain radius to dangerous levels of radiation. Again, if they did not have all of the information we now have, they did have the information to make a decision, and if it should be claimed that they did not have enough information, then we can, without debate or hesitation, accuse them of poor decision-making.

Einstein and Szilard themselves warned against the use of the weapon, and U.S. leaders speculated that the damage would be far worse than what it actually happened to be. Truman may have had objections to using the bomb, but I think it is false to say that he was opposed to "using a weapon that would totally destroy a whole city," considering that Truman decided to use a weapon that totally destroyed two whole cities (one right after the other -- even after learning of the ridiculous destruction of Hiroshima, still deciding to destroy Nagasaki).

"The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
-- Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Truman.
The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.
-- Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet

I'd like to also like to simply note the numerous U.S. military officers who personally and professionally disagreed with the necessity of the bombings: General Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy (the Chief of Staff to the President), General Carl Spaatz (commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific), Brigadier General Carter Clarke, Admiral Ernest King, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph A. Bard, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet.

These individuals recognized before and after the war that the bombings would play/played no role in the US' decisive victory in Japan, and that the Japanese were well defeated prior to these bombings. Japan had intended to surrender days and hours prior to the bombings due to the swift and devastating Soviet victories in Manchuria. Indeed, given the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan and Japan's dwindling support for the war at home, Japan was ultimately preparing to surrender. We have evidence that Japan had every intention to end the war soon, and we have evidence that our leaders knew such. Quite a number of Japanese diplomats favored surrender to the United States, while the leaders of the Japanese military hoped that they could negotiate better terms for an armistice after a decisive battle on Kyūshū (the Southernmost mainland island of Japan; anticipated by both sides to be a U.S. victory). The Japanese government did not decide what terms, beyond preservation of an imperial system, they would have accepted to end the war; as late as August 9, the Supreme War Council was still split, with the hard-liners insisting Japan should demobilize its own forces, no war crimes trials would be conducted, and no occupation of Japan would be allowed. The United States government, despite knowledge that the Japanese government was still in discussion over the terms and conditions of the surrender (and according to the viewpoints of some historians, the US was growing impatient with the advancement of the Soviets and the dwindling opportunity to use the weapon), used the atomic bombs. The Japanese Foreign Ministry eventually dispatched a message to the United States on August 10th (after the bombings) stating that Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration (which was originally issued on July 26, 1945 to the Japanese), "with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the perogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler." No indication has since been made that the Supreme War Council's decision was influenced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As though it were an issue, it should probably be addressed. It is well-known that the Second Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, Japan and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at a nearby port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was vital for shipping. Nagasaki's main industry at the time was building naval warships for the Japanese. These characteristics, they say, made Hiroshima and Nagasaki strategic targets. In refutation, I can simply claim that nearly all of the individuals killed in the atomic bombings were civilians who did not work in these complexes. Let us not forget the kinds of buildings which rest in cities -- schools, houses, hospitals, etc. (in fact, in Hiroshima, the bomb, due to crosswinds, missed its aiming point, the Aioi Bridge, and detonated directly over Shima Surgical Clinic). In addition, Japan's navy at the time was wholly ruined, so that Nagasaki's industry was "strategically important" is false.

I have noted earlier in this debate that the firebombings of Tokyo were a bit more just in the context of tactical advantage (Damage to Tokyo's heavy industry was slight until firebombing destroyed much of the light industry that was used as an integral source for small machine parts and time-intensive processes. Firebombing also killed and made homeless many workers who had been taking part in war industry. Over 50% of Tokyo's industry was spread out among residential and commercial neighborhoods; firebombing cut their output in half.) In combination with the obvious diminishing of morale that comes with having your nation's capital firebombed, I can only concede that the firebombings were paramount in pressuring the Japanese to surrender and were thus tactically important in defeating Japan. I still do have moral objections however to even the firebombings, considering the massive civilian casualties. But on the context of being tactically important, firebombing Tokyo was, and the atomic bombings were not.

The estimations as to how many American lives would be lost if a mainland invasion of Japan were to occur is actually a very broad range, entirely speculative, and in my opinion used in the wrong context in this debate in that this "invasion" was unlikely to have occurred regardless of the bombings; Japan was already defeated due to various circumstances that Truman was well aware of. So then, why would our leaders authorize such destruction? Whether or not it was to display such a great power in the hands of the United States (perhaps to the Soviet Union in particular), and seeing Japan as an opportunity for the US to do so is speculative at best. Obviously, our leaders believed it was just, possibly for some of the same reasons that people today believe the atomic bombings to have been just.

We do have the questionable morality of such an act. In my opinion, the indiscriminate destruction that occurred in Nagasaki and Hiroshima is as immoral as the indiscriminate bombing of Dresden or the treatment of POWs by all sides during the war, fits the definition of war terrorism, falls short of the definition of genocide, and flagrantly violates the Geneva Convention which prohibits:

  1. Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
  2. Torture or inhumane treatment
  3. Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property

In fact, the indiscriminant nature of the bombings even caused fractricide and other unfortunate casualties. Most were reported by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, which was established by a presidential directive from Harry S. Truman to the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council and conducted investigations of the late effects of radiation among the survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among the casualties were found many unintended victims including allied POWs (seven Dutch and two British), forced Korean and Chinese labourers, students from Malaya on scholarships, and some 3,200 Japanese American citizens.

Now, let's be hypothetical here. Let's assume that the only two options (of course, these were not the only two options available to our leaders at the time) available to us are to indiscriminately bomb civilians with an atomic bomb or to risk the lives of (and this is one of the largest and probably most exaggerated figures I've ever heard) one million Americans. If we can, to ourselves, feel the former to be morally just, the collateral damage (otherwise known as "women and children") on the scale of Hiroshima and Nagasaki so long as we avoid the loss of possibly one million American lives, I think it would be necessary for us to examine our moral compass and consider for a moment what morally justifies something to us. If that's the rationale we agree with, that we could justify war crimes in that way, then I think it'd be difficult for me to find the genocide in Germany or treatment of our prisoners by the Japanese in WWII as immoral. Is what we're saying that, if it's for our cause, it suddenly becomes moral?

--e|m|c [TALK] 21:53, 16 February 2008 (EST)

You make a very good argument, EMC. Certainly, you are more informed than I am about the circumstances of the bombing. Had I been aware of the same information, I even would have come to the same conclusion. Kudos. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:24, 16 February 2008 (EST)
    -- While its true the navy felt that they were ready to surrender, the army an marines didn't, they having fought hand to hand, believe that they would have to kill every single last man,women, and child. Normally the navy would be right, the blockade would push them into surrender, but this is was a fanatic enemy, who's culture was death before dishonor. American's had intercepted messages of Japanese leaders which proved they were not willing to surrender. After the war America found programs that the Japanese were training civilians to attack America with chairs and brooms, to be use as suicide bombers, body shields, or commit mass-suicide, all of which happened on islands like Okinawa. Japan was not even ready to surrender after the second a-bomb, American POW told Japan, lying, that we had hundreds of a-bombs, and were going to use them. Even after that the Emperor had to step in and tell his leaders that they were surrendering in which half of the committee killed themselves, because they did not want to bear the unbearable. They were no where near close to giving up.


Yes. -- RorschachQuis custodiet ipsos custodes? 12:24, 4 December 2008 (EST)


All's fair in love and war. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:56, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Geneva Conventions be damned, then? TheoryOfPractice (talk) 03:08, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Morals are excellent in time of peace, but war has an entirely different set of rules, viz., fight as hard as you can and with all weapons available. If this is a disagreeable state of affairs, then all effort should be made to avoid war. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:00, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, that sounds like the only position to take on the issue when one doesn't put any thought into it what-so-ever. --emc [TALK] 18:25, 8 April 2010 (UTC)


Japan proved to be one of the deadliest and persistent enemies for the Allies. Any enemy willing to kamikaze is among the most dangerous in my book. The bombings were necessary to shell shock Japan to see it was fighting a losing war with no remaining allies against the rest of the world. BTW, Godzilla was originally created to voice anti-nuke movements in Japan.


AFAIK, Japan was already pretty much defeated when the bombings happened. Regardless, anyone who approves of this nuking of cities full of civilians is either heartless or clueless or both. Nullahnung (talk) 13:34, 22 June 2014 (UTC)


Justified is such a complex concept. Nuking Japan cities served several purposes, it cost the Japanese resources that had to be taken from the war effort, it showed the soldiers that the USA would bomb the homeland and it demonstrated in a very clear way what a single small weapon could do, so demonstrated a detterant to other nations. A worrying fact is that the USA did not use nuclear weapons in any war since Japan and now it has been implied that a nuclear weapon is no longer equated to other WMD like biological or chemical. Hamster (talk) 16:58, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Nukes in Japan[edit]

The Japanese were working on nukes of their own but had some setbacks, much like the Germans. Looking back, it may have been either them or us getting nuked. I prefer them. CarwreCk 15:18, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Consideration must be given to how advanced they were in their development of such weapons, and whether or not they would have actually used them. As history would have it though, dropping the a-bombs on Japan was not a preventive strike -- I'm not familiar with Japan's attempts to develop similar weapons as ever having been a rationale for nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In hindsight though, if it was even to be an argument, it's a very weak one at best and would probably originate from some attempt to justify actions which have no justification. That, or some odd paranoia or xenophobia (not trying to make accusations of character though; just trying to understand the position and throw out some guesses). --e|m|c [TALK] 01:53, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Rereading the statement it does seem like a justification or argument for the nuking. But I didn't mean it that way. It's just a reason to feel less sorry for them (as a nation). To my knowledge the US leadership wasn't worried about being nuked. However I do not believe Japan would have hesitated to do it. Why would they? It does the same thing as other bombs just with less of them. Would they have hesitated to carpet bomb NYC? They did it to the Chinese. They wanted to spread their empire and the US was in their way.CarwreCk 10:07, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. --emc [TALK] 18:10, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

My Thoughts[edit]

My Grandfather (who served in WWII) thought the bombings as a blessing in disguise. He believed that if the U.S. invaded Japan, the Japanese would have been exterminated. — Unsigned, by: Ryantherebel / talk / contribs 14:56, 31 JuFile:'Example.jpg'hfgchhghgfg hg bheoryOfPractice|TheoryOfPractice]] (talk) 15:00, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

In what way is it an appeal to authority? — Unsigned, by: Ryantherebel / talk / contribs 01:03, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Because you're implying that his service in the war gave him some sort of special insight into the question. Was your grandfather a key strategist at the Pentagon? Did he have any special training or qualifications that would give him any special insight into what would have happened if the US had invaded Japan (...something that is not really related to the question at hand in the first place, in the larger picture...)? Just because he "fought in the war"--which could mean he did anything from pilot a plane to drive a truck to load and aim artillery pieces--doesn't mean that his take on the subject, which seems pretty simplistic and ill-informed to begin with, is worth more than anyone else's. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 23:11, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
but a serving soldier may have a better understanding of the attitude prevailing in the ranks that senior planning officers have not. The question would have been , could soldiers on the ground in Japan been kept under control, and would Japanese actually surrendered or fought to the death. Hamster (talk) 16:50, 8 April 2010 (UTC)


I don't think the bombings were justified. The surrender had as much to do with the Russian invasion of Manchuria as it did with the bombings. Severeal prominent Americans thought the bombings were not necessary. The bombings had as much to do with racism as it did with practical military value. I don't think the US would ever nuke the white Germans. I am saying this a Chinese-American, who had ancestors killed Japanese during World War 2. — Unsigned, by: Linuxian / talk / contribs 01:20, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

dont agree with the racism comment. They did after all firebomb Dresden. Hamster (talk) 17:00, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
The plans of the Allies was to first use the a-bombs on germany, but they surrender, May 7,1945, before the bombs were complete roughly July,6 1945.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
Well, it's reasonable to conclude we would have nuked Germany if we were at war with them still. At the same time, there was a lot more anti-Japanese racism than anti-German during WWII, so my tacit understanding is that we were racist, but that wasn't the cause of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 19:56, 18 March 2015 (UTC)


The bombings were not nessercery as the japanise were already ready to negotiate a surrender and the number of people who died as a result of the bombings are far to great for it to be considered justified.

    More people died in the fire bombing of Tokyo then the deaths of both bombs combined, also we fire bombed 63 other cities. If were didn't nuke the two cities we would have fire bombed them, making them look just like we nuke them, with similar casualties.

my two cent[edit]

I think the USA acted like a complete coward, Hiroshima was a Terrorist act but like everyone know here the USA is the only country that can massacre civilian and torture people and getting away with it! but the USA superpower statue is declining so soon they wont be able to get away with their crime.Waronstupidity (talk) 17:32, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Total War[edit]

The condition of total war is unlike most situations of war where the entire resources of a nation is dedicated to the waging of war with no option but being conquered or conquering. WWII was this condition for every single nation involved. It's important to remember that Germany, Italy and Japan were the ones primarily interested in full world conquest and regardless of what you think about British colonialism. Over 2% of the entire world population was killed during WWII - under such conditions - where 1 in 50 of all people have been killed by violence - all rules are out the window and the goal is to end the violence at all costs - including nuclear attacks on cities. JRCHReason (talk) 04:16, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Just because anything goes in a war like that doesn't mean we have to approve of it in hindsight. It's still an abhorrent act that given the circumstances (Japan already being pretty much defeated) didn't even seem necessary, but it seems like they did it primarily to make a statement to Russia in preparation for the coming period. Nullahnung (talk) 11:34, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
I approve of it in hindsight. I have no problem with bringing the Axis powers to its knees - just like the United States will have no problem doing it again with the major pro-Hamas rallies occurring across Europe. JRCHReason (talk) 23:56, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Fact is, Japan was already on its last legs. All you see is Axis powers, whereas all I see is women and children with scorched skin dying of radiation. Nullahnung (talk) 00:01, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Which is both an appeal to emotion and a shifting of goalposts.--Arisboch (talk) 16:25, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
I can't speak to moving the goalposts, but appealing to emotion in considering the morality of an act isn't really a fallacy. People have a sense of morality. Appeals to emotion are wrong when trying to use it to argue factual or objective points. I don't think it's the best way to communicate the ethics of something, but it's relevant. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 16:35, 19 March 2015 (UTC)


Yes. Back then, nukes were not even the most deadly weapons yet (firebombing a city was deadlier, see Tokyo), but they were new and had effects unlike any weapons known back then and pressured Japan into a quicker surrender than an invasion would've done. And, in the end, despite what everyone claims, all is fair in love and war (at least back then, when there were no smart bombs, but only dumb ones and Japan never gave a shit about such rules).--Arisboch (talk) 16:39, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Probably not, but also yes[edit]

First, do note that at the time, Japan was rejecting all attempts at peace negotionations, as in the Postdam incident (where Japan just up and decided to not show up). Second, as Arisboch said, nukes weren't as sophisticated as they are now. Firebombs were indeed much more deadly back then, but the theatrics of the nukes did pressure Japan into unconditional surrender. Now, I have to concede the point that most of the affected were civilians, not military personnel or soldiers (but that can be said of the firebombing of Tokyo, too). It's one of those things that fall under the "It Looked Like A Good Idea At The Time But In Hindsight It Was Absolutely Necessary" trope. The question is: would Japan surrender unconditionally under other circumstances? |₹Λ¥$€₦₦ Red rose 02.svg Put de lime in de coconut, call me in de mornin' 18:03, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Certianly yes! The USA must do whatever they can to reduce their losses. If they did not nuke, they would have lost more soldiers, more ships due to suicider pilots. The USA is a government and for them their own soldiers are more valuable than the civilians of invading country. The emperor of the invaders should have taken care of their civilians, not the invaded/victim country. If civilians died in Japan it is due to their government's decisions and impotence. Would Japan surrender unconditionally under other circumstances? Considering their suicide pilots it is hard to think so. Moreover, Japan's ambassador to Moscov once reported to USSR that Japan does not accept the conditions set forth by the USA for Japan to Surrender. No, Japan would not surrender under other circumstances.


I don't know if it was justified or not but I think it should be noted that no ones been insane enough to use nukes since. That being the case, what if they hadn't nuked Japan and instilled an abject horror of nuclear war into the global population? Would the first use of nukes have been in Korea? Would the first use of nukes have been in the horror of a war between two nuclear powers? AMassiveGay (talk) 18:43, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

We've also been very lucky, that no-one crazy enough not to care about the own survival has come by nukes (wink wink, nudge nudge)--Arisboch (talk) 19:17, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

yes, it was[edit]

The main mission of the government is to to serve its citizens as good as possible.

if the USA did not use atomic bombs, they would have lost more soldiers and resources. Now, since the use of bombs reduced soldier losses and the main mission of the government is to reduce it and serve their citizens, the usa was justified in using atomic bombs. the government is not obliged to defend the citizens of other countries even though it is good for them to do so and the usa should not have sacrificed their soldiers in order to not kill japanese civilians.

I know People in the US are more in Favor of the bombs, everywhere else(well at least in germany and France) people think it was a shitty Idea. There is never a good justification to nuke anybody, and that the Japanaese wouldn't have given up is also kind of a Myth (true Barefoot gen and Grave of the Fireflies may gave me another view of japanese People).
Germany and Imperial Japan were on their last Legs, the Island itself had little Fuel for their ships left, and starvation would had killed more Japanese than these two Bombs. Heck my Dad once told me that the German "Wirtschaftswunder" caused our family to gorge themselves on the much cheaper Food they recieved, and without Food supplies from the Yanks a lot of people would have starved 1946 onward.See another point is that this happens to have more implications than just dead people: Germany had to denazify its Country while Japanese never had to. The US Goverment felt guilty enough about it to not press them on this matter and now they try to whitewash things from WW2 like the Rape of Nanjing and other fun stuff. --Benaresh (talk) 01:26, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
I now researched about the topic. Japan never was on the verge of surrendering. I read the Japan's ambassador to moscov's letter to the USSR in which he said Japan was not going to surrender unless Japan's requirements are met, he asked the USSR to consider their requirements. I will share the letter in case I find it electronically. I will find it and do it later. Their team of suiciders also reveal they were not going to step in order to end the war. Why would they spend their last soldiers and planes for suicide if they were considering to surrender? 2nd, if they really were considering to surrender, they would have done it immediately after the first nuke. Why would the US need to nuke them second time? to say "Japan was going to surrender even if the US did not nuke them" is one of the greatest myths ever.
first, I am going to talk about the point I made. The job of the government is to serve its people. Those who decided to nuke Japan were also goverment and they too had citizens to take care of. who would you charge if your country is in debt? if your people are dying? The government is the first responsible for that problems, the government is the one that must make sure that you are secure; you are in good condition economically and e.t.c so, by bombing the cities the USA at least reduced the possible number of deaths of its soldiers. did it reduce the expenses of the USA? I do not know but I guess it did. To reduce the deaths is the primary job of the USA government and by bombing japan they did so.
was Japan on the verge of surrendering? Debatable but considering their suicide pilots it is hard to think they were considering to end the war. They were trying to damage the USA as much as possible and bu nuking japan the usa must have reduced it as well. The job of the USA is not to save the people of Japan, their job is to save their soldiers and the USA is not obliged to sacrifice its soldiers in order to save japanese people. so, killing too many japanese civilians are nowhere near good, it in no way means the USA's decision to nuke was wrong.
which one following is the thing your government is supposed to do: 1. to kill the people you are at war with in order to save its own people 2. to sacrifice you in order to not kill the people of the country you are at war with?--Sir artur (talk) 20:58, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
Make your mind up: is the goal of the USA to serve its people or to save their lives? And how does that square with going to war with Germany, or even Japan? Annquin (talk) 21:56, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
both of them. The government is to save the life of their people as well as serving them. They were attacked by Japan, what is wrong with going into war with them? By going into war against Japan, they at least reduce the number of deaths. They serve their people by rescuing them from being conquered. about going to war against Germany? That may be something that does not square with serving their people (which may be something that squares). what was the goal of the USA is something offtopic, what the government is supposed to do and what was done plays a role here. --Sir artur (talk) 22:24, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

The real question[edit]

Is there any meaningful correlation between a nation getting nuked twice and said nation soon becoming the world's foremost producer of What is this I don't even? Reverend Black Percy (talk) 12:54, 9 December 2016 (UTC)