History Paper on The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

History Paper on The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki


On August 6 1945, the United States did the unthinkable action by dropping an extraordinary atomic bomb in Japan that is believed to have been the best alternative at the moment. The use of the atomic bomb on Japan was a significant event in the global history.  The resolution to drop the bomb in Japan had been analyzed with regards to its compulsion and decency, and the question that many people ask is “what if the United States had not dropped the atomic bomb in Japan?” According to the American government official stand, the atomic bomb was one of the fastest means to end the war and protected millions of lives. Another reason that justified the use of the atomic bomb in Japan was that it served in large part to intimidate the Soviet Union. These are many of the concepts that this paper will address.

History of the War

Japan is a nation that had few natural resources and wanted more, particularly iron and oil. Before World War I, Japan started to move in different territories with an intention to ease its natural resources limitations through striving to attain new territories.  From 1894 to 1909, the country had managed to take over Pescadores Islands and Formosa besides overpowering the Russians and invaded Korea[1]. As a result of these and many other occurrences, Japan became to be acknowledged as one of the strongest nations in the world. Through the Treaty of Versailles in January 1919, Japan also managed acquire the former German territories located in Mariana, Caroline and Marshall Islands[2]. This implied that the Japanese empire had extended by 3,000 miles into the Pacific, an element that worried the United States, especially their bases in Philippines. As a way of stretching their territory, Japan went ahead and avowed war on China in July, 1937 that was followed by an invasion of Manchuria. Due to the pressure from the international community to withdraw from the war, Japan instead withdrew from the League of Nations.  Additionally, throughout this era, as well as during the WWII, the Japanese army conquered the national economy and government thus making Japan to be at constant battles until 1945.

Whereas Japan was aggressively involved in the expansion of its territories in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the United States on the other hand was turning in on itself. After the end of World War, the U.S. became secluded from the rest of the diplomatic world as a result of the Congress decision to refuse to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, the US did not opt to acquire any territory but instead focused on ensuring world peace, which though would be attained through its isolation.

In early June 1938, Japan opted to collaborate with the U.S. by agreeing to live peacefully, even though their differences were huge. In 1941, Japan went ahead and affirmed its intent to establish the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Additionally, the nation publicly declared its hostile intentions to all nations that would not comply with the new entity.[3] In rejoinder, the US initiated a constraint of trade with Japan, particularly intimidating the supply of oil to Japan.  Consequently, Japan was at crossroads because they had two options, to stop their intended plan or be required to create a war.  Towards the end of 1941, Japan launched an anticipatory attack on the U.S. Navy, despite the earlier agreement. Few days later in early morning hours, Japan carried out an attack at the US Naval Base that was situated at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which spread over to other air bases that included Wheeler, Bellows, and Hickham Fields.[4] [5] In between December 1941 and May of 1942, Japan had successfully attacked and   regions, for instance, Malaya, Borneo, Burma, as well as New Guinea among others and had fully the peak of its expansion.[6]

Around mid-1942, the US eventually launched retaliatory attacks on Japan. The first major confrontation between the two nations, which came to be known as the Battle of Midway,  happened in June 1942 an lasted for two days.[7] This fight was only part of the several other battles that occurred between the two nations. The US used the war as a means of vengeance to Japan while the Japanese war was characterized by the need to protect newly captured territoriesand to counter western imperialism. Moreover, the American strategy was to engage the Japanese navy through several sea battles and the Japanese army until they push them to the nation’s territory and fight them there directly. Progressively, the war strategically fought in the Pacific headed for Japan.  In early 1945, the US and other Allies air bases managed to launch attacks on Japan. At the moment, General Curtis LeMaywho was leading the war against Japan intensified the war by starting to bomb Japan with inflammable bombs.

Nonetheless, the United States military came face to face with the first taste of the Japanese fighting strategy when they arrived on the islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima in 1945.  The American and Allies’ intention was to move their bases near to Japan so that they could effectively carry out their air strikes[8].Initially, conquering the two islands was thought to a small battle. However, it was at this point that the Japanese demonstrated to the world that they are a force to reckon with and that they would not easily surrender. Since Japan understood that the Allies were approaching in an operation, they burrowed miles of underground underpasses to be used in the battle.  The war at Iwo Jima, which took place in March 1945, left around 6,800 U.S. Marine Corps dead and 20,000 more others injured. On the other hand, 110,000 Japanese soldiers, together with 80,000 civilians, became casualties in the battle[9], an element that led to the islands to be referred “piece of Hell”[10]. This battle in the islands changed the nature of the war since it demonstrated the Japanese ‘fight to the death’ fighting tactic.

As a way of retaliating for the loss that occurred in Iwo Jima and Okinawa and since the U.S. was inside the Japanese air range, the Japanese commenced their Kamikaze ‘suicide attacks.’ A short period between April and June 1945, saw approximately 1,800 discrete suicide attacks that produced devastating effects to the Americans and the Japanese. In early 1945, the enthusiasm of America was triggered since the battle in Europe had concluded and it seemed as if Japan would surrender. Nonetheless, the Japanese never gave up and in summer, and the three Allies – the US, Britain, and Russia – delivered the Potsdam Proclamation on July 26, 1945 as well as a demand that required Japan to unconditionally surrender or face swift and absolute destruction[11]. Japan, however rudely ignored the ultimatum and the nations planned for a major invasion in November, that never took place.

According to the plan, 767,000 Japanese soldiers were supposed to land in beaches located in the southern part of Japan that year and in the following year, 1,534,000 more were to arrive at the beaches near Tokyo ready to take the battle.[12] This plan never came to pass because in August 6, 1945, the B-29 “Enola Gay” released an atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima, Japan.  Three days later, Nagasaki was hit by the second atomic bomb, which was a demonstration to the Japanese that the U.S. was capable of producing such weaponry and that future wars will be met with such brutality. Immediately after six days after Nagasaki bomb, Japan surrendered, alluding to the use of a fresh and the harshest bomb, however, on condition that the emperor remains in office[13].

As indicated initially, dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan was one of the most talked about decision by the United States. The US president decision was one of the hardest to make with many reasons that were provide for not using the bombs. Nevertheless, it is assumed that Truman’s decision was altruistic, which implies that he was making the best possible with regards to all the information he had during that time, particularly from his close advisors. According to the President, the atomic bombs were aimed at shortening the war and its agony so as to save the lives of millions of the Americans[14]. As learnt form the past battles, Japan had developed a proud and noble psyche. They had avowed never to surrender and would rather commit suicide instead of being beaten. This is because many of the Japanese still upheld the tradition of Bushido, which involved an ancient tradition of self-disembowelment. It was apparent that the Japanese preferred dying honorably, for instance, training children in suicide mission in American tanks and dying honorably by dying together with the enemy. For example, many people in Hiroshima were mortified since before the atomic bomb they had not been attacked by the Americans and allies making them to look at the act as insignificant. In most cases, the Japanese citizens were proud of their war efforts at the same time being embarrassed when they were left unharmed. This is one mindset that would not have allowed the Japanese to surrender.

Furthermore, the manufacture of the atomic bomb was one of the frightening development in the history of the Unite States, which commenced with the splitting of an atom by Rutherford in 1919. Later on, in 1938, Hahn revealed the fission process and by 1939, several scientists in different nations, for instance, in Britain, France and the United States were already exploring the possibility of including nuclear energy in the military[15]. This was triggered by a concern that Japan was also considering to create an atomic bomb. The Manhattan atomic project was finally recognized in 1942 and the creation of the atomic bomb that the US government had already spent $ 2 billion. This project was successfully tested in New Mexico on 16 July 1945.

It is apparent that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrifyingactions that resulted to grave consequences. Despite the fact, the precise death toll from the effects of the bombings will never be effectively ascertained, it is approximated that at least 200,000 people succumbed in the two attacks. At one point, the current President of the United States, Barrack Obama reportedly offered to properlyexpress regret to Japan as a result of the attacks[16]. This also provides an understanding of the sustained anger in Japan that the U.S. would in future again use nuclear weapons against their nation.

If the Americans had not dropped the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more lives would have been lost in the war. Additionally, it is evident that as a result of the psyched Japanese nature, President Harry Truman’s resolution to use the atomic bombs against Japan virtuallydefinitely saved many more lives. This concept can be understood form the perspective that many U.S leaders at that time held, which provided that not using the atomic bomb would have required the U.S. to initiate a full assaulton Japan’s home islands. Consequently, this action would have resulted to many more deaths, both the Americans and Japanese as compared to the casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore, it is evident that the nature of the Japanese people alongside the invasion of all allied forces inJapan would have led to many losses of lives and property[17]. This can be demonstrated as shown in the stiff resistance the U.S. and allied forces encountered during the island-hopping campaign of the Pacific War, that would have resulted in many casualties. At least 200, 000 people died from the atomic bombing attack.

Actually, the fatalities resulting from the U.S. strategic conventional bombing operation significantly obscured the total population of people whose lives were cut short by the atomic bombings. The fire-bombing in March 1945 resulted to more than 120,000 deaths in Japan. In comparison, a ground assault would have caused an unmeasurable population of casualties. In accordance to one of the scholars who researched on the U.S. assault plan, Operation Downfall, he notes that with regards to the degree to which Japanese civilians repelled the assault, approximations would run into millions of deaths from the allied countries and tens of millions of deaths from Japanese citizens.

Therefore, we can also conclude that Operation Downfall as it had been planned by the Americans and all Allies would not have been necessary even of the US would not have resorted to use atomic bomb. Additionally, despite the fact that the Soviet’s entrance into the war further complicated chances of Japan winning the war, the nation did not get moved to surrender. Instead of the Japanese leaders surrendering after the Soviet invasion, they would have been compelled to fight the two super powers concurrently, even though their struggle would have been termed fruitless. Therefore, the atomic assault bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki offered the Japanese leaders the excuse they wanted to take anunquestionablyimpossible action of concession. Certainly, the atomic bombings featured mainly in Emperor Hirohito’s extraordinaryaddress to the nation proclaimingthe nations surrender. In his speech, the emperor claimed that the enemy has startedincorporating new and cruel tactics with an unthinkable power to cause damage, particularly touching on the innocent lives. He reiterated that should they continue with the struggle; the mass destruction would not only collapse the Japanese nation but also will lead to the extinction of human civilization.

The Japanese leader addressed the stunned nation, since it was surprising for the Emperor to have conceded defeat in the history of Japan.Therefore, without the atomic bombing action at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japan’s leaders would have persisted with their military battles despite the fact that the Soviet had declared war against Tokyo. The war would have therefore ensued that before the Japanesesurrendered, many devastating effects would have felt more that the total death toll that was witnessedat Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. In any case, provided that total death toll that Japan had endured during the war, the leaders would not have yieldedwith the killings of 200,000 soldiers only.

Furthermore, if the U.S. had not released a bomb to Japan, more fighting would have resulted as a result of the Soviet Union need to conquer and subjugating several parts of the Japanese empire. This is an issue that would have complicated and elongated the war in Japan because of several reasons. In the first place, after WWII ended, a large population of Japanese soldiers and civilians were distributedin different parts of the Asian continent. The other unfortunate 600,000 Japanese were taken hostage by Soviets andwere aggrieved terribly as a result of being confined in labor camps where some of them died in ahorrendous rate, approximately 10 percent of the population. This implies that in an event that the Soviet Union would have occupiedsome portions of Japan, it was expected thatthe nativepopulaces in those regions would have grievedunder similar fates and this would have sparkled more battles.

Moreover, permitting the Soviet raid to ensue would also have resulted in a more split Japan. One region of the nation would be controlled by Moscow rule while the would be under the rule and control of the United States. Despite the fact that this situation could have been ultimately resolved peacefully as in case of Germany, there would have several stressedstalemates between as the in the German case between nuclear-armed superpowers. Thus, having a second Berlin in the mist of the Cold War would have aggravated issues in Japan and the entire world. Then again, a split Japan could have also resulted in many deaths as in the case of Korea and Vietnam where ruthless wars featured in their divisions, that led to several killings during the entire process. In Korea, for instance, approximately between 1.1 and 1.5 million people were killed during the war despite the fact that nation was still split and still yet virtually at war. The populations in North Koreans remain to live under the suffering that is as a result of the regressive and outrageously repressive regime.

Nevertheless, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings undoubtedly protected numerous lives through the United States demonstrating to the world the impacts and fears of atomic combat. Even though the restriction against the use of nuclear weapons took some time to be implemented, scholars like Nina Tannenwald have gone ahead and demonstrated the significance and impact of the atomic bombing that destroyed Japan, on early Cold-War leaders’ opinions on the use of nuclear weapons. Tannenwaldasserts that even President Truman, likely affectedpersonally by his decision to use the bomb, rebuffed his advisers counsel and attempt to convince him to use nuclear weapons again.

            Had the United States not bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and the repulsions of nuclear warfare not been demonstrated, it is apparent that the atomic bombings would have been later used during the during the Cold War. Consequently, the war would have resulted to far reaching impacts, death and destruction because of two major reasons. Foremost, many more nuclear nations would have been established that would have far reaching implications on humanity than the US use of atomic bomb in Japan. Also, the damaging intensities of nuclear weapons had escalated hastily after the Second World War. For instance, when the United Statesverified the globes first thermonuclear weapon in 1952, it was estimated that it was 700 times the volatile power of the bomb that was used at Hiroshima. This implies that the world would have suffered greatly from a superpower battle involvingheavy thermonuclear weapons.


Despite the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrifying tragedies after the WWII, which was undertaken by the United States in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan there are other reasons that justify the use of the atomic bombings. Categorically, it was not in the best interest of the United States to drop the bombings but whether people believe in the decision to use atomic weapons, the motives of the U.S. leaders were driven by the fact that decision was aimed at saving millions more lives.




Work Cited

Craig, William. The Fall of Japan.Istanbul, Turkey: Wildcat Publishing Company, Inc.  1997.

Keck, Zachary. How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives. By showing the world the horrors of nuclear warfare, the atomic bombings made future ones much less likely. The Diplomat. 2014. Accessed 30 November 2016.

McKay, John P., Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler. A History of Western Society: Volume C. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980.

Nobile, Philip (editor). Judgment at the Smithsonian.New York, NY: Marlow and Company, 1995.

Smurthwaite, David. The Pacific War Atlas: 1941-1945.New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 1995.

Weintraub, Stanley. The Last Great Victory: The End of the World War, July/August 1945. New York, NY: Truman Talley Books, 1995.

Wheeler, Keith (a). Bombers Over Japan.Fairfax, VA:Time Life Books, 1967.






[1]Smurthwaite, David. The Pacific War Atlas: 1941-1945. New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 1995. p. 12

[2]McKay, John P., Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler. A History of Western Society: Volume C. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980. p. 926.

[3]Smurthwaite, David. The Pacific War Atlas: 1941-1945. New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 1995. p. 14

[4]Wheeler, Keith (a). Bombers Over Japan. Fairfax, VA: Time Life Books, 1967.

[5]Smurthwaite, David. The Pacific War Atlas: 1941-1945. New York, NY: Checkmark Books, 1995. p. 25

[6]Ibid p. 36

[7]Ibid p. 69

[8]Nobile, Philip (editor). Judgment at the Smithsonian. New York, NY: Marlow and Company, 1995. p. 8

[9]Wheeler, Keith (a). Bombers Over Japan. Fairfax, VA: Time Life Books, 1967. p. 193

[10]Nobile, Philip (editor). Judgment at the Smithsonian. New York, NY: Marlow and Company, 1995. p. 8

[11]Craig, William. The Fall of Japan. Istanbul, Turkey: Wildcat Publishing Company, Inc.  1997. pp. 66.

[12]Ibid p. 48

[13]Weintraub, Stanley. The Last Great Victory: The End of the World War, July/August 1945. New York, NY: Truman Talley Books, 1995. p. 594

[14]Keck, Zachary. How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives. By showing the world the horrors of nuclear warfare, the atomic bombings made future ones much less likely. The Diplomat. 2014.

[15]Keck, Zachary. How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives. By showing the world the horrors of nuclear warfare, the atomic bombings made future ones much less likely. The Diplomat. 2014.


[17]Keck, Zachary. How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives. By showing the world the horrors of nuclear warfare, the atomic bombings made future ones much less likely. The Diplomat. 2014.