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  #1  
Old 05-31-2016, 12:09 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Is it a fair assessment (in hindsight) that Japan feared the USSR more than US atomic bombs?

Hi

This question has been done to death but I want to get as objective an answer as possible. Was Japan going to surrender anyway prior to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? More modern research suggests it was. The more prominent/prevailing view is that dropping the bombs was a necessity and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. A more nuanced perspective from foreignpolicy.com gives, in my opinion, a more satisfying/substantive answer. What about Truman's judgement or forthrightness in his reasons for dropping the bombs? Is there any evidence to suggest that he had any other motives to drop the bomb besides defeating Japan?
I look forward to your feedback.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-live...omb-1438793746

The nuclear bombs probably saved hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. American planes would have had to attack several more Japanese cities as they had Tokyo, and would have repeated their attacks on the capital as well. The U.S. Navy would have continued its blockade, and mass starvation could have resulted. The 70th anniversary of the dropping of the Hiroshima ought to be observed with dignity and reflection, but also with thanksgiving and relief.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/...an-stalin-did/

" But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that,although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan’s leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for November 1.Their use was, therefore, unnecessary."

"Even the most hardline leaders in Japan’s government knew that the war could not go on. The question was not whether to continue, but how to bring the war to a close under the best terms possible. The Allies (the United States, Great Britain, and others — the Soviet Union, remember, was still neutral) were demanding “unconditional surrender.” Japan’s leaders hoped that they might be able to figure out a way to avoid war crimes trials, keep their form of government, and keep some of the territories they’d conquered: Korea, Vietnam, Burma, parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, a large portion of eastern China, and numerous islands in the Pacific.
"
"The destruction of Hiroshima had done nothing to reduce the preparedness of the troops dug in on the beaches of Japan’s home islands. There was now one fewer city behind them, but they were still dug in, they still had ammunition, and their military strength had not been diminished in any important way. Bombing Hiroshima did not foreclose either of Japan’s strategic options.
"

"The Soviet declaration of war also changed the calculation of how much time was left for maneuver. Japanese intelligence was predicting that U.S. forces might not invade for months. Soviet forces, on the other hand, could be in Japan proper in as little as 10 days. The Soviet invasion made a decision on ending the war extremely time sensitive.
"

"Japan’s leaders consistently displayed disinterest in the city bombing that was wrecking their cities. "

"There were, however, only six smaller cities (with populations between 30,000 and 100,000) which had not already been bombed. Given that Japan had already had major bombing damage done to 68 cities, and
had, for the most part, shrugged it off, it is perhaps not surprising that Japan’s leaders were unimpressed with the threat of further bombing. It was not strategically compelling."
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:53 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Fear of the USSR would certainly have been one of the factors, not only for the Japanese but the Americans. The last thing the Western Allies wanted was a Soviet presence anywhere in Japan and that made a quick end to the war all the more urgent.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:16 AM
Mr. Kobayashi Mr. Kobayashi is offline
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The Japanese had gotten a good pasting in the 1939 skirmishes at the hands of some guy called Zhukov and had an obvious interest in not repeating the experience, but also noteworthy is the efforts of the Japanese government to attempt to negotiate an end to the war through the 'good offices' of the Soviet Union. A telegram from Togo (Minister of Foreign Affairs) to Sato (Japanese Ambassador to the Soviet Union) on the 21st July 1945 read;
Quote:
The mission of special envoy Konoye is to ask the Government of the USSR for its assistance in terminating the war and to explain our concrete intentions concerning the matter in accordance with the wishes of the Emperor; it is also to negotiate on matters of establishing cooperative relations between Japan and the USSR, which should become basic in our diplomacy during and after the war.
...
It is, however, our intention to achieve, with Soviet assistance, a peace which is not of unconditional nature, in order to avoid such a situation as mentioned above in accordance with His Majesty's desire.
And later on the 25th;
Quote:
...as repeatedly mentioned in my previous telegrams, it should be pointed out that the Imperial Government has, first of all, requested the good offices of the Soviet Union and that the sending of the special envoy to the Soviet Union would enable Stalin to acquire the position of advocate of world peace. Also make it clear that we are fully prepared to recognize the wishes of the Soviet Union in the Far East...
Needless to say the Soviet declaration of war was a slight setback in the Japanese plan to enable Stalin '...to acquire the position of advocate of world peace'.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:42 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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Lets just say the High Command had a lousy week. All of these events contributed, as did the coming hunger.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:27 AM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is offline
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Given that the Soviets had already given notice that they didn't want to renew the neutrality agreement with Japan, and, in between the two missives quoted by Mr. Kobayashi had withdrawn all its diplomatic staff from Japan, you would imagine the Japanese were already quite rattled. Whilst they would not know of the agreement made in Yalta, they would have fast diminishing hopes that a negotiated settlement of any kind could be reached.

The Japanese would not be exactly happy losing Manchuria, as not long before they no doubt felt they would retain it as part of a negotiated end the war. But whether they felt deep worry that the Soviets might actually regard Japan proper as a possible acquisition might be hard to judge. However the US might have felt it was worth pushing the thought processes along a little, and get Japan to make up its mind as to which side they might prefer to give unconditional surrender to. An observation of US actions in newly occupied Germany might have been a good start to such thought processes in addition to facing the nuking of major cities.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:30 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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The Japanese were already seriously considering surrender before Hiroshima. They indicated it to the allies, but a mistranslation (probably deliberate on the part of a Soviet agent in the German embassy) led the US to believe they had rejected the idea.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:58 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Truman is a mystery. How much did he really know and how much are we assuming he should have known? I'm not really happy with the argument below, but is it fair?

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/...n-13504?page=2

The actual decision to drop the bomb was not nearly as casual as “a simple yes.” Critics of the decision to use the “special bomb” in 1945 are judging men born in the 19th century by the standards of the 21st. Had Truman and his commanders shrunk from doing everything possible to force the war to its end, the American people would never have forgiven them. This judgment no doubt mattered more to these leaders than the disapproval of academic historians a half century later, and rightly so.
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:36 AM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmich quoting Gar Alperovitz View Post
although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan’s leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for November 1.Their use was, therefore, unnecessary."

"Even the most hardline leaders in Japan’s government knew that the war could not go on. The question was not whether to continue, but how to bring the war to a close under the best terms possible. The Allies (the United States, Great Britain, and others — the Soviet Union, remember, was still neutral) were demanding “unconditional surrender.” Japan’s leaders hoped that they might be able to figure out a way to avoid war crimes trials, keep their form of government, and keep some of the territories they’d conquered: Korea, Vietnam, Burma, parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, a large portion of eastern China, and numerous islands in the Pacific.
By what definition does the term "surrender" include keeping one's government and conquered territories, and having its leaders avoid accountability for their actions?

All Alperovitz has demonstrated is that Japan would have been willing to stop fighting in return for being allowed to keep everything they had already taken by force. By no stretch of the imagination can that be called "surrender."

Last edited by kunilou; 05-31-2016 at 09:37 AM.
  #9  
Old 05-31-2016, 09:47 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
"The destruction of Hiroshima had done nothing to reduce the preparedness of the troops dug in on the beaches of Japan’s home islands. There was now one fewer city behind them, but they were still dug in, they still had ammunition, and their military strength had not been diminished in any important way. Bombing Hiroshima did not foreclose either of Japan’s strategic options.
True. But how many more bombs did the US have? The Japanese did not know. And what would happen if they started dropping those bombs on those dug-in positions of the Japanese troops? And followed up by dropping them on rail communications behind the dug-in troops? And then followed up with an invasion?

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were more in the nature of strategic bombs; but any military person should have immediately seen that it shifted the balance at the tactical level as well.


Quote:
"The Soviet declaration of war also changed the calculation of how much time was left for maneuver. Japanese intelligence was predicting that U.S. forces might not invade for months. Soviet forces, on the other hand, could be in Japan proper in as little as 10 days. The Soviet invasion made a decision on ending the war extremely time sensitive.
What naval forces did the Soviets have on their east coast that could have supported an invasion of Japan? What troop carriers and amphibious craft?

Last edited by Northern Piper; 05-31-2016 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:00 AM
Dissonance Dissonance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
Was Japan going to surrender anyway prior to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? More modern research suggests it was.
No there isn't. The US was reading in real time all of Japan's diplomatic radio traffic which Japan thought was coded in an unbreakable cypher. From Richard B. Frank's Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
Quote:
The most often repeated condemnation of American diplomacy in the summer of 1945 is that policy makers understood that a promise to retain the Imperial institution was essential to end the war, and that had the United states communicated such a promise, the Suzuki cabinet would likely have promptly surrendered. The answer to this assertion is enshrined in black and white in the July 22 edition of the Magic Diplomatic Summary. There, American policy makers could read for themselves that Ambassador Sato had advised Foreign Minister Togo that the best terms Japan could hope to secure were unconditional surrender, modified only to the extent that the Imperial institution could be retained. Presented by his own ambassador with this offer, Togo expressly rejected it.
All three military members of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War remained opposed to surrender even after both bombs had been dropped and the Soviet Union entered the war. It was only Emperor Hirohito's personal appearance at the council indicating his wish to surrender that caused the military to cave and accept surrender.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
The Japanese were already seriously considering surrender before Hiroshima. They indicated it to the allies, but a mistranslation (probably deliberate on the part of a Soviet agent in the German embassy) led the US to believe they had rejected the idea.
Not this old chestnut again. I assume you are referring to the Japanese response to the Potsdam Declaration being "mokusatsu" and that it was mistranslated to be a rejection when the supposed intent was more akin to "we'll think about it." This is untrue,
Quote:
Mokusatsu (黙殺?) is a Japanese noun literally meaning "kill" with "silence", and is used with a verb marker idiomatically to mean "ignore", "take no notice of" or "treat with silent contempt".[1][2][3][4][5] It is composed of two kanji characters: 黙 (moku "silence") and 殺 (satsu "killing").
In other words, Japan's official position on the Potsdam Declaration translated in the best possible light was that they were going to ignore it. The Potsdam Declaration was an ultimatum demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan:
Quote:
"We call upon the government of Japan 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."
Announcing that one intends to ignore an ultimatum is a rejection of it.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:20 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dissonance View Post
No there isn't. The US was reading in real time all of Japan's diplomatic radio traffic which Japan thought was coded in an unbreakable cypher. From Richard B. Frank's Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese EmpireAll three military members of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War remained opposed to surrender even after both bombs had been dropped and the Soviet Union entered the war. It was only Emperor Hirohito's personal appearance at the council indicating his wish to surrender that caused the military to cave and accept surrender.

Not this old chestnut again. I assume you are referring to the Japanese response to the Potsdam Declaration being "mokusatsu" and that it was mistranslated to be a rejection when the supposed intent was more akin to "we'll think about it." This is untrue, In other words, Japan's official position on the Potsdam Declaration translated in the best possible light was that they were going to ignore it. The Potsdam Declaration was an ultimatum demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan:Announcing that one intends to ignore an ultimatum is a rejection of it.
Thanks Dissonance, and since you seem to have quite an in-depth knowledge on the subject, can you tell me whether the surrender speech given by Hirohito was understood by the masses? As I understand it, the language register he used (if I can call it that) was at a level that was incomprehensible to the masses.
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Old 05-31-2016, 11:03 AM
awldune awldune is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
What naval forces did the Soviets have on their east coast that could have supported an invasion of Japan? What troop carriers and amphibious craft?
This is what I am curious about as well. How was the Soviet army going to get the landing craft necessary to invade Honshu in a timely manner?
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:05 PM
Dissonance Dissonance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
Thanks Dissonance, and since you seem to have quite an in-depth knowledge on the subject, can you tell me whether the surrender speech given by Hirohito was understood by the masses? As I understand it, the language register he used (if I can call it that) was at a level that was incomprehensible to the masses.
It certainly took time for the import of it to sink in; the audio quality of the recording wasn't that good, no Japanese emperor had ever addressed his subjects before, the language used was very formal, courtly and as you indicate unfamiliar to the masses and further was very circuitous. At no point is the word surrender even used. The full text:
Quote:
TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:
After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.

Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to Our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude.

The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.

Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with you, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.

Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.
This was read to a public that had been fed on the propaganda slogan of ichioku gyokusai (literally 100 million shattered jewels, figuratively 100 million - i.e. all of the Japanese people - die together) for over a year and any sign of defeatism or doubt in the government could lead to a very unpleasant meeting with the Kempeitai or Tokkō. I should probably make note of the Kyūjō incident as well, the attempted coup d'état by Army officers to place the emperor under house arrest, seize the recording before it could be broadcast and prevent the surrender.
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:45 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Originally Posted by awldune View Post
This is what I am curious about as well. How was the Soviet army going to get the landing craft necessary to invade Honshu in a timely manner?
Not just timely, but the claim was a naval invasion could occur in 10 days. How would the Soviets do that on their east coast, when they had been putting all of their war resources into the Red Army in the west?

According to this calculator, the distance from Vladivostock (the eastern teminus of the Trans-Siberian railway) to the main island of Japan is over 500 miles, over the Sea of Japan. That couldn't have been bridged by landing craft like in the Normandy invasion which only had to cross 20 miles of the Channel. Only blue-water ships could safely be used for troop transport that distance.

Assume the Soviets could ship troops east on the Trans-Siberian Railway, how could they have got those troops to Japan? within 10 days of the declaration of war by the USSR?

And where would they land safely? even in Japan's weakened state, wouldn't they have some forces guarding their ports?

Last edited by Northern Piper; 05-31-2016 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:46 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the Emperor Hirohito
We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.
Had the Japanese government even reported the terms of the Potsdam Declaration to the Japanese people?
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Old 05-31-2016, 02:27 PM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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One thing about the awfulness of the A-bomb is that by playing up just how terrible it was, it gave the Japanese a way of saving face in a surrender. It could be, as previously mentioned, that the high command was callous and uncaring towards the nukes. But treating the bombs as the ultimate horror provided a convenient excuse.
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
True. But how many more bombs did the US have? The Japanese did not know. And what would happen if they started dropping those bombs on those dug-in positions of the Japanese troops? And followed up by dropping them on rail communications behind the dug-in troops? And then followed up with an invasion?

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were more in the nature of strategic bombs; but any military person should have immediately seen that it shifted the balance at the tactical level as well.
I have two questions about this thread.

1) As Northern Piper illustrates here, I am confused as to whether we are conflating Japan's willingness to resist with their ability to resist. I understand that the Japanese may have been willing to continue to fight. However, after 6 August, their ability to do so was almost non-existent. The bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were essentially demonstrations. The fact that they inflicted almost no military damage was our choice. If the war had proceeded past 15 August, the US could (conceivably) have nuked major ports, military installations, airfields, defensive positions, etc. In any invasion, we could have just nuked whatever piece of coastline we intended to attack and annihilated all opposition. The only real limit was how fast the US could churn out fissile material. Why, then, does OP say that the bombings were "not strategically compelling?"

2) Why would/did the potential Soviet invasion weigh more heavily than the atom bomb? If the Japanese cared nothing for the destruction of their cities, and were willing to suffer continued atomic bombings, why did the threat of Soviet invasion suddenly change their mind? Was it just that they knew they would get better terms from the US than the Soviets?
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:23 PM
Alex from CB Alex from CB is offline
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This line from Hirohito's surrender always cracked me up. Has to be the biggest understatement in the history of understatements...................................................."the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."

Really?

I recall reading about the military force Japan was facing at that time. Something like.... The country was completely surrounded by many US submarines. Not a ship has been able to come or go for months. There's little oil/gas/food. Something like 16 Navy Battle Groups are barring down on Japan each consisting of a carrier, battle ships, cruisers and destroyers. Hundreds of warships. Half or more of the cities have been flamed. Must be several hundred new, shiny B-29's in the neighbourhood ready to flame the rest. Thousands of other planes, too. Nukes. Army and marines. They're all very crabby and want to go home. Bunch of guys in Europe coming your way. ......And the Ruskis are coming, too.

All that and I'm sure more...... and the guy says.....

"the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."

I have this, to say about that. D'oh!
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:33 PM
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There was a recent(ish) thread about this. I noted there that, if you read the Japanese version of the Wikipedia about this, it comes down pretty heavily on the side of the Russian threat.

Generally, I'd be less inclined to vote with the Japanese interpretation of history, when it comes to Japan, but I can't think of any good reason that a Japanese historian would choose to go with the Russians over the Americans, while as I can think of reasons for American historians to prefer the American explanation. Most of the historic documentation an American historian would have, would be from the American military, and so it would tend to lean that way.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:01 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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But my question stands: what could the Soviet Union have done to Japan? What resources did the USSR have to affect Japan, more than the US could?
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:43 PM
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Russia keeps land that they occupy . All those eastern block countries and a big chunk of Germany. All occupied for almost 45 years.

Japan could have lost territory to Russia.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:00 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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What territory and how? how would the Soviets have invaded Japan? What risk did the Soviets pose, more than the US and the bombs?

The Allies had already said unconditional surrender, and loss of all conquered territories. What risk did the Soviets pose that made Japan surrender?

Last edited by Northern Piper; 05-31-2016 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:01 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
But my question stands: what could the Soviet Union have done to Japan? What resources did the USSR have to affect Japan, more than the US could?
Here's a pretty good discussion about the effect of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the Bombs combined on the Japanese decision to surrender.

The author takes the position that it was more the Soviet invasion than the Bombs that led to the decision to surrender at that particular moment.

Quote:
The military planners had no confidence in the army’s ability to repulse a Soviet invasion of Korea and Hokkaido. As Frank writes, “the Soviet Navy’s amphibious shipping resources were limited but sufficient to transport the three assault divisions in several echelon[s]. The Red Army intended to seize the northern half of Hokkaido. If resistance proved strong, reinforcements would be deployed to aid the capture the rest of Hokkaido. Given the size of Hokkaido, the Japanese would have been hard pressed to move units for a concerted confrontation of the Soviet invasion. The chances of Soviet success appeared to be very good.”[66] Soviet occupation of Hokkaido was thus within the realm of possibility.
But even more to the point, the Soviets had represented the last hope for a diplomatic solution, from Japan's point of view.

Quote:
Before the invasion of Manchuria, the Soviet Union had been Japan’s best hope for peace, while the Japanese ruling elite felt bitter resentment toward the United States, which had demanded unconditional surrender. After August 9, this relationship was reversed. The small opening that the United States had intentionally left ajar in the Potsdam terms, which Japanese foreign ministry officials had astutely noticed as soon as the Potsdam Proclamation was issued, suddenly looked inviting, providing the only room in which the Japanese could maneuver.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:08 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Thank you! that looks very interesting.
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Old 05-31-2016, 11:28 PM
Mr Downtown Mr Downtown is offline
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I'm about two-thirds of the way through Gar Alperovitz's book The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, a substantial 1996 expansion of his 1965 work, taking advantage of the tremendous documentary evidence that has been declassified in the decades since public opinion in the US was deliberately fed the "military necessity" justification, shaped by deliberate omission and Cold War–era misdirection and shadings.

I began it confident of my opinions on the subject, having read many biographies of (and memoirs by) Truman and his Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes. But those were mostly written during the Cold War and before much of the documentary evidence was declassified. Alperovitz is methodical and painstaking in examining the chronology of statements, comparing one official's recollection against another, examining phone logs, and noting unusual gaps in our knowledge of how the decision was reached. It becomes pretty clear that "military necessity" isn't the central tenet most Americans think it was: no American military leader (except possibly Gen. Marshall) believed use of the bomb was necessary, and some took extraordinary steps to let Truman know that. It was well-accepted in Washington that some combination of modifying "unconditional surrender" with a provision for the Emperor, and/or the threat of Russian entry into the war would prompt Japanese surrender before autumn. What worried Byrnes and Truman was how the Soviets were behaving in Eastern Europe, a situation that was getting worse during the spring and summer of 1945.

It wasn't so much that the Russians would take parts of Hokkaido or Honshu, but they would tie up a huge part of the Japanese army in Manchuria, preventing them from being used for defense of the home islands. By June 1945, the US Navy could also prevent them from coming home, and the necessity of Russian entry into the war faded rapidly.
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Old 05-31-2016, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
But my question stands: what could the Soviet Union have done to Japan? What resources did the USSR have to affect Japan, more than the US could?
The Japanese predicated their attack on the rest of Asia as being a defensive measure against the spread of Communism.

The Communist party started in Japan in 1922 and three years later the Japanese established the Peace Preservation Law, which made it illegal to advocate any position which encouraged abandoning the concept of private ownership.

In China, Mao was tearing the country apart and killing the elite. Lenin had already taken over Russia and had the Czars murdered. I doubt that the Japanese leadership, nor the Emperor, were too thrilled with the prospect of a Communist revolution.

I remember reading a quote from a Japanese author who was favorable to the war, and he said something to the effect of, "If you live in a house and your neighbor is a danger to the other people in the neighborhood. He might light his own house on fire and burn down your house as well, for example. Then you are justified to go over to your neighbor's house and to beat him, and control his actions, for the defense of your own home."

Now, in reality, I think that the main goal of attacking China was simply to grab land, while things were destabilized by Mao and the Communists. But there was a genuine fear of Communism and I think that the leadership of Japan were reasonably fearful of what a Communist Japan would be like, even beyond their own deaths at the hands of the Russians.

In a sense, that's rather self-serving, since it's not like the Japanese were anything less than horrific to the people they conquered. I'm not sure that the Communists were really much, if any, worse than the Japanese were. But, then again, it's not like the Chinese got any better from Mao, and surrendering to the US did save the Japanese from Communism.

I feel like it's worth noting, though, that there may be a third reason the Japanese surrendered. By the time the war ended, the 60% of Japan's military dead were due to starvation. Some of their soldiers even began to cannibalize PoWs or anyone they could find. In the mainland, the average person was eating at 78% of the minimum caloric intake to continue living, and it's likely that most of the population wouldn't have survived through the winter, since there were no food stores left.

It really was a good time to quit.
  #27  
Old 06-01-2016, 07:36 AM
spifflog spifflog is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
. . .Generally, I'd be less inclined to vote with the Japanese interpretation of history, when it comes to Japan, but I can't think of any good reason that a Japanese historian would choose to go with the Russians over the Americans . . .
From most of the reading I do in this area, it appears to me that many Japanese historians would like to make a case that the dropping of the atomic bombs was unnecessary. That would be one good reason to choose the Russians.
  #28  
Old 06-01-2016, 12:57 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is online now
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Originally Posted by spifflog View Post
From most of the reading I do in this area, it appears to me that many Japanese historians would like to make a case that the dropping of the atomic bombs was unnecessary. That would be one good reason to choose the Russians.
Could be. It also later occurred to me that the Japanese are, still, wary of the Russians today. I believe I have been told that the second most common second language in the Self Defense Force is Russian, rather than English, as that's who they always expected to be fighting off. So, maintaining a general preference for them as the enemy, through history, might make sense.
  #29  
Old 06-01-2016, 01:08 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Originally Posted by spifflog View Post
From most of the reading I do in this area, it appears to me that many Japanese historians would like to make a case that the dropping of the atomic bombs was unnecessary. That would be one good reason to choose the Russians.

Except for the dropping of the bombs to have been unnecessary , the US would have had to known that the Soviet declaration of war was likely to be enough to persuade the Japanese to surrender. Was there anything in the record, known to US intelligence, that would have supported that conclusion?

The Hiroshima bombing was a few days before the Soviet declaration of war, and the Hiroshima bombing was a few days after it. Was there anything known to the US before or after the Soviet action that suggested a war with the Soviets would be enough for Japan to cave?
  #30  
Old 06-01-2016, 01:38 PM
spifflog spifflog is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Except for the dropping of the bombs to have been unnecessary , the US would have had to known that the Soviet declaration of war was likely to be enough to persuade the Japanese to surrender. Was there anything in the record, known to US intelligence, that would have supported that conclusion?

The Hiroshima bombing was a few days before the Soviet declaration of war, and the Hiroshima bombing was a few days after it. Was there anything known to the US before or after the Soviet action that suggested a war with the Soviets would be enough for Japan to cave?
I concur with your thinking Northern Piper. I was responding to Sage Rat's post on why Japanese historians may want to argue that the atomic bombs weren't necessary. I believe they were.
  #31  
Old 06-01-2016, 01:41 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
One thing about the awfulness of the A-bomb is that by playing up just how terrible it was, it gave the Japanese a way of saving face in a surrender. It could be, as previously mentioned, that the high command was callous and uncaring towards the nukes. But treating the bombs as the ultimate horror provided a convenient excuse.
I sometimes wonder if Japan explicitly or implicitly requested the bombings in order to give the win to the allies and also have that face-saving excuse of "Look, we'll get flamed by this ungodly new weapon if we don't." Or if it was recognized by Truman or someone else in the cabinet that the emperor wanted to end the war, surrender even, but needed a face-saving motivation like getting nuked.
  #32  
Old 06-02-2016, 07:09 PM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
This question has been done to death but I want to get as objective an answer as possible. Was Japan going to surrender anyway prior to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? More modern research suggests it was.
Why is this in GQ, and especially, why is this in GQ if you have factually incorrect statements?

"More modern research" does not, in fact suggest such a thing. It's very well documented that they weren't and to assert such a thing is absurd

So, cite?

Quote:
What about Truman's judgement or forthrightness in his reasons for dropping the bombs? Is there any evidence to suggest that he had any other motives to drop the bomb besides defeating Japan?
The GQ answer is that no, there is no evidence which definitively suggests that. Squinting at tea leaves may provide a different answer. Certainly there were discussions of how the Soviets may react but the primary purpose was simply to end the war. Had there been no question of the Soviets, Truman would have made the exact same decision at the exact same time.

To suggest otherwise is silly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
The Japanese were already seriously considering surrender before Hiroshima. They indicated it to the allies, but a mistranslation (probably deliberate on the part of a Soviet agent in the German embassy) led the US to believe they had rejected the idea.
No, this is all utter trash and not
worth rebutting.
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
If the war had proceeded past 15 August, the US could (conceivably) have nuked major ports, military installations, airfields, defensive positions, etc. In any invasion, we could have just nuked whatever piece of coastline we intended to attack and annihilated all opposition. The only real limit was how fast the US could churn out fissile material.
We didn't have enough material to do all of that.
Quote:
2) Why would/did the potential Soviet invasion weigh more heavily than the atom bomb? If the Japanese cared nothing for the destruction of their cities, and were willing to suffer continued atomic bombings, why did the threat of Soviet invasion suddenly change their mind? Was it just that they knew they would get better terms from the US than the Soviets?
My bolding.

As the author which kunilou links to points out (I didn't click on this particular article, but I've read a lot from him) it was not that the Japanese feared a Soviet invasion (which they would not have, since the Soviets lacked the ability to invade), but that the Soviet entry into the war eliminated the one excuse which the three hardliners in the Supreme War Counsel were using to dodge the question of negotiating an end.

The hardliners never would have given up, had the Emperor not intervened (an act which was contrary to the Meiji Constitution) they would have prevailed.

We're so far out of GQ territory here, but IMHO, Japan was headed for martial law and then it may not have ever surrendered.

The problem with this discussion, as with anything else this complicated, is that it really can't be discussed in sound bites.

For the discussion of the surrender of Japan, one simply cannot talk about "Japan" as a monolith. We talk about seven people. There were two rival groups of three each (the Big Six) in the Supreme War Council: the "peace faction" and the die hards who intended to do just that. The later never were going to give in.

The Foreign Minister, and the only civilian, had seen the writing on the wall. He wanted to quit before everyone was killed. The not that strong Prime Minister and the Navy Minister were also on this camp.

General Anami, the War (Army) Minister, and the most member of the government (outside of the Emperor, who had more theoretical power, but was usually unable to act on it) led the hawks.

In addition there was the Emperor and then the people who he looked to for advice.

The Big Six had been split before the bombing and neither the Soviet entry into the war nor the atomic bombs changed that. What did change was the Emperor's decision to intervene. There are no GQ answers to that.

Then after the intervention, Gen. Anami decided not the lead a coup for reasons again, which are not GQ.
  #33  
Old 06-02-2016, 08:53 PM
lisiate lisiate is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Russia keeps land that they occupy . All those eastern block countries and a big chunk of Germany. All occupied for almost 45 years.

Japan could have lost territory to Russia.
Japan did lose territory to Russia - South Sakhalin and two of the Kuril Islands.
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