Images from the Catastrophic Fall of Imperial Japan, 1945

Illustration for article titled Images from the Catastrophic Fall of Imperial Japan, 1945

With the war for Europe over and the U.S.'s Pacific "island hopping" strategy seeing long-range bombers within striking distance of Japan, all that stood between the Allies and and end to World War 2 was taking that tenacious island nation.

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In the months leading up to the Allies being on Japan's doorstep however there was Okinawa. After 80 days of fighting there, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians were dead or dying. The bloodshed there was seen by U.S. generals as a precursor to an even more deadly engagement on the Japanese homeland. You know what happens next.

In this, the penultimate installment of the In Focus 20-part series on World War 2 we see the fall of Imperial Japan. It was hastened into being by the dropping of two of the most devastating nuclear weapons ever used in a time of war. [In Focus]

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DISCUSSION

Just to preempt the inevitable nonsense about big evil America.

Many, many more civilians were killed in WWII, including in ground engagements and deliberate air bombardments, by other countries than the combined death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Brits killed more Germans in firebombings. The Russians pretty much raped and murdered their whole way to Berlin, killing millions of people including millions of their own people. The Japanese themselves killed millions in China, Korea and South East Asia. Do you think the Japanese wouldn't have nuked American cities if they had the technical prowess?

I think it's a mixture between irrational anti-Americanism and the fact that nukes in and of themselves were used that causes people to focus on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and rarely if ever give a shit about what everyone else did in the war (with the exception of, you know, the Holocaust). As if 200,000 people dying from nukes is worse than millions dying from conventional bombings or bullets in their heads?

The fact is Japan wouldn't have surrendered any other way. Bushido code wouldn't allow it, despite the fact the US already pretty much destroyed Japan's military, or rather their ability to wage war outside their borders. Japan's government and military for the most part were prepared to arm every man woman and child to defend their homeland in the event of an American invasion. Millions of troops AND civilians would have died if that occurred. Using nukes saved lives, on both sides. It made it absolutely certain to the Japanese that resisting would only cause the total destruction of their country. Using nukes took less civilian Japanese lives than it saved.

The US has nothing to apologize for given the nature of the war and the context in which the decision was made to use nuclear weapons. In fact, the Japanese don't have the right to be even the slightest bit miffed as a nation considering their atrocities throughout Asia during the same fucking conflict, which they not only don't apologize for but have pretty much whitewashed from history. Go to Japan and you'll see that they depict themselves as the victims of WWII. It's surreal.

Don't get me wrong though, I love Japan. They are a valuable ally, probably our most important one. I've been to Japan twice, and Kyoto is possibly the most amazing city I've been to.

But we don't owe them anything, least of which an apology for something that they would have done to us given the chance. In fact, they owe us some thanks. After defeating Japan we rebuilt them for free as we did Europe. We wrote their first democratic constitution in their history, and transformed them into one of the most successful and prosperous countries by lifting their economy up by the bootstraps and infusing massive amounts of our technology and scientific knowledge to them. Japan would not be in its position today were it not for American benevolence and mercy.

This is an unpopular fact, but it's true. Look at all the countries the US occupied after WWII, then look at the ones that the Soviets occupied or that adopted communism. See which countries are doing better today. It's obvious that the US had an overwhelmingly positive influence both during WWII and in the reconstruction efforts afterward. I'm sick of the US being depicted in such an unrealistically negative way, especially by people who live in countries that benefited the most from the US.