The Dropping of The Atomic Bomb: Was It The Best Way to End The War?
Author: Angelina Bay
In 1945, the first atomic bomb in the world was dropped on Hiroshima. There is still discussion that the dropping was really necessary or unnecessary. I think that America should not have dropped the atomic bomb because I can not understand the necessity of the dropping of the atomic bomb for America.Then, why did America invent the atomic bomb? The reason had very much to do with the World War?.
America was the first country that succeeded inventing this weapon, and that invention was epoch-making at that time. In fact, the able doctors in Germany, which was the enemy of the Allied Forces including America, found the principles of the atomic bomb at first, and Nazis made them invent the atomic bomb. Some doctors thought that Nazis would use the weapon in the worst way for the world if they got the weapon for the fist time in the world. So they decided to invent it faster than the Nazis in other country. It was America that they chose to cooperate for inventing the first atomic bomb. That was called "the Manhattan Project". An enormous mount of money was invested in the project. The project started in 1942 and improved step by step. Finally, on July 16th in 1945, the members of the project team experimented with the atomic bomb for the first time, and they realized that they succeeded inventing the first atomic bomb. How was it a milestone? I will explain the mechanism and the power of the atomic bomb. Ronald Takaki explains the principle of it in his book. "There is an atom that releases two neutron at the same time absorbing the one, when a neutron causes a nuclear fission. Much uranium causes a chain reaction of such a nuclear fission, and huge energy is released."(26) The atomic bomb is the weapon that utilizes the energy. According to Takashi Hiraoka, the energy par one kilo ton of uranium corresponds to it par fifteen kg of TNT powder. Even B29, which was the biggest bomber in the world in those days, could load only 5 ton of the usual bombs, so the power of one atomic bomb corresponded to bombing by more than three thousand B29s.(116)
Thinking of the circumstances at that time, it becomes clear that America tried to invest the atomic bomb for opposing the Nazis. Probably, it was to be dropped on Germany after being completed. Then, why did America drop the atomic bomb on Japan? Was it really necessary? Now many countries besides America have the nuclear weapon, and it becomes the worldwide problem to experiment with it. It can be said that this dangerous arms race began with drop of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by America. Therefore we must think about propriety of that drop of it again. In addition to that, more than fifty years have passed since the World War ? ended. There seem to be many young people including me who have not thought about the atomic bomb dropped on Japan, but we have to learn the history of our own country and have one's own opinion about it. I think that this is a good opportunity to do so.
I will think about this problem, referring to five books, which are written by Ronald Takaki, Ariatsu Nishizima, Shiho Nakazawa, Takashi Hiraoka, and Kenzaburo Ohe. Ronald Takaki is an American. He does not make his position to propriety of the dropping of the atomic bomb clear in his book, but he introduces the opinions of the American public. Because he himself is a citizen in America, he can analyzes them in detail. According to him, a lot of Americans agrees with the dropping of the atomic bomb and supports the then government. In addition to that, he also introduces lots of American soldiers' feelings under the war. They help us to understand why most Americans think that the atomic bomb was used in a good way under the war.
On the contrary, Ariatsu Nishizima strongly disagrees with the then government's decision. He supports his own opinion, thinking from the various views. As well as Ronald Takaki, he introduces some opinions whose people agree with it. After that, he tries to make it clear that their opinions are wrong, based on the fact of the then circumstances.
Shiho Nakazawa thinks of this problem from the different point of view. She does not write about the atomic bomb itself. She refers to a scientist, Oppenheimer, who was the leader of the Manhattan Project. Of course, he thought that he would do the right thing for peace of the world while he tried to invent the nuclear weapon. However, after America actually dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, he came to feel a prick of conscience. Why did he come to have such a feeling? That reason must support my opinion.
Takashi Hiraoka is the Mayor of Hiroshima. Though he was a citizen of Hiroshima at that time, he was just evacuated to other town when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Luckily he was not hurt by it, but a lot of his relatives were. Therefore he knows well how terrible the atomic bomb is and how they suffer from an aftereffect of radiation which was sent out from the atomic bomb. So he strongly disagrees with the dropping of the atomic bomb, and he appeals to the world to abolish nuclear weapons now.
Kenzaburo Ohe also strongly opposes the atomic bomb. He is a very famous writer, who has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature, so this book Hiroshima Note, which I refer to, is also famous in the world. In this book, he writes about his feeling when he visited Hiroshima. He met those who fought against the aftereffect of radiation there and was told their pains from being exposed to radiation. These experiments made him hate the atomic bomb. Now I would like to think about propriety of drop of the atomic bomb.
At first, I would like to think about the book of Ronald Takaki. As I said before, he introduces some positive opinions for the dropping of the atomic bomb. According to him, the then president insisted that Japan itself was to blame for that destruction by the atomic bomb. In other words, the American government justified the dropping as follows; the energy which could produce the power of sun was used for the country which caused the terrible war in the Far East.(64) We can also see an American's positive opinion in Ronald Takaki's book. "America was fighting with Japan. It was America that was attacked at first. It was natural for us to want to kill more Japanese."(42) Almost all American soldiers seemed to get the similar feeling when they heard the news that America dropped the atomic bomb; "Our president dropped the excellent bomb! That is really a great work!"(69) When we think about the atomic bomb, we tend to criticize the great power of it. Against this idea, an American soldier insisted that they dropped a lot of fire bombs during the war, so it could not be said that the atomic bomb was worst than them.(43)
At the same time giving us the positive opinions for the atomic bomb, Ronald Takaki also tells us the fact that the atomic bomb was dropped not only for the pure strategic purpose but for the political purpose. What is the political purpose? Ronald Takaki says that fear for the condition of the world after the war was one of the reasons why America decided to drop the atomic bomb.(13) Near the end of the war, Japan almost recognized their defeat, and the headquarters of American army knew the fact.(9) However the atomic bomb was dropped. That might certainly be done in order to cause fatal damage, but the power of the Soviet Union, which was spreading their power in East Europe and Asia at that time, must have had something to do with it, though the Soviet Union also was the member of the Allied Forces. In fact, the chief of American army told the president that the problem of the atomic bomb would be pretty important and might have the deterministic meaning when they dealt with the relationship with the Soviet Union well. Likewise, the Secretary of State said, "If America possesses the atomic bomb and show off the power of it, we can easily suppress the Soviet Union in Europe after the war." A person in charge of production of the atomic bomb also said, "I was convinced that our enemy was the Soviet Union and that this project was gone with, based such a viewpoint."(13) From these facts, Ronald Takaki thinks that the atomic bomb was dropped in order to give fear for the power of America to the Soviet Union.(83)
In addition to these facts, Ronald Takaki conjectures another reason why America dropped the atomic bomb. He says that the Pacific War gradually became the racial war. American military was fought with Germany, too, but there was not such a racial prejudice for the German. Most of them thought that the German looked like themselves.(99) However, the Japanese did never. He thought that this fact caused the racial war and that they did not feel sense of the guilt at all for dropping such a terrible bomb because of the racial prejudice.(100) That prejudice will be proved a caricature on newspaper just after the dropping of it, in which the animals similar to the monkeys were surprised to see a mushroom cloud.(97)
Next, I would like to think about Ariatsu Nishizima. As well as Ronald Takaki, he also introduces the opinion of the then American president. According to him, the president said that they had dropped the atomic bomb on a military base, Hiroshima, because they wanted to avoid killing the noncombatants as many as possible. Ariatsu Nishizima strongly objects against that this idea is completely wrong. He says, "Didn't the president know the fact that two hundred seventy hundred people were killed by this bomb on the instant? It is true that all the force being near the blast center were annihilated and that a lot of soldiers died, but the ten times number of the citizens was killed." He insists that annihilating these forces was not real aim for America. He thinks that the real aim was killing the huge number of Japanese in order to finish the war earlier.(16) He supports this insistence with a commanding writing for dropping the atomic bomb, which appointed not a military base but the center of the city and the industrial area as the targets of the atomic bomb.(17) Then, some may say that America had better drop the atomic bomb on the lager cities, like Tokyo, if that was true. Against this question, he mentions the reason why America chose Hiroshima to drop it on. Hiroshima was the largest in the cities which had not damaged by bombing. America thought of that to be useful to show off the power of the atomic bomb not only to Japan but to the world.(19)
Ariatsu Nishizima doubts the propriety of the atomic bomb from another point, too. In 1971, a newspaper company sent out a questionnaire to Americans on drop of the atomic bomb.(44) One out of two people was for that action. Their most dominant reason was that the atomic bomb immediately shortened the war and saved a lot of Americans' lives. He objects against this idea. At that time, Japanese camp was divided in two groups. One group was longing for a peace negotiation because they recognized that they suffered a completely defeat. On the contrary, the other group tried to keep fighting. They also understood that they would be defeated, but they decided not to give up until they all were annihilated. Because latter group had a stronger power than the other one, the war was continued. Did the dropping of the atomic bomb shock them and make them decide to finish the war? Ariatsu Nishizima answers this question, "No."(111) If one wants to say that the atomic bomb ended the war, it can be proved that the relationship of two groups changed because of it. In fact, though the members of the group which hoped the peace tried to persuade the other ones just after drop of the atomic bomb, they failed to persuade. The war advocates even tried to deny the fact itself. They had still a hope in a decisive battle in the mainland. At that time, the war advocates still had the stronger power than the other group. Then, what shocked them more and make them decide to finish the war? According to Ariatsu Nishizima, that was participating in the war of the Soviet Union.(186)
Ariatsu Nishizima explains why that event shocked the war advocates so much. The plan of a decisive battle in the mainland, in which they still remained a hope, was based on condition that the Soviet Union kept the neutral position. Furthermore, they even hoped that the Soviet Union took a favorable attitude toward Japan.(186) When they had such an idea, the Soviet Union took part in the war as an enemy of Japan. There became no hope in their plan. Besides, after hearing that news, the group which hoped the peace took a much more positive attitude than that just after the atomic bomb was dropped. They called the convention, and made the emperor announce his intention for ending the war. Before that, the emperor did not have the place to announce his thoughts, but once he said something, that became the strongest idea in Japan. Since that day, the group which hoped the peace had had the initiative in Japan. From that, it was the Soviet Union's participating in the war rather than the dropping of the atomic bomb that directly caused a surrender of Japan on August 15th. Therefore, Ariatsu Nishizima denies the idea that the atomic bomb gave a fatal blow to Japan and immediately shortened the war.(190) Based on these facts, he strongly insists again and again that the dropping of the atomic bomb was really unnecessary because America would surely win the war without the atomic bomb.
Oppenheimer was one of the main scientists of the Manhattan Project. The atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima was produced at the laboratory in New Mexico State. He was a head of it.(Nakazawa 78) The commander-in-chief of the Manhattan Project appointed Oppenheimer to it because he thought that Oppenheimer would surely help him and the project much more than any person.(79) In addition, it seems one reason that he was familiar to the place where there was the laboratory. To his pleasure, this laboratory equipped the latest machines that were very useful for this development. In this way, he was more and more absorbed in inventing the atomic bomb. It was natural for a scientist.
Shiho Nakazawa, however, gives us a doubtful point. Did he or other scientists know how and to whom the atomic bomb would be used? What did they think about the dropping of the atomic bomb? She thinks of these questions with the fact at that time. After they succeeded in producing the atomic bomb, the government asked four scientists, including Oppenheimer, about the dropping of it.(109) Toward that request, they advised to use the atomic bomb in a suitable way to the condition of the international relationship. In addition, they thought that it was their own duty that they recommended the dropping of it in order to save the American soldiers fighting with Japanese. At the same time, they advised to cooperate with the other countries of the Allied Forces in inventing the atomic bomb from now on.(110) This fact shows that the scientists had misgivings about the arms race which became a big problem after the war. Anyway, they did not allow to doubt inventing the nuclear weapon because they were directly responsible for producing the atomic bomb as the main promoters of the Manhattan Project. It is the fact that four scientists never took objection to the dropping of the atomic bomb. Then, did they recommend the dropping of it with knowledge of the war situation? Shiho Nakazawa says that they should not have advised to drop it, which was the most terrible weapon they ever had, if they did not have that knowledge.(130) She thinks of this point with suspicion. The meeting of a strategy by the leaders of the army was the most confidential, so it is doubtful that Oppenheimer was let to know the details of the content at the meeting. Therefore, Oppenheimer and the other scientists could not objectively judge the propriety of the dropping of the atomic bomb in comparison with other way. We can see Oppenheimer's own words in this book, which were said after the war. "The scientists knew nothing about the situation of the fight with Japan. We were also ignorant that it was possible to make Japan surrender in another way without the atomic bomb."(131) at that time, some plans besides the dropping of the atomic bomb were thought to be useful to end the war. For example, a blockade of a harbor, landing operations, and the Soviet Union's participating.(130) Of course, the scientists was not made to know these possibilities. From these things, it can be said that the professors who did not understand the whole situation of the war advised to drop the atomic bomb. That was a very irresponsible fact on using the powerful and terrible weapon.
Shiho Nakazawa tells us another important fact of the scientist Oppenheimer in this book. That is a change of his feeling and idea. While he was trying to invent the atomic bomb, he thought that he did right thing as a scientist and an American citizen.(88) As well, when the experiment of the first atomic bomb succeeded, he was so glad and satisfied with that result. He, however, gradually realized what he himself had done. He and his companies produced the weapon, which had the most destructive power they ever had. They realized responsibility toward that. In Oppenheimer's words, "The scientists realized a sin."(94) Even the producers of the atomic bomb thought that they should not have made such a terrible weapon after the war. This will show how unnecessary the atomic bomb is in the world.
I would like to continue thinking about this topic based on the book of Takashi Hiraoka. He always takes objection to the words that justify the dropping of the atomic bomb. He doubts the propriety of it from a not only moral but also political point of view. In this case, I would like to mean his feeling sorry to the patients fighting with the aftereffect of radiation by 'a moral point of view.' Because he has some relatives who suffer from it and often meets the patients of it as the Mayor of Hiroshima City, he knows well how hard they fight with it. He argues that the dropping of the atomic bomb was completely wrong all over the world, and so he actually did at the International Court of Justice. I will see the statement which he made then. In that statement, Takashi Hiraoka testifies cruelty and inhumanity of the atomic bomb.
There were about three hundred fifty thousand people in Hiroshima City at that day, and about one hundred forty thousand people of them were killed by the atomic bomb.(118) He adds that there seemed to be more people killed by it. The accurate number of dead people by the atomic bomb is not clear even now because an investigation could not be enough after the dropping. Besides them, there were a lot of people who were not killed instantly but died several years later after the dropping. To our astonishment, some people are suffered from radiation still now. According to Takashi Hiraoka, the effect of radiation toward the human's body is not made clear though fifty years have passed since the atomic bomb was dropped(119), so, naturally, the doctors did not know what they should have done for the patients at that time. In spite of such a situation, they did all what they hit upon in the city. However, they were also to be suffered from remaining radiation.(122) It was not only those who were directly exposed to radiation that were suffered from the aftereffect of radiation. The unborn babies in them were also suffered from it. Moreover, there is no medical way that can cure them still now.(121) This fact that the atomic bomb ruined the innocent unborn babies' lives is one reason why Takashi Hiraoka hates the atomic bomb.
Takashi Hiraoka explains fear of the nuclear weapon including the atomic bomb not only because it has the grate destructive power but because it sends out radiation, which have a bad influence on the human's body even later. He says that it is the cruelest that there are still many people who are suffering from the aftereffect of radiation even more than fifty years later after the war.(127) In short, he affirms that the injury by the atomic bomb is the cruelest and most inhumane of all the weapons the international law prohibits to use. The atomic bomb indiscriminately killed the extraordinary citizens and has caused a pain of the aftereffect to many people. He insists that it is clear that using such a weapon violates the international law.(128) He criticizes the dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and at the same time, he hopes that such a terrible weapon will never be used from now on.
When we discuss the propriety of the dropping of the atomic bomb, it is usually raises a problem about the cruel acts of Japanese army during the war. Japanese army really did the cruel acts all over the areas in Asia, and that problem is not solved completely still now. Of course, Takashi Hiraoka acknowledges the fact seriously. He says that we Japanese should be ashamed of that as a human and heartily apologize to Asian people.(57) Then, is it all right whatever was done to Japan? Takashi Hiraoka thinks of the idea to be wrong. Certainly, a cruel act must not be allowed. For all that, the idea that they can use the nuclear weapon to a rascal must not be allowed, either, because the dropping of the atomic bomb is such a terrible act to decide human being's life. He does not criticize the atomic bomb only because of hatred as a suffer. As he wish for the peace of the world, he never acknowledges the propriety of the dropping of the atomic bomb, which leads to bread the world.
Finally, I would like to think about Kenzaburo Ohe's idea. He wrote this book in 1965, so a situation of Hiroshima has changed now, compared with it at that time. However, this book can still tell us terrible injury and fear of the atomic bomb. He says that tragedy in Hiroshima has not passed yet.(1) For he met a lot of people who were suffering from the aftereffect of radiation for a long time after the war. This book has many episodes whose people are fighting with it. For example, a girl who bore a baby when she was in her late teen.(47) She was bombed when she was a baby. Eighteen years later, she died of acute leukemia, which was caused by radiation, just after she gave birth to her own baby. Besides this girl, there were many girls who faced with a similar situation to hers. They had fears that they might bear an abnormal baby and that they themselves might die of an atomic bomb disease. The dropping of the atomic bomb gave black despair even to such young people, who had nothing to do with the war.
There were the fights with an atomic bomb disease in the hospital, too.(51) At that time, almost all of the atomic bomb victims were gathered in Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Hospital. For the study of an atomic bomb disease was started at first in the hospitals in or near Hiroshima City. Even there, there were a lot of people who suffered from an incurable disease. Kenzaburo Ohe represents those hopeless fights with the disease to be "not the fight which leads to the new life against the tragic death, but the fight which leads to the tragic death".(51) Some of the inpatients, whose disease was actually diagnosed as an atomic bomb disease, committed suicide or went mad.
It is not too much to say that these situations were the hell itself. And yet, this hell was cause to human by human. Kenzaburo Ohe says, "It is just abnormal that the dropping of the atomic bomb on a city where some of human beings lived was decided by other human beings who lived in another city."(113) In addition, he says that the scientists must have been lack of the imagination toward the hell after an explosion. The atomic bomb changed Hiroshima City to a sea of flames in an instant. It is no wonder if all of the atomic bomb victims despaired of their future and gave up their lives. However, most of them never did so. They bravely fight with an atomic bomb disease, and some of them are doing still now. Kenzaburo Ohe says that their brave hearts are only hope after the dropping of the atomic bomb.(114)
Now that I have finished introducing five writers' ideas, I would like to compare and contrast them. Though Ronald Takaki gives us several positive opinions of American people for the dropping of the atomic bomb, Takashi Hiraoka is against their opinions. We have already seen his idea that they must not use the nuclear weapon to anybody else. He understands the feelings of American soldiers and people, but he also says that can never be the proper reason of the dropping of the atomic bomb.(Hiraoka 57) Ariatsu Nishizawa also introduces a positive opinion of American people, but he attacks it based on the historical fact, and denies it. In addition, both these two writers refer to the political aim which the dropping of the atomic bomb had. They say that the figure of the Soviet Union greatly related to the dropping of the atomic bomb. As to this point, Ronald Takaki tells us the American aim, and Ariatsu Nishizawa tells us not only it but also the Japanese attitude toward the dropping of the atomic bomb. Their explanations are very similar, and they clearly shows that America did not drop the atomic bomb only because they wanted to beat Japan as early as possible.
One of the reasons why Takashi Hiraoka objects the dropping of the atomic bomb is extraordinary power of it. As I wrote before, it is the most powerful and terrible weapon we ever have. It can kill innumerable people in an instance. Doubtless, he thinks that such a weapon should not exist. Since he thinks so, he continues to appeal about that toward the world still now. This thought is similar to Oppenheimer's; "The scientists realized a sin."(Nakazawa 94) From this words, we can know how terrible the power of the atomic bomb is.
Thorough these writers' ideas, the strongest opposition against the dropping of the atomic bomb seems to be that numerous people were bombed and that there were and are many people suffering from an atomic bomb disease. Takashi Hiraoka and Kenzaburo Ohe strongly oppose to the dropping of the atomic bomb because of this point. For, both them have met those who are suffering from it many times, and they know well how misery the disease is. Though the others also refers to the injury by the atomic bomb, they do not tell us so strongly how terrible the then situation was, compared with two writers. Especially, Kenzaburo Ohe shows us many examples of those who are fighting with the atomic bomb disease for a long time after the war. From that, he would want to say that the atomic bomb should never have been allowed to use.
After seeing these writers' thoughts, I become more confident of my opinion that the atomic bomb should not have been dropped. As well as Takashi Hiraoka, I also think that we can not avoid acknowledging the cruel act by Japanese army. I hate the act, and I think that Japanese government should compensate for it officially. However, that is one thing and the dropping of the atomic bomb is another. America hated Japanese act, but they did such a cruel act as, or more cruel than, that of Japanese army. For, it seems to me that the atomic bomb equals all of the cruel acts. Therefore, I do not think the dropping of the atomic bomb can be justified with the act of Japan.
When I was a high school student, a teacher of history taught us that America dropped the atomic bomb for various reasons, not only for beating Japan. It was not until that I knew the fact. Though the teacher did not teach us those reasons in detail then, I have doubted the propriety of the dropping of the atomic bomb since that. Now Ronald Takaki says that America produced it in order to be ahead of Germany(27), and Ariastu Nishizawa says that they dropped it for preventing the Soviet Union from taking advantage in Japan after the war.(383) I do not think that these are the proper reasons for using the most powerful weapon in the world, so I oppose to the act of America.
The point that I would like to insist on the most is the injury suffered from radiation of the atomic bomb. This injury is much more terrible than that resulted from the other weapons. Moreover, it keeps remaining in the bodies of the atomic bomb victims and badly affecting them. If my grandmother had been in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped, she would have been also bombed and suffered from an atomic bomb disease. Then my mother might not be born, or be born with disabilities, and I might not be gave a birth. In other words, the atomic bomb would affect our lives, whose the persons had nothing to do with the war. In fact, it destroyed many lives. The wars break out for the purpose of each country's acquiring more profit. I think that the purpose is very stupid. Besides, they are generally caused by not the citizens but the government. Such a war should not have a bad influence on the citizens after the war ends, but the atomic bomb actually have still now. As I introduced, Kenzaburo Ohe reports many tragic cases whose the citizens were bombed, and he strongly opposes to the dropping of the atomic bomb. I completely agree with him.
In this paper, some writers and I oppose to the dropping of the atomic bomb and deny the positive opinions for it, basing on the fact. That supports my idea that I said first. The discussion about the atomic bomb in the World War ? has not ended yet, in spite that a long time has passed after the war. I, however, confidently insist that the atomic bomb was unnecessary.