The Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945—not quite the “unconditional surrender” that had been demanded of Germany—offered one more chance.The Japanese government declared they would ignore it altogether.The military utility of nuclear weapons persists, in part, because of the misplaced belief that their use ended the war in the Pacific in 1945. HALLIDAY Somebody had to stop the killing —but who and how?
The First World War, “the war to end all wars” ended in 1918.
The military use of chlorine gas, mustard gas and other chemical weapons caused nearly 100,000 deaths and left as many as a million victims, who suffered from physical and emotional trauma for the rest of their lives.
It had been a war of many atrocities and reprisals, from the Rape of Nanking onwards.
By July 1945, Japan had been beaten back on most fronts, but her military leaders refused to surrender.
Mac Arthur did not weigh the fate of 300,000 Allied Po Ws, much less potential enemy civilian casualties, but the Battle of Manila—February 1945 with more than 100,000 Filipinos dead—is instructive as to the horrors of urban warfare.
The atomic bomb, successfully tested on July 16, 1945, provided the ultimate “shock and awe” tool.Instead, they planned to confront an American invasion, inflicting such casualties that peace would be made on their terms—no occupation, no disarmament, no war crimes trials, and much of the Japanese empire still intact.They envisaged suicidal national resistance, driven by a conviction that the purpose of life was to die for the Emperor.Projected casualties were all over the map—American General Douglas Mac Arthur, to encourage invasion, tried to low-ball the figures for Kyushu (25,000 dead, 105,000 wounded, he suggested).Others were more sanguine; the Army Quartermaster General ordered 370,000 Purple Hearts in anticipation of the final campaigns.As United States Senator and former Vietnam prisoner-of-war John Mc Cain has stated, we treat prisoners of war humanely to preserve our own humanity and in the expectation that our captured soldiers will be treated in kind. Joseph Rotblat, a physicist on the Manhattan Project that created the first atom bombs, resigned in protest prior to the successful test detonation.Weapons of mass destruction are banned for similar reasons. Moral and legal prohibitions against the use of weapons of mass destruction in war existed before the Second World War because of their indiscriminate and lasting impact on soldiers and civilians caught downwind.On August 6, 1945, the United States became the first country to ever use the atomic bomb in warfare.On this day, the first of the two atomic bombs were dropped.Incredibly, the Japanese militarists still resisted. With channels opened, the Allies agreed to allow continuation of the Imperial office. 14 there was formal acceptance of the modified Potsdam Declaration.A subsequent military coup, intended to silence the Emperor, failed.