Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Atomic bombing of Japan saved lives

Published:Thursday | August 20, 2015 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of Japan. Ever since that attack, many have argued that what the United States (US) did to Japan with those bombs amounted to a war crime. However, it seems clear that those bombs actually saved lives.

The two bombs that the US dropped on Japan hastened the end of the war. However, they also killed almost 130,000 people. More died years later from the radiation effects of those bombs. However, to use this large number of atomic deaths as justification for calling the Americans war criminals is foolish.

Right up to the very end of the war, Japan did not know what surrender meant. In one battle alone, the battle for Okinawa, Japan lost over 77,000 soldiers and another estimated 100,000 civilians, all dying in a vain attempt to stop the allies from taking the important island. It must be noted that a large portion of those deaths were Japanese who killed themselves, rather than surrender.

The allies, meaning mainly the Americans and the British, were originally planning to invade the Japanese home islands and force Tokyo to surrender. However, there was very little doubt that the conquest of Japan was going to be anything but easy. Taking the fanatical Japanese determination never to surrender into consideration, some estimated that the cost of such a war would be in the millions. Nobody wanted that.

Therefore, the allies were confronted with a choice: either invade Japan and suffer staggering losses on all sides, or use the new atomic weapons and finish the war quickly. The allies made the right and logical choice - they used the bomb.

As such, as far as I can see, no war crime was committed by the Americans when they used those bombs. Indeed, many Japanese, I am sure, are glad the war was brought to a swift end.

Michael A. Dingwall