In the early years of the war, American scientists, along with German scientists who had defected from Nazi Germany, approached the American government and demanded that the U.S.A. start an atomic weapons project. These scientists knew that Germany was developing an atomic bomb, and they were afraid to have Hitler discover the weapon before Germany could be defeated. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed with the scientists, and approved of what would be called The Manhattan Project. The U.S.A. worked together with the United Kingdom and Canada to develop the atomic bomb. During the development of the weapon, Soviet spies secretly gathered intelligence over the progress of The Manhattan Project.
On May 8th, 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered to allied forces, and the war in Europe was over. However, the war in Asia continued. Though Allied forces, led by the U.S.A., were winning the war against Japan by taking back islands in the Pacific, Americans were wary of an invasion of mainland Japan. Some predicted the costs of an invasion to number at least 1,000,000 American lives, and many more Japanese casualties.
During World War II, Japan operated under a medieval warrior’s mindset. Under this philosophy, honor to one’s family and country superseded all other values, including life. For example, at the Battle of Iwo Jima, of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers, only 216 were taken prisoner. Some who were taken prisoner had been knocked unconscious or were disabled. To the Japanese, a soldier who surrendered was considered less than human. Thus, when Americans surrendered to Japanese forces, they were brutally tortured. And, when Japan conquered other nations, Japanese systematically committed war atrocities. An invasion of Japan would mean an entire Japanese population fighting to the death against an Allied army led by America.
Before the U.S.A. dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, it dropped over 5 million leaflets on Japanese cities. This leaflet read:
“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”
After America bombed Hiroshima, it dropped these leaflets:
America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.
We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.
Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.
You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.”
Six days after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, Emperor Hirohito unconditionally surrendered. Following World War II, the U.S.A. helped Japanese write a new Constitution, modeled after the U.S. Constitution. Japanese renounced its medieval warrior’s philosophy, and to see what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, please take a look at the attached images:
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1. Who was the U.S.A. at war against in World War II?
2. Which country did America first defeat?
3. Who convinced the U.S.A. to start The Manhattan Project?
4. What are some of the questions Americans debate and discuss regarding the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan?
5. What is your opinion about the U.S.A. dropping the atomic bombs on Japan?