Abram Gubler English 10 Honors, 1A

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Abram Gubler

English 10 Honors, 1A

March 1, 2015

Was The Bombing of Hiroshima Justified?

In 1919, World War I was felt to have been the most brutal war of all time. Yet, 21 years later World War II commenced when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. This war involved more than 30 countries, and resulted in more than 50 million civilian and military deaths. In the early stages of the war, the U.S. remained a neutral country. Then the U.S. began to send war materials to countries like Britain, the Soviet Union, and China. The U.S. eventually decided to cut off oil exports to Japan. This enraged Japan and they soon plotted retaliation against the United States. The retaliation came in the form of attacking Pearl Harbor. The bombing of Pearl Harbor dragged the United States into World War II. There was a new kind of bomb the Americans had developed. They called it the atomic bomb. President Truman in his speech about the bomb said, “The explosion carrying more power than 20,000 tons of TNT.” (Truman, Harry S.). The U.S. dropped the bomb on a city in Japan called Hiroshima. Many say that the bomb should not have been dropped; others say that the bomb needed to be dropped. In fact, the bomb was justified for being dropped on Hiroshima for many reasons.

One reason why the bomb was justified was because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was not a small scale assault; it was a large, brutal, and unprovoked attack. Japan’s plan was to bomb all the aircraft carriers that were docked in the harbor, but the aircraft carriers were out to sea, so instead the Japanese bombed what they could find. The Japanese managed to destroy twenty American naval vessels and nearly two-hundred airplanes. 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack. There were 1,000 more that were wounded. Johnie and Dale Gano were eye witnesses of the Pearl Harbor bombing. The Ganos were married and both in there mid-twenty’s. In an interview with them, they described what they had felt and seen, “I saw sunken U.S. navy ships on both sides of Ford Island burning furiously. When I got to the east side of Ford Island I could see large fires in the Navy Yard…ships that had rolled over and sunk… I saw long rows of dead and injured sailors lying on the floor.” Later in the interview the interviewer asked, “What was it like watching Pearl Harbor get destroyed?” Dale Gano replied with, “Watching Pearl Harbor being destroyed and thousands of lives lost put most of us into a state of shock.” (Gano, Dale.) The bombing of Pearl Harbor is one of the most important justifications for the decision to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Another reason the bomb was justified is because without the bomb the Japanese would have created an all out invasion against the United Sates. President Truman wanted to end the war with Japan as quickly as possible. One way to do this is to create misery and fear for the people of Japan to force the government to give up. The atomic bomb did just that. Mr. Tanimoto’s story of the bomb explains the misery. Mr. Tanimoto is one of the characters in Hersey’s book, Hiroshima. He was also an actual person who suffered the hardships of the atomic bomb. Mr. Tanimoto was slightly injured from the bomb, but he felt ashamed to be healthy while surrounded by so much human misery. He helped many of wounded people in Asano Park. The injured were so bad, that when Mr. Tanimoto helped pick them up, the skin slid off the victims hand like a glove. At the time a medical doctor said to Mr. Tanimoto, “In an emergency like this… the first task is to help as many as possible… There is no hope for the heavily wounded. They will die. We cant’ bother with them.” (Hersey, John). War would have created more deaths on both the American side and the Japanese side. The bomb may have seemed like it killed and injured many, but it was necessary to save more lives. An all out invasion of Japan would have been extremely costly, both in terms of human lives and resources. It also would have been a very prolonged endeavor without guarantee of success. The atomic bomb ended the war quickly and with less loss of resources and human life.

On the other hand, many say that the atomic bomb should not have been dropped. They feel Japan would have most likely surrendered without the atomic bomb. Japan could have surrendered for many reasons. One reason is because Japan had been bombed in many cities prior to the dropping of the atomic bomb. In one instance, the night of March 9-10, 1945, a group of 300 American planes struck Tokyo, Japan. The Americans dropped 1,700 tons of bombs; this was a devastating attack. 100,000 people were killed and 16 square miles of the capital city were destroyed. Another reason why it was likely that Japan would have surrendered is that Japan’s military had almost been completely defeated. In the article Was Hiroshima Necessary? Why the Atomic Bombings Could Have Been Avoided by Mark Weber, it says, “Japan already had been defeated militarily by June 1945. Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan's air force had been all but totally destroyed.” This argument sounds convincing, but if the atomic bomb had not been dropped the will of the Japanese people would not have been broken so rapidly. It is probable that Japan would have continued to fight back and more lives would have been lost. The atomic bomb was just a way to ensure that Japan would surrender more quickly and with less resistance.

Many say that instead of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, the bomb should have been dropped on a place with no population and used as a demonstration to scare Japan into surrendering. This logic is faulty. There is no guarantee that a demonstration without associated loss would have forced surrender. The atomic bomb cost the United States two billion dollars to develop, “…but their actual construction is a complex industrial process. Practical fissionable nuclei for atomic bombs are the isotopes uranium-235 and plutonium-239, which are capable of undergoing chain reaction.” The process of creating an atomic bomb is slow and difficult. If we used it as a demonstration, Japan could have still chosen to stay engaged in the war. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki could not have gone to waste!

When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, it was justified because the bomb was a way to force the Japanese leaders to surrender to the United States. Japan had been sending suicide bombers to the United States prior to the bomb. The Japanese aircraft pilots would purposely crash into American warships, risking their lives to damage the warships. “More than 2,000 planes staged such attacks. Those included new types of suicide attacks and explosives, including purpose-built Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka rocket-bombs, small boats packed with explosives, and manned torpedoes (equipped with a 3000-pound warhead) called the Kaiten.” (Kamikaze). This needed to be stopped. If the atomic bomb had not been used against Japan, these attacks would have kept coming, Japan would not have just given up. The atomic bomb stopped these attacks and forced Japan to surrender.

When the United States had finally manufactured the atomic bomb and dropped it on Hiroshima, it showed the power of America and threatened other countries. The bomb even struck fear into the Soviet Union. The bomb momentarily paused the war long enough so that the Russians did not demand joint occupation of Japan. Because of this,

Japan did not end up like Korea or Vietnam. Both Korea and Vietnam were both split in half and later forced into communism. Communism in both of these countries had later been the cause for war, causing lives to be lost. The use of the atomic bomb prevented controversy with communism in Japan.

Towards the end of World War II, the United States decided that the use of the newly developed atomic bomb on Japan would be the better choice. “The atomic bomb had detonated about 2,000 feet over Hiroshima, and almost every building in the city had been turned to dust. In less than half a second, heat rays with temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Celsius caused primary burns…” (Steele, Diana). This bomb created much devastation, but this bomb also made the Japanese surrender. The atomic bomb was justified in being dropped for many reasons: Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the bomb prevented further attempts of invasion by Japan, the bomb forced Japan to surrender, and it prevented the Soviet Union from joint occupation of Japan. The dropping of the atomic bomb was the best decision that could have been made.

Work Cited

"Atomic Bomb." The Columbia Encyclopedia 6 (2014): n. pag. The Columbia

Encyclopedia. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.


Gano, Dale. "Interview with Pearl Harbo Eyewitnesses." Interview. Scholastic.

Scholastic, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2015. .

Hersey, John, Warren Chappell, and Edith Goodkind Rosenwald. Hiroshima. New York:

A.A. Knopf, 1946. Print.

"Kamikaze." United States History (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.


Steele, Diana. "America's Reaction to the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and

Nagasaki." (n.d.): n. pag. America's Reaction to the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and

Nagasaki. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.


Truman, Harry S. "Atomic Bomb-Truman Press Release-August 6, 1945." Atomic Bomb.

Washington D.C. 4 Mar. 2015. Speech.

Weber, Mark. "Was Hiroshima Necessary? Why the Atomic Bombings Could Have Been

Avoided." The Journal of Historical Review 3rd ser. 16 (1997): 4-11. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.


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