Its that time of year again
Each year, when the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki roll around, the liberal, revisionist historians try to tell us that the bombings were an unnecessary and cruel exercise of American power. But they always omit one key fact:
The minutes of the meetings of the Japanese Imperial General Staff held in the months and weeks leading up to the atomic bombings reveal the Japanese warlords were going to defend their islands until the last Japanese soldier and civilian either died in battle or committed suicide. Until Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surrender was out of the question.
Because the Allied forces had total sea and air superiority around and above Japan, our invasion would have, eventually, succeeded. Moreover, Japan was already deprived of the rice and other foodstuffs from its conquered “colonies” in Manchuria, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indo-China. Japan’s only military advantages would have been internal lines of communication and, of course, detailed knowledge of their home terrain.
But those two advantages would not have been enough to prevent the Allied forces from killing or wounding the Japanese defenders by a ratio of at least 5:1. At that rate, over 1.2 million Japanese would have been killed or wounded. Plus a large number of Japanese would have felt obliged to commit suicide because of the disgrace of losing their homeland in battle. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Emperor Hirohito to order his people to surrender. Because it was the expressed wish of their Emperor-God that they lay down their arms, the vast majority of Japanese felt no “duty” to commit suicide.
Yes, we could have overrun Japan; however, the cost would have been an estimated 250,000 American casualties and the extension of the war by six to 12 months. With a virtually complete historical record now available, it is clear that President Harry S. Truman made the correct decision in terms of saving the lives, not only of young Americans, but of the Japanese as well.
Here are some other interesting facts: At the beginning of World War II, Emperor Hirohito was the most popular figure in Japan and remained so until his death in 1989. After three years of American occupation, General Douglas MacArthur was the second most popular figure in Japan and remained so until his death in 1964.
Recently, this observer bought Dr. Lewis Sorley’s Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command. As a young officer serving with the Philippine Scouts, Harold K. Johnson was captured by the Japanese and sent on the Bataan Death March. As Dr. Sorley recounts: “More than 650 Americans, along with untold numbers of Filipinos, died along the way from exhaustion, starvation, diseases, wounds or execution by their captors.”
Clearly, the Japanese did not want to deal with 72,000 POWs of which over 12,000 were Americans. Thus, the Bataan Death March was designed to kill as many POWs as possible.
The American death toll would have been much higher were it not for the Filipinos’ love and respect for the American soldiers. As the death marchers struggled to live through the 65-mile march to a makeshift POW camp, hundreds of Filipinos slipped along through the jungle shadowing the ragged columns of POWs. When the Japanese guards were not looking, the Filipinos would dart in and out of the columns to give the POWs a banana or a ball of rice or, most importantly, a cup of water. The Japanese shot many Filipinos for performing those acts of kindness.
And, about this time next year, the revisionist historians and liberal pundits will be at it again. They will try to tell you that Americans are bad and the Japanese were just grossly misunderstood and did not deserve what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When that happens, read Dr. Lewis Sorley’s vivid account of the Bataan Death March or The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.