The United States was justified in dropping the atom bomb on Japan because the alternative invasion of Japan would have resulted in the loss of 500,000 Americans and millions more Japanese. When the bomb was ready for use during the summer of 1945, President Truman faced the final decision of whether to drop the bomb or not. It was agreed by Truman and his advisors that the bomb should be used, because the potential cost of lives would be far greater than if the war was continued. The Japanese still held territory in China, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia, and were prepared to fight to the end. Additionally, Japan’s war crimes such as the attack of Pearl Harbor, the planned genocide of the Chinese, and the Bataan Death March with the mistreatment of prisoners of war justified a civilian attack.
It is disputed whether the invasion of Japan would have been a better alternative than to use the catastrophic atom bomb. Had there been an invasion, it is likely that an additional half million Americans and millions more Japanese would have died. The Americans had already suffered from great casualties on Iwo Jima and Okinawa so a possible invasion had to be held back. The U.S. Navy was successful in fighting the Japanese Navy and had put them in a position of defeat. Most of their navy and two thirds of their merchant ships were destroyed, depriving the nation of food and other supplies. Although Japan was starving, Japanese military leaders insisted that the nation keep fighting. On July 26, 1945, The Potsdam Declaration, demanding that Japan surrender was issued. Prime Minister Suzuki stated that Japan would “…resolutely fight for the successful conclusion of this war.”
The atom bomb being a horrible weapon, using it seemed the only way to change the minds of the Japanese military leaders. After much thought on the issue, President Truman decided to drop the bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the uranium-based atom bomb directly on Hiroshima, resulting in the death of 130,000 civilians. After the attack, the Japanese were expected to surrender, but the military leaders still desired to press on. Due to Japanese inactivity and lack of response, the U.S dropped the second plutonium-based atom bomb on Nagasaki three days later on August 9, 1945, causing the death of 25,000 additional Japanese. Although these attacks resulted in the loss of 155,000 lives, the death toll of an invasion could have been over ten times that of the atom bombs.
Following the complete destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese were split in their decision of surrendering. For a long time, Emperor Hirohito insisted on peace, but the Japanese militarists would not consider surrendering. The Japanese had never lost a war and the possibility of surrender was a big shame to their people. If faced with an unconditional surrender, the Japanese feared that their society and way of life would be destroyed. With dispute within Japan, the Allies continued to bomb the Japanese without using atom bombs. Emperor Hirohito urged the government to surrender, but surrender plans were almost stopped when Japanese officers tried to take over the palace. However, the surrender continued and on September 2, 1945, the surrender documents were signed.
After the surrender, Japanese and Americans worked together to heal the sick and wounded and rebuild Hiroshima. As a result of the disarming of their military, Japan is now a prosperous nation. Today, people still debate whether using the atom bomb was necessary. After the war, Truman justified his decision to use the bomb knowing that it “saved thousands and thousands of American lives.” Because the Japanese culture resisted surrender and was going to fight to the end, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only choice. World War II had gone on for too long and it was necessary to end it as soon as possible.