American Elephants

A Milestone: 65 Years after Hiroshima. by The Elephant's Child
August 7, 2010, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Military | Tags: , ,

On August 6, 1945— a Monday Morning — after four years of brutal war, the United States dropped an atomic bomb code-named “little boy” over the city of Hiroshima on the Japanese island of Honshu.  No one knew much about the bomb or what it would do, except that it was a big one.

An estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Japanese were killed either from the blast, or from the lasting effects of radiation.  Hiroshima is the charged name, Nagasaki is less well-known, and the death toll was much lower.  The immediate toll was around 40,000 with a total possibly around 70,000.

What was different about the milestone this year is that for the first time, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, John Roos, accepted the annual invitation to attend the commemoration ceremonies in Hiroshima.  The State Dept. claims that Roos attendance was to “express respect for all the victims of World War II.”

In the age of Obama’s international apology tour, it is only fitting that our ambassador be on hand so that America can be dutifully reminded of the peaceful civilians who were incinerated.  The Japanese continue to ignore the context, as do some left-leaning historians specializing in historic revisionism.

Books accurately depicting the militarism of Japan and the mayhem they unleashed upon the world, have long been confiscated at the Japanese border, and Japan’s refusal to recognize or apologize for the horrors they inflicted still play a major role in the politics of the region.

In late July of 1945, the Allies issued the Potsdam declaration, asking  Japan for unconditional surrender.  The Japanese refused.

It is estimated that the planned invasion of Japan, scheduled for late 1945, would have resulted in over a million lost Allied lives, and perhaps tens of millions of Japanese lives.  The battle for the island of Okinawa had cost the lives of over ten thousand Americans, and over one hundred thousand Japanese and civilian Okinawans.  By August of 1945, ninety percent of Japan’s cities were in ruins.  Millions of civilians dead, and the militarist leaders of Japan were not ready to surrender, but were talking of arming civilians with bamboo spears.

On August 14, after lengthy discussions with his cabinet, the Japanese emperor Hirohito agreed to surrender.

Historian John Dower has argued that Americans, by absolving Hirohito from war crimes —MacArthur treated him with respect as the living symbol of Japan — created an attitude that prevented the Japanese from facing their culpability in World War II in the way that the Germans have.

It must be remembered that as part of the surrender agreement, Hirohito was allowed to keep his throne, but required to renounce his divine status.  On January 1, 1946, Hirohito publicly denounced “the notion that the emperor is a living god” and rejected the idea that “the Japanese are superior to other races and destined to rule the world.”

Diplomat Toshikazu Kase, wrote about the surrender to MacArthur on the deck of the battleship Missouri, where he was part of the Japanese delegation:

Here is the victor announcing the verdict to the prostrate enemy.  He can impose a humiliating penalty if he so desires.  And yet he pleads for freedom, tolerance and justice.  For me, who expected the worst humiliation, this was a complete surprise.  I was thrilled beyond words, spellbound, thunderstruck.

Pity, and sorrow, but no apologies.

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