On August 6th 1945, the world stood still as it
witnessed the depths to which men were willing to sink in order to win a war.
Unfortunately for the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they turned
out to be at the receiving end. When the United States dropped the first of the
two atom bombs (named 'Little Boy') in Hiroshima, the human race entered a new
phase in their relatively short time on earth. It was followed by the bombing
of Nagasaki by another atom bomb (named 'Fat Man') a couple of days later. Both
bombings killed nearly a 125,000 people and it effectively ended the Japanese'
involvement in World War II as well as the war itself. So what made the United
States of America go to such extreme measures to take out Japan? It's actually
a series of events that led to this act, an act for which many millions paid
with their lives.
During World War II the United States had put themselves in a position of neutrality. They supported the cause of the Allies, but they were not willing to enter the war. Despite being supportive of Great Britain, they refused to offer military support to Europe when German bombers were blowing up London to pieces or even when Germany had invaded France. When Germany's ally, Japan started invading China, and British and Dutch colonies, the U.S. still continued in its role as a silent spectator. But they did stop aviation trade with the Japanese. They refused to export aeroplanes, aviation fuel, tools, parts etc. to Japan. Japan saw this as an act of provocation by the Americans. When Japan's aggressive military surge continued in various parts of Asia, the U.S pulled the plug on the oil deal. This enraged the Japanese even further, because they relied heavily on the oil from the Americans.
The termination of the oil deal was the catalyst for things to come. The Americans refused to negotiate unless the Japanese withdrew from various parts of China and South-East Asia. After all negotiations came to a halt, on 26th November 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy set upon a mission to bomb the U.S naval base in Hawaii - Pearl Harbor.
On 7th December 1941, Japanese bombers took out the entire naval fleet docked at Pearl Harbor and killed over 2,400 people. It was a surprise attack and no prior warnings were given by the Japanese breaching the rules of war. The following day the United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II aiding the Allied Forces
The most significant turning point of the war came when Adolf
Hitler decided to break the treaty signed with Russia and invade it by marching
onto Stalingrad (now Volgograd). The 'Battle of Stalingrad' went on to become the
bloodiest battle in human history where over 2 million people died. The Soviets
eventually prevailed after successfully defending their land and decided to
march onto Germany. British and American forces launched an attack on Germany
from the west on 6th June 1944 when they entered France through the shores of
Normandy. This date became etched in human history as 'D-Day'. The Allied
Forces attacked from the west and the Soviets from the east. This proved too
much for Nazi Germany and they were forced to surrender on 8th May 1945.
Backstabbing Russia proved to be a fatal error by the Führer, Adolf Hitler.
Despite Germany's surrender, Japan refused to meet the demands of the Allied Forces and continued to fight fiercely. The invasion of the Japanese mainland was decided by the Allies. After months of battling, Japanese troops withdrew from many South-East Asian countries, but they refused to yield. This was when the United States decided to do the unthinkable. They decided to use an atom bomb for the very first time. This was a novel weapon that was developed by the Manhattan Project - a joint operation with Canada and Britain. It was also a project which Germany had desperately tried to bear dividends but failed to do so. On 6th August 1945, the Japanese detected U.S bombers on their radars. The bombers sent out warnings of all-clear, and an hour before the bombings air raid alerts was sounded. Once the bomb was dropped, the people in Hiroshima described it as "if the Sun was falling down". As Hiroshima was one of Japan’s military strongholds, they were number one on the hit list. The bombing in Hiroshima was followed by that of Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces after they were warned of further attacks if they refused to do so.
It's been 70 years since those fateful bombings, but the question, ‘Were the bombings justified’? still remains unanswered. Truth be told, there is no right answer for it. But there are certain perspectives that can be considered. First of all, killing thousands is never right, and it never should be. But if the war hadn't ended when it had, the death toll would've risen exponentially in many parts of Asia. If the Allied Forces had attempted a land invasion instead of air raids, the death toll would've been far greater as per historians, with both sides suffering severe casualties. But all that being said, the Americans didn't really have to drop atom bombs, did they? The war would've dragged on for a few more years without the atom bombs, but it might’ve spared the lives of many Japanese civilians, and averted the radiation poisoning which effected further generations. So to put it simply, it is a very cruel paradox. For World War II to begin, all it took was a racist mad man with ambitions to conquer the world. It's best not to contemplate what would've happened if Hitler had got his hands on an atom bomb before the Americans did - a world in chaos.
Unknowingly the people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave up their lives to ensure that an era of relative peace prevailed among human beings for the first time in centuries. A heavy price to pay, but let's hope that no one else has to go through that ever again. Today, both cities have risen from the ashes and are thriving. In a way it epitomizes Japan's determination and commitment to get them back in full swing.