Bruce McQuain: I Have Little Sympathy for the Japanese on this Subject

Roundup: Talking About History

[Bruce McQuain is a retired infantry officer with 28 years service who blogs regularly at on politics and on military affairs.]

It is the annual Hiroshima remembrance in Japan and the usual cries of "outrage" and demands for an “apology” fill the air.

My father fought against the Japanese in WWII on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa. I have studied the war in detail. I’ve been particularly interested in the planned invasion of Japan.

Okinawa was the first indicator of what that would have been like – it was and is considered a Japanese “home island”. My father was slated to be with the first wave of divisons landing on Kyushu. The technical description of their anticipated condition after a day or so was “combat ineffective”. That means those initial divisions would have been destroyed and unable to continue to fight.

The assumed number of casualties for that first big fight – and it wasn’t even on the main island – was about a million men on both sides. Don’t forget that they had a regular army home defense force of well over a million men and a home defense militia of 14 million. They had with held thousands of kamakazi aircraft and boats back for the expected invasion. And they planned to make a last stand and take as many invaders as possible with them.

Remember also how the territories the Japanese conquered were treated. Korean women forced into prostitution as “comfort women”. The rape of Nanking. Babies tossed around on bayonets....

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Arnold Shcherban - 8/13/2010

On the contrary, Mr. Bernstein, I made the previous comment, exactly because I know too well what you tried to enlighten me about in your response... and I know much more (what you are, perhaps, also aware of, but refuse to take into account): 1) that the US was looking for military confrontation with Japan at the time to begin with, and according to president Roosevelt memo was trying to provoke Japanese to make the first move (therefore it was an imperialistic struggle for dominance in the Pacific);
2) that Japan has not barbarically bombed the territorial US, its cities and villages, killing dozens of thousand of civilians, as the US did to Japanese (already before dropping the atomic bombs), but just attacked its Pacific Navy and American military installations in the region located thousands of miles from the territorial USA;
3) that there existed no military NECESSITY (the only reason that could have excused the atomic attack) to resort to premeditated mass murder of civilians, since Japanese government had already essentially begged, both the US and the USSR, for surrender (thus rendering the infamous argument related to the hugely exaggerated number of the American potential casualties over the invasion moot.) One Japanese condition of surrender at the time that was cited by the US government as especially unacceptable when delivering the rejection of the Japanese surrender before the atomic bombing was to retain the Emperor. However, after the atomic bombing, this particular condition was accepted...;
3)The chief prosecutor on Nuremberg trials called the bombing in question
a "war crime" soon after the terror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
4) The apologetic argument about Japanese criminal treatment of Koreans, or/and Chinese is ludicrous, since one crime does excuse another;
moreover, it has nothing to do with the official US reasons behind the decision of atomic attack on civilian targets given at the time;
5) Even if some refuse to acknowledge validity of any arguments and factual evidence submitted against the necessity of atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, being just a emphatic human beings, they have to feel sympathy for numerous innocent victims that died and continue to suffer for little purpose.
But the sad fact I mentioned before is that the amnesia to empathy injected into many Americans by the continuous "US above all" type propaganda is very difficult
to overcome.

Lewis Bernstein - 8/13/2010

Why even bother with the pretense of historicity Mr. Shcherban. I would remind you that the Japanese, not the USA started the war because they thought they could win it and that is why powers start wars. They doubted the USA would have the will to defeat them and hoped the Germans would occupy most of America's attention. They were right but they underestimated their own abilities.
The only conclusion I can infer from your post is that you are woefully ignorant of the past.

Arnold Shcherban - 8/9/2010

has become symptomatic of a superpower's refusal to acknowledge and understand tremendous suffering of any foreign nation that dared to challenge
USA dominance in any part of the world, considered by the latter strategically important...