By Raimi Akegbejo
Today, 75 years ago the second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan at Nagasaki after the first was dropped in Hiroshima, 3 days before. Fat man as the plutonium bomb was code named by the US military was meant to have a more devastating effect than little boy, the uranium bomb earlier dropped on Hiroshima. The nuclear attack on Japan is considered the single most horrendous event in history perpetrated by man as the bombs claimed hundreds of thousands of lives directly from the impact of the explosion and indirectly through the mutations and the ‘radiation sickness’ that followed.
While the popular narrative for reasons that necessitated the carnage has been to reduce the casualties that will come with an actual invasion of Japan, new evidences and revelations demonstrate how that was far from the main intentions of the Harry S. Truman led White House. There are estimates which put the number of casualties for a ground invasion of Japan in November, 1945 at 12 million, that is, about 10 million Japanese and 2 million American military personnel but these estimates are a far cry from reality at the time since Japan faced the threat of an invasion from two fronts—the US and Soviet Russia.
It is also important to point out that Japan’s military effort was already spent prior to August 1945. In fact, Japan was at a disadvantage in the war with the US which originally started in 1940/41 in response to the US’s metal works embargo on Japan. A decisive proof of the weakness and desperation of the Japanese Imperial Military was Operation Kamikaze in which fighter pilots drove their planes loaded with explosives into US Navy ships in a suicide manner.
The main intentions of the US government to kill thousands of innocent people in a war of attrition is 3-pronged and it is not different from the behavior of world powers today yet before mentioning these reasons it is pertinent to note in passing that if the US sole aim of launching those attacks was to force Japan to surrender through a military defeat then why were the bombs dropped on civilian targets and city centers rather military bases or sites.
The 3 reasons for the macabre mass killings of August 1945 are as follows;
- The Great Power rivalry between the US and Stalin’s Russia which would later spiral into a protracted Cold War
- To gain full control of post-war Japan politically and especially economically, that is to prevent a situation similar to the partitioning of Germany (East and West Germany).
- To test the proficience of nuclear weapons in the emerging theatre of war.
A close look at the 3 reasons show how interrelated they are and as such it is almost impossible to understand one without the other. At the time, Russia and the US were supposed to sign an agreement to bring Japan to surrender through joint political and military or through ‘diplomatic’ effort. This naturally means that they would share the spoils of a Japanese defeat but since the US was the one in direct conflict with Japan at the time they had already given Japan terms of surrender and an ultimatum lasting until November.
One of the US terms to accept Japanese surrender was that the Emperor of Japan relinquish his power but this condition was too dire for the Japanese war council and elite. Instead they expected that Russia would mediate to tenderize the conditions after the Potsdam conference where Clement Atlee, the new British prime minister, Harry S. Truman, the United States president and Josef Stalin, the premier of Soviet Russia, met, but the US ended up playing a fast one on Stalin by dropping the first bomb only 4 days after the conference ended on August 2nd. This prompted Stalin’s Russia to declare war on Japan on Aug 8, two days after the first bomb was dropped in order to maintain their stakes in post-war Japan. This essentially blocking all hopes of Japan to surrender with reduced conditions.
Of course, tests of the new weapon was done on US soil before the attacks on Japan but the final test must be on the ‘battle ground’ for the real destructive capacity to be appreciated. Further indications that the US used Japan as testing ground for the all powerful new weapon was that the first bomb was a uranium bomb while the second a plutonium bomb. In the same manner after the attacks and the surrender of Japan, American health experts were sent to Japan not to treat but to experiment on the sick victims of the bombings who were sometimes told to stand naked on a stage in an auditorium full of doctors.
With the destructive capacity of the nuclear weapons on display for the world to see, it was easy to intimidate the major rival of US imperialism—Russia into caution at least until they could produce their own nuclear weapons, before the stage of Mutually Assured Destruction was reached. This intimidation eased the Easterly expansion of US imperialism after WWII especially the total control of Japan’s economy and military assets. The US would sustain their military bases and troops in Japan for decades and this will spark revolts against US occupation in Japan. These revolts would be met with more repression of the Japanese protesters.
The gory bombings of August 6th and 9th, 1945 that flattened two major cities and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands for decades are the indelible scars of a world driven by inter-imperialist rivalry, a situation in which capitalist barons who command the most powerful brute forces seek to control the globe in order to extract wealth by exploitation. In this light, the Japanese government cannot be spared from the historical responsibility for all the atrocities of WWII in the Pacific. They would have done all that was necessary to secure their unending expansionism. Records like the Rape of Nanking, China will forever haunt the Japanese Imperial Army and show that they were no different from their 1945 main enemy in the Pacific—the US.
Unfortunately our world can still not boast of a future free from such barbarous acts, in fact, the rivalry between the two most powerful superpowers (US and China) is becoming more acute and it is a recipe for global conflict without which it is impossible for one of these superpowers to retain their place as the most powerful or emerge as the new most powerful imperialist superpower.
It is no gainsaying that even without such open global conflict the effects of the long term grip of our world by warlords and war machines is turning the forces of nature against itself through climate change and COVID-19.
Only a revolutionary defeat of all imperialist powers in the East and West (China, Japan, Russia, EU, UK and US) can secure planet Earth for the advancement of humanity.
It is either socialism or the stone age!