The President’s plan to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on May 27 is prompting some to call for Obama to apologize for the United States decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to end World War II.
What does the United States have to apologize for?
Yes, upwards of 220,000 people died from the two bombs.
But what of the people who weren’t killed?
Southeast Asia media such as the Singapore-based Today newspaper have been countering claims being made this week from Japan’s political right that the United States committed a needless atrocity.
Today reminds readers that the epic battle for Okinawa cost 14,000 American lives and another 46,000 casualties out of a fighting force of 500,000. Nearly 77,000 out of 130,000 Japanese soldiers were killed or committed suicide. Some 100,000 civilians or a third of the Okinawa population lost their lives.
In the Battle of Iwo Jima Japan lost all but 218 of their 18,000 soldiers including a high number that committed suicide.
Let’s not forget that Japan also was killing upwards of 250,000 civilians a month from New Guinea to Manchuria. Civilian blood on the hands at the Japanese has been pegged at between 17 million and 24 million.
There was a high degree of certainty Japan would defend its homeland with the same ferocity as they fought in Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Surrender wasn’t in their vocabulary.
American military experts estimated the blood of at least 500,000 Americans would need to be spilled to take Japan and force a surrender. And that doesn’t count the civilian and military body count for the Japanese.
President Harry Truman had to weigh what he was told an atomic bomb could do with what he called engaging in “an Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other.”
The massive destruction of the two Japanese cities didn’t temper V-J Day celebrations in America. The United States lost the lives of 407,300 soldiers in four years of fighting a war they did not start. It was a war, by the way, that experts estimated killed about 3 percent of the world’s population or 60 million people.
The first bomb was dropped Aug. 6, 1945 on Hiroshima. Sixteen hours before Truman had demanded Japan’s surrender or else “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
Three days later after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and because the Japanese War Council wasn’t sufficiently convinced of the need to give into the American demand for unconditional surrender, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
There is little doubt the decision to drop the bomb brought the war to an end.
Now — 71 years later — there are people who actually want the United States to apologize.
Again apologize for what?
Perhaps we should apologize for not demanding reparations.
Perhaps we should apologize for rebuilding Japan and Europe.
Perhaps we should apologize for not rolling over and playing dead after Pearl Harbor.
Perhaps we should apologize for not acting as conquerers and making Japan kiss this nation’s collective feet.
As a country we are not without warts. The internment of American citizens of Japanese descent is a black-eye especially looking in the rearview mirror.
But let’s be clear who spent a large part of the ensuing years after the formal surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945 denying hardcore atrocities.
uThe Massacre of Manila from February to March 1945 involved raping, pillaging and murdering via bayonets, beheadings, and machine gunning down captives, and setting fire to buildings with civilians trapped inside.
uThe Death Railway where 60,000 Allied prisoners of war and 200,000 Asian conscripts were used as slave labor. Upwards of 100,000 Asians died building the railway as well as 13,000 POWs.
uThe I-8 submarine on March 26, 1944 sank a Dutch freighter and took 103 survivors onboard and proceeded to massacre them with swords and sledgehammers. The survivors were then bound and left to die on the deck as the submarine submerged. Five survived. The Japanese submarine crew repeated the same barbarism to survivors when they sunk a U.S. cargo shop on July 2, 1944.
uThe Sook Ching Massacre in February and March of 1942 after the fall of Singapore when they rounded up Chinese civilians and executed them. The Japanese say they only killed 6,000, the Chinese say it was more like 100,000.
Those are only four of dozens of atrocities.
That kind of conduct in the throes of war weighed heavily on the minds of President Truman and the American military command.
It’s easy to forget all of that and the death of 60 million other people that Japan partnering with Germany and Italy caused worldwide when you look at photos of Hiroshima’s destruction.
We should not forget the lessons of World War II. Japan is our ally today because a lot of people on both sides did the right thing after war ended.
That said the United States of America has absolutely nothing to apologize for — period.