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Mr. History:

Were the Japanese going to surrender because of Hiroshima?  And before Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki?

Thank you,


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Dear David,

In the days immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese military did not publicly respond, still holding on to their four conditions for ending the war: preservation of the imperial institution, leaving demobilization in the hands of Japanese headquarters, no foreign occupation of the Home Islands, Korea or Formosa, and delegating the punishment of war criminals to the Japanese government.

On August 7, Dr. Yoshio Nishina and other atomic scientists visited Hiroshima and confirmed that it had indeed been the target of an atomic device. Meanwhile, on August 5, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov had informed the Japanese that his country was abrogating the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, a surefire sign that a declaration of war would soon follow. In spite of all that, Admiral Soemu Toyoda declared that there were only one or two atomic bombs likely to be available to the Americans and that Japan could endure the destruction that they would inflict, stating that “there would be more destruction but the war would go on.”

The Americans intercepted these communications and after a discussion on Guam on the 8th, Rear Adm. William R. Purnell, Captain William S. Parsons, General Carl A. Spaatz, Colonel Paul W. Tibbetts Jr. and Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay decided to drop the second bomb. Whether it, the Soviet offensive through Manchuria that also began on August 9, or both, finally persuaded the Japanese to accept the Allied surrender terms is debated to this day.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History

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