On December 7, 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii with the possibility of forcing the U.S. to join World War II. About 2,400 Americans were dead, 21 ships had been sunk, and 188 aircrafts were destroyed. On August 6 and 9 of 1945, the U.S. retaliated and dropped two atomic bombs called Fat Man and Little Boy on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The U.S. was not justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan because of the locations that were bombed, the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, and the lack of previous bomb testing.
Firstly, the bombings were unjustified because of the locations where the bombs were dropped. Neither cities were military or naval bases. Hiroshima was “… on a river delta and had been a fishing settlement for centuries” (Lawton) while Nagasaki was a shipbuilding city. Furthermore, Nagasaki had been bombed five times in the twelve months previous to the assault by the U.S. (“The Bombing of Nagasaki”). Both cities were also highly populated leading to high casualty levels. Before the attacks, Hiroshima had a population of 255,000 people and Nagasaki was home to 195,000 people. When these cities were attacked, 70,000 out of those 255,000 died in Hiroshima and 42,000 out of 195,000 perished in Nagasaki. This means that the bombings whipped out 27% of Hiroshima and 22% of the Nagasaki population (Total Casualties).
Continuing on, the bombing of Japan was also unnecessary due to the unacceptable terms of the Potsdam Declaration. After Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945, the U.S. created a treaty, called the Potsdam Declaration, with terms of surrender for Japan (Lawton). Among those terms was one which stated, “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces…” (“Potsdam Declaration”). The Japanese were known for having a strong tradition of high military honor. This term of unconditional surrender of all armed forces was difficult, almost impossible for Japan to accept as it would be a disgrace to disassemble their army. Another clause in the Potsdam Declaration stated that Hirohito must renounce his position as Japan’s emperor. The Japanese saw this as an incredible insult to their ruler, and therefore refused surrender (Lawton). The only reason why America could follow through with the term of “The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction” (“Potsdam Declaration”) was because it had made the terms of the Potsdam Declaration completely disgraceful and unacceptable for Japan. Clive A. Lawton argues “Many Japanese politicians would only agree to surrender if Emperor Hirohito remained on the throne”. Had the U.S. revised its treaty terms in order to keep Hirohito in power and leave at least some of the Japanese military intact, Japan would have likely surrendered quicker and the bombs would not be needed.
Finally, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unjustified because of the lack of...