If you ask a high school graduate what the result of the atomic bombs on Japan was, he or she would most certainly answer the immediate surrender of all Japanese forces. That should be satisfactory enough to not question the issue any further. If you ask the same student wether the Japanese would have surrendered without the bombs, he or she will hesitate and will probably not be able to give an answer. The reason for this is that the history text books at school teach students a black and white fact: the atomic bombs were the only way to make the Japanese surrender. According to Francis E. Kazemek: “most texts focus on abstract facts and figures, offering little discussion of the reality of the bombing.
“(Kazemek 2) The atomic bomb should not be considered as the only decisive factor for the Japanese surrender, but as the straw that broke the camel’s back. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese empire continued to expand rapidly during the first half of 1942. Its empire extended from Manchuria and the Aleutian Islands to the north, New Guinea to the south, Burma to the west and the Marshall Islands to the east. Nevertheless, the tide turned against Japan when Germany was defeated in May 1945 and the Americans took over the Marian Islands in 1944.(Long 1) The Americans needed the Marian Islands as an air base to be able to bomb Japan directly. Winston Churchill wrote in his personal narrative of the Second World War, “The time at last had come to strike at the enemy’s homeland.
“(Churchill 540) Before then, Japan had virtually been untouched by any allied bombings because there had been no air bases close enough or an aircraft that could withstand flying nonstop for miles. The B-29, an aircraft designed to fly long distances without refueling, began to systematically bomb Japan. It was the B-29 that flew the atomic bombs to Japan. This aircraft took “the war home to Japan.”(Garvey 45) The B-29 firebombings on Tokyo and the effective blockade of supplies for Japan by the American submarines weakened the Japanese empire. Meanwhile, the Americans troops and back home were fed the idea that the Japanese would never surrender and the war would go on forever.
“But in fact, the Japanese had sent peace feelers to the West as early as 1942, only six months after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. More would come in a flood long before the fateful use of the atomic bombs.”(McManus 1) Even before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were divided into two groups. The “peace party” included the Emperor Hirohito and officers in the navy. The “war party”, headed by Army leader Tojo, included fanatical military members, believed that Japan’s empire should cover all the islands of the pacific and were responsible for the attack on the navy base in Pearl Harbor.(McManus) On different ocassions, the Japanese hinted their interest in peace negotiations through different channels.
They contacted the British after the the Battle of Midway with a message from the Japanese foreign minister Togo. The message said that the Japanese was “ready to be helpful” if the British Government was willing to talk.(McManus 2) In the United States, Army chief of Staff George Marshall wanted to continue fighting and did not want to hear of any peace or surrender talks. He believed .