On the 2nd of September, at 9.02 am Tokyo time, an Act of unconditional surrender of Japanese forces was signed on a board of the American battleship « Missouri ». The most devastating conflict in the history of humankind, the Second World War, was finished.
After the German surrender, Japan has continued the war with the anti-fascist coalition by its own forces for four months. Inspired by its rush to achieve a dominant position in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan pushed forward. Even after losing large areas, it denied the allies’ ultimatum and continued a resistance to the deep end.
Thus, what did finally compel the Japanese government to sign an unfavorable capitulation on the 2nd of September?
The 6th and the 9th of August 1945 went down in history as a critical turning point in WWII and marked the only military use of atomic weapons. The bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki wiped two cities with all their population.
However, “Little boy” and “Fat man” had no important impact on the tide of the war.
During the summer 1945, Japan has suffered the succession of most powerful bombardments in human history. The American Air Forces destroyed 68 Japanese cities, without using nuclear weapons. A big part of the country was burned out together with its population.
The 10th of March, the Tokyo bombing alone killed 120.000 Japanese that is twice more than Hiroshima with the number of casualties near 70.000.
Hiroshima is not on top neither in terms of casualties nor of the destruction.
After having suffered regular bombardments of its cities, the Japanese government did not mind the US atomic weapons. According to the protocols the new weapons were discussed only twice by the Japanese military council. They were aware of the small quantity of enriched uranium in the USA that was hardly enough for two bombs, and it could not break their will to surrender.
The threats of Harry Truman to subject Japan to the devastating iron downpour were nothing more but slipslop, since there was nothing else to destroy in Japan. Less than 10 cities left there. The whole country was destroyed.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan had been resisting for one more month before it capitulated. The Japanese government accepted that the war was lost, but it continued to fight in order to gain the most convenient conditions for capitulation. It aimed to conserve the occupied territories such as Vietnam, Burma, Korea, a part of Malaysia and Indonesia, a part of China, as the Japanese army was steel strong enough and well supplied.
Thus, if not Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what did force Japan to sign an unconditional capitulation in September 1945?
On the 27th of August, the 16th Army of the Soviet Union was deployed on the Sakhalin Island. After having entered Manchuria and breaking through the defense systems of Great Khingan, the Soviet troops crossed the desert and defeated the elite Kwantung army. That’s what deprived Japan from capability to conduct any military action and forced it to accept a mortifying capitulation.
Despite the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese strategical position was critical. Forced to fight on two fronts, the Japanese government was obliged to take a side of one of its enemies. While not wishing to end up like Korea, they surrendered to the United States. Taking into account the Japanese victory over the Russian Empire in 1905, Hirohito could not admit the defeat to soviet soldiers.
The role of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII was artificially increased. This common myth was widely spread and accepted by the both sides, as it was beneficial not only to the Americans, who gained the official status of the Second World War winners. It also played into the hands of the Japanese leaders. Emperor Hirohito, having blamed the defeat for a new all-mighty weapon, managed to maintain his legitimacy, to avoid the tribunals and turn fascist Japan into a victim.
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