The Japanese Were in No Mood to Surrender
|The Japanese peace delegation arrives on Ie Shima on 19 August 1945.|
Not only was Japan not about to surrender when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, but the bomb appears not to have been the cause of the Japanese surrender afterward, either. To believe that the Japanese surrendered because of the devastation in Hiroshima reflects a U.S.-centric viewpoint. We dropped the bomb, and then another on Nagasaki, and so that overwhelming demonstration of United States power forced the Japanese surrender. Right?
Well, not so fast. Let’s look at what really happened in the sequence that actually took place. In other words, let's start at the beginning and see how each event changed things.
|The Hiroshima blast, taken a few minutes after the explosion.|
The Japanese at the time weren’t sure about the new bombs or what they really meant. There was just a report of a massive bombing raid, but there had been a lot of those. It took some time to figure out that this one was completely different than previous ones.
There was nobody left on the ground to give a reasoned analysis of what had happened and all communications were out, so somebody had to go and learn the facts. The Japanese had no idea about the effects of radiation (neither, really, did anyone else), so they assembled a team to investigate. This team led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the hero of Pearl Harbor (he led the first wave), flew to Hiroshima to report from the scene. He and the others retrieved a metal cylinder full of scientific instruments that the Americans had dropped along with the bomb and observed the devastation from the nearby mountains.
|Commander Fuchida flew to Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped and found a wasteland of ruins and charred trees.|
What the Japanese *did* know for a fact, however, was that the Soviet Union invaded Japanese-occupied territory in Manchuria during the early morning hours of 9 August 1945 (the same day as the Nagasaki atomic bomb, which happened many hours later). This invasion was something that could not be brushed off as “just another bombing.” It appeared unstoppable.
|Soviet troops in Harbin, China, during the 9 August 1945 invasion.|
|The end of the war is in sight as the Japanese peace delegation is about to touch down on Ie Shima on 19 August 1945.|
|The Japanese sign the surrender declaration aboard the USS Missouri on 2 September 1945.|