China: Japan defeated not only by atomic bombs


Japan should realize it was defeated in 1945 “not just” by atomic bombs and thus should not challenge the post-World War II order, China’s ambassador to Washington said Tuesday.

Amid the tensions between China and Japan, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said that such historical perceptions “may be the most important issue” between Asia’s two largest economies.

Cui, addressing a forum, criticized as “very wrong and dangerous” a view by “a few politicians” in Japan that their country was forced to surrender in 1945 solely because of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“They believe that if you don’t antagonize the United States, everything would be OK for them, they don’t have to take care of the concerns of other countries,” he said at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Japan was defeated in the Second World War not just by two atomic bombs dropped by the U.S. but by all the peace-loving, anti-fascist countries and people — the peoples of the United Nations — including China and the United States, of course,” Cui said.

“I think politicians in Japan have to realize this is the post-World War II international order. You cannot challenge that,” he said.

Historical issues remain a major sore spot in East Asia, with many Chinese and Koreans accusing Japan of insufficient remorse for its past expansionism in Asia.

Japan has apologized for causing “tremendous damage and suffering” in the 20th century, leading some officials in Tokyo to accuse Beijing and Seoul of intentionally keeping tensions at a boil.

Japan, officially pacifist since the war, has been seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, whose makeup still reflects power dynamics in 1945. China, now the only Asian nation with veto power, has adamantly opposed Japan’s bid.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is known for his conservative views on history, has vowed not to cede any sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by Beijing.

Japan reverently observes the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which together killed more than 200,000 people. In May, Japan lodged a protest when a South Korean newspaper called the world’s only atomic bombings “divine punishment.”

  • Casper Steuperaert

    Defeated by all peace loving people? If you call the Soviet Red Army a bunch of peace lovers, China should re-check some of their history books

    • jon

      Compared to what the Japanese were “teaching” their own people? You should check your books.
      USSR took close to a million Japanese as slaves workers for the mines in Siberia, but that is nothing compared to what the Japanese have done. If Japan tries anything again, it won’t just be a few islands they have to worry about.

      • Michael Williams

        Please elaborate on what the Japanese are “teaching” their own people. If you know the common curriculum that is being used, and what history they are “teaching”, it would be nice if you shared that information, without it, I cannot see any validity in your argument.

        The Soviets declaration of war, and its subsequent victories against the Imperial Army in Manchuria, along with the Atomic Bombs, were the principle events that led to Japanese surrender; there were many events that culminated to that point, but the Soviets and the Americans were the reasons the war ended. Additionally, the Soviets joined the effort very late in the war, only after Germany was defeated. The only reason the Japanese lost the Pacific War, was because of the navies of the United States, with the support of the British and their Dominion.

        I am finding it hard to understand why Japan’s past is such a critical issue at this point. I do not see any other country having their history used so aggressively against them. No one seems to know of the genocide of the German people in former Prussian lands by the hands of the Polish after the war. No one cares about the genocides the States committed against aboriginals. No one judges the atrocities committed by the British Empire, which held 1/4 of the world under it’s thumb. No one talks about the 50+ million that Stalin killed. How about the French atrocities under Napoleon? There is an explicit reason why I can keep this going, and that is because the world was different back then. Major wars occurred almost every decade since the fall of the Roman Empire and that cycle did not end until after the Second World War; one of the legacies of Western Civilization that we choose to ignore.

        The atrocities that were committed by the Japanese were heinous, the territories that were invaded and occupied; these actions were committed by those who are long since dead. They are also not the only people on Earth who ever committed such actions. Additionally, everyone is holding these events to a modern standard, and they fail to grasp what the reality of the world was back then. It was called the Age of Imperialism for a reason, and that age did not end until after the Second World War.

      • Steve Novosel


        “USSR took close to a million Japanese as slaves workers for the mines in Siberia, but that is nothing compared to what the Japanese have done.”

        Are you really going down the road of “Our side committed atrocities, but their side committed worse!” That’s possibly the worst moral stance to take – that you are OK as long as someone else is worse than you. Relativism taken to the nth degree.

        None of it is acceptable.

        “If Japan tries anything again”

        Give me a break. This isn’t a game.

      • jmdesp

        Yes, slaves workers for the mines in Siberia with a death rate that has been almost as high as in the German concentration camps
        That’s definitively not what I would call nothing, even if still better than the infamous Japanese Unit 731 that would more compare with the worst of the extermination camps.

    • Sasori

      Oh, they did…

  • Nori

    “peace-loving, anti-fascist countries and people …including China and the United States …”
    Hahaha, very funny, Cui!

    • 思德

      I laughed too. He’s in a difficult position of having to pander to both the United States and China at the same time.

  • Maremi EISEN

    It’s difficult to understand this article without understanding some of the controversy within Japan itself over the nationalist behavior of some Japanese politicians, like Abe’s comments regarding war crimes and highly questionable and widely publicised visits by both Abe and Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine. As most Usamericans remain unaware of politics outside the US (and regrettably, even within the US), these issues are not widely known in the US.

    Since it may be too much to ask for that we never again see war, I can only hope that we never again see war on such a scale. No matter who is “wrong”, the burdens of war are always borne by the innocent more than by the politicians.

    The power of digital technology has brought the world so much closer together. I invite people to go to Google Street View, and find the memorial marking the epicenter of the Hiroshima bombing. Somehow, such things always seem more personal when you can see them. So much was lost in the years of WWII in Europe, Japan, and China that can never be regained.

    Tensions are undeniably mounting again between the US, Japan, Korea, and China, and blame is far too easy to levy. May cooler heads prevail.

    • 思德

      Thinking and learning is either too much effort to bother (as is the case with Americans), or not allowed (as is the case with the Chinese).

      • Sasori

        I suggest you start learning about your own country before blurting out about American’s being bothered about thinking and learning.
        You should probably read business news a bit more. There’s a kid who is barely 13 who just made 100k selling his invention of a stronger scooter wheel. He now sells internationally.
        Or, the high school kid who created tumbler, which was just bought by yahoo for 1 billion.
        Or, where the internet came from… or GPS, or Apple Computers, or Microsoft… or Atari, even.
        Or, how about virtual reality?
        Before you start writing essay-long comments, round out your own education on the subject, before-hand.

      • 白亦玄 Rolland

        I am Chinese. Before I see this website, I thought Japanese wasn’t allowed to think either. It is a shame that people live so near fail to see each other. All the efforts before have gone to waste since the island dispute.

  • JimmyJM

    The atomic bombings were certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Japanese had every intention of making the invasion of the homeland so costly that the Allies would sue for peace and leave Japan pretty much intact. But nothing can be taken away from the Chinese, Filipinos, Australians and others of the Allies who forced Japan’s retreat eventually back to the home islands. America wanted to bring as much pressure on Japan as possible and urged the Russians to invade. Their declaration of war did have the desired effect but the Russian invasion was nothing more than a land grab from an already beaten enemy.

    • Mark Garrett

      Not sure which antiquated history book you got this information from, but most well-researched historians today agree that it was Russia, not the U.S. atomic bombs, that hastened the end of the war.

      For obvious reasons the first ever use of nuclear warheads garnered all of the media attention, causing a simultaneous Red Army offensive, Operation August Storm, to quickly get lost and nearly forgotten. The Japanese military was confident it could fend off an Allied invasion so long as its supply chain in Manchuria and Korea remained open. However, Russia’s surprise attack caught Japan off guard as it believed there was a mediated end to the war already in the works. After two weeks nearly 85,000 Japanese were dead and Russia sat just 30 miles from Hokkaido. Hirohito, sensing imminent defeat, used the A-bombs as an excuse to surrender to the Americans rather than face repercussions from the U.S.S.R.

      • Sasori

        apparently, there was a deal on the table and the US dropped the bombs anyway. I also heard that Japan was racing for it’s own A-bomb to use on the US; we got it first.

      • JimmyJM

        My main source of information (though there are others) is “Embracing Defeat”. I recommend it to you. It is well annotated. The Soviets actual declaration of war (they’d been in a semi war with Japan for some time) was a major factor in bringing about the surrender. Their “invasion” was with a small number of troops in the islands north of Hokkaido (where they remain). The U.S. had been urging Russia to stage an invasion since the U.S. didn’t really expect the atom bombs to bring the war to an end. In fact, other than a big explosion, the U.S. didn’t really know what the atomic bomb would do. The plan was to drop smaller nukes on the battle field after the invasion of Kyushu and then have the Allies charge in to finish off the defenders. I’ve seen several U.S. Army training films from that era in which the soldiers charge into a region (in the U.S.) after the blast has dissipated. They really didn’t understand nuclear radiation back then.

        There was no “deal on the table.”

        Yes, the Japanese had been working on an atomic bomb but material and man power shortages caused them to stop. After the war, Allied intelligence found the documentation and showed them to nuclear physicists who said it probably would have worked.

      • Mark Garrett

        I’m familiar with “Embracing Defeat”, it’s an excellent book. However, it focuses on post-war Japan and has very little in the way of historical fact regarding the lead up to surrender.

        Might I suggest another work, “Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman and the Surrender of Japan” by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a Japanese historian who currently teaches at the University of California and who is an expert in Soviet-Japanese relations. He reads speaks and writes fluently in English, Japanese and Russian which gives him a unique insight when analyzing Sino-Japanese-U.S. relations.

        “The Soviets actual declaration of war (they’d been in a semi war with Japan for some time) was a major factor in bringing about the surrender.”

        No. According to the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact signed on April 13, 1941, there was no “semi-war”. Japan believed it was at peace with Russia and was, they also believed, negotiating a resolution to the war. The sudden multi-pronged attack on August 9th, 1945 caught them completely unaware.

        “Their “invasion” was with a small number of troops in the islands north of Hokkaido (where they remain).”

        Also not accurate. The Soviets commenced their invasion simultaneously on three fronts to the east, west and north of Manchuria using approx. 1.7 million men, 26,000 artillery, 5,500 tanks and over 5000 aircraft. I would hardly call that small scale. They killed nearly 84,000 Japanese and took over 640,00 POWs.

      • JimmyJM

        According to John Dower, the Soviets, “who entered the war on August 8, one week before the emperor’s broadcast, and accepted the Japanese surrender in Manchuria and Northern Korea…” “Japanese authorities estimated that between 1.6 and 1.7 million Japanese fell into Soviet hands……” John Dower, Embracing Defeat pages 51 – 52.

        I have several other books (none of them “antiquated”) at home I will dig out on this topic and on their “invasion” of the four northern islands where they do indeed remain to this day. I will look up Hasegawa’s book. Thanks.

  • Starviking

    “I think politicians in Japan have to realize this is the post-World War II international order. You cannot challenge that,” he said.

    By the same logic the Chinese Government should not challenge the US or Russia, as they were the leaders of post-World War II international order.

  • thompson_richard

    General Douglas MacArthur’s calculations at the time of the Yalta Conference were based on the assumptions that the Russians would contain the great bulk of Japanese forces on the Asiatic mainland. At Yalta, the atomic bomb was only a distant posiblity. It was not until three
    months after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death that the
    assurance came from the Los Alamos Lab that the decisive weapon worked, and it should be ready for use by August 1, 1945 (which had already been agreed at Cairo was to be the date of the Soviet Union’s entry into the war against the last standing belligerent, Japan). The Soviets needed time to move 25 of its divisions across Siberia to the Far East. Stalin agreed to the establishment of an American air base on Kamchatka near the Bering Sea. Of course, the USSR and the Empire of Japan were not at war yet and the Japanese Consul in the immediate vicinity would not fail to notice the presence of U.S. Air Force personnel and/or warplanes — so the element of surprise had to be maintained. At
    Yalta, Stalin had also agreed to the establishment of American air bases
    at Komsomlsk near the Sea of Okhotsk. It would have been a mistake to bruit the invasion with the Chungking Government of Chiang Kai Shek because that government was so porous. And what Hirohito’s spies did not immediately uncover would soon have been uncovered by Mao’s spies (Stalin did meet personally in Moscow with Nationalist Foreign Minister T. V. Soong within weeks, and told him about the impending invasion.) One unfortunate thing Roosevelt said to Stalin
    at Yalta was that he did not contemplate the occupation of Korea by
    U.S. forces.
    My name is an amalgam of that of my father Richard, and that my
    grandfather, Herbert. At the time of my birth (Dec. 10, 1944), many
    young men of my father’s cohort (flight officer/Eighth U.S. Air
    Force) were expected to be killed in combat. My grandfather wrote to his son about the Yalta Conference: “The restoration of Russia of the rights formerly possessed by the Imperial Russian Governments to dominate Manchurian railroads, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base, were objectionable because these concessions make it next to impossible for a new, unified China to exercise full sovereignty within Manchuria and they were the more objectionable in view of China’s absence from the Yalta Conference table.”