Regarding Barry Andrew Ward’s March 6 letter, “U.S. actions much less egregious“: I’d like to add my two pence worth.
First, I disagree with his comment that “the Americans bombed Japanese cities to eliminate Japan’s ability to continue its war of aggression.” While that was certainly true for factories and war production centers, Japanese cities were intentionally targeted with incendiary devices to terrorize the population. Any factories that were hit were just a bonus.
More civilians died in the firebombing of Tokyo than in the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. As U.S. Gen. Curtis LeMay, the architect of the firebombing campaign, put it: “I suppose if [the U.S.] had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.”
Second, Ward also wrote that [the Americans dropped the atomic bombs] “to bring the war to an end as soon as possible.” But the arguments used by the allies at the time, and since, with regard to justifying the atom bombs are by no means as clear-cut as Ward seems to think.
Officially people were told that the atomic bombs had ended the war, but this ignores the effect of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, China and Korea. Until that point, Japan’s imperial high command had been trying to use Soviet Russia as a peace intermediary.
Neither should the U.S. submarine campaign against Japanese shipping be overlooked, nor should the main reason the atomic bombs were dropped in the first place — to send a warning to Soviet Russia. Cold War history shows us how that turned out.
As for Ward’s remarks on Japanese war atrocities, I stand in total agreement. Plenty of historical evidence supports them. If Japanese leaders’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine mean praying for peace, why is a museum glorifying Japan’s military history located right next to the shrine? Therein lies the rub
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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