Readers might be forgiven if they thought the last U.S. aerial bombardment of Japan during World War II was that on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Most historical writings end with that tragic event and then skip ahead to the final heated debate within the Japanese government in the presence of Emperor Hirohito leading to his decision to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. However, during that last week there continued to be a number of aerial attacks.

The use of the second atomic weapon on Nagasaki, following that on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan on Aug. 8, were, in retrospect, the final blows to Japan. However, the Japanese military leadership was unwilling to easily admit it, and the United States expected that Japan would continue to fight. Indeed, landings were planned in Kyushu in September (Operation Olympic) and Kanto in March (Operation Coronet) as part of Operation Downfall, the larger plan to invade the home islands. As such, the U.S. military continued to launch aerial attacks on the country.

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