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Did Japanese PM Suzuki & POTUS Truman accidentally bring on the nukes?

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by robycop3, Jul 9, 2021.

  1. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    In July 1945, WW2 had been going badly for Japan for awhile. Their current PM, 78-yr-old Kantaro Suzuki, who had been an admiral in the JIN, knew it all to well. The Allied leadership, led by the USA, met in the German city of Potsdam to draw up terms of surrender to present to Japan. As Asst. Secy. of War, John Mc Cloy advised Truman to include the statement that the Emperor would be retained under a shogun if Japan surrendered. However, Secy. of State James Byrnes convinced Truman to not do this, as it'd show weakness.

    The preservation of the Koshitsu, the Royal House, was a prime concern for all Japanese, & virtually all of them would fight to the death in defense of that institution. Thus, when Suzuki saw the Potsdam Declaration, he saw no assurance that the Emperor would be retained. While he knew Japan couldn't sustain the war much longer, he could not countenance surrendering & losing the Emperor. So, after some thought, he said, "We will mokkasettsu it, a word, while not meaning an out rejection, generally means "treat with silent contempt". He wanted something saying the Emperor wouldn't be deposed or arrested.

    But the Japanese press headlined that the govt, had REJECTED the declaration. Thus, the wheels for the use of the nukes were set into motion, as Truman had no qualms in using it to force Japan's surrender & thus save many Allied lives.

    A general belief is that, had the Potsdam Declaration contained an assurance that the Emperor would be retained, Japan would've surrendered before the nukes were used. However, there's a possibility that the nukes SAVED many Japanese & Allied lives, as, even with the govt. ordering surrender, many Japanese military commanders & their men would've fought on. However, when HIROHITO HIMSELF ordered the surrender, almost all commanders obeyed him & surrendered their commands at once. However, Gen. Anami, some other high officers, & other military men killed themselves. Adm. Ugaki, leader of the Kamikaze Corps, upon hearing the Emperor, declared he'd received no official surrender order, & so flew one last suicide mission on Aug. 15, the day Hirohito ordered surrender. While no successful kamikaze attacks were reported that day, there was sporadic combat between US naval forces & likely kamikaze aircraft that day, & Ugaki was never heard from again.

    I believe all those events transpired under God's will.
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I agree that God was superintending these events through His providence. The word mokusatsu (黙殺) is a very strong word, since the second Chinese character is the one for "kill," used in the compound Chinese loan word meaning "murder" (satsujin, 殺人). Here is a Japanese-English definition: 黙殺 - Jisho.org

    Some have said that the Allied side misunderstood the word, and that it was not a complete rejection of the Potsdam Declaration. I disagree, since this is such a strong word linguistically. The Japanese PM should have used another word if he wanted to answer mildly.

    The Japanese are a subtle people. It takes only a hint for them to communicate so that other Japanese understand the meaning. They normally oppose the American way of speaking directly without ambiguity. This makes the use of mokusatsu that much more an intentional rejection. It is said that Emperor Hirohito, in announcing on the radio that the war was over and the Japanese had lost, said, "The war has not necessarily turned out to our advantage." :eek:

    By the way, I well remember the time Hirohito's death was announced. I was on my way the next day to teach in a Bible school in Tokyo. Transferring trains at Machida, I saw a small group of Christians with signs opposing the emperor system.
     
    #2 John of Japan, Jul 9, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
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  3. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    You likely know more of Japan's history than I do. Much of my knowledge comes from speaking with English-speaking Japanese war vets while I was in Tokyo as a US Sailor in early 1969. (Among others, I met former Adm. Ozawa. He was the tallest purely-Japanese man I ever saw. I'm a little over 6' & he was a head taller!)

    Would you agree that Japan might've surrendered before the nukes if the Potsdam Declaration contained an assurance that the Emperor would've been retained while under a shogun?
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    It's certainly possible, but I doubt if it could have happened. The Japanese aggression of WW2 was instigated by State Shinto. Shintoism is a strictly Japanese religion, but State Shinto taught that all of Asia should be under the thumb of Japan--thus the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere instituted by Japan over their conquered countries. State Shinto was a radical political version of Shinto, which is simply a form of nature spirit worship. Since State Shinto was radical both politically and religiously, I'm pretty certain that nothing short of the atomic bomb could have caused them to surrender.
     
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  5. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    I see. The Sepukku of Gen. Anami tells much about the attitudes of many Japanese for awhile, and also why they hurt their5 chances to put up a better fight. While Anami was dead-set against surrender, he immediately complied with Hirohito's command & ordered all his subordinates to obey it. Next day, he killed himself.

    This was typical of many Japanese, especially officers, when they lost a fight. We saw this at Midway, where Flight Leader Tomonaga & Adm. Yamaguchi, a well as several ships' skippers, died suicidally. Tomonaga chose to fly his own plane against the Yorktown, knowing it couldn't hold enough fuel for a return flight,(Became moot, as his plane was shot down by Lt. Cmdr. Jimmy Flatley, & exploded.) while Yamaguchi chose to go down with the Hiryu, locking himself in his cabin so his men couldn't rescue him. (The Hiryu's skipper did the same.) These were very-able commanders who could've greatly helped Japan's war effort. Yamaguchi was slated to become Yamamoto's 2nd-in-command & eventually his replacement. And these were just a few of the able Japanese warriors who did likewise.
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    That was the Samurai ethic. Japan is an honor/shame culture, where being captured or failing in your mission was considered shameful; thus the suicides. Early in the war, their airplanes had no armor and the pilots had no parachutes. It took awhile, but they finally figured out that they were losing their best pilots, and then provided protection.

    Concerning the Emperor, I'm sure you know that he was considered a "god" until the end of the war, when MacArthur made him deny it on national radio. So when their "god" said they were surrendering, the leaders committed seppuku suicide. (This is the polite term. Harakiri is colloquial and not polite, but they mean the same thing: "stomach cutting.")
     
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  7. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    I remember seeing a large billboard with a pic of Hirohito & MacArthur together, both smiling, with Mac walking a little behind Hirohito, with a hand on H's shoulder. Mac was much-larger than H anyway, & this pic shows him towering over H, conveying the message that Mac was H's boss, even though his shogunate had ended in 1950.

    While the Samurai had been disbanded before the war, I know that many of them retained their customs & passed them on to their children. For example, I saw a pic of Gen. Anami practicing with a bow that was taller than he was. While I don't think he was very tall anyway, that was SOME "long" bow!

    I know SOME Japanese commanders largely rejected the suicidal attitude.One was Gen. Sadae Inoue, who gave orders for no suicidal bonzai charges against solid walls of enemy, & for overrun soldiers to hide, rather than kill themselves, & to come against the enemy's rear after he'd passed. Also, he ordered no attempts to deny the enemy a beach landing, as by then, the Allies sent overwhelming forces to make these landings. His strategies were practiced by Gen. Nakagawa on Peleliu for nearly 3 months, even though at the battle's end, he committed seppuku.

    At Midway, Adm. Nagumo started to go down with his ship, but was persuaded not to, as the remaining ships needed a commander. He went on to ably lead some other carriers a few times, but was relegated to land duty, eventually ending up on Saipan where he shot himself when the battle was lost.

    Yes, I still believe the honor/shame culture contributed somewhat to Japan's being defeated quicker than it would've otherwise been.
     
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  8. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    From the discussion, the question arises, what would it mean to retain the emperor in that culture? If he was forced to deny his godhood on national radio, then just what would have been retained? What was retained?
     
  9. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    Had their culture been other than what it was, would there have even been such a war? Evidently, theirs is not merely an honor/shame culture, but one of arrogance and condescension, with not a little brutality. Or is "honor/shame" supposed to be the "polite" way of saying that?
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The "honor" part of that produced arrogance so that for example, you probably knew that they believed no Americans could ever speak their language, since it was so difficult. But we cracked their code, leading to their disaster at the Battle of Midway. Our history prof and I had a great time discussing that the other day as we watched the fireworks.
     
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  11. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Argh, like 'gut shot'. It had to be a slow excruciating way to die.
     
  12. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Most ranking officers arranged for their adjutants to shoot them in the back of the head, or amputate their heads seconds after gutting themselves.
     
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  13. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    His authority. While MacArthur was shogun, he'd give an order & Hirohito would re-iterate it. (The Japanese had been ruled by shoguns before, so there was little opposition.)
     
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  14. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    I think the brutality worked both ways. For example, on Tarawa, its commander, Gen. Shibasaki, & quite a few soldiers, were holrd up in a large concrete bunker that was impervious to bombs & naval guns. Our Marines bulldozed bulldozed the exits/entrances shut, pumped several hundred gallons of gasoline fown an air shaft, tossed several phosphorus grenades in after it, quickly got back, & watched the show. Everyone within perished, of course, & were so badly burned that Shibasaki's body was never identified.

    Our men also took out pillboxes by "blowtorch & corkscrew" methods. The lucky enemies were blown up in their pillboxes by grenades or satchel charges, while the less-fortunate were incinerated by a flamethrower inserted into a firing slit or air shaft. They were given no chance to surrender; our men believed they'd always fight to the death. Thus, they were very-surprised when a few did surrender on both Saipan & Iwo Jima. (Usually, the only ones taken alive were badly wounded & unable to fight or found unconscious. That's not counting Korean or native laborers or "comfort women")
     
  15. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    On Okinawa, its Japanese commander, Gen. Ushijima, & his 2nd-in-command, Gen. Cho, prepared to commit seppuku when the battle was almost over. U asked Cho to survive, but Cho reminded him he was also a Samurai, and also would be hanged by the Chinese for the "rape of nanking", which he allowed to go on. Therefore, U firmly ordered his strategist, Col. Yahara, to survive & surrender to the enemy ASAP so someone would live to tell the Japanese side of the battle. Yahara did, disguising himself as a japanese English teacher, but later, a Marine recognized him & he became a POW. He was tried & quickly found not guilty of any war crime. He indeed co-authored a story about the Okinawa battle, living til 1981.
     
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  16. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    That's usually referred to as a figurehead. It would be hard to believe diehards would not feel serious humiliation, and the general population disillusionment.
     
  17. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    Brutality of war, which admittedly is most horrible, wasn't in mind, but rather its aftermath: treatment of POWs, civilians, etc.

    But are you suggesting the Japanese fighters in that case had no idea the Americans were there, but would have surrendered had they known and thus avoided such a fate? This parenthetical "(Usually, the only ones taken alive were badly wounded & unable to fight or found unconscious....)" would seem to argue against that.
     
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    They would stick the short sword into the stomach. Then the goal was to cut an L-shape with it. Your buddy would stand by with his katana (long sword) to cut off your head after you had done this--or if you looked like you were chickening out.
     
  19. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    A few were simply shot in the back of the head immediately after cutting themselves. However, Gens. Ushijima & Cho on Okinawa died in the traditional manner, having their heads amputated. But many a common soldier died by placing the muzzle of his rifle against the roof of his mouth & pulling the trigger with his big toe.

    Some 7K Japanese soldiers of various ranks surrendered on Okinawa; they pretty well realized the battle, and the war, were lost.
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Yeah, only the officers were allowed to have swords--not that the average PFC would want to carry around a big samurai sword through the jungle!

    Funny story. Pastor K., a good friend, had an uncle who had been a samurai and still had the sword. (Swords are very much regulated nowadays.) He used to get drunk, get his sword, and run through the house waving it around. The family would all have to run and hide. The the oldest son was allowed to take it with him to fight in WW2. Fighting in the war, he lost it somewhere, and the whole family breathed a sigh of relief!

    By the way, on a preaching trip to Okinawa years ago we were taken on a tour of the Japanese WW2 base in the tunnels, and were shown the room where the generals, or at least one of them, committed suicide.
     
    #20 John of Japan, Jul 12, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
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