In this special issue, we look from multiple viewpoints at the conventional and atomic attacks on Japanese cities to end the Asia-Pacific war.
In the spring of 1945, American bombing raids destroyed much of Tokyo and dozens of other Japanese cities, killing at least 200,000 people, without forcing a surrender.
As defeat became inevitable in the summer of 1945, Japan's government and the Allies could not agree on surrender terms, especially regarding the future of Emperor Hirohito and his throne.
U.S. military leaders drew up elaborate plans to invade Japan, with estimates of American casualties ranging as high as two to four million, given the terrible losses at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Leaders in Tokyo alone controlled when the war would end, but the regime's political structure was so complex that it crippled rational decision-making.
American leaders called the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki our 'least abhorrent choice,' but there were alternatives to the nuclear attacks.
When judging the morality of the use of atomic weapons in World War II, observers typically focus on Japanese deaths, while ignoring the far-larger number of non-Japanese casualties.
The U.S. government managed to hide the magnitude of what happened in Hiroshima until John Hersey’s story appeared in the New Yorker, driving home the truth about America’s new mega-weapon.