mcclain - they endured one final mobilization On e 13 1945...

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Unformatted text preview: they endured one final mobilization. On e 13, 1945, the gov; ved the lRAA so that all civ' ' n men aged fifteen to sixty teen to forty cou oin units of the People's Patriotic ' formed in their neighborhoods and at aced under army command, those civilian rude bamboo staves, and dug pillboxes for themselves al g the coast to pre for the American invasion ex- pected that um. All Japanese, according t the chilling calculus of the new off' ' slogan, were now to come together as the lchioku 'l okko, the ”One Hundred Million Strong Special Attack Corps.” Cam eminent and all women se Volunteer Corps, whic their places of employmen units trained together, Surrender The American invasion of Okinawa brought foreign troops onto Japanese soil and the senior statesmen recognized that it was time to seek an end to ‘ I hostilities. The army, however, refused to be a party to any such consen- sus. The previous year a surprisingly effective ground campaign against Chi- ang Kai-shek's forces had brought several additional provinces under 1: Japanese control and reinforced the army's sense of dignity and resolve. By the time the Americans came ashore on Okinawa, events in the China the- ater were no longer emcial to the outcome of the Greater East Asia War, but the army still had 5.5 million men in uniform, and it preferred to fight 1 to the bitter end than to agree to any surrender that might, from its view- . point threaten Japan's future integrity or jeopardize the continued existence of the imperial institution. Confronted with the army's intransigence, the senior statesmen in late April 1945 advised the emperor to accept the res- ‘ ignation of Prime Minister Koiso and appoint Suzuki Kantaro to head a ‘. peacecabinet. The retired admiral enjoyed the confidence of the emperor— Z Suzuki's wife, Taka, had been the monarch's wet nurse, while Suzuki him- self had served as grand Chamberlain from 1929 until l936—and the senior statesmen hoped that Suzuki could use his prestige to bring the army to ,' heel. The advocates of a negotiated settlement had been seeking out one an- " other for a considerable time. Even as Japan's military ranked up victories in i942, Yoshida Shigcru and several important members of the inner cir< - cle of bureaucratic and business elites covertly discussed the possibility of initiating a peace dialogue with the United States. As a former ambassador ‘1 to Great Britain in the 19305 Yoshida had regarded cooperation with those two powers as essential for Japanese security, and like other members of jawed l“ NCClQiM.;M r WW Mm“! “0 27 the Anglo—American clique within the prewar Foreign Ministry, he was staunchly anti—Communist. His fears ran in two directions. On the one hand, the longer the war continued, he believed, the more likely it became that Tojo's organizational controls and centralized economic planning would end , up turning Japan into a Communist—style state. On the other hand, Yoshida : was not seduced by Japan's early successes in the Greater East Asia War. He predicted ultimate defeat, and he worried that in the subsequent chaos a revolutionary movement might arise within the nation and destroy its tra- j ditional polity. Thus, be calculated, Japan ought to negotiate a gentlemanly settlement with the Americans, who, he believed, would grant generous 5 peace terms. Yoshida drew around himself a circle of like—minded individuals, dubbed the “YOHANSEN,” an acronym for ”Yoshida AntidWar,” by the police who monitored their activities. Associated with the clandestine YOHANSEN were such luminaries as the former prime minister Wakatsuki Reijiro, the retired managing director of the Mitsui zailmtsu lkeda Seihin, and ev'en the moody I, and unpredictable Konoe Fumimaro. Originally, Konoe had conceived of his New Order in East Asia as a bulwark against both Communism and Western imperialism, but in the middle years of the war he modulated his , critique of the United States. Increasingly, in the teeter-totter of his mind, ., the three-time prime minister became obsessed with a dread that the dete- riorating war situation would somehow enable Communists supposedly hid- den within the army, lRAA, and universities to concoct a revolution inJapan. With Yoshida’s support, Konoe prepared a lengthy memorial and arranged to present it to the emperor on February 14, I945. In his presen- :1 tation, Konoe called the emperor's attention to the Soviet Union's successes in the European war and suggested ”the considerable danger that the So- . viet Union will eventually intervene in Japan's domestic affairs."H More- over, the prince warned the emperor, on the “domestic scene I see all the conditions necessary to bring about a communist revolution": declining liv- ing standards, labor unrest, "a pro-Soiriet mood,” and ”the secret maneuvers . of leftist elements who are manipulating this from behind.” The greatest ‘9 danger, Konoe hinted darkly, came from the ”many young military men who seem to believe that our kokutai and communism can coexist.” The only - way to save the situation, he counseled, was to end the war "as soon as .7, possible.” Konoe's morese fears about Japan's fate did not spur the emperor to ac- . tion in February, but in the spring, when Suzuki became prime minister, i Konoe again materialized to offer his advice and service. With Japan en- . circled and its cities increasingly devastated, Suzuki and other moderates within his cabinet decided to ask the Soviet Union to broker a settlement with the United States, just as the United States itself had extended its good offices to mediate a peace agreement between Japan and Russia a genera- tion earlier. In June the emperor signaled his support for the plan, thus in- dicting that he now desired to find an honorable way to end hostilities. Even though the Kremlin turned aside Japan's initial overtures, Suzuki re- mained hopeful, and in early July the prime minister asked Konoe to carry to Moscow a personal letter from the emperor stating His Majesty's heart- felt hopes for peace, an assignment the prince agreed to after a private meet- ing with the monarch. Before Konoe could complete his arrangements to travel to Moscow, however, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman gathered at Potsdam, Germany, to discussJapan's surrender. The American president was aware ofJapan's peace feelers, but he doubted their sincerity anddid not suggest pursuing them. Nor was Truman inclined to show any mercy toward Japan, especially af- ter he received news of the successful test explosion of an atomic device at Alamogordo, New Mexico. On July 26 the Allies issued the Potsdam Dec- laration, demanding that Japan surrender “unconditionally" or face utter de- struction. The declaration further called upon the Japanese government to purge itself of its militarist leaders, disarm its military, limit its sovereignty to the territorial borders established at the beginning of the Meiji period, and accept an Allied occupation of the country. Nothing was said about the fate of the emperor, the foundation of Japan‘s revered kofeutm'. Suzuki was in a bind. The army still was determined to fight to the end. Moreover, no matter how much some members of the cabinet were inclined toward peace, they could not bring themselves to accept an open-ended surrender that would permit a foreign army of occupation to dismantle the imperial system and to indict Japan’s reigning monarch as a common war criminal if it so chose. Suzuki, fearful that he would provoke Truman fur- ther if he rejected the Potsdam terms outright, announced that Japan sim- ply would "ignore” the declaration. It was an unfortunate choice of words by the seventy—eight-year-old prime minister, his exact expression, “mokusatsu,” carried the nuance of ”to treat with silent contempt," and Truman responded by hurling unrestrained violence against a Japan that already was teetering on the brink of collapse. On July 24 Truman authorized the US. Army Strategic Air Forces to use a "special bomb" against Japan if Suzuki rejected the Potsdam Declaration. With the war in Europe over and his country longing to return to the normal rou- tines of life, the American chief executive was determined to end hostilities in the Pacific as quickly as possible. In addition to avoiding the further loss of American lives, the president had an eye on Russia. The Soviets were muster- ing forces along Manchukuo‘s borders and across the straits from Hokkaido, and if Truman could end the Pacific war before Russia entered it, he would foreclose the possibility of a divided Japan and thus escape the sorts of prob- lems that a partitioned Germany already was posing for postwar Europe. Moreover, Truman was new to his office, and the project leading to the production of the atomic bomb had built up its own relentless momentum. Everyone involved expected the bomb to be used,- that was why America had expended so much money and effort to develop it. Truman, still unsure of his presidential footing, saw no good reason to question that assumption or to consider at length alternatives to dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese, such as setting off a demonstration blast over a deserted island or simply waiting for the combined effects of continued firebombings and an American naval blockade to persuade Japan to surrender. Additionally, he screened Out any moral qualms he might have had about using the new weapon, he simply was employing the best available technology to end a horrible war on the soonest possible day. “Let there be no mistake about it,” he wrote, “I regarded the bomb as a military weapon and never had any doubt that it should be used."12 Later Truman and his advisers claimed that using the atomic bomb saved lives. In I947 Harry L. Stimson, secretary of war under Roosevelt and Tru- man, contributed a special essay to Harper's Magazine that became the ad- ministration's official, approved version of events. An invasiOn of Kyushu in the fall of 1945 followed by landings on Honshfl the next spring, Stimson wrote, would have "cost over a million casualties, to American forces alone."13 The secretary apparently pulled that number out of thin air, how- ' ever, for army estimates submitted to Truman in July 1945 predicted that the projected landing on Kyushu would result in a maximum of 33,500 Amer- icans killed, wounded, or missing. Against that number of US military _ losses, Truman knew that when his air force dropped the new atomic bomb over an undefended Japanese city, the explosion "would inflict damage and casualties beyond imagination." Yet, in a war in which few people any longer regarded the other side as fellow human beings, Truman and Stimson judged such sacrifice to be reasonable and acceptable. At eight-fifteen on the morning of August 6, a single 3-29, Enola Gay, ’ dropped "a special bomb," 9.8 feet long and 2.3 feet in diameter, on the men, women, and children of Hiroshima. The atomic device exploded about six- teen hundred feet aboveground, and the temperature at the hypocenter be- " low reached more than seven thousand degrees Fahrenheit. Everything within a mile-and-a-quarter radius of the eruption burned, and all within that killing circle who were exposed to the heat waves died, their skin and internal or- gans ruptured by the incredible temperatures. A wall of shock waves spread out from the epicenter at the speed of sound, obliterating concrete buildings, blowing apart wooden structures, and tearing limbs from bodies. Radiation was everywhere. Firestorms ravaged the city, and moisture collecting on ris- ing ash came back to earth as radioactive “black rain.” There are no accurate figures for the number of dead at Hiroshima, although a 1977 government estimate set the number at between 130,000 and l40,()()0. On August 8 Foreign Ministry monitors picked up a Soviet radio broad- cast announcing that country's intent to declare war on Japan and to invade Manchuria, the Kuril lslands, and Korea. Just before noon on the following day, August 9, the Americans dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki and killed another 60,000 to 70,000,- in all, nearly 500,000 civilians now had perished in the bombing ofJapanese cities. Through all that travail and agony, the army minister and the army and navy chiefs of staff refused to endorse Suzuki's pleas for surrender. Total defeat, they contended, still might be avoided somehow, and further resistance might yet win from the Americans a guarantee for the throne’s postwar existence. On the night of August 9—10 and again on the morning of August 14, Suzuki convened imperial conferences and asked the emperor to intervene and break the deadlock between the prime minister and the military. Each time the emperor spoke on behalf of peace, and in the second meeting he in— structed the military to comply with his wishes. That evening he affixed his Victims of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima I" a an .. at. x ”in. ‘?A \- ‘éf’. . \‘gg‘ 'rqhq- seal to a rescript ending the war and then recorded the text for broadcast the next day. At noon on August 15 Japanese families huddled around their ra- dios at home or gathered in front of loudspeakers hooked to a single village receiver to listen to the emperor's words. It was the first time in Japanese his- tory that the semidivine monarch spoke directly to his subjects, and many had difficulty understanding his somewhat archaic phrasing as he praised the ideals for which the people ofJapan had fought and suffered and then called upon them to "endure the unendurable” and accept defeat in order "to pave the way for a grand peace for all the future generations to come." Across the war-weary country all Japanese, those who had welcomed the Greater East Asia War and those who had suffered its terrible conse- quences, contemplated the emperor's message about the nation's future. In Tokyo Vice Admiral Cnishi, reassigned to the navy general staff, had spent the final hours of the war arguing that surrender was unthinkable. After lis- tening to the emperor's broadcast, Onishi returned to his home and wrote an open letter to the youth of Japan. He expressed his appreciation to the spirits of the dead pilots of his inspiration, the Special Attack Corps, apol- ogized for his failure to achieve victory, and called upon the nation's youth to abide by the emperor's words and strive for peace throughout the world. Cnishi then unsheathed his sword and disemboweled himself with tradi- tional crosswise cuts to the stomach. As he lay dying, his blood washing over the tatami flooring, he wrote a final poem: Refreshed and clear, the moon now shines After the fearful stomi.l4 Three hundred miles away, in the ancient city of Kyoto, Kawakami Ha- jime too listened to the emperor's words. Arrested for joining the under- ground Communist Party in the 19305, his health broken in jail, the renowned academic economist and political activist emerged from his self- imposed seclusion to write two poems: Ah, such happiness, At somehow living long enough To see this rare day When the fighting has ceased. Now I, too, Will crawl out of my sickbed To see the light In the sky that is clearing.'5 ...
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