invade Japan through Operation Downfall beginning with an invasion of the

Invade japan through operation downfall beginning

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invade Japan through Operation Downfall, beginning with an invasion of the southernmost island of Kyushu in October 1945. In terms of the operation, there were numerous estimates as to the potential U.S. casualties. President Truman received estimates from General MacArthur that upwards of 31,000 U.S. casualties could be expected within the first thirty days. However, other estimates, particularly by the Joint Chiefs, projected casualties to reach almost seven times higher. This is a far cry from the estimate of millions of casualties which has been bandied about in the contemporary media. Nevertheless, Operation Downfall posed a definitive risk to U.S. soldiers. At the same time, alternatives to both the bomb and the invasion were discussed by the Interim Committee established to advise the manner in which nuclear weapons should be employed against Japan. During these meetings, the Committee discussed three specific alternatives: 1. Intensifying conventional bombing and the naval blockade - General MacArthur felt that air power alone could force a Japanese surrender within six months with little risk to American lives. However, it was also argued that this may be a best case scenario where in actuality it could take substantially longer. 2. Allowing the Japanese to retain the Emperor - This plan was predicated on mitigating the call for unconditional surrender by Japan. Both Secretary of War Stimson and Acting Secretary of State Grew felt that
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this was an essential policy because of the dedication and fanaticism of the Japanese people towards the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese believed to be a deity. 3. Waiting for the Soviet Union to enter the war - This had been a primary objective of President Roosevelt in his negotiations with the Soviet Union at the Yalta Conference. Nevertheless, the Committee believed that a Soviet invasion of Manchuria would be helpful but not decisive by itself. In the summer of 1945, there was a distinctly changing dynamic within Japan. The war had already taken a great toll not just on the Japanese military but also on its entire domestic infrastructure. Japan’s chief cabinet secretary reported in April 1945 that “transportation, shipping, communications, and industry had been so sharply curtailed that the national economy would grind to a virtual standstill,” factors that he predicted would become acute by the end of the year. The destruction of Japanese cities through the repeated raids by U.S. B- 29’s, had caused conditions in Japan to diminish with an evaporating food supply and decreasing public morale. As General Robert Eichelberger, a lieutenant of General MacArthur, wrote on July 24 of that year, “a great many people, probably 50%, feel that Japan is about to fold up.” In addition, the alternative idea of modifying unconditional surrender could have proved effective as well. By
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  • Fall '16
  • MARK ESTANISLAO

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