Most discussions concerning the end of WWII focus on the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. Few modern people realize that on August 9, 1945, as agreed upon at the Yalta Conference in February, 1945, the Russian army launched operation August Storm which blasted into Japanese troops holding Manchuria and Korea. A new book by historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, argues “the Soviet entry into the war played a much greater role than the atomic bombs in inducing Japan to surrender because it dashed any hope that Japan could terminate the war through Moscow’s mediation.” The Emperor and the peace party within Japan realized if their country did not surrender to the US, Russia might land in their country and take possession of northern areas. It was a decision based on the concept of which was the lesser of two evils-the US or Russian forces pouring through Manchuria and Korea?
It is time to lay to rest how the atomic bomb was not necessary. In the words of Secretary of War Henry Stimson who hated the idea of using atomic bombs, they were the “least abhorrent choice of a dreadful array of options facing American leaders.” In the end, dreadful as it may sound, the bombs saved the lives of over a million Japanese people. These are not easy words to write, but they represent reality.