Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job

On August 6th, the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima.

On August 9th, Bockscar took off for Nagasaki.

Bock’s Car crew photo Source: Wikipedia


They both delivered the psychological blows to the Japanese leadership necessary to allowed them to surrender.

It took;

1) Two Atom bomb strikes, and

2) The destruction of the Imperial Japanese Manchurian Army by the Soviets (See August Storm: Soviet Tactical and Operational Combat in Manchuria, 1945 and August Storm: Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria, by David Glantz.),

…to shock the IJA generals into inaction for long enough so Emperor Hirohito could surrender to the Allies over the armed objections of IJA junior officers.

Lacking either of those factors, and America would have had to conduct a genocidal campaign of extermination against the Japanese people.

Point in fact, the USAAF has already destroyed more urban space and killed more Japanese in the Tokyo firebombings than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The USAAF was also starving the Japanese people via it’s aerial B-29 mining campaign and was set to go after Japan’s railroads, which would have destroyed remaining Japanese urban food distribution.

Yet the IJA was still raring to fight on.

The Japanese military had in all but name turned into a death cult that was set to consume millions.

The Japanese Emperor Hirohito knew from his viewing of the aftermath of the B-29 firbombing raid of Tokyo that if he allowed the irrational Samurai death cult military leaders running his government to fight to the end, the Japanese people would turn against the institution of the emperor.

Too paraphrase Mel Brooks in the movie “Blazing Saddles,” our air power made the continuation of the war “a threat to his phony baloney job.”

The following history cites on Japanese leadership thinking are from wikipedia but their sources check out:

1) “We gotta save out phony baloney jobs” —

a) In February 1945, Prince Fumimaro Konoe gave to Emperor Hirohito a memorandum analyzing the situation, and told Hirohito that if the war continued, the Imperial house might be in greater danger from an internal revolution than from defeat.

b) On June 9, the Emperor’s confidant, Marquis Kōichi Kido, wrote a “Draft Plan for Controlling the Crisis Situation,” warning that by the end of the year, Japan’s ability to wage modern war would be extinguished and the government would be unable to contain civil unrest. “… We cannot be sure we will not share the fate of Germany and be reduced to adverse circumstances under which we will not attain even our supreme object of safeguarding the Imperial Household and preserving the national polity.”

2) Strategic bombing did it —

“Fundamentally the thing that brought about the determination to make peace was the prolonged bombing by the B-29s.
— Prince Fumimaro Konoe

Further, Japanese Emperor Hirohito knew that he was running out of time. The Japanese Army gave orders in July 1945 that it was going to lock him up when the British landed in Malaya on September 9 1945 via Operation Zipper , at which point there would not have been any surrender. America would have had to kill most of the Japanese military. Which would have happened. Because the IJA had also already issued orders to all their foreign commands, to be executed when the British invaded Malaya, to execute:

All Allied prisoners of war;
All interned Allied civilians;
All other Allied civilians they could catch in China, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. (Though the IJA in the Philippines was mostly too busy trying to survive being hunted down by the US Eighth Army.)

This is from Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb by George Feifer, and states at page 573:

“After the fall of Okinawa, Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchin issued an order directing his prison camp officers to kill all their captives the moment the enemy entered his southeast Asia theater. That would have been when those 200,000 British landed to retake Singapore, less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender. There was a real chance that Terauchi’s order would have been carried out, in case up to 400,000 people would have been massacred.”

Allied signals intelligence (MAGIC) intercepted and decoded the mid-to-late July 1945 order from Imperial General Headquarters (GHQ) to Terauchi to prepare for this. Emperor Hirohito knew this through his sources on the GHQ staff. General Marshall and the other Americans joint chiefs of staff would have read that intercept before Hirohito’s sources would have told him.

This shaped American end the war strategy in a number of ways, including alternatives for Japanese invasion under clouds
of poison gas, if the bombs had failed. See here, See here , and See here.

If the planned September 1945 Imperial Japanese military coup against Hirohito had succeeded, the Imperial Japanese Army would have killed at least an additional 50 million people, more than had died in all of World War Two to that point, before Allied armies could eliminate Japanese forces overseas.

It took the triple shock of two a-bombs and the Russian invasion to let Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Suzuki pull off the surrender over the leaders of the militarist death cult.

What motivated the Emperor was wanting to stay Emperor and that motivation came from the bomb bays of B-29’s.

The Japanese really required the use of two A-bombs to get them to surrender.

In the decades since then, the American military has specialized in information and high-energy warfare, and it wins wars by exploiting our advantages in those arenas against an organized enemy’s weakest point – their leadership’s desire to stay in power.

Japan wasn’t the only time America has used air power to break a totalitarian enemy’s National Command Authority — its leadership.

America can, and repeatedly has, attacked an organized enemy’s National Command Authority and its public’s will to resist directly. This is called air power whacking the opposing regime’s ability to stay in power plus the civil infrastructure. Sometimes it has been allowed to do so full. Ask Slobodan Milosevic concerning the 1999 Air War in Kosovo and Serbia.

Sometimes not — See Vietnam and North Korea

Yet the lesson is the same. The best place to fight an enemy is on their own territory, i.e., bomb the snot out of their leadership and civil infrastructure that keeps them in power.

Grab their leadership by the balls — their power — and their armed forces will obey.

This is a lesson of history the American people need to know and remember.

Update Note:
A dead link to a Seattle Times article on Tojo’s diaries showing his willingness to fight on even after both A-bombs were dropped was replaced with a link from with the same AP story.

5 thoughts on “Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job”

  1. I agree with this with the proviso that the submarine blockade had set the scene long before the Air Corps had the planes and the bases to take over.

    A second point is that the second atomic bomb was necessary because Hirohito’s nuclear bomb project scientists informed him that we could not have enough U 235 for a second bomb. Then, Nagasaki happened. That was the plutonium bomb which they had not anticipated. They were right about the U 235. That is why the “demonstration” theory is bogus. We had to drop both bombs.

  2. I think we have to pay close attention to the role that profound self-delusion plays in shaping the actions of authoritarian leadership.

    The entire Japanese war strategy was predicated on the premise that America would not be willing to sacrifice the lives needed to dislodge Japan from its empire. Throughout the war, the high command wildly exaggerated, to themselves, American losses in lives and material. They were convinced for example, that they had sunk more than 20 heavy carriers. They believed that each Japanese soldier was killing several Americans before dying and that therefore the island battles of the central Pacific had claimed hundreds of thousands of American lives.

    Worse, most of the major political decisions were being made by secret societies of officers whose members had never faced American firepower. They spent years living in an echo chamber of their own delusions. Even has Japan’s great cities burned down around them, they were incapable of developing a realistic grasp of the situation.

    Hirohito was never the puppet that post-war propaganda made him but neither was he primary driver of Japanese Imperial politics. He was carefully controlled since birth and always mindful that he could be replaced by his brother and son. He himself came to the thrown after his own father was declared insane possibly driven so by attempting to oppose powerful interest. Hirohito had to go along to survive. As noted in the parent, the Army was planning on making him a prisoner.

    Even after the atomic bomb and Stalin’s attack against them, the core drivers of war, the young officers, were committed to continuing the war. Hirohito exploited narrow window of opportunity and managed to speak to the nation before the young officers could stop him.

    Threatening Hirohito personally and through him the dynasty did not end the war. He would have ended it long before. Instead, we ended the war creating a de facto alliance with the sane Japanese against the insane. That was helped by the fact that we had managed to kill about 60% of officer corp.

    The lesson here is that often the people who begin wars are so far gone in delusion that you simply have to kill them to end the war.

  3. >>>So, the last part is really about Iran?

    No, it about our own delusions.

    Our current Ruling elites cannot admit that overwhelming military force can provide lasting political solutions to problems.

  4. Shannon,

    Tojo was not a junior officer. Nor was Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi. They were both part of a cultural/political/military officer class “in group,” whose cultural norms turned them into a functioning death cult under pressure.

    Tojo wrote this on 10 August 1945:

    On Aug. 10 — the day after the Nagasaki bombing — Tojo wrote that the purpose of the war was to “maintain stability in East Asia and defend our country.”

    “Many soldiers and the people cannot bring themselves to die until the goal is achieved,” he wrote.


    …The notes buttress other evidence that Tojo was fiercely opposed to surrender despite the hopelessness of Japan’s war effort.

    “We now have to see our country surrender to the enemy without demonstrating our power up to 120 percent,” Tojo wrote on Aug. 13, 1945, just two days before Japan gave up. “We are now on a course for a humiliating peace, or rather a humiliating surrender.”

    It took a great deal of American unlimited, ruthless, mass killing and destruction to induce the cultural shock necessary for Hirohito to get a Japanese surrender over the death cult’s objections.

    Why I mention this is to point out the contrast with how we are treating our Islamist enemies today in the post-Hiroshima and post-Vietnam era compared to 1945 Japan.

    The “Vietnam and Hiroshima guilt” that the western Leftist elites feel means that every time they are involved an decision by the West and particularly America to use force. They make sure that the force appied is both the last and insufficiently applied resort, i.e. ineffective.

    This Western ruling class cultural norm, and those of our Islamist death cult opponents, are leading to a world-historical process that will be genocidal in scope.

    I call this process “Incrementalism on the Road to Hell.”

    It not only a historical process, it is a destination.

    The “Destination” being the United States using _a lot of nukes_ to finally and forever deal with the problem of Islamist terrorism by reducing large portions of the Arab Muslim world (and perhaps selected Muslim cultures in places like Pakistan) to subsistence agriculture.

    There are numerous sign posts and various routes to that final destination.

    The key thing about “Incrementalism on the Road to Hell” is that it always involves the USA using less force than it should for reasons involving political correctness and fecklessness. Thus convincing our Islamist enemies that they can “take it,” and out last us, while being the terrorist death cult thugs they are.

    Israel’s battlefield behavior in Lebanon and Gaza has blazed the way in this regard.

    Bush’s (in)actions on Iran’s nuclear program and Obama’s fecklessness on Afghanistan are more sign posts on the same path.

    America will eventually resort to genocidal force against all of crazies, but it won’t be done the first time the Islamists crazies use WMDs.

    WMD use will most likely happen in the form of several increasingly awful pulses of Islamist terrorist WMD attacks outside America and with Western increasingly massive conventional and then finally WMD response.

    The major future crux point will be the difference in the degree of America’s initial WMD response after being subject to a major WMD attack at home. The response will differ greatly depending on whether it is before or _after_ years of frustrating combat in the Middle East and South Asia.

    If America is hit before lots of protracted frustration, IMO the initial response will be more limited and less civilization busting, i.e. ineffective.

    If it happens _after_ the American people have lost patience with crazy Arabs and Islamist Muslims in general, our first response will be genocidal against the most likely perpetrator and/or the most offensive/dangerous terror states.

    And in 5-10 years terrorists will IMO have the capability of making repeated WMD strikes on America, which is precisely my scenario for America fully uncorking against all plausible suspect countries — the currently known “usual suspects” of Iran, Syria, and Pakistan pluss who ever joins them between now and then.

    But either way, we’ll be on the road to hell at that point, and there won’t be any getting off.

    It will end with mass nuclear slaughter as I envisage – the question is how much. IMO that will depend on our degree of success in remaking the Middle East and South Asia as of the point when we’re hit at home.

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