It was 1945, the prefecture of Okinawa had just fallen to a combined American force of 500,000 Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen. Ground troops went from initially 190,000 to 250,000 by the time Okinawa was declared secured.
The cost in blood was 12,500 dead Americans, 35,000 wounded. Of the roughly 90,000 Imperial Japanese troops, the Yanks killed almost every single one. Not so much due to Americans being bloodthirsty, but more so because the Japanese would literally fight to the death.
Sadly, what history largely ignores is that of the 300,000 Okinawan civilians, half that number were killed during the battle.
Granted, most of the Okinawans were killed when caught in the crossfire, but thousands upon thousands of the civilian population would commit suicide due to years of the Japanese brainwashing them that the Americans would butcher all the Okinawans after the battle.
Prior to the fall of Okinawa, Japanese colonizer families would commit suicide en mass during the Battle of Saipan during the summer of 1943. An estimated 1,000 Japanese mothers, fathers and children would kill themselves rather than surrendering to the American forces.
With the mere existence of the atomic program still uber top-secret, the top brass planned for Operation Downfall (two million American, British, Australian and New Zealand troops) to take place on the Japanese Home Islands starting in late 1945, to continue at least well into 1946-1947. Some military historians speculate that it might take until 1950 before the Home Islands would finally be pacified.
Both military planners as well as military historians estimate Allied deaths in the conquering of the Japanese Empire to be the low-end at 1.5 million dead, to the high-end of four million Allied dead.
Of course, with the dropping of Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Downfall (and any other plans for invading the Home Islands) were all called off.
The only other plan that may have been used was the aptly named Operation Starvation. Between the US Navy blockading the Home Islands, and the US Army Air Forces bombing from above, Japan would literally be starved into submission.
But back to what very well could have happened.
Operation Downfall was divided into two separate ops:
- Operation Olympic was slightly less than one million Allied troops attempting to take the southernmost of the Home Islands, Kyushu Island. Only half that number were ground troops. Besides one million Imperial Japanese troops, the civilian population of Kyushu was roughly 11.5 million.
- Operation Coronet was slightly more than one million Allied troops attacking the Kanto Plain of Japan’s main island of Honshu. Again, only half that number were ground troops. With the Tokyo government placing slightly more than one million Imperial troops on Honshu, the civilian population was estimated at roughly 70 million.
As seen in the video at the end of this article, Japan certainly was training their children to Banzai Charge into Marine and Army machine gun, rifle and artillery fire.
The Federation of American Scientists note;
The defensive plan called for the use of the Civilian Volunteer Corps, a mobilization not of volunteers but of all boys and men 15 to 60 and all girls and women 17 to 40, except for those exempted as unfit. They were trained with hand grenades, swords, sickles, knives, fire hooks, and bamboo spears.
One other sobering fact that many don’t want to talk about, the millions of Japanese civilians who would have committed suicide instead of living under Allied occupation.
Personally, I believe that both Operations Olympic and Coronet would have been defeated.
On Kyushu, I simply doubt that 500,000 ground troops could defeat 12.5 million troops and militia.
The same with Honshu. Half-a-million ground-pounders could never have defeated 71 million troops and militia.
Even if armed with only bamboo spears, claw-hammers and crude knives, the world would have seen Banzai charges of historical proportions.
I honestly am of the opinion that our troops would have been met on the beaches with wave after wave of suicide charges numbering well over 100,000 ready to die for Hirohito.
If you think the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) were brainwashed fanatics, the children of Japan made them look like absolute beginners.
But back to the question if the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justifiable.
On Kwajalein, the fatality rate for the Japanese force was 98.4 percent. On Saipan, almost 30,000—97 percent of the garrison—fought to the death. Of 23,000 Japanese troops on Iwo Jima, only 216 surrendered. On Okinawa, 92,0000—80 percent of the total Japanese force—was killed in action. During the entire Pacific War, only one organized Japanese unit ever surrendered: a 23-man “independent mixed battalion” in New Guinea in May 1945.
Adm. Takijiro Onishi, vice chief, Naval General Staff, was not alone in the astounding proposition that, “If we are prepared to sacrifice 20 million Japanese lives in a special attack effort, victory will be ours!”
In all seriousness, what makes anyone honestly think that Japanese Imperial forces and civilians alike wouldn’t be killed by the tens of millions?
From the very beginning of WWII, Japanese troops proved they would fight to the last. On Saipan and Okinawa, Japan’s fathers proved they would kill their wives and children before ultimately killing themselves.
When it comes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki becoming legitimate military targets, it wasn’t the Americans who militarized those cities, it was Japan.
It wasn’t the British who built arms factories in those cities, it was Japan.
It wasn’t the ANZACs who stationed thousands upon thousands of Imperial troops (Second Imperial Army) in and around Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was Japan.
But what the Allies did do was drop hundreds of thousands of warning leaflets on Japan warning them to evacuate militarized cities;
Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war.
Unfortunately bomb have no eyes so in accordance with Americas humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives.
America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war.
We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately!
A second set of leaflets warned;
You are destroying your homeland. America with its extensive resources and unlimited factories for production of armaments is winning this war. The Japanese know that.
Already your inner defense line closer to your homeland like the Mariana Islands has been breached. Until a year ago, the closest US base to Japan was Pearl Harbor. Today, we have bases close to Japan for bombing runs.
America has already bombed Kyushi several times. Cities such as Yawata, Moji, Nagasaki, Sasebo, Fujuoka have been bombed. As long as you continue this useless resistance, we will continue to bomb Japanese cities!
As the second video shows, President Truman actually took to the airwaves to warn Japan that one of their cities was already nuked, America would continue with atomic warfare until Japan surrendered.
From where I stand, it looks like America had only three options, from most horrific to least horrific;
- Invade the Japanese Home Islands, ensuring millions of dead Allied troops and tens of millions of dead Japanese.
- Blockade and bomb Japan into surrender. Very few dead Allied troops, but tens of millions of Japanese men, women and children starved to death.
- Drop two small yield atomic weapons on two militarized small Japanese cities. No Allied deaths, but 200,000 Japanese troops and civilians killed.
If Japan was serious in the least on peace… then why did it take two atomic bombs?