The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: necessary evil or just evil?

By Lee Mesika
 Hulton Archive / Stringer
In August 1945, the decision was made to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, causing two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to become synonymous with nuclear, and in fact, human aptitude for destruction. Given the atrocious war it brought to a halt, historians are still divided over the question: was this act necessary evil or just evil.
Here are three reasons for and against the bombing.


Justified Evil


Ended the war

 August 15th, 1945. Japan announces their surrender from the war. This was just 6 days after the Nagasaki bombing, and 9 days after the bombing of Hiroshima.

After the Postdam Declaration (Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender) the Japanese war council could not reach a consensus regarding whether or not to surrender the war. America decided to drop the bombs and could have had 3 more atomic bombs ready by August 19th, 1945. However, Emperor Hirohito was pushed by the destructive bombings to break the deadlock within the war council and agree to the terms of the declaration.


Nuclear Disarmament programs

 This was the first time nuclear weapons were put to use in actual combat. It was also the last time since it showed the world just how devastating they are

After the war many nuclear disarmament movements and councils rose with the purpose of banning these Weapons of mass destrucion. These organizations lead to treaties being signed and sanctions being placed against countries around the world in order to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.


Saved Lives

 By dropping the bombs on the two cities many believe that hundreds of thousands, even millions, of lives were saved. Lets look at the results of a B-29 incendiary raid over Tokyo. One of these raids (there were a few) killed about 125,000 people! Two of these raids were equivalent to the amount of casualties resulted from the atomic bombs, and if the war hadn’t ended there would have been more raids.

In the Postdam Declaration, the countries against Japan stated that if Japan wont surrender it will face “prompt and utter destruction.” This could have meant more air raids, more bombs, even a land invasion (resulting in far more casualties on both sides.) The 250,000 casualties sacrificed could have easily reached millions if the atomic bombs weren’t dropped.


Pure Evil


Oh, the humanity

The bombs devastated completely both Japanese cities. In Hiroshima, nearly 92% of the structures in the city had been either destroyed or damaged by blast and fire. These weren’t the only impacts these bombs had. The death toll was enormous, with numbers estimated above a quarter of a million casualties. For the survivors of the bombing was just as bad as the bombing itself. Many died in the upcoming weeks as a result of the radiation.  It is said that about half of the deaths came in the upcoming weeks/years and not necessarily the day of the bombing.

For those who did survive, many types of illnesses and cancers developed after the bombing.



War should be fought between armies, not civilians, but this event’s the death toll tells a different tale.

Hiroshima: The estimate of casualties resulting from dropping “Little Boy” stand around 80,000 instant civilian deaths. In addition, around 20,000 Japanese soldiers were killed as a result of the bombing.

Nagasaki: The death toll is estimated between 40,000-80,000.

The total amount of deaths is said to be over 260,000 people with civilians outnumbering soldiers 6 to 1. The number of civilians killed is unreasonable in relation to the number of soldiers killed.


Cold War

 After World War 2, tensions rose between the USA and the Soviet Union. These tensions are still visible today, even with the fall of USSR. It is believed that the US used the bomb to show the Soviets their strength. This ended up backfiring on the Americans, leading to an arms race in which the Soviets were able to build a bomb of their own by 1949.



The Bottom Line

Many believe that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were inhuman, but then again war itself is inhuman, and the bombings ended it. Do you think the bombing was an act of evil, or was this evil necessary?

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