Did the US have to use nuclear weapons to achieve Japan's unconditional surrender?

Perspective Writers' Votes
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The U.S. had to use nuclear weapons to achieve its goal of Japan unconditionally surrendering.

Pros
Cons
  • Only the use of nuclear weapons gave Japan a legitimate reason to surrender while keeping face. This would not have been the case with conventional bombing.

  • The use of nuclear weapons was necessary to limit civilian and military human costs. If the U.S. stuck with conventional military strategies, many more lives would have been lost.

  • Only the use of nuclear bombs could convince Japan to surrender and thus was necessary.

  • The targets of the nuclear bombs were selected by a desire to test the technical effects of the nuclear bombs, rather than by military necessity.

  • The nuclear bombing was unnecessary because it did not alter the Japanese leadership's perception of the threat that America was posing to them.

  • The bomb(s) were also dropped, in part, out of racial prejudices against the Japanese people, which had escalated in American society following the attack of Pearl Harbor.

  • The bombs were not dropped out of necessity to end the war, but rather to justify the $2 billion cost of the Manhattan Project.

  • Dropping the nuclear bomb on a side that is not a civilian target would have sufficed to induce unconditional surrender.

  • There was no pressing military need for dropping atomic bombs on Japan.

  • Japan would have surrendered, irrespective of the use of nuclear weapons, because the Soviet Union joined the war.

  • The bombing was a diplomatic tactic in negotiating with the Soviets and had little implication for Japan.

  • The US was aware of the Japanese intention to - nearly unconditional - surrender since they decoded a communication on a mediating request by Japan to Moscow on July 11.