The debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki concerns the ethical, legal and military controversies surrounding the United States' atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August 1945 at the close of the Second World War (1939–45).
On 26 July 1945, the United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. This ultimatum stated if Japan did not surrender, she would face "prompt and utter destruction." Some debaters focus on the presidential decision-making process, and others on whether or not the bombings were the proximate cause of Japanese surrender.
Over the course of time, different arguments have gained and lost support as new evidence has become available and as new studies have been completed. However, a primary and continuing focus has been on the role of the bombings in Japan's surrender and the U.S.'s justification for them based upon the premise the bombings precipitated the surrender. This remains the subject of both scholarly and popular debate. In 2005, for example, in an overview of historiography about the matter, J. Samuel Walker wrote, "the controversy over the use of the bomb seems certain to continue." Walker stated, "The fundamental issue that has divided scholars over a period of nearly four decades is whether the use of the bomb was necessary to achieve victory in the war in the Pacific on terms satisfactory to the United States."
Supporters of the bombings generally assert they caused the Japanese surrender, preventing massive casualties on both sides in the planned invasion of Japan: Kyūshū was to be invaded in October 1945 and Honshū five months later. It was thought Japan would not surrender unless there was an overwhelming demonstration of destructive capability.
Those who oppose the bombings argue it was simply an extension of the already fierce conventional air raids on Japan and, therefore, militarily unnecessary, inherently immoral, a war crime, or a form of state terrorism. At least one historian states that the Soviet declaration of war on Japan had more of an effect than the two nuclear bombings (cf. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa).
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... A further argument, discussed under the rubric of "atomic diplomacy" and advanced in a 1965 book of that name by Gar Alperovitz, is that the bombings had as primary purpose to intimidate the Soviet ...
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