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Contrary to popular opinion, the nuclear bombing was not really necessary in order to end the war.

Japan was considering surrender from quite some time under some condition linked to the Emperor. But they wished to do so the most honorably possible. One of their hopes was to use diplomatically the USSR against the USA in order to have a better bargaining position. They still had a major army in Mandchoukouo.

USA wished an unconditionnal surrender, but they knew that the japanese would surrender to one of these two conditions : 1 - Keeping the Emperor in power and not putting him in trial. 2 - Military invasion by the USSR of the continental part of the japanese territories.

Then remember that from the japanese point of view there is few difference between a city destroyed by one bomb or by thousands (americans already got air domination over Japan).

Actually, most of the americans chiefs of staff were against the use of nuclear bombs, because they knew it had no real military value in this case. The soviets agreed few monthes before to attack the japanese.

So now that you can see that military considerations are at best secondary, let's think about why the bombs have been used. The main objective was both to test the bombs in a real war, and to frighten the soviets. Do not forget that allied forces thought about the "Unthinkable operation".

If you want to give a good show of force to the world, you need to do a maximum damage on an undamaged target. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were such nice targets. Bonus point, they were also strategic targets as explained by others answers. The destruction of these cities was military pointless, but it would have been useful in a hypotetically and over-emphasized Japan ground invasion.

USA is a democracy, so the bombardments had to be presented as a necessary evil in order to prevent a greater evil. So hitting Tokyo would have been a bad idea, because they needed the political surrender.

Note that, not all parts of the USA state or high level military officers would have known about all these elements. So most of the plans quoted in other answers are legitimate.

Somes sources : Source 1 Source 2 Opposition of american military Debate sources Source 5

As you will see, the main reason Japan was pursuing the war, was because the americans offered peace terms that was knowingly unacceptable to the japanese. Therefore the responsability of hundreds of thousands of americans dead in a full scale invasion would have lied in Washington. Because an unconditionnal surrender would have mattered more...

Contrary to popular opinion, the nuclear bombing was not really necessary in order to end the war.

Japan was considering surrender from quite some time under some condition linked to the Emperor. But they wished to do so the most honorably possible. One of their hopes was to use diplomatically the USSR against the USA in order to have a better bargaining position. They still had a major army in Mandchoukouo.

USA wished an unconditionnal surrender, but they knew that the japanese would surrender to one of these two conditions : 1 - Keeping the Emperor in power and not putting him in trial. 2 - Military invasion by the USSR of the continental part of the japanese territories.

Then remember that from the japanese point of view there is few difference between a city destroyed by one bomb or by thousands (americans already got air domination over Japan).

Actually, most of the americans chiefs of staff were against the use of nuclear bombs, because they knew it had no real military value in this case. The soviets agreed few monthes before to attack the japanese.

So now that you can see that military considerations are at best secondary, let's think about why the bombs have been used. The main objective was both to test the bombs in a real war, and to frighten the soviets. Do not forget that allied forces thought about the "Unthinkable operation".

If you want to give a good show of force to the world, you need to do a maximum damage on an undamaged target. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were such nice targets. Bonus point, they were also strategic targets as explained by others answers. The destruction of these cities was military pointless, but it would have been useful in a hypotetically and over-emphasized Japan ground invasion.

USA is a democracy, so the bombardments had to be presented as a necessary evil in order to prevent a greater evil. So hitting Tokyo would have been a bad idea, because they needed the political surrender.

Note that, not all parts of the USA state or high level military officers would have known about all these elements. So most of the plans quoted in other answers are legitimate.

Somes sources : Source 1 Source 2

As you will see, the main reason Japan was pursuing the war, was because the americans offered peace terms that was knowingly unacceptable to the japanese. Therefore the responsability of hundreds of thousands of americans dead in a full scale invasion would have lied in Washington. Because an unconditionnal surrender would have mattered more...

Contrary to popular opinion, the nuclear bombing was not really necessary in order to end the war.

Japan was considering surrender from quite some time under some condition linked to the Emperor. But they wished to do so the most honorably possible. One of their hopes was to use diplomatically the USSR against the USA in order to have a better bargaining position. They still had a major army in Mandchoukouo.

USA wished an unconditionnal surrender, but they knew that the japanese would surrender to one of these two conditions : 1 - Keeping the Emperor in power and not putting him in trial. 2 - Military invasion by the USSR of the continental part of the japanese territories.

Then remember that from the japanese point of view there is few difference between a city destroyed by one bomb or by thousands (americans already got air domination over Japan).

Actually, most of the americans chiefs of staff were against the use of nuclear bombs, because they knew it had no real military value in this case. The soviets agreed few monthes before to attack the japanese.

So now that you can see that military considerations are at best secondary, let's think about why the bombs have been used. The main objective was both to test the bombs in a real war, and to frighten the soviets. Do not forget that allied forces thought about the "Unthinkable operation".

If you want to give a good show of force to the world, you need to do a maximum damage on an undamaged target. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were such nice targets. Bonus point, they were also strategic targets as explained by others answers. The destruction of these cities was military pointless, but it would have been useful in a hypotetically and over-emphasized Japan ground invasion.

USA is a democracy, so the bombardments had to be presented as a necessary evil in order to prevent a greater evil. So hitting Tokyo would have been a bad idea, because they needed the political surrender.

Note that, not all parts of the USA state or high level military officers would have known about all these elements. So most of the plans quoted in other answers are legitimate.

Somes sources : Source 1 Source 2 Opposition of american military Debate sources Source 5

As you will see, the main reason Japan was pursuing the war, was because the americans offered peace terms that was knowingly unacceptable to the japanese. Therefore the responsability of hundreds of thousands of americans dead in a full scale invasion would have lied in Washington. Because an unconditionnal surrender would have mattered more...

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source | link

Contrary to popular opinion, the nuclear bombing was not really necessary in order to end the war.

Japan was considering surrender from quite some time under some condition linked to the Emperor. But they wished to do so the most honorably possible. One of their hopes was to use diplomatically the USSR against the USA in order to have a better bargaining position. They still had a major army in Mandchoukouo.

USA wished an unconditionnal surrender, but they knew that the japanese would surrender to one of these two conditions : 1 - Keeping the Emperor in power and not putting him in trial. 2 - Military invasion by the USSR of the continental part of the japanese territories.

Then remember that from the japanese point of view there is few difference between a city destroyed by one bomb or by thousands (americans already got air domination over Japan).

Actually, most of the americans chiefs of staff were against the use of nuclear bombs, because they knew it had no real military value in this case. The soviets agreed few monthes before to attack the japanese.

So now that you can see that military considerations are at best secondary, let's think about why the bombs have been used. The main objective was both to test the bombs in a real war, and to frighten the soviets. Do not forget that allied forces thought about the "Unthinkable operation".

If you want to give a good show of force to the world, you need to do a maximum damage on an undamaged target. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were such nice targets. Bonus point, they were also strategic targets as explained by others answers. The destruction of these cities was military pointless, but it would have been useful in a hypotetically and over-emphasized Japan ground invasion.

USA is a democracy, so the bombardments had to be presented as a necessary evil in order to prevent a greater evil. So hitting Tokyo would have been a bad idea, because they needed the political surrender.

Note that, not all parts of the USA state or high level military officers would have known about all these elements. So most of the plans quoted in other answers are legitimate.

Somes sources : Source 1 Source 2

As you will see, the main reason Japan was pursuing the war, was because the americans offered peace terms that was knowingly unacceptable to the japanese. Therefore the responsability of hundreds of thousands of americans dead in a full scale invasion would have lied in Washington. Because an unconditionnal surrender would have mattered more...