August 4, 2015

70 years after Hiroshima, opinions have shifted on use of atomic bomb

Memorial for Hiroshima
Visitors look at a photograph of the area surrounding the Atomic Bomb Dome, captured after the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, Japan. Credit: Junko Kimura/Getty Images

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands of people – many instantly, others from the effects of radiation. Death estimates range from 66,000 to 150,000.

Declining Support in Both the U.S. and Japan for America's Bombing of Hiroshima and NagasakiThis first use of a nuclear weapon by any nation has long divided Americans and Japanese. Americans have consistently approved of this attack and have said it was justified. The Japanese have not. But opinions are changing: Americans are less and less supportive of their use of atomic weapons, and the Japanese are more and more opposed.

In 1945, a Gallup poll immediately after the bombing found that 85% of Americans approved of using the new atomic weapon on Japanese cities. In 1991, according to a Detroit Free Press survey conducted in both Japan and the U.S., 63% of Americans said the atomic bomb attacks on Japan were a justified means of ending the war, while only 29% thought the action was unjustified. At the same time, only 29% of Japanese said the bombing was justified, while 64% thought it was unwarranted.

But a 2015 Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who believe the use of nuclear weapons was justified is now 56%, with 34% saying it was not. In Japan, only 14% say the bombing was justified, versus 79% who say it was not.

Not surprisingly, there is a large generation gap among Americans in attitudes toward the bombings of Hiroshima. Seven-in-ten Americans ages 65 and older say the use of atomic weapons was justified, but only 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds agree. There is a similar partisan divide: 74% of Republicans but only 52% of Democrats see the use of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II as warranted.

In the years since WWII, two issues have fueled a debate over America’s use of nuclear weapons against Japan: Did Washington have an alternative to the course it pursued – the bombing of Hiroshima followed by dropping a second atomic weapon on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 – and should the U.S. now apologize for these actions?

70 Years Ago, Most Americans Said They Would Have Used Atomic BombIn September 1945, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago asked Americans what they would have done if they had been the one to decide whether or not to use the atomic bomb against Japan. At the time, a plurality of Americans supported the course chosen by the Truman administration: 44% said they would have bombed one city at a time, and another 23% would have wiped out cities in general – in other words, two-thirds would have bombed some urban area. Just 26% would have dropped the bomb on locations that had no people. And only 4% would not have used the bomb.

By 1995, 50 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, support for an alternative to the bombing had grown. Gallup asked Americans whether, had the decision been left up to them, they would have ordered the bombs to be dropped, or tried some other way to force the Japanese to surrender. Half the respondents said they would have tried some other way, while 44% still backed using nuclear weapons.

But this decline in American support for the use of atomic bombs against Japanese cities did not mean Americans thought they had to apologize for having done so. In that same Gallup survey, 73% said the U.S. should not formally apologize to Japan for the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only 20% supported an official apology.

Topics: Wars and International Conflicts, Foreign Affairs and Policy

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.


  1. Jeremiah Puckett1 year ago

    What’s ironic about the people that disagree with the use if the bomb is that many of them wouldn’t be alive today if we hadn’t dropped the bomb, as their grandparents would be lating dead on a Japanese beach somewhere.

    The bomb ended any possibility of a long, drawn out war and essentially saved hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of lives.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      I agree with this statement. Hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions would have died on both sides of the equation if we hadn’t dropped the bombs.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      Exactly also don’t forget what the japanese did to torture american pow’s disgusting shoving bamboo under your fingernails and lots of more disgusting things they were. At the time the japs were disgusting pigs and were the worst torturers to America in history.

  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    Hiroshima is a military city, without doubts

  3. Anonymous1 year ago

    I prob would have dropped a bomb, but i would have chosen a military rather than civilian target. That’s what’s always seemed disgusting to me.

  4. Anonymous1 year ago


  5. Victor2 years ago

    Using as excuse that it saved lifes because there was no invasion is like saying that any country going in war today should nuke its enemy to save lives and end the war fast…

    Also the nuclear scars never disappeared, and future generations will pay the price, because allies refused Japanese surrender attempts through USSR and asked only for unconditional surrender.

    Imagine if today DC and New York was nuked by Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan/Vietnam/Domenican Republic/former Yugoslavia if all these countries nuked US as US nuked Japan then there would be no US today…

    Warfare is a crime by itself but we really must be very careful with mass-destruction weapons

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      your data is lacking and so is your spelling

  6. Ann O2 years ago

    I read that when soldiers train for war, they are frustrated when there isn’t one. I also heard that those who made the bomb wanted to know how much damage and how wide an area it would affect. There was some thought this this was one of the reason for dropping the bombs as the war was basically over.

    As an American, I’m not proud of the fact that we did so much damage to mostly civilians in a war. Many countries think an apology is weakness. I think it shows strength of character. However I do believe Japan should no longer have to apologize. The people born after a war or too young to have a say in it, aren’t to be blamed. I’ve read about Japanese atrocities and they were horrid. But we don’t have clean hands either – even today.

  7. Jay L.2 years ago

    There’s no question that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers would have been killed or injured. Consequently, many of our parents may have not met, gotten married and had children if their grandfather or father had died or injured in the invasion of Japan. Existentially, “How many of those who are against the bombs’ use would not be here if there grandfather or father would have been killed in the invasion?”. You may not have been here to answer the question.

    1. Sebastian2 years ago

      Irrelevant, us as individuals not being around to make the decision is no justification, imagine all the Japanese CIVILIANS, whole families were wiped out, their descendants don’t exist to answer the question either just as some of ours wouldn’t had an invasion occurred. War is disgusting on all fronts, but the justification of bombing and killing tens of thousands of civilians –who like us now we’re just trying to live their lives and raise their families–for the sake of tens of thousands of soldiers’ –who decided consciously to risk their lives for their country’s war– lives is not a justification at all, trading one life for another is just as much damnation as salvation. On the note of not being around to answer the question, people don’t understand, if you weren’t born, you wouldn’t realize it, you wouldn’t be missing out on the answer because you wouldn’t even be around to contemplate the question

      1. Billy J2 years ago

        And what about the Draft? Are you saying those drafted should have refused to serve?

  8. John Paul2 years ago

    I guess I’m in the 65+ group, even though I’m not quite there yet, and I have to say, asking a question like “Find another way” is kind of pointless. The decision to use the atomic bomb was made in a context of there being really no other alternative, if the point of fighting the war in the first place was (a) to defeat the Japanese militarily – essentially done by late 1943; (b) to replace the militarists who ran the country – still undone by late 1945 – in order to prevent another war from having to be fought at some future time; and (c) to hold the militarists accountable, in some way, for the war crimes they committed. Anything less than unconditional surrender would have jeopardized objectives (b) and (c). Beyond late 1943 the Japanese government had only one strategy, and that was, to bleed American forces until the US government was forced to sue for peace on Japanese terms, in other words, since they had lost the war already, their strategy was to try and “win” the peace. Keep in mind that this strategy, through which they kept on fighting even though they knew they could not win, resulted in millions of additional dead: Japanese soldiers; American soldiers; civilians in China and throughout Asia; and millions of Japanese civilians. And the Japanese government was fully prepared to continue this murderous strategy; and what can you call it when a government subjects its citizens to such needless death, with no hope of military victory? It can’t be called battle anymore, and therefore ought to be called murder: the government of Japan deliberately embarked on a policy of murdering its citizens to preserve the honour (to put it in no worse terms) of its ruling clique.

    Estimates of American casualties (American only) for an invasion of the Japanese home islands ranged from 125,000 to 500,000; Japanese casualties, both military and civilian, would have been much higher, given the tendency of local Japanese commanders to encourage civilian suicides. This was the context of the decision to use the atomic bomb, thus, to ask people to “find an alternative” policy is, frankly, ludicrous. It speaks to the deep wishes of all us to live in peace, but in the context of 1945, after nearly 4 years of brutal war, made more brutal by Japanese strategy, it is meaningless. Yes, in an ideal world, we all would like the opportunity to choose a different way to end the war, but in reality, there was no other way to secure the objectives for which the war had been fought.

    As to why the “approval” ratings are steadily dipping down, I can only suppose that it is in part based on the politics of fantasy (as I have indicated above), rather than a realistic assessment of choices in the real world, where we don’t often get to choose the most ideal policies, but only the least worst of several difficult alternatives. The other part, I suppose, is simple ignorance of the facts, ignorance of the context, and here the education systems of both the US and Japan are likely to blame, the Japanese in particular having resisted for two generations now, the teaching of the history of the war in Asian in any detail at the high school level, and in fact, for a good amount of that time, teaching young students what amounted to lies.

    But I think in any case it would be good for the Pew researchers either to not ask people to indulge in fantasizing about history, or, if such questions do have a methodological validity, to couple them with another question, something along the lines of asking them to choose among the following alternatives (a) an invasion costing 250,000 US dead and 1 million Japanese dead; (b) a demonstration explosion prior to an actual city explosion; (c) leave the invasion to the Soviets, with a possible division of Japan as a consequence; (d) agree to the Japanese terms (essentially, the existing government remains in place). I’m sure better alternatives than the few I have sketched out here could be provided, but at least some sense of alternatives should be provided, rather than allowing people to dream that the bomb could have somehow not been used. My reading of the history is that it was the least worst of the available alternatives.

    1. Tony2 years ago

      Pew; please heed the advice of insightful readers who has the intention of showing the history for what it was, not what we wished it should have been.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      I’m almost 70, but I think dropping those two bombs on civilians was a hideous war crime and the worst act of terrorism in world history. According to those standards we have agreed will avoid atrocities committed during World War II, as contained in the Geneva Convention IV, which we signed in 1949, shooting at places primarily used for civilian purposes is a war crime. Killing civilian populations in order to save soldiers or end a war also satisfies our federal definition of terrorism. Those who claim, as John Paul has, that there were no alternatives are moral cowards. Nothing prevented the warring parties from shooting at each other using conventional weapons, and the war would have ended anyway. Only an American exceptionalist like Mr. Paul believes Americans were free to use self-centered reasoning to justify the slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians as “necessary.” And those who claim it saved Japanese soldiers lives are even worse. About 200,000 Japanese residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki perished. Far fewer Japanese soldiers would have died on battlefields. And the plain and simple truth is that Truman didn’t give a hoot about Japanese deaths, he was only interested in sparing American soldiers. Americans go through so many contortions to avoid the truth–this nation loves warfare. We’ve only had peace for 21 our of our 240 years of existence. Hardly any president is a “peacetime president.”…

      We have invaded more countries and killed more people than any other nation. Our country doesn’t mind sacrificing the lives of members of other nations to secure profits for the military industrial complex and to ensure free access to raw resources and cheap labor by our corporate masters. I don’t care whether this sits well with blind patriots who feel compelled to wave flags and to scold others who don’t share their views whenever their sophomoric, nationalistic feelings are bruised.

      We have learned few lessons from this moral catastrophe–even Obama failed to recognize that his chilling characterization of “death falling from the skies” aptly applies to his drone program. which is little more than a murder campaign that violates the sovereign air space of numerous nations.

  9. Bob A2 years ago

    Going back to Aug 1945 and faced with the unswerving Japanese (Jpn) military’s fanatical dedication not to surrender and the unquestioned inhuman brutality Japan had left on the countries of Asia, the quicker the World War II ended, the better for mankind. If the invasion of Okinawa was to foretell the future if the Allies had had to invade the main islands of Japan, many millions more would have had to die. The dropping of the two atomic bombs, as absolutely terrible as they be, in the context of the time, probably saved the total devastation of Japan and untold millions of Jpn civilian and military deaths.

    This matter is compounded by the Jpn government controlling and printing all history textbooks in the country for elementary and high schools. Those books describe Japan as having been victimized by its own militarists and therefore Japan, the country, was a victim of WWII like the other Asian nations it unjustifiably invaded. It follows further that no apology is necessary for Japan’s aggression in WWII because Japan, the country, was also a “victim” in WWII by its militarists. The absolutely uncontrolled brutality that marked Jpn aggression against other Asians, particularly China and Korea, are glossed over in Jpn textbooks as if they were nothing but small skirmishes, incidents here and there. WWII, itself, is similarly treated in these textbooks.

    Just so those who read this know, I have a great admiration of Japan and its people. I can’t say enough good times about all the Jpn I have met in Japan or in the USA. That doesn’t mean I will overlook the lack of truthfulness portrayed in Jpn textbooks. Be aware the average Jpn person is totally nonplussed and flabbergasted to learn the facts of Jpn militarism of the 1930’s and 1940’s intentionally hidden from them by their own government’s history textbooks every Jpn reads in school. Asian nations are outraged by this deliberate, misleading portrayal of Japan’s military adventurism. In the context of the time, country-victims of Japan’s militarism wanted the war to end quickly to lift the yoke of Japan’s military and political control from their countries. The Jpn people need to understand that it was their own military leader’s actions that ended up with the A-bombs being dropped.

  10. Dan2 years ago

    I believe most folks who would object to the bomb may not have that right….you weren’t there and things were different…who knows how many more would have died in addition to the deaths several years prior…

  11. Vern2 years ago

    My view has always been that there was enough reason to use the bomb at the time, based on projections of combined deaths if an invasion of mainland Japan were carried through as planned.

    What most critics forget is that the more important result of that relatively few deaths in those two cities, has been the fact that no world war has occurred since that date.

    Fear of atomic war and deaths in the one hundred million range within a few days, has effectively ended global war.

    In spite of near accidents, and impetuous commanders, no one has made the ultimate mistake of being the first one use the bomb again.

  12. Bill Gibson2 years ago

    When she was old enough to understand what happened there, I took my daughter to visit Guam, Saipan, Corregidor — and Hiroshima. Today, she has a different view of those places and times than PBS and the BBC present in their anti-American propaganda.

    1. John Paul2 years ago

      The best source for the justification of the use of the bomb which I have seen is in fact a PBS documentary called “Victory in the Pactific.” Worth a look.

  13. Bob2 years ago

    I was born in 1946 so my views are based on what I have read and what to me is common sense.
    In my opinion, without the use of the A bomb ,many allied lives would have been lost in getting Japan to surrender.
    I understand that even after the two bombs there was an attempted coup by Japanese military to try to prevent Hirohito from surrendering.
    The Japanese were extreme fanatics (not unlike ISIS today) and did not believe in surrender hence the barbaric way they tortured and killed not just soldiers but women and children. Both sides committed atrocities but the Japanese took it to another level and still feel no guilt and many are still ‘in denial’.
    Even though I was not directly affected, I can forgive Germany for its many war crimes but not Japan whose cruelty and sadism was beyond belief.

  14. David Reilly2 years ago

    I would like to add to my prior comment with observations from the viewpoint of a soldier, which I was, for twenty years. The goal of any war is to win, and to do whatever is required to achieve that goal, even if that means destroying as much infrastructure and killing or incapacitating, or demoralizing, as many of the enemy as is required t to do so.
    The March, 1942, a scant three months after Pearl Harbor, fire-bombing of Tokyo resulted in 97,000 deaths and at least that number injured; This served to show the enemy we could strike at his heart at will, to demoralize the enemy, and to serve as morale booster for Americans, service men and woman and civilians alike.
    The August 6th 1945 Atomic bombing, again striking at the enemy’s heart, and whose purpose was to put an end to the war in the most decisive manner thus reducing the probability of more Allied casualties, was deemed necessary and well-advised by the president.
    What people today, who did not live through those days and years, is that Japan had made us its enemy and every Japanese citizen, civilian and soldier alike saw us as the enemy. The actions of every Japanese was directly in support of the war, from making tanks, airplanes, boats & ships, ammunition & bombs,or rolling bandages.
    Thus, every Japanese was our enemy. We were given to believe just that.
    Moreover, Warner-Pathé newsreels of the destruction of Pearl Harbor were really all we needed….
    That said, why on earth should we apologize for anything at all, let alone for dropping two atomic bombs, the second of which, on August 9th, they could have avoided, by surrendering on August 7th or August 8th.
    Further comment: the very idea of apologizing to an enemy is anathema to a soldier.
    David J. Reilly

    1. Laura2 years ago

      Very well said, Mr. Reilly.

  15. David J Reilly2 years ago

    When Japan acknowledges,let alone apologizes for the “Rape of Nanking”, only one of many acts of Japanese military, savagery and whose civilian death toll surpassed the combined tolls of both bombs, then we might consider an apology but then again, when one cosiders the attack on Pearl Harbor for which, to my knowledge Japan has never admitted wrong-doing, let alone apologized for. Indeed, Mr Abe’s latest claim is that the US was responsible for all of Japan’aggression, though I seem to recall the stated goal of “…the eight seas under one banner, that of the Rising Sun…”
    I guess an apology for any bombing of Japan including and especially the two atom bombs ought never to be forthcoming.
    It seemed that President Truman did he right thing, then, when I heard about on the news; it still seems he right thing to have been done, various and sundry apologists notwithstanding.

    1. Keenan2 years ago

      Thank you Britain, France and United States for bringing freedom to the world like the Philippines, Hawaii, Vietnam, parts of China, India, the Middle East, South and Central America. Increasing your freedom to the borders of horrible nations around the world!Praise America! Freedom and Democracy to all! Thank you for incinerating heretics around the world! Praise Liberty!

      1. L. H.1 year ago

        Please…I can’t imagine Japan rebuilding China anymore than the Soviet Union rebuilding Eastern Europe. We were quite gracious in victory–an an unpopular move at the time.

    2. gately252 years ago

      My basic position is that the invasion of China was wrong just as any invasion is wrong. It is just hypocritical for CCP to use it as a “political card” against Japan while CCP has never atoned for their invasion of Tibet, East Turkistan, Chairman Mao’s atrocities during the Cultural revolution and starvation of millions of people during the Great Leap Forward, the massacre of civilians in Tinanenmen, its support of murderous Pol Pot clique and North Korea’s dictatorship, etc.

    3. Grundoon2 years ago

      I think you are confusing Doolittle’s raid with the firebombing of 1945.

    4. Anonymous1 year ago

      One must learn about The Rape of Nanning to fully understand how truly evil the Japanese military was. Once you read about what transpired there you will have a hard time feeling sorry for using atomic weapons on cities filled with small shops providing war materials for their army. Unlike Germany where there were large industrial areas where military goods were produced, in Japan their production was not centralized and thus not easy to pinpoint for bombing raids. Also, in those last days every man, woman and child were being trained to fight US soldiers when they came ashore with sticks, stones, or whatever weapon they could find. To the death because death was preferable over dishonor. An invasion of armed US forces fighting civilians would have been worse than dropping the bombs because American casualties would have been catastrophic. As it was there were none so using the bombs definitely saved thousands of American lives and most likely Japanese lives as well. No apologies, rethinking, or rehashing necessary. It’s over and done. Let it lie and learn from it, because Japan refuses to do so.

  16. John Grant2 years ago

    How do the Japanese feel about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? How do those both way percentages compare?

  17. Carolyn Leneberg2 years ago

    Bear in mind that the people being polled were not alive to know how many AMERICAN MILITARY PERSONEL would have died had we not brought an end to the war. PLUS, JAPAN WAS WARNED, NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE, AND ONLY THEN DID THEY OPT TO END THE WAR.

    My Dad was there and my Daughter in Laws Grandfather was killed in the Phillipines attempting to escape the onslaught of the Japanese.

    So since the majority of the WWII military have died, this article has very little validity if you were not alive at the time to feel the pain.

    1. Punt2 years ago

      So you care only about American military? Oh how you’ve been brainwashed about saving lives. If anything, Truman wanted to show Stalin who’s the boss and justify the enormous cost of developing the atomic bomb.

      I understand your dad was killed in the Philippines at the hands of Japanese. That in no way justifies nuking hundreds of families so that you can gain revenge.

      So in fact, you chose to sacrifice citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to “save the world”. And they should be grateful?

      Japan was already on the verge of surrender. A naval blockade would’ve been enough.

      1. Teddi Lau2 years ago

        yes I agree. Well said Punt.

    2. N. Joseph Potts2 years ago

      What you feel in anticipation of predicted events is NOT pain – it’s fear. Fear in this case of something that: (a) likely wouldn’t have been true in the first place (casualties in the case of an invasion wouldn’t have come anywhere NEAR the numbers that were put about the justify the bomb; and (b) wasn’t necessary anyway. The Japanese would have surrendered even WITHOUT the bomb AND WHO CARES if they surrender anyway? They were beaten, and contained. There was no more need to invade Japan in 1945 than there is now to invade Iran. But we’re hearing there IS a need to invade Iran, aren’t we?

      Do you think somebody might be putting us on? Manufacturing fear? It’s easy, fun, and profitable.

  18. Nicholas2 years ago

    There are no good actions in war. There are only evil actions, and less evil actions.

    The Empire of Japan began, several years before WWII, to invade many of their Asian neighbors. Sure, it claimed at the time that it was securing these other nations and protecting them from western influence, but after they began taking these nation’s resources and basically forced them into a dictatorship under the Emperor, it soon became clear that Japan was using their fear of the western nations as an excuse for empire building.

    During this time, the Empire of Japan was most ruthless. They invaded, they murdered the local leaders who opposed them along with civilians to keep the population in line, then they set up a puppet government. Rinse and repeat, soon much of Eastern Asia was under their control.

    One of the main reasons Japan wanted these resources was because their homeland was poor in natural resources and their main supplier of oil, The United States, cut off oil sells to Japan. This was done in response to Japan making war on China, who was a US ally at the time, for threatening Australia, and because they were threatening several various Pacific American interests. This was also a factor in Japan deciding to preemptively attack America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor.

    Japan never intended to win the war by defeating the United States in all out battle. The original plan was to destroy the majority of the USA’s naval forces at Pearl Harbor, then use the time they would spend rebuilding their fleet to take more islands and dig in for the inevitable counter attack. They would then wear down the America will to fight through economic downturn caused by this effort.

    This did not happen. To the Japanese’s surprise, the United States turned the new war effort into an opportunity to jump start its economy, which had still been in the grips of the Great Depression. Soon, the largest military build up in history took place, and much faster than the military leaders of Japan had anticipated. When American Bombers raided Tokyo merely a few months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the war was truly on.

    Japanese troops fought on a level so brutal that it shocked not only America but the rest of the world. The various laws of war and the agreements of the Geneva Convention were ignored. Millions of civilians suffered and died and hundreds of thousands of POWs were abused and many killed because of Japan’s actions. On top of this, the Japanese’s insane vitriol towards the concept of surrender made it to where often times the American troops had to fight the Japanese to the last man. These factors are what made the Pacific Theater of WWII one of the bloodiest campaigns in human history.

    After several years of fighting this incredibly brutal and determined enemy, the United States had taken all but the Japanese home islands. This was an enemy that had fiercely fought to the last man on nearly every single island the USA engaged them on. Causing huge losses on both sides. They had fought this brutally for many islands that were little more than patches of dirt. Now imagine how hard the fight for the mainland would’ve been.

    And no, Japan had no intention of surrendering before the bombs were dropped. They were digging trenches on the beaches. They were organizing the last few hundred planes of their airforce for kamikaze raids on the invading forces. They were helping all civilians to construct homemade weapons and instruct them in fighting the coming American invaders. This last fight was predicted to go on perhaps for a few more years, and losses on both sides of this conflict were estimated to have been in the hundreds of thousands to millions.

    Now, all that to lead to this:

    America had already lost tens of thousands of men to this enemy. An enemy that was brutal, ruthless, determined, and REFUSING to surrender! Suddenly, America had in their possession a weapon that would cause massive amounts of damage to the enemy with no losses to their own citizens. The use of these weapons was also estimated to cause far lower deaths than the planed invasion would have. These weapons would also hopefully break the Japanese will to fight and finally make them surrender, ending the bloodshed at last. Dropping the bombs was the logical decision.

    Was dropping the bombs a good decision in a moral sense? Absolutely not. The bombs were horrible devices of war and suffering and god willing will never be used again against any nation.

    Did many innocent people die? Yes. Such is the reality of war on an industrial scale as this was. Many make out Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be purely innocent civilian targets. This is not the case. Hiroshima and Nagasaki both had large military bases and weapons manufacturing centers in those cities that were crucial to the Japanese economy and war effort. They were already valid targets by American bombing raids, and the US routinely dropped leaflets warning civilians of incoming bombing runs.

    It is not true that Japan would’ve surrendered before they were used. In fact, a majority number of the members of Japan’s supreme war council wanted to continue the war EVEN AFTER the first bomb was dropped! It took the Emperor himself to speak up and say enough was enough and force Japan to the negotiating table.

    At the end of the day, dropping the bombs was a horrible, evil thing to do. But they saved countless more lives than they took, and that was the intention.

  19. Jett Rucker2 years ago

    I wonder when, and how, attitudes toward the HISTORY of the Holocaust will moderate from the gas-chambers/genocidal-intent/six-million-Jewish-deaths theme that still today constitutes state-mandated History in many states of the US, and is a crime to contradict in most of the countries of Europe.

    Obviously, it doesn’t assume the “binary” shape the Nagasaki-Hiroshima issue assumes, and it was never REALLY a proscribed subject like the Holocaust, but I wouldn’t have noised about my opposition to the atomic bombs in the US in 1946, nor my approval in Japan in the same year.

    The mis- and over-use of the Holocaust mythology is becoming more-apparent to more people these days, but those are issues different from WHAT the actual history IS. First, the legal and social opprobrium attaching to even thinking about such things will have to be eroded; then matters of the actual history may come to the fore among the few who will, especially by then, care about the matter.

  20. Grundoon2 years ago

    As bad as it was it was the right thing to do at the time. The blood bath at Okinawa showed a small sample of what was to come.

    I believe that the use of the bombs had a collateral effect-no nuclear attacks on anyone in 70 years! Otherwise, the use of nuclear weapons would just be hypothetical, like a video game.

  21. Geoff2 years ago

    There was always going to be a difference in the approval rate between 1945 and 2005. Seventy years ago most people didn’t know of the power of an atomic bomb and the horrific aftermath exploding one of these bombs caused. Plus also in 1945 the world was weary of war and just wanted it to end.

    The survey result that surprised me was the “Justification”. It surprises me that in twenty-four year gap between surveys the approval rate has dropped just seven points.

    1. Teddi Lau2 years ago

      yeah, ignorance is slow to heal or as the saying goes, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Sadly most still prescribe to an eye for an eye, Makes both blind.

  22. Sara Schwartzberg2 years ago

    Japan was already negotiating a surrender with Stalin. There was absolutely no military reason to drop the bombs nor is there evidence to support that it is what led to Japanese surrender as opposed to the Russian invasion. This was a crime against humanity and those who support are either misinformed about history or racist sociopaths.

    1. Grundoon2 years ago

      My understanding is the Japan and the Soviets had a peace pact. What was to negotiate? Stalin invaded China between the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Soviets were at war w/ Japan less than a month or so.While Stalin had agreed to fight the Japanese, he dragged his feet long enough to step in and snatch up some spoils at the last minute.

    2. TJ2 years ago

      Strange….Japan had two days to send a message to the United States of unconditional surrender after the first bombing. Sadly, the Government of Japan chose not to. It took a second nuclear blast to convince them that continuing their war machine would be an excercise in futility. My father was on his way to Japan after serving in Europe for the entire war. Would Japan have used the bomb on the US if the situation were reversed? You better believe they would have!

    3. David J Reilly2 years ago

      I have no guess as to Ms Schwartzberg’s age, but I would imagine her birth was some years after the war, else she would know that if there ever was a president who was not racist, it was Harry Truman nor, I would venture, a sociopath, nor am I either of those.
      I have 2 PolSci degrees the areas of discussion of which encompass the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945 and its aftermath..
      The only negotiations I know of are those of the February 1945 Yalta conference which laid out the terms under which the Soviet Union would enter the war in the East, and which did not include the Chinese let alone the Japanese. They were kept secret, even from the Chinese for fear the Japanese rear-guard in Manchuria (approx 600,000 mostly inexperienced, poorly equipped, conscripts) would attack Soviet forces there before Stalin could move his mechanized divisions across 8 time zones. Soviet participation in the Far East proved, for their six days’ war effort, to be a lucrative undertaking.
      If Ms Schwartzberg wishes to learn of “racist sociopaths,” I strongly urge she read Iris Chang’s “The Rape of Nanking,” or John Hersey’s “Hiroshima.” They are litanies of savagery and brutality. Here were true crimes against humanity.
      Then, she might ask herself: which is worse, to die in an instant, or even of radiation poisoning, or to be gang-raped to death.
      The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan were not crimes against humanity as Ms Schwarzberg would have it; they were a just punishment, and, perhaps revenge, for an empire taking a world to war, and for the murder of the millions of innocents therein, as a friend, a scarred survivor of the Bataan Death March, would have it.
      David J. Reilly

    4. John Paul2 years ago

      Not true. Japan was talking to the Soviets, but they were not prepared to do anything for the Japanese because they had a prior agreement with Truman to invade. In the event, the Soviets jumped the gun, and invaded within a few days of the first bomb being dropped, because they realized that the use of the bomb made Japanese surrender much more likely, and much sooner – hence also nullifying any possible gains as a result of declaring war on Japan. So no, there were no negotiations. Some factions in Japan hoped for such a deal, but the diplomatic cables of the time make it absolutely clear that the Soviets were not going to play ball.

  23. Alan2 years ago

    How many of the people who are now against the dropping of the bombs are aware of Japans behavior in China during WWII?…

    1. NP2 years ago

      So we are just as bad as they are? Is that what you are saying? NOTHING and absolutely NOTHING justifies killing innocent civilians that had nothing to do with the war! Let me emphasize again, NOTHING justifies that! And worse, using an Atomic bomb? that leaves side effect for next generations as well? just Google and see pictures of the children that were born with birth defects because of those atomic bombs? how can you justify that? If you were Japanese, living in Hiroshima, would you still say the same? be a little more human and less ignorant !

      1. Masooma2 years ago

        Thank you.

      2. Teddi Lau2 years ago

        Thank you. Some americans still believe the lies told to them, from generation to generation. This just proves it.No life needs evaporated to puff a chest. And the US was simply biting at the bits to test the bomb with zero realization of its long term effect. Well now we know, and its too late to undo such an atrocity.

  24. Dmitry2 years ago

    Most terrible warcrame ever against civil people. USA should be proud.

  25. Robert Faje2 years ago

    The Japanese have been very reluctant to embrace their responsibility for igniting the war in the Pacific, quite unlike Germany in the West. When they fully do so, the US can then, and only then, perhaps consider some sort of apology, even though it was the appropriate course of action at the time. The Japanese government, military, and Emperor brought it all on themselves. Island by island. Battle after battle. No surrender; just death. No consideration for the suffering of their own people, civilian or military. Just an unrelenting focus on preserving the privileges of their war-criminal Emperor. He got away with murder due to practical and political considerations.

    1. Eri2 years ago

      please read some more history so as not to make such shallow remarks.

      1. Yuki Matsuda2 years ago

        Sorry Eri, what he posted is totally correct & he was being nice about it. YOU should read more history and not the revisionist trash you seem to be reading.

  26. Nancy Karen Davis Brian2 years ago

    As the child of a Pow who would have been herded into a mine and the Japanese would have collapsed the mine on him, I of course heartly approve of the way the bombs saved lives. Many more were killed in traditional bombings of Germany. The Japanese and Germans just would not give up. They started it.the bombs saved lives.

    1. some guy2 years ago

      they didn’t want to surrender BECAUSE they were getting BOMBED… as the british already experienced getting BOMBED will just INCREASE the will to ressist the ATTACKERS of the civilians… The Bombin runs on the civilians were USELESS from a military point of view… they were simple terror runs… that rallied the citizens of the bombed cities BEHIND their government “their defenders from the evil guys that want to bomb them to rubbel”

    2. NP2 years ago

      Say that to people born with birth defects because of the use of atomic bombs ! How can you be so selfish ???

      1. L. H.1 year ago

        It is easy to armchair quarterback from the safety and comfort of the United States. We have not suffered under forieign invasion in the last few hundred years. War is hell for everyone involved. Woman and children in China, the Philippines, the U.K, Germany , etc. can attest to that.

        Back then we were ignorant of the dangers of radiation. After WW2 radioactive “health tonics” we’re sold in the US. Even in the 1960’s, shoe stores had X Ray machines to check the fit of shoes. The Sword to Plowshare plan advocated the use of Atomic weapons for the use of land clearing in the U.S. Hindsight is 20/20.

        1. L. H.1 year ago

          Only in the last 20 years have we stopped using radioactive emergency exit signs in buildings. I could go on and on.

  27. Tony Pelliccio2 years ago

    I look at it this way – nuclear weapons are horrific. No doubt about that. However the U.S. primarily and the allies did some fairly horrendous stuff during World War II. The fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo for examples.

    But remember it was Germany, Italy and Japan that picked the fight and got their own asses handed to them by the U.S., U.K, and Russia.

    And recall too the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Germany and Japan. That was a U.S. move.

    1. some guy2 years ago

      the marshal plan that came into work when they saw that their Order JCS 1067 was hindering the rebuilding of the WHOLE of Europe… after they’ve let countless people in germany starve because they didn’t allow food etc. to be send there… they even nearly killed John Rabe who saved 100.000s of chinese during the Nanjing Massacre… until the mayor of Nanking collected money in Nanjing, flew to the swiss, bought food and brought it to him…

  28. Packard Day2 years ago

    More’s the pity that those who now question Harry Truman’s decision to drop “the bomb” on Japan in order to avoid the anticipated bloodbath that was going to be “Operation Downfall (a.k.a. Invasion of mainland Japan),” could not have been a healthy and happy go lucky 20 year old American male serving in either the US Army or Marine Corps back in July 1945. If they were, perhaps the then recent casualty lists from both Iwo Jima and Okinawa might have caused such folks to reconsider their modern day enlightened positions.

    1. some guy2 years ago

      funfact: Japan didn’t surrender because of the bombs… but because the Red Army started it’s manchuria offensive and was mauling the Japanese armies there…

      1. Bruce K2 years ago

        This bit of revisionist history is neither fun nor fact. The Emperor’s decision had virtually nothing to do with the Russians.

      2. Packard Day2 years ago

        Let’s call it a modern day cacophony of industrial world human violence that was preparing to consolidate itself into a storm that would have [to paraphrase only slightly the insightful words of US Navy Admiral William (Bull) Halsey] resulted in the only place left to hear the Japanese spoken language would have been in Hell.

        Never mind any apologies about Hiroshima. The Japanese owe us and the Russians a debt of gratitude for sparing them from what was going to happen next had “Operation Downfall” ever occurred.

      3. Anonymous1 year ago

        No. Read about The Rape of Nanning and then see if you feel the same way. And remember Bataan, the Philipines, etc as well.