Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin Truman and the Surrender of Japan. 2006

by Daniel Russ on June 29, 2012

Post image for Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin Truman and the Surrender of Japan. 2006 Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945: Surrender of Japan, USS Missouri

 

 

 

A fascinating book by Tsuyoshi Hasugewa, an author, linguist and historian discussed why the Japanese finally threw in the towel on August 15th 1945.

 

 

In Glenn Greenwald’s article in Salon, there is a discussion about the various theories on why the Japanese surrendered. The winning traditionalist narrative since WWII has been that Japan did not surrender after Hiroshima immediately was because they were enslaved by their own deep fanaticism, their firebrand ultra nationalism, and perhaps by their own racism, their proclivity to assume they were at the apex of humanity, a notion not unlike their Axis Allies. Then Nagasaki finally pounded the lesson into their heads.

 

Nagasaki Before and After Nagasaki Before and After

 

The winning revisionist argument goes like this: By August 1945, the Japanese were in a hopeless position. They knew it and they were ready for the most part for someone to arrange a surrender. They were trying. So, the argument goes, they might have been brought to a disarmament without either nuclear weapons.

 

There is now a new view of what transpired. It’s fascinating because it shows you the piece that the US view traditionally leaves out.

 

This is the timeline:

 

August 6th, the United States drops a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.

 

August 7th, Japanese  Cabinet deadlocks over surrender.

 

August 8th, Russia declares war on Japanese and 1.7 million Russians invade Manchuria.

 

August 9th, The United States drops a second nuclear bomb this time on Nagasaki.

 

So, perhaps Hasegawa suggests that on the 7th, the Japanese thought they could ask the Russians to broker a surrender and that way they might hope to keep some territory, or perhaps have Russians occupy Japan versus American troops sitting by the hundreds of thousands miles away from the Soviet Union.  On the other hand the Japanese also wanted immunity from war crimes trials and they wanted to maintain their imperial ruling class.

 

Believing that Communists would ultimately destroy the imperial leadership, the Japanese surrendered to the Americans. That said, they did not surrender after Hiroshima. So they were intransigent and it required the Emperor to step in and break the deadlock and surrender. It also took another bomb and another massive war on their flank.

 

Source: Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin Truman and the Surrender of Japan. 2006.

 

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