history : The-US-nuked-Japan-twice-Why-is-Japan-an-ally
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
It's very regrettable that nuclear bombs were dropped and I feel sorry for the citizens of Hiroshima but it couldn't be helped (shikata ga nai) because that happened in wartime
— Japanese Emperor Hirohito (1945)
Let's say you have a suicidal person in a violent rage. The person has a gun in his hand & hurting both himself and his family. He has already killed his two sons & 10 neighbors. Given a few more minutes, the man would have killed both himself & his family. Everyone else is stunned & powerless.
A doctor enters the scene, breaks the person's arm, gets the gun from him and cures him of his illness. After discharging the person, the doctor builds him a new home & also provids him a new job. The person & his family recover from this whole incident and become very rich & happy.
Would he be thankful to the doctor for saving him or still harbor hatred that the doctor broke his arm?
Bringing the lunacy to an end
Nazi Germany & Imperial Japan were practically run by maniacs. They were destroying both themselves as well as their neighbors. There was no easy way to stop them. The fact that the war was ended by a really neutral third party – who wanted nothing in the European conflict and who was reluctantly forced into it – makes it even better.
Germany, Italy and Japan sport no hatred for what the US bombing in the second world war because it was US that helped them cure their leader's lunacy & helped them on their way to prosperity.
Nukes were horrible. But the alternative for Japan were:
- Fight a brutal amphibian battle with the US forces. This would have taken years & would have set Japan back by a century in development besides killing 20 times more people than the nuke casualties.
- Surrender to the Soviets who declared war on Japan just before US dropped the n-bomb. Anyone who has read any bit of European history since the war would know what that meant.
I'm not a big fan of US expansionism after the Second World War, but the American role during the War was almost universally appreciated. They had little to gain by participating in that war & they helped bring a swift end to a unwinnable war. After the war US helped substantially in rebuilding Japan and Europe.
For those who think that Japan could have been easily invaded – read this:and [short summary: Japan showed no intention of giving up even small, distant islands & was brutally committed].
The role of
Gen. MacArthur did a really commendable job of not demeaning the Emperor Hirohito. He gave the Emperor his due respect and got him to focus on redevelopment of Japan. The Emperor was deeply appreciative of how soft & respectful MacArthur went with him. It was Hirohito who led to the renaissance of US-Japan relationships.
A century before that US forcibly opened up Japan and that led to glorious rise of Japan. In short, US already had experience in forcefeeding Japan with good stuff.
The threat of Soviet Axis
My strategy professor would always force me to think of relationships in terms of "who needs whom". Once you understand that, you can understand the dynamics better. Does US need Japan more than Japan needs the US?
After the war, Japan found itself surrounded by two ancient enemies – USSR and China who have both become communists. The communist world was also practically running over the whole of Korea. In such a context, Japan felt defenseless & vulnerable. There is one country it could rely on – United States.
Even today, Japan relies heavily on US military umberalla to fight off any potential attack from North Korea, Russia or China. Japan is an ally of the US, because it has more to benefit from the US. On the other hand, Japan is not as much important to the existence of the US.
Japan needs the US more than the US needs Japan.