Talk:Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Archive 2

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Tojo Order

On the actual order to execute and it coming from Tojo:

In the latter part of June 1945, a note was posted in our camp. It was signed by Hideki Tojo. And it said, 'The moment the first American soldier sets foot on the Japanese mainland, all prisoners of war will be shot.' And they meant it. I hadn't been a prisoner for fifteen minutes before they bayoneted a fifteen-year-old Filipino kid right next to me - a kid so innocent he scraped together this little dirt dam with his last bit of energy so he wouldn't bleed on my uniform while he died. That is why all of us who were prisoners in Japan, or were headed for it to probably die in the invasion, revere the Enola Gay. It saved our lives.

- CW4 Grayford C. Payne, survivor of the Bataan Death March, Washington Post September 26, 1994; pg. a.01

Soviet troops who liberated a POW camp in Mukden, Manchuria, found 3,000 Allied prisoners who, like prisoners in Japan, had thought they were about to be executed as the Soviets approached their camp. A Japanese directive described how prisoners were to be killed: "mass bombing, or poisonous smoke, poisons, decapitation... . In any case, it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces."

Code-Name Downfall Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar

Primary Sources: Kill-All Policy

Intercepted and decoded by the Allies, this message from the Japanese Vice Minister of War to the Commanding General of Military Police in Taiwan explains the conditions under which Japanese commanders could execute prisoners of war without formal orders from Tokyo.

Author Linda Goetz Holmes, author of Unjust Enrichment: How Japan's Companies Built Postwar Fortunes Using American POWs, points out that it was not a military order, but a policy clarification, since the author in the war ministry did not have the authority to issue orders. Still, according to Holmes, the message was "transmitted to every POW camp commander in Japanese-occupied territory as well as the home islands," and widely known among former Japanese soldiers and former POWs. This memo was introduced into evidence at the post-war trials of Japanese war criminals.

When the battle situation becomes urgent the POWs will be concentrated and confined in their location and kept under heavy guard until preparations for the final disposition will be made. Although the basic aim is to act under superior orders, individual disposition may be made in certain circumstances. Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups, and whether it is accomplished by means of mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, or decapitation, dispose of them as the situation dictates. It is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces.

Japanese War Ministry, Tokyo August 1, 1944 Unjust Enrichment, Linda Goetz Holmes, the actual order is in chapter 12

On the execution of Allied POW's bieng a factor in the use of the Atomic bomb:

In September 1943 the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported to President Roosevelt that escaped prisoners had been providing accounts as early as April 1943 of malnutrition, cruel workloads, widespread torture, and murder of U.S. and other Allied prisoners of the Japanese. War planners worried about the fate of POWs in the event of a prolonged war or an invasion of the Japanese home islands. TDC 04:53, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)

This is all interesting, but should then be linked to in the main article. On the other hand, it should be done in such a way as not to be too emotionally connotated (the story about the Filipano teenager is interesting on a personal level, but not really when discussing geo-political trends), and taking the appropriate reserves (validity of Tojo's order, etc). Also, a discution or reminder of both harms (number of civilian casualties, expected and actual, vs. number of expected executed prisoners). As such, the part about POWs seems less balanced than the previous version, which is a shame after all this documentation work. Rama 11:07, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
In earlier discussion, TDC had acquiesced in language that stated the order as an established fact (granting him that point over others' objections) but that noted it had come down some time earlier. He's now removed the date. I'm restoring it. I commented earlier that anyone who wants to think that the date is immaterial is free to do so. For my part, I regard the whole discussion as immaterial, because the most serious objection to the use of the bomb is that the U.S. could have accomplished all its goals vis-a-vis Japan without the bombings and without an invasion. JamesMLane 20:02, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Oops, I see it's more complicated than that. The earlier discussion attributed the order to Tojo, which is why his subsequent resignation was included. What's the relationship between the earlier information and the revised claim that the order was some kind of post-Tojo clarification? JamesMLane 20:10, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think TDC was just providing supplemental supporting information. I think his summary should be kept around rather than archived to reduce the chance of the issue being disputed again.--Silverback 22:33, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I noticed some anomolies with the formatting of the opposition/support section. I was going to do the following things: 1. Move the support for the bombings above the opposition, because that seems to be the standard throughout Wikipedia. 2. Remove the bullets from the opposition, because it seems weird to me that the opposition is in bulletted format but the support is not. I didn't make the change because something tells me that because this is (for obvious reasons) a touchy subject, I might start an edit war. So should I make the change? --Bletch 16:20, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As the one who initially came up with the idea of having a separate opposition/support section for this article, whatever you want to do formatting wise is fine by me. TDC 18:59, Dec 2, 2004 (UTC)

Spelling: please note that 'discretely' means "separately, or being one thing", while 'discreetly' means "with prudence, circumspectly" and so is correct here. DJ Clayworth 18:49, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Soviet Invasion

  • Some have argued that the Soviet Union's switch from friendly neutral to enemy might have been enough to convince the Japanese military of the need to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (plus some provision for the emperor). As it happened, the decision to surrender was made before the scale of the Soviet attack on Manchuria, Sakhalin Island, and the Kuril Islands was known, but had the war continued, the Soviets would have been able to invade Hokkaido well before the Allied invasion of Kyushu.

Where is there evidence that the Soviets could pull off an invasion of the Japanese mainland so soon? Wouldn’t that require a massive amount of preparation as well as a large merchant marine, something the Soviets did not have, taking at least 10-15 months to properly prepare for? I have not seen any detailed information (such as all the documents for Olympic) on a Soviet invasion and certainly not anything claiming that the Soviets could have invaded Hokkaido before an allied landing at Kyushu.

I was surprised myself. The Japanese were somehow blind to the idea that Stalin would turn on them when he got the chance, so they were completely unprepared for an attack from that direction. From Downfall (p. 323-324):
  One of the many important revelations to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union was that Stalin's ambitions in the Far East in 1945 extended from the outset not only to Manchuria and Korea but also to Japan proper. ...
  The Soviet strategy for the campaign also featured a two-pronged thrust to Hokkaido. On August 11, the Red Army had launched an attack from the north via the huge Sakhalin Island. This endeavor made very slow progress against fanatical Japanese resistance. ...
  For the invasion of Hokkaido, the Soviet First Far Eastern Front intended to assault from Sakhalin. The lead division would seize a bridgehead with only one rifle regiment. The rest off that division would follow, and then two more divisions would land. ... Given the vast size of Hokkaido and its mountainous terrain, the Soviets expected that the Japanese could oppose their landing with only one division. ...
  The Soviets overestimated Japanese strength ... [which was] oriented toward the American threat from the east, ... The Soviet Navy's amphibious shipping resources were limited but sufficient to transport the three assault divisions in several echelons.
  ... In retrospect, it appears that Japanese resistance on Sakhalin would have precluded readiness [to invade] before August 24 or 25 in any event, but Truman's firm reply on August 18 was crucial. Moreover, events soon showed that Truman's refusal to permit Soviet advances to Hokkaido saved hundreds of thousands of Japanese from death.
(p. 356-357):
  Soviet intervention would have very likely shaped the prospects for success of any internention by the Emperor to end the war, but in what direction is not certain. ... Under an optimistic scenario, ... the spectacle of Soviet troops landing on Hokkaido, ... would significantly increase the incentive for capitulation.
  But Soviet intervention might also have triggered a reaction from the Imperial Army that could have forclosed peace. The bolt from Manchuria galvanized Japan's soldiers to commence plans to declare martial law, terminate the civilian government, and rule from Imperial Headquarters. Had the Imperial Army seized a position of such absolute ascendancy, it is by no means obvious that the war would have terminated in an organized Japanese surrender.
  Soviet intervention might well have transformed the convulsive debate in American councils on the invasion strategy. The war ended with Admiral Nimitz poised to announce to Army and civilian officials that he no longer supported an invasion of Japan. ... Once the rail system collapsed [due to the bombing campaign scheduled for mid-August], it would have been impossible for the Japanese to conceal the consequences. The halt of military production, the urgent need to distribute and ration food, and the multitude of problems generated by masses of refugees ... would bolster arguments by the Navy that there was no need for invasion.
  On the other hand, a Soviet landing on Hokkaido might have revived interest ... in a U.S. invasion of extreme northern Honshu or southern Hokkaido.
—wwoods 21:33, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Very interesting. TDC 23:49, Dec 2, 2004 (UTC)

Opposition statements

Secondly, I would like to propose a condensing of several of the opposition points. Many seem redundant, and information included in some also exists in others. I suggest that someone re write it in paragraph form to maintain continuity with the support section.

2005 symbolic trial

Silverback says : 1) prescription is unfamiliar as a legal term in english, and the wrong term here since this is criminal, the vernacular phrase is statute of limitations 2) responsibility must be verdict, after all, if responsiblity WILL be cast, then they assume a guilty verdict BEFORE the trial

Rama answers 1) The "prescription" page says :

Under the civil law or civil code prescriptions are those periods during which rights and obligations are legally enforceable. Similar to the common law system concept of limitation periods".

From what I've read, I think that the Japanese organisation intends to invoke a civil law system. If I understand correctly, this is quite a technically precise term. Perhaps we might want to put something like

"Since prescription [ (limitation period)] cannot be applied to war crimes...

and change it back if we found out that the law system would indeed be a common law system; what do you think ?

I can accept your language, since it gives a hint to the meaning of an unfamiliar legal term. I worry that whatever whatever precise meaning this term has in french legal usage, it may not be the same as its precise meaning in english legal usage, before my change to statute of limitations, I looked it up in Blacks Law Dictionary, and none of its defininitions precisely corresponded to the wikipedia definition. I also worry that the quote in the French article is also a translation from the Japanese.--Silverback 01:20, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

2) Not really, "responsible" does not mean "guilty"; the USA are responsible, is the sense that we know that the bombig has taken place, and we know that it was ordered by the US government (I don't think these points will be disputed). The trial will be about wether this constitues a war crime or not. I suppose that, given the highly symbolic nature of the event and the will to implicate international legal experts, it is unlikely that the outcome would already be decided. Though this will be more clear when I manage to find the original web site of the association.

I somehow have the feeling that the "the verdict will be passed on the present US government" gives a false impression that the verdict would have some sort of legally binding nature, and is less precise than the previous version. But of course, I might get the nuances wrong, so please say so should it be the case.

This being said, would anyone object to the article version begin set to ", the responsability will be cast on the present US government" ? (unless there is something grammatically wrong with this). Rama 14:18, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It is an unusual wording and so probably not a good translation, since its sense in French is probably clear. Like you said, the trial is about whether it is a war crime or not, so I don't think the responsibility is just for the dropping of the bomb, this statement is as if they are pre-determining whether it is a war crime. This may be what they are doing, but since I, based on a good faith assumption, assume they hope to fairly and seriously review the issues, I think the sense of the translation, either French to English or Japanese to French is wrong, or the speaker himself misspoke.
I think unless the trial addresses the issue of whether some things that are technically war crimes can also be justified, it will not make much of a contribution. Frankly, I think it was technically a war crime, but that existing international law is hypocritically wrong. Either the killing of innocent military conscripts should also be a crime, or the killing of innocent civilian conscripts should be legitimized. I also don't see the dropping of atomic bombs as qualitatively different that other war crimes, so focus on Hiroshima is unjustified. Also, although I disagree with the practice, innocent civilians are killed all the time in peacetime, with only a mere "net lives saved" justification. I think it is hypocritical to hold war behavior to a higher standard, so I would argue that some war crimes such as knowingly and purposely taking innocent civilian life are every bit as justifiable in wartime as in peacetime. IMHO, neither are justified, but others who want to hold on to their murderous peace time ways, might be persuaded to the other road to consistency, certain war crimes are justified by net lives saved arguments.--Silverback 01:20, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"It is an unusual wording and so probably not a good translation, since its sense in French is probably clear" ? You mean Although ? (I honestly ask, since I am not a native English speaker, and ? am afraid of loosing a nuance here). For what I've read, this is a technical word from Civil law system -- that is, essentially from Law systems not in the Commonwealth and the USA; not only in French.
Also, I have not yet found the original source, and the link I put is
1) in French
2) dead
I have written to the newspaper to get more informations, but if I cannot find anything else, I'll probably remove this section.
As for the "Responsability vs verdict", and the "prescription" matters, the best thing to do is probably to wait for the help of someone who'd be qualified in international law. This is frankly not my case, and neither I am native in English, so I suggest playing dead in the water and wait for a tug. Thanks ! Rama 07:14, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well, I honor you attempt to bridge the language barrier, hopefully we will hear more about this in the future.--Silverback 07:55, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

More anti-conscription POV

The two versions

For the benefit of anyone just joining us from RfC, I'm inserting here the two versions of text being considered.

Silverback's latest version is to put the following at the beginning of the section on "Support for use of atomic bombs":

In response to the argument that the large-scale killing of civilians was immoral and a war crime, supporters of the bombings have argued that, the Japanese government waged total war, including conscripting of women and children to work in factories. By waging total war. Father John A. Siemes, professor of modern philosphy at Tokyo's Catholic University, and an eye witness to the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima wrote:
"We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians. The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good that might result? When will our moralists give us a clear answer to this question?"' [1]

My preference is to put the following at the end of that section:

In response to the argument that the large-scale killing of civilians was immoral and a war crime, supporters of the bombings have argued that the Japanese government waged total war, with the employment of civilians (including women and children) to work in factories. Father John A. Siemes, professor of modern philosphy at Tokyo's Catholic University, and an eyewitness to the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, wrote:
We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians. [2]

Silverback and I each made some comments in edit summaries, but addressed the subject more fully in the discussion below. JamesMLane 10:14, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Silverback, you must understand that Wikipedia is not the place for you to carry on your crusade against conscription. You have now again tried to work conscription into this article with a lengthy quotation from one professor. Aside from the issue of whether this opinion is notable enough to be reported at such length, the lead-in paragraph you wrote is totally misleading because the cited article doesn't even contain the word "conscription" (nor "draft", etc.). The introduction of the concept of conscription, as a possible justification for the bombings, is totally your own. I'm going to rewrite this passage to remove the "conscription" stuff. I'll also summarize the long quotation, and move the whole thing to the end of the "Support" section, because I've seen nothing to indicate that this POV was of contemporaneous significance. The disagreement among U.S. officials, and in fact the principal disagreement today, was over the likely results of the two main courses of action that were seriously disputed -- using the bomb, or waiting to see if Japan could be induced to surrender without the bombing and without an invasion. The actual arguments in favor of the bombing are reflected in what was already in the section. The fire-bombing of Tokyo pretty much established that nobody in the U.S. government was losing any sleep over the argument that mass killing of civilians was immoral; therefore, they weren't thinking about whether Japan was practicing "total war" (let alone conscription) and that the practice related to the decision to drop the bomb. JamesMLane 01:58, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Who is point of view here? Look at the source for the quote, look at the concept of total war, conscription, and the mandatory industrial mobilizations partially justified by conscription are integral to it. The professor is one of the most literate witnesses of the bombing, his was right person with the right qualifications at the right place in history, a german professor of philosophy working in imperial Japan, who had the intellectual honesty to see both sides of the issue. He specifically and contemporaneously, within days and hours, refers to the concept of total war as possible justification for the incredible horrors he personally experienced and witnessed. Study and perhaps you won't leap to conclusions.--Silverback 02:18, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I did look at the quotation. I spelled out the precise objection I was making to your use of it. The professor refers to total war. You refer to conscription. Your POV is apparently that they're identical. I disagree. A supporter of the bombings could argue that the extensive use of civilians to work in war-related industries justifies considering them as legitimate targets, whether or not they were conscripted to work there, and whether or not the government was employing military conscription. If you think it's "obvious" that total war necessarily involves conscription, then you shouldn't have any problem with a rewrite that presents the professor's opinion using only the concept that he himself actually used, i.e., total war. If the connection is obvious, then we don't need to spell it out for the reader. That's also the approach that's fair to the POV that there can be total war without conscription. JamesMLane 02:39, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It is obvious that military conscription is part and parcel of total war. But you are correct that it can be argued that the United States with its supposedly "free" market system, but with rationing, laws diverting consumer production to war production, pressure for social conformity, suppression of dissent, etc. was also engaged in total war. In fact, both sides were generally considered to be engaged in total war, but military conscription was the first and necessary step in that direction, I doubt any would have argued it was total war if military conscription had not been present, and if such terrible sacrifices on those innocents had not already been justified, imposing sacrifices on civilians would not have been so easy to justify. You read the conscription evidence where military conscription was even used a legal justification for measures imposed upon civilians. The professor witnessed both the total war of civilian conscription right there in the Hiroshima factories, they were cogs in the war machine, serving at the perogative and hubris of their nationalist masters. You should try to question your nationalist assumptions. Any right to moral outrage at the killing of civilians on either side was forfeited long ago, when they accepted military conscription and more. However, that obviously does not preclude the use of the rhetoric of moral outrage, the cries of victimization and the tears on purely practical grounds, they seem to work. --Silverback 02:56, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

p.s. It may be argued that because the Japanese resorted to the conscripting of children to work in the factories whereas the U.S. mobilization did not extend to children, that the U.S. war was not quite as total, but that is a pretty slim peg to hang a moral hat upon. In fact there are arguments that cut quite the other way, that the Japanese civilians were more innocent and entitled to the protection of law because Japan was not a democracy so they had less say in the evils perpetrated by their government, whereas, as a democracy, in a twisted sense, the Americans had volunteered for everything that their government did to them.--Silverback 03:12, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I do not mean to interrupt, nor be impolite or clumsy (anticipated appologies for the tedious nature of my comment). Setting aside the intensity of our repulsion against conscription (I suppose nobody really likes it, it's always, at best an evil percieved as necessary), I have the impression of having seen this kind of discussion on the page already. Could we not decide on a policy once for all (that is, until something significant is discovered, like a letter by Truman or something of this nature) ? An uneducated guess, and very rough proposal, mght be include a part about total war, perhaps explicitely mentionning conscription, and linking to appropriate articles. Does this seem to make sense ? Sorry again for this naive approach and thanks for your attention ! Rama 07:30, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think the quote from the professor captures the poignancy of the issues wonderfully, it is not intended to support every single word of the statements of the logic of the possible justification for the bombing. However, James is not presenting an wikipedia justifications for his objections. If he doubts the circumstances of total war in Japan and Hiroshima, I recommend these search terms on on google or yahoo hiroshima "student mobilization" women. There are lots of euphemisms for "conscription", "student mobilization" is one. Interestingly, the U.K. also eventually conscripted labor during world war II, it was called "mandatory mobiliation of women", if James is going to argue I'm just linking to my pet conscription page, if it will help the situation, I will compromise on eliminating the wiki link to conscription and just leave conscripting as a word without the link.--Silverback 07:44, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Rama, you have nothing to apologize for in raising a genuine concern, nor are you interrupting -- Silverback and I don't "own" this conversation just because we're the most talkative! I have no problem including the reference to total war, and I agree with you about linking. In fact, one of my edits to Silverback's addition was to include the wikilink to the total war article. The reason that I don't agree to a reference to conscription is that, so far as the historical record is concerned, conscription has nothing to do with the bombings. Silverback considers it relevant to the question of the morality of the bombings, but the purpose of this article is not the canvassing of all conceivable opinions; our policy is to report on the notable bodies of opinion. So far I've seen nothing to indicate that anyone other than Silverback (let alone anyone notable) has expressed the opinion that the Japanese government's use of conscription was relevant to the morality of the bombings. Also, you're right that there was a similar discussion a few months ago. It's now been archived.
Silverback, the total war article applies the term to several instances that didn't involve conscription. The article does, however, refer to the argument that, in total war, the role of civilians in war-related industries makes them legitimate targets. To the extent that there's an argument here, relevant to the atomic bombings, that's the argument. You, personally, may consider it relevant to inquire further whether the civilians were there because they were formally conscripted, or because there was no official conscription but there was an "economic draft" that forced many of them to accept such work in order to make a living, or because they ardently believed in their country's cause and voluntarily sought to do everything they could to help. You're welcome to believe that. So far, however, you've presented absolutely no indication that your POV about the significance of conscription should be included -- as compared with, for example, the POV of people like Eisenhower. As for your claim that I'm "not presenting an wikipedia justifications [sic]", I quoted the applicable policies in the the archived discussion that Rama remembered. JamesMLane 08:05, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The connection to conscription is total war, and this justification was mentioned by the professor within days. Total war article only applies it to one instance that doesn't involve conscription, and that was the Punic Wars, it mentions conscription several times, but not everytime it applies, such as the American Civil War and USSR in WWII. Part of the definition in the introductory paragraph is "use all of their resources", and even this article discusses total war as a jusification for attacks on civilians.--Silverback 10:05, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Addendum: I see that you've reverted yet again. I don't think I can explain this point to you any better than I already have, so I'll post it on RfC in the hope that involving more editors will help lead to a resolution. JamesMLane 08:10, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thanx.--Silverback 10:05, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
BTW, I have looked at the archive discussion, and that was when I considered this a modern revisionist criticism, after finding the professors statement and other total war justifications that were raised by the stragic bombing earlier in the war, it is clear that total war of which conscription is an intrinsic part, is part of the justification for the bombings that was current at the time. While particular decision makers did not cite this as part of their reasoning, one has to consider what was going on, the context that made them feel something that was technically a war crime was justified. It is the same reasoning they used for the earlier bombing campaigns against germany, and the reasoning that was used by the professor in his statement, he hits both the total war, and saving lives issues. How would he know it was total war, if the children were having normal school and whe woman were at home? He knew because they weren't, all factories in Hiroshima had been converted to military production and woman and children were conscripted to work in them. --Silverback 10:15, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

In addition to the archived discussion here, which I referred to above, some similar issues were discussed at Talk:Conscription#Serious NPOV problems and later sections of that talk page. Some improvements have been made to Conscription but it's still very POV, especially in Conscription#Arguments for and against conscription. JamesMLane 17:26, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This entry and the one word you are objecting to should be judged on its own merits. The conscription page welcomes balance and is already more balanced than the murder and slavery pages. If you can come up with some justifications for conscription other than "everybody does it", "the courts give states carte blanche during war" and "Hegel says the nation state is a an organic entity with rights and perogatives of its own", go ahead, actually it doesn't have to be other than these, you are welcome to put forward these if you want. I'll support you. This site has chosen to achieve balance by presenting the arguments for and against, what the Japanese did was to conscript labor. This should not be diminished to "employ", as if there were no normative distinctions that could be drawn. Note, my phrasing is normative neutral, I call it what it is, and although I think of conscription as slavery and murder, conscription doesn't carry that as part of its meaning unless that is what the reader brings to it. At one time slavery was similarly morally neutral and broadly accepted. Despite the efforts of Gandhi and Einstein, conscription is still a morally neutral term, but I am pleased and consider it progress that you find it normative. I am open to a term you consider less normative, but it should be one that does not destroy information like employ with its completely voluntary sense. I think you will find conscription less normative than "drafted", "forced labor" or "slavery".--Silverback 17:54, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It's too bad that, when you're kind enough to say you're pleased by one of my comments, I have to un-please you! I didn't mean that "conscription" is a normative phrase. The phrase itself is acceptably neutral. I agree with you that the article on conscription should report the notable POV's, pro and con, about conscription, just as this article should report the notable POV's, pro and con, about the bombings. My disagreement with you is about notability. I've seen no indication that consideration of conscription played any significant role in the decision to bomb Hiroshima or in the opposition to that act. Similarly, I've seen no indication that fear of inciting or justifying terrorism has played any significant role in the debate over conscription. These appear to be your individual opinions. I agree that each article should be judged on its own merits. I referred to conscription here because both talk pages raise the point that Wikipedia is not the place for conducting normative debates, only for reporting them. JamesMLane 18:13, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I think the inference through the "total war" connection, which is documented is key then, and assessment of the quality of that link and the informative value of the conscription reference will decide the issue. Do you see it differently?--Silverback 18:28, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I would tend to see the key of the issue on "total war" : in lots of countries, when th modern state has a revolutionary genesis (the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan), conscription has (also) a connotation of unity of the people within a nation -- the workers and the riches wearing the same uniforms, people from all regions coming in the same regiments... (though of course the riches tend to wear officers uniforms, or skip the whole thing, mor easily than the poor do). So in peace time, it has a unifying role (look in France or Japan, very centralised countries); allows really poor people to get bases in hygien, have shoes and clothes (the best clothes some French peasants had in the XIXth Century were army uniforms); allows statistical measures of the population (how many of the drafted people can actually read and write ?)... Of course, the wartime usage is still the same.
On the other hand, the concept of "total war" is truely horrible. It has "war" in it; dates (in its modern acceptance) roughly from the First World War, the worst bloodbath from a long time; it was "officially" sacralised by Goebbels; and it is specifically a wartime phenomenon.
So in my sensibility (which is purely my own and is by no mean a universal reference), slamming "conscription" has a little bit an odd connotation (a little bit as if you were to criticise a national institution like, say national exhibitions (of course conscription is less innocent, but you probably get what I mean)), while blaming "total war" is blaming the horrors of modern war, which has forgotten the last drops of laws, of chievalry and respect. This last part being, in the current instance, a trait both of Japan and of the USA.
As for the way to implement it, I would suggest a short part providing a link to "total war".
Sorry for the lengthy babling, and thanks for your time and for your efforts on the article ! Rama 20:26, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Please make sure your justifications are fairly represented on the conscription page. However, I don't share your benign view of nationalism or unity, or that states have a paternalistic right to judge the habits of the poor. Large conscript militaries caused far more destruction in the last two centuries than all the other weapons of mass destruction combined. It is large conscript militarys that require the mobilization of total war. You are deceiving yourself if you think you can separate the two. Disciplining the citizenry to follow orders may seem benign and the demands of states may seem reasonable during times of peace but they are incompatible with freedom and democracy. Also, keep in mind, that the issue at hand on this page involved war time conscription, innocent civilians were forced to be cogs in a war machine. Perhaps Japanese society at the time was so regimented that they citizens did not even think to question the state. Perhaps they were made so sanguine by the past government regimentation of the populace in peace time, that you find benign or even beneficial. --Silverback 22:55, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, I think I have not made myself clear at all. The part in my previous comment which tends to soften the importance of conscription should not be understood, in absolutely no way, as an endorsement, relativisation or any form of defense of nationalism, dictatorship, or anything opposite to the Human Rights in their entity. My point was that, in addition of the natural and intuitive understanding of conscription, one should not forget more subtle historical meanings and tendencies. Besides, I do have at least a minumum sensibilisation of social problems. In any case, the quality of my writing is limited, and I understand that jumping to hasardous conclusion about the writer cannot always be avoided. However, I would greatly appreciate that everybody be completely convinced that "benign view of nationalism or unity", "that states have a paternalistic right to judge the habits of the poor" or "regimentation of the populace in peace time, that [ I] find benign or even beneficial" do not describe my opinions, and are in fact very much opposite to anything I believe in.
My point is that conscription would indeed seem, in my understanding of things, dissociable from total war. Total war indeed implies conscription, but the opposite is not true -- to begin with, lots of countries which practive conscription are at peace. For counter-example, modern Germany is a very democratic state, is a recognised and appreciated member of the European Union, is by no way an aggressive or nationalist country, yet does practice mendatory conscription. Therefore, I allow myself to bring forth the questions:
- Is conscription equal to total war ? (I think they are not equal; anybody thinking otherwise is very welcome to explain his point, and discuss the counter-example of modern Germany)
- What would better explain the use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese people, "conscription" or "total war" ? (I think "total war"; of course anybody here again is very welcome to construct an analys about this)
- On the basis of the answers to the question above, would it be possible to decide on a permanent agreement for a part of the article which would adress this matter once for all ? (I hope it could)
I am sure we all have the honesty, culture and intellectual qualities to study these question, making abstractions of our personal feelings or political opinions, and without jumping to hasty and unpleasant conclusions to each other's personalities. So, apologies again for the ambiguities my clumsiness my induce, and thanks ! Rama 23:41, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
don't be too hard on yourself, I know you did not want to support such nationalism, and I know that for some mysterious reason, currently pacifist nations like Germany continue to have conscription. I suspect it is a jobs program because their unemployment rate is so high, and they want to instill a sense of social obligation, although I hope it results in resentment of the state, but germans may be too subservient for that. However, I think your portrayal of the issue on this page is the opposite of what it should be. You point out, and I agree, that one can have conscription without total war. This issue is whether one can have total war without conscription. Japan did have conscription, including of woman and children. James contention is that this did not contribute to the professors impression of Japan at total war, "as waged in Japan". My contention is it was there and it would have been quite different in Japan without it. If you read a lot of the personal histories of the student victims of the atomic bomb, they all refer to their duties in the student mobilization, and they also wore uniforms in that capacity. Do you really think it is correct or honest to say "employment" rather than "conscription"?.--Silverback 00:01, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Silverback, you just keep on missing my point. Wikipedia is not the forum for expounding your views on conscription or nationalism or total war or whatever. This is an article about the atomic bombings. Conscription had nothing to do with that subject. You have given no reason to believe that any expert or any notable body of opinion draws a connection. Your personal opinion that there is a logical connection is, to be blunt about it, totally immaterial. And what if you're right and the rest of the world is wrong? Then you'll just have to argue for your view elsewhere and come back here when that POV has become part of the public discussion of the issue. I repeat, it is misleading for you to quote this professor in support of your opinion about conscription when his article contains absolutely no reference to conscription. JamesMLane 02:58, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You have not reviewed the evidence in good faith. I presented plenty of evidence, although some of it was search terms because it was so voluminous, yet you insist on the the euphamism "employed" for what was conscription. Do you really think the professor thought mere employment was total war as fought by the Japanese. If you really cannot make the logical leap from mandatory student mobilization of middle school age students and above (with uniforms no less) to conscription, then I am willing to go with the former, but you the "employed" position you have staked out for yourself is an indefensible loss of relevant information that changes the moral sense of what was going on. You have already failed to make a case for total war without conscription as documented above. And you are disingenous about no notable body of opinion drawing a connection because you were involved in the total war discussion on the conscription page and saw the direct connect made by the Brandeis quote. Your unwillingness to make a logical leap is lack of good faith, why don't you go to the Iraq war page and insist it was just a conflict because it wasn't declared.--Silverback 06:23, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
OK, I see now that part of our problem is that, in your view, my wording was taking a position on the conscription question. That was unintentional. I'm not insisting on the euphemism "employed" to hide conscription. My point is that this section isn't about conscription; it's about the decision to drop the bomb. If you think "employed" incorrectly connotes a free labor market rather than conscription, I'm certainly willing to ditch that word. From the point of view of the "total war" argument for targeting civilians, what matters is that they were there in the factories working. How they got there (conscription versus high wages versus nationalistic fervor) doesn't matter to the argument that the work they were performing was part of a total war effort and that they were therefore legitimate targets. I agree with you that we shouldn't, for example, try to convey an impression that they volunteered and therefore got themselves into this mess and were therefore legitimate targets. The supporters don't make that argument, and this section is about presenting what the supporters say.
I think "worked" is just as euphemistic as "employed", so I have implemented a different wording that I hope is acceptable, "", but while conscription was not mentioned specifically, the professor did state "as waged in Japan" in regard to total war, and while the U.S. leadership probably did realize that they too were engaging in total war, they thought they were waging it in a more moral way and not just for more moral goals. While I agree that the U.S. civilians were probably also legitimate military targets, despite the gray lines that are being drawn here, it is probable that the U.S leadership would still draw those lines. Note, that slave labor as was prosecuted as a war crime even when the victims were German citizens.--Silverback 00:06, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
At the very top of your talk page, I see that VeryVerily made the point to you in September: If you want the article to report that "supporters say" something, you should at a minimum identify a supporter of some notability who actually says it. Your latest insert asserts that "supporters of the bombings have argued that the Japanese government waged total war, including mandating that women and children work in factories." But the reference to "mandating" is still not in any source you've cited. Is there one single human being in this whole wide world who argues that the bombings were justified because there was such "mandating" going on, as opposed to the simple fact that the civilians were working there? We keep going around and around on this and you never provide one single source for your assertion that "supporters say" this. You have not explained what's wrong with my version as a summary of what the cited reference actually says. I'm going to remove the totally unsubstantiated claim that unnamed "supporters say" this. I'm sorry if my tone seems harsh but I'm very frustrated by having to spend so much time on the simple point that contested assertions should not be included in a Wikipedia article unless they can be documented. JamesMLane 00:19, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Note the new version properly documents the source of the mandatory service information, although I think it is clear the professors saw the state of affairs in Japan, and probably meant the coercive mobilization that was visible everywhere, when he reffered to total war as practiced in Japan. There was something extreme about it, if you can suggest what else that might have been other than this ubiquitously visible policy, please let us know, it would make a good addition to the support section. Are you sure there isn't something personal in this? You leave alone nearly the same assertion, totally unattributed in the opposition section. I am sure there are other issues there also that would not survive determined resistance.--Silverback 05:41, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The issue is not whether the article "properly documents the source of the mandatory service information". The issue is whether the article about the atomic bombings properly documents that supporters have defended Truman's decision on the basis of Japan's mandating of service. How many times do I have to say the same thing? No one but you makes such a link. You think the professor "probably" meant that. Sorry, but your interpretation of what he probably meant doesn't answer my "minor technical concern" that, as I stated above, "contested assertions should not be included in a Wikipedia article unless they can be documented." As for the statement in the opposition section, it's like the professor's full article, and like my version of the "Support" wording, in that it makes no reference to conscription, the draft, mandatory mobilization, or anything like that. I'm assuming your comment refers to the second bulleted point under "Opposition". That point simply states that civilians were working in factories. So does my language for the "Support" point. (In fact, as I look at the first few bullets under "Opposition", they seem somewhat overlapping. In addition, the sentence about industry is giving the counter to the opposition argument, which isn't done for any of the supporters' arguments, so maybe the problematic sentence you identify should be deleted entirely.) JamesMLane 07:17, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The obvious link is through Father Seimes, recall this phrase from his quote: "there was no difference between civilians and soldiers", in the context of total war "as carried on in Japan", this phrase has meaning, and as a resident in Hiroshima, he was able to see the lack of distinction between military and civilian and considered it a notable Japan distinction. If you read some of the testimony of survivors who were part of the student mobilization, they refer to "orders" and "uniforms". Here is the testimony of Setsuko Thurlow "On August 6th 1945 I was a 13-year-old, grade eight student, at a girls school and a member of the student mobilization program. At an Army Headquarter one-mile out from hypocenter we were starting the very first day of work, decoding messages. At 8:15 am, I suddenly saw the bluish white flash, like magnesium flares, from outside the window. I then remember the sensation of floating through the air." NOTE, this thirteen year old girl is decoding messages at an Army Headquarters. Grade schoolers had been sent out of the city. I am making this proposal in good faith.--Silverback 10:39, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Also, in terms of giving an accurate picture of U.S. officials' thinking in 1945, I've again moved this point to the bottom. Their main concern was that, without the atomic bombings, Japan would not have surrendered, necessitating an invasion or perhaps a long-term blockade, either of which would have had drawbacks. To give a fair picture of the supporters' arguments, we should give prominence to what they emphasized. In fact, not just at the time, but still today, a major focus of the discussion is what would have happened without the bombings. The article reports the comments on that question from multiple historians, military leaders, and contemporary observers. That material will be of more general interest than Professor Siemes's point.
Finally, in response to your comment below, I agree with linking to the article on total war, which is the concept that Professor Siemes invoked. JamesMLane 18:11, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I think you also misrepresent the sentence in dispute, because it is clear that the link is being made with "total war", just as in the professors statement. The conscription mention is just in a dependent clause modifying total war, to clarify that it is a little more extreme on the domestic front in Japan that westerners might be familiar with. I could have mentioned other enhancers of Japanese total war, such as the extreme ruthlessness, frequency and hign level sanction of their atrocities (by western standards), but that is already familiar in the west and would have been redundant.--Silverback 06:51, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think that we are making some pogress here.

Do I adequately discribe the our common position as agreeding that the concept of "Total War" is the most accurate formulation for the overall practice of using men for combat duty and women and children for production and non-combat war duty, which can explain the use of nuclear weapons ?

yes, of course, there is a logical chain that is implicitly between the two, civilians as an integral part of the war effort are justified as targets, this was the issue in the day time vs night time strategic bombing of germany as well.--Silverback 09:24, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Also, I understand that there is a question about the use of "employed" for mendatory (or strongly socially pressured) word in factories. Perhaps we want to work a little bit on this ? Though I recognise that the word "employement" in this context amongs to an under-statement, I think the word "conscription" for this would be strange to the reader, since (I quote the article) "Conscription or mandatory military service, is a general term for government policies that require citizens to serve in their armed forces." What about "mandatory work in factories" ? (though we'd technically need to evaluate to what extend the work was "mendatory", I am confident that in first approximation this would be acceptable).

I don't think you can go by that article, there is a forced labor component also, that the article does not sufficiently represent, although it mentions it I think, or at least did at one time. For instance, Bible commentary almost always refers to the labor that built the Temple in Jerusalem in the old testament as conscription. You will find internet references to conscription when the underlying law was a "mandatory mobilization of women" to work in factories as in Great Britain in WWII. So, my use of conscription in this context is not that unusual. You are correct that some other way of signifying that the labor was mandatory would probably be acceptable to me, that is the key piece of information that should not be diminished.--Silverback 09:24, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Oh, as for uniforms, I am not sure that you should focus on this too much: wearing a uniform does not have the same connotations everywhere. In Japan, high school student wear uniforms (I think they are quite well-known though the spread of manga); these are used to indicate a social status as a young person in training (a little more than the high school uniforms that you might have found in some British schools, for instance -- a young Japanese would probably wear his high school uniform on formal non-school events). So, unless we can acertain that these women and high school student wore military uniforms, it would be safe to drop this.

Thanks ! Rama 08:54, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Thanx for that information. From my reading of the personal accounts of survivors on the internet, however, it was not either a military uniform nor their middle (yes, middle school age children were conscripted) or high school uniforms, but it was a special uniform for the mandatory mobilization of students.--Silverback 09:24, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

more discussion

It's more relevant to the invasion than to the bombing campaign, but from Downfall p.189
  On March 23, the cabinet order the formation of the Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps across the whole nation. This corps constituted a mechanism for inducting the whole body of citizens. ...
  What this sea of civilians lacked besides training were arms and even uniforms. A mobilized high-school girl, Yukiko Kasai, found herself issued an awl and told: "Even killing one American soldier will do. You must aim at the enemy's abdomen." ... Japan lacked the cloth to put those civilians into uniforms--one senior general spoke of his hope to provide them with patches on their civilian clothes. ... At least one Fifth Air Force intelligence officer took the Japanese at their publicly broadcast word of total mobilization and declared in a July 21 report, "The entire population of Japan is a proper Military Target.... THERE ARE NO CIVILIANS IN JAPAN."
—wwoods 20
43, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for this quotation. It suggests that the introduction to the quotation about the lost distinction between soldiers and civilians should include reference to resisting any invasion, so I've added it in that paragraph of the section about supporters' arguments. JamesMLane 08:28, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Many personal accounts from the mobilization of students, mention that they had both uniforms and "orders", so apparently the lack of cloth was not universal.--Silverback 09:41, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Shouldn't we have a section on expression of remorse or otherwise by those involved in the bombing? I read somewhere that Co-pilot of the Enola Gay Capt. Robert Lewis spontaneously exclaimed upon releasing that cargo, My God! What have we done!?. -- Sundar 10:44, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

I heard this too, but as a urban legend. However it would certainly be very interesting to document this further. Lots of physicists expressed horror at the bombing, or remorse; quotes by Oppenheimer, Heisenberg or Einstein will probably be easy to find. Do you want to take care of this ? Interesting idea in any case ! Rama 12:39, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I am adding material from various sources below -- Sundar 13:42, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)


Following is a quote from [3] I have no remorse about the making of the bomb and Trinity [the first test of an a-bomb]. That was done right. As for how we used it, I understand why it happened and appreciate with what nobility those men with whom I'd worked made their decision. But I do not have the feeling that it was done right. The ultimatum to Japan [the Potsdam Proclamation demanding Japan's surrender] was full of pious platitudes. ...our government should have acted with more foresight and clarity in telling the world and Japan what the bomb meant. (Lansing Lamont, "Day of Trinity", pg. 332-333).

After the war, Oppenheimer chaired the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He opposed developing an even more powerful hydrogen bomb. -- Sundar 13:42, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)




"The atom bomb was no 'great decision.'? It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness."

More quotes

More quote :

I didn't expect comments from Eistein and Heisenberg to be non-trivial not find. It seesm taht Einstein did't make any public comment for one year after the event. As for Heinsenberg, I'll have to re-check The Part and The Whole and Natural law and the structure of matter . Cheers ! Rama 14:50, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Yet another section about conscription conscription conscription

Silverback, I know you think that "mandatory mobilization" is very important, but your incessant insertion of your POV here is totally unjustified. Since you will tirelessly restore your personal opinion no matter how many times you are challenged to provide support for it, how about if we take your latest version and reword it this way, by the addition of the italicized language (which wouldn't be italicized in the article):

In response to the argument that the large-scale killing of civilians was immoral and a war crime, supporters of the bombings have argued that the Japanese government waged total war, in which many civilians (including women and children) worked in factories and military offices under mandatory mobilizations and would fight against any invading force , although there is no reason to believe that the "mandatory" nature of the mobilization had any influence on U.S. policymakers or has subsequently been cited by anyone as a factor that supports the decision to use the atomic bombs.

It appears to me that the addition would be completely factual. JamesMLane 17:11, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I have given many reasons to believe, and the quote provided by wwoods above shows that the concept of Japanese civilians as legitimate military targets was put forward in an official document before the Atomic bombing, although, that relates to the role assigned to the civilians in resisting an invasion. How about this alternative to "no reason to believe": "although the "mandatory" nature of the mobilization, contributes to the sense of totality of the war, it has not been specifically cited by anyone as a factor that supports the decision to use the atomic bombs", I also intend to simplify the description, and may drop the mandatory. --Silverback 19:49, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
perhaps the phrase we are discussing should be a counterpoint after the quote, I don't want to interrupt the flow to the quote.--Silverback 19:57, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You write: "I have given many reasons to believe, and the quote provided by wwoods above shows that the concept of Japanese civilians as legitimate military targets was put forward in an official document before the Atomic bombing, although, that relates to the role assigned to the civilians in resisting an invasion." Everything in that sentence of yours, and everything that anyone has given any evidence for, is reflected in the wording that I inserted most recently:
In response to the argument that the large-scale killing of civilians was immoral and a war crime, supporters of the bombings have argued that the Japanese government waged total war, in which many civilians (including women and children) worked in factories and would fight against any invading force.
That language includes the work in factories, it includes the role in resisting an invasion, and it provides the context for the quotation. It remains factual and NPOV by avoiding speculation about what Professor Siemes "probably meant". Really, all it omits is what you would say in elaboration if you, instead of Professor Siemes, were being called on to discuss the subject. Given that it reflects what the sources say, can we go with this version? JamesMLane 23:27, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Your sentence gives the POV that WWII Japan was a benign democracy, even if you think Siemes and the U.S. leadership did not consider it, we should "err" on the side of accuracy, these civilians were ordered around. It may not be politically correct to think so, but Japan was more totalitarian than the U.S., and perhaps even more relevant to this, many people at the time thought Japan was more totalitarian than the U.S. Your phrasing tars these innocent civilians with voluntary cooperation with the war effort, they were more likely misinformed sheep, used to being ordered around and doing what they were told, because questioning this government was out of the question.--Silverback 11:54, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It certainly wasn't my intention to convey any impression (either way) about whether Japan was democratic. For example, I saw that you read an implication into my earlier phrasing that people "were employed" in factories, which might suggest that they got there because of an arm's-length labor market, so I switched to saying they "worked" there, which was silent about whether it was voluntary, quasi-voluntary or conscripted.
One part of your comment was helped me see where you and I differ, when you wrote: "even if you think Siemes and the U.S. leadership did not consider it, we should 'err' on the side of accuracy, these civilians were ordered around." If Siemes, the U.S. leadership, and others referred to did not consider it, then we shouldn't include it, at least not here. I keep coming back to the point that this article is about the atomic bombing. This section is about the "Support" arguments concerning Truman's decision. Therefore, our goal is not to present an accurate picture of Japan in 1945; it's to present an accurate picture of the arguments, made in 1945 or since then, in favor of dropping the bomb. It might be accurate to say that these civilians were ordered around, or that a majority of them followed the Shinto religion, or that a wartime shortage of sweets had at least proved beneficial to their overall dental health. I'm not endorsing any of these views. I'm saying that none of them belong in this section of this article unless they've been actually advanced in support of the bombing. We have an obligation to be fair to those supporters, to not put words in their mouths.
From that perspective, this section certainly shouldn't say (or imply) that, in general, civilians voluntarily cooperated with the war effort. Neither, however, should it say or imply that they were misinformed sheep being ordered around. As I think you yourself have mentioned, that sounds more like an argument against the bomb -- someone could conceivably argue that it would be OK to kill civilians who acted out of ardent nationalism, because they were partly culpable, but not OK to kill civilians who were conscripted, because they were victims, not malefactors.
As far as we've seen, supporters of the bombings have pointed to what the civilians were doing or were likely to do, but haven't pointed to why the civilians were doing it (enthusiasm versus compulsion). Therefore, our language describing the supporters' views should omit the point entirely. If you can identify which part of my proposed phrasing paints Japan as a benign democracy, or charges the civilians with voluntary cooperation, I'll gladly change it. JamesMLane 16:10, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You are correct, I consider conscripts, whether civilian or military to be innocent victims and not legitimate military targets and I also consider volunteers and citizens of a democracy less innocent and more culpable. The people of Japan were liberated for democracy, perhaps against their misinformed wills, but for their own good, much as is happening now, much more humanely, in Iraq. I have no objection to also referring to these civilian victims of the Japanese government as more innocent and less legitimate as military targets in the opposition section, however, I think that is revisionist thinking. At the time, of the bombings, most people still imbued governments with mystical hegelian moral authority to legitimize civilians as military targets. Even ordained priests such as Father Siemes accepted this secular faith. He lived in Japan, and the total mobilization of civilians "as waged in Japan" was in his face every day. The students at his religious schools were required to work. Furthermore, the U.S. leaders faced the moral issue of civilain targets, when they switched from tactical daytime bombing to strategic nighttime bombing and they did so with less justification than they had for the Hiroshima bombing, for Hiroshima they could claim a net lives saved justification, for the strategic bombing they were only reducing their own losses, and they too accepted the mystical right of the state to legitimize civilians as military targets, as demonstrated by their own use of conscription. These people were not cynical nihilists who conscripted merely because they could i.e., they had the power, they thought they had not just a right to, but a duty to do so, if they felt is was necessary. These hegelian fascist notions were nearly universal then, and are still present in many nations today, Germany, Egypt, Israel, etc. (see list in conscription). Japan was engaged in total war, and the west considered it more total than the war they waged, less distinction between military and civlians both their own and of their targets in other countries, and less observance of the rules of war. Of course, this was used to justify less particularity on the part of the west as well.--Silverback 17:13, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Whoah, Nellie! You just said (emphasis mine) "I consider conscripts, whether civilian or military to be innocent victims and not legitimate military targets". Are you really saying that a soldier in uniform, with a gun, is not a legitimate military target, if they were conscripted? Sorry, that's completely unreasonable. Noel (talk) 13:25, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, the over 100,000 conscripts in Saddam's bunkers that the U.S. buried in Kuwait, were innocent victims, as were the 10's of thousands of U.S. conscripts killed in Vietnam and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. conscripts killed in WWII. The state has no capability to take away their innocence. If you posit such a mechanism, then it can also be applied to other civilians, such as those forced to work in factories as part of the war machine. What is unreasonable is to imbue the state with supernatural moral authority.--Silverback 17:48, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well, "innocent victim" not-nessarily-== "not legitimate military target". However, I understand your point (that all coerced people have some similarity in their situation), and there is some truth to it. At the same time, I'm not about to, for example, condemn a German soldier because they shot an Allied soldier, in uniform, and with a gun, just because the Allied soldier had been drafted. So you need to examine your line of reasoning to find some way to distinguish the soldier-uniform-weapon case from the child-in-bed-at-home case. Noel (talk) 00:00, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
PS: I'm pleased to hear you oppose income tax.
While the German soldier should avoid killing innocent conscripts if possible, I put more blame on the American leadership. After killing several hundred thousand of their own innocent civilians, it should come as no surprise they were able to overcome moral qualms at killing enemy civilians, such is the erosive effect of total war. More apropo to the article at hand than a child in bed, is the student mobilization in Japan, one case is a thirteen year old girl, in student mobilization uniform, decoding messages in an army office. Another case are similar students ordered to work in a munitions factory. Another case are students in their school, no longer studying because that has been suspended, their school has been converted to a factory and they have been ordered to make uniforms. Another are students ordered to destroy buildings downtown to create a fire break to reduce damage in case of a fire bomb attack. First through third grade students have been evacuated to the country. All these conditions existed in Hiroshima, documented by personal testimony posted and more encyclopedic articles on the internet. Which students, if any do you acknowledge the power of the Japanese government to legitimize as targets or to utilize as military assets?--Silverback 08:52, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Your first sentence was most illuminating. But let's move on.
To answer your question briefly, to me these examples are obviously in the middle between soldiers (whether conscripted or not) and true civilians. All they do for me is emphasize how tricky these questions are.
But to return to the startling implication of the philosophical basis of your position, the one that drew me here (about conscripted soldiers not being legitimate military targets). Let's assume that we have a pair of German and British WWII conscripts (to take the nationalities to a different space) facing each other. If they aren't legitimate military targets, that can only be because they aren't really military personnel - if they were, they'd be legitimate military targets, right? Therefore we have two (moral) civilians facing each other. If one fires, surely he is comitting attempted murder? And if the other fires back, surely he is doing nothing but defending himself, as allowed by civil law in most countries? Am I missing something? Noel (talk) 13:29, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Eisenhower's opinion

The statement about Eisenhower's opinion needs to be qualified. From Downfall, p. 332
    The standard postwar canon condemning the use of atomic bombs now asserts routinely that General Dwight D. Eisenhower told Secretary of War Stimson at a July 1945 meeting that the use of an atomic bomb ("that awful thing") was not necessary and that Japan ("already defeated") would surrender. There is only one source for this episode, Eisenhower's own postwar recollections--the first in 1948 and a second variant in 1963 that somehow gained much additional detail (for example, Stimson is described as "furious"). The strongest refutation of this recollection is Stimson's own contemporaneous account. Stimson maintained a detailed diary that is an unfailing record of all his discussions on the atomic bomb, yet both entries reflecting meetings with Eisenhower in July 1945 contain no hint of such an exchange, nor do the official or semiofficial records of the period or the diaries of Leahy, Arnold, or any other relevant party.
    Beyond Eisenhower's flawed memory, there is the fundamental question of his knowledge of military and political developments in the Pacific. In a letter of July 12, 1945, to an old friend, Eisenhower confessed he had not the "slightest idea of what is going to happen in the Pacific." Eisenhower does not seem to have received Pacific-theater Ultra or Magic during this period.
Mind you, Eisenhower's own recollection seems like a pretty good source, good enough to include--but so are his letter, and Stimson. How about
Some have claimed that the Japanese were already essentially defeated, and therefore use of the bombs was unnecessary. After the war, General Dwight D. Eisenhower reccollected saying as much to the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, in July of 1945. ...
—wwoods 04
35, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't know how much detail about the timing we need to include. When did Akio Morita make the pro-bombing comment that we quote? Was it well after the war, when he might have been trying to suck up to Americans whose business he wanted? If so, should we note the timing of his remark, too?
My main objection to your suggested paraphrase was that it doesn't really convey the argument that Japan would have surrendered without an invasion and without the bombings -- but then I checked back and saw that you just adapted the current text, which also does a poor job of conveying that. I don't feel strongly about your including the fact that Eisenhower recollected (not "reccollected") the conversation after the war, but at some point the rest of the paragraph should be revised. JamesMLane 07:54, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
And, yes, before anyone else mentions it, I'll acknowledge that I heavily revised this paragraph a couple months ago without fixing the language that now bothers me. So sue me.  :) JamesMLane 08:01, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Somewhat neutral POV

The following section was added :

Somewhat neutral POV

When governments decide among themselves to suspend the sixth commandment and civilians get caught in the middle, is one means of killing them more justified than another? Numbers of civilians were killed by conventional bombs in both Germany and Japan that equaled those killed by the nuclear bombs. This reduces the argument to whether it is more moral to kill large numbers of civilians with a large number of conventional bombs than a small number of nuclear bombs.

Justified or not, using nuclear bombs so terrified those upon whom they were used, those who watched and even those who actually used them that it changed the face of warfare forever. There will probably never again be a war where superpower is pitted directly against superpower because of the fear that it will escalate into a nuclear conflagration. Would this be true if the U.S. had not used nuclear bombs against real cities in a real war? It seems that whole peoples will hunker-down and watch thousands of their neighbors killed and maimed over time where they will not stand to see thousands vaporized in an instant. Through history there have been many weapons thought to be so terrible that they would make war unthinkable but wars continued. There are still skirmishes between potentate wanabes but there has not been a "real" war between civilized nations since actually dropping "the bomb" on Japan showed us what that will become next time. Would we have learned our lesson if the Sword Of Damocles had not actually been swung?

I think that the question raised here is interesting, be hardly formulised in such a way as to be acceptable in the article. I suggest we discuss these issues here on the talk page, and commit the section when it will be ready. Rama 01:01, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)