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Memories from Nagasaki

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Japan’s threats cemented our decision

By Jay Miller

NAGASAKI  1945 — Decision time had come. Do we invade the main islands of Japan or do we drop atomic bombs? There were strong feelings on both sides.
But most of our political and military leaders came down on the side of the bomb. America was heavily committed to the Manhattan Project.
It had cost $2 billion and had been run on a breakneck, two year schedule to be ready prior to the Japanese invasion.
We’d done it. The bombs were ready. As Robert Oppenheimer, the project’s scientific director, put it “The decision (to use the bombs) was implicit in the project.”
Japan also helped make our decision by assuring that an invasion would be overwhelmingly costly in terms of American casualties. Iwo Jima and Okinawa had been nightmares. Based on projections from those two battles, it was estimated that we would suffer a million casualties in the two years it would take to finish the job.
It didn’t matter that Japan was already beaten. We had cut off her fuel and food supplies. We had wiped out her Navy.
All that was left of her once-proud air power were the kamikaze planes.
The kamikazes, however, couldn’t win the war, but they could inflict heavy enemy losses. Estimates put kamikaze planes and pilots at 10,000.


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