Finley: Japan owed no apology for bombs
Survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to end World War II are urging President Barack Obama to apologize for their suffering when he arrives at the Hiroshima blast site Friday, the first visit of its kind by a U.S. president.
The White House says Obama won’t say “We’re sorry” on behalf of the United States. And he shouldn’t. Nor should he suggest any regret on the part of this country for the first and only use of nuclear weapons.
Japan, like Germany and Italy, is now our good friend, and that is one of the most remarkable outcomes of the Second World War. Even the most hateful of enemies can be reunited by an embrace of freedom and democracy.
But Japan should not be allowed to pretend it was the victim of America’s decision to use the bomb. Those who endured the hell rained on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the victims of rabid Japanese imperialism, which unleashed on the world one of the most brutally sadistic armies ever raised.
The Japanese raged across Asia in the name of their emperor, committing atrocities that still haunt the continent. The Asian Holocaust left 20 million or more dead, 100 times more than the 200,000 who died in the two Japanese cities hit by atomic bombs.
The rape, torture and other war crimes committed in Nanking, Bataan, Manilla and on the battlefields of the Pacific reflect a depravity to rival that of Nazi Germany. The Japanese soldiers, plain and simple, were butchers.
That’s not who the Japanese people are today. But still they must own their past, and not deflect blame to those who sacrificed so much to stop their country’s carnage.
President Harry Truman determined the best way to at last end the war was with a final act of death and destruction, one that would put an end to Japan’s vow to defend the homeland at any cost. The atomic bombs accomplished that mission.
The Blame America First club, of which Obama is a loyal member, contend the war would have ended without the use of atomic bombs. They say Japan was ready to negotiate terms. And that the same results could have been achieved by dropping a demonstration bomb far from a population center.
They may even be right about some of it. But they’ve also had the advantage of 70 years of hindsight and the deep examination of Japanese war records. Truman didn’t have that.
What he had was a nation weary of seeing its soldiers die in a war it didn’t start, but bore the responsibility of finishing.
Had it not been for the bomb, Truman likely would have ordered an invasion of the Japanese mainland. His military advisers predicted such an operation would produce 500,000 allied casualties.
And so he ordered the bombs dropped instead.
My family has a dog in this fight. My father fought on Okinawa, where 12,500 allied troops were killed in one of the bloodiest battles of the war. That nightmare was a foretaste of what to expect in a landing on the shores of Japan, and that’s what my dad was training for when the bombs fell.
Truman was his hero, and he would be incredulous today to know a U.S. president was offering any hint of remorse for a decision he believed saved his life. In expressing sympathy for Japan’s bombing victims today, Obama must be careful not to dishonor those the Japanese victimized.
Nolan Finley’s “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice” is available from Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble Nook.