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The Contender
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The use of A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: a war crime that can't be justified?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 967 times Debate No: 53498
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




I believe that the use can't be justified.
May want to add, that I've been debating for quite some time on this subject and I find it evident that the killing of innocent civilians is unjust.
Many Americans, and some others, think that this is not true and that a contextual explanation exists that would justify the use of those bombs.
For this reason, I will leave them to attack the statement as they are clearly a minority group. People who will quote what they have been taught in high school, are obviously missing out on historical truth and won't provide me with a decent opponent.
I hope to have an interesting debate!


Contention 1: It saved Lives

During World War 2, Japan was in national suicide mode to the point that when the US would invade Japan it would have taken over 1 million Americans to do so making the war last a lot longer than it did. ( With Japan in national suicide mode they have proved at the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa that they would kill until either they achieved victory or all the Japanese were dead. ( The Japanese were so intimidated by the US that they threw their own children into the ocean and then themselves committed suicide than rather being captured by the Americans. This occurred at the Battle of Saipan (

We can see here that the Japanese would have fought to the last man in Japan and the island of Japan would have been a desolate waste land. It has been estimated that in the early hours of the invasion that the Japanese would take 1,000 causalities per hour. ( The Japanese were also training their children during recess at this time to carry bombs on them and that when the Americans would come for Operation Downfall, to run under American tanks and blow themselves up. It is obvious here that we have saved Japanese lives.

After the 2 atom bombs, Japan still was not going to surrender as the Kyujo Incident occurred afterwards. This was when the Japanese military attempted to overthrow the Japanese Emperor in order to prevent him from surrendering. This Coups was stopped due to a US areal bombing that day killed most of the Coup leaders and stopped the Coup from occurring. (

Contention 2: The Cold War

It is known that we were developing the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project to the point were it took $2 billion to complete ( Let's look at some interesting stats. For one second let's imagine the US did not use the bomb, but still the won the war. We had the atomic bomb and so did Russia. The Cold War began and due to the fact that we did not know what the bomb did we would have been more likely to use it on Russia or another communist satellite state during the Cold War causing Nuclear War.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for your reply.

contention 1:

Japan was, IMO, giving orders for "national suicide mode" but that didn't have the large-scale effects which America thought it would have.
I will now quote someone who has convinced me of the fact that the people of Japan were NOT following these orders, and therefore that the Japanese civilians would not fight to death. He replied this to so someone making similar claims as yourself:
"I do not know where you researched this, but it is simply wrong. I would like to see a source for this. The true fact is that most Japanese people were actually beginning to want their government to surrender. They didn't want the war, but they had no say in their Imperial government and did not dare question the Emperor. Occupation of Japan may have actually been easier than the Allies and Operation Downfall probably would have ultimately been an easy, clear victory. Or we could have just as easily carried on the blockade until they gave up which with modern research suggests would have happened within another year easily.

Source: "

In addition to that, I must ask you a simple question: would you sacrifice your children for an emperor you had never seen? No reasonable person would do such a thing!

I must remind you that the other events you sum up, were exceptional because of them taking place on an island: President Hirohito simply wanted to prevent them from favouring American soldiers because of the nice treatment they received by those soldiers. On the mainland, people were more reasonable and living in bigger cities. On those islands, the soldiers (which were there in very large numbers, with more material than mainland soldiers would have had) fought to death, but the suicides were on a relatively small scale: on Saipan, only a 1000 civilians did committ suicide. I believe the cases of throwing their children off a cliff are even countable using 2 digit numbers. Cruel, yes, but not to be generalised as if all of the mainland would do such things.

In regards to them fighting to the last man, I must agree to you that without doubt the soldiers would have done that. But their leaders, 2 of the "big 6" were actively seeking peace and made attempts to convince their own government to give up on the war. It were the military leaders who prevented that negotiation between Japan and America would be opened.
But the invasion was not the only option. Having this info through the cracked codes, America could have approached Japan during the time their blockade was up. They did not.

I must also remind you that all of these "operation downfall facts" are completely hypothetical. They are based off what happened in Okinawa and Saipan and applied the same numbers to the Japanese mainland. The mentality on the mainland was not the same though, so such argument does not count. Because the training camps were mandatory, does not mean the civilians would have chosen death over surrender.

The second reason why the invasion argument doesn't count, is because there were other alternatives. Earlier i said that negotiation was a better alternative. And even if that didn't work, warnings like a warning bomb or something more effective than the LeMay bombing leaflets would have been more appropriate. Other alternatives exist as well, but they are equally as cruel as A-bombing. Firebombing, starvation or the "bat bomb" they had developed.

Lastly you spoke of the post-bomb situation. Why does this coup matter? We already know some of the military leaders were never going to give up fighting. America should have stopped those earlier, because that would have resulted in immediate peace. Earlier, prime minister Suzuki had been appointed to achieve peace. That was BEFORE the A-bombs. Here, we see that Japan clearly made effort for peace to some degree. America did nothing to help the peace-side in the Japanese debate.

Contention 2:

I agree that the use of the bomb once, has resulted in a fear of both countries to use such weapons on a large scale. But at the time of dropping the bomb, America did not know this. Russia had not developed such weapons yet, so it does not count as an argument in Truman's favor. Also, it does not justify the use of Fat Man on Nagasaki.


Contention 1: It saved Lives

Japan was not give orders for national suicide, because it was just the way the Japanese culture is. ( Japan was fallowing this procedure very well as they where to kill 10 Americans per 1 Japanese killed. ( The Japanese also had used Suicide pilots to fly into American ships and this is when that they would kill themselves to hurt the US. Many of the Japanese leaders on these Pacific Island Battles committed Harikiri where they would take a sword and kill themselves. (

Saipan's population is only a fraction of that of Japan's. It seems obvious that if it was done at Saipan that the Japanese would do the same thing as I stated earlier due to their die hard attitude. ( My opponent also drops the point that I brought up in round 1 about the Japanese children preparing to blow themselves up to destroy American tanks. Completely whipping out the Japanese youth.

My opponent states that the estimations for Operation Downfall are incorrect since they are only estimations, but remember that we did not invade Japan so estimations from the sources that I had provided are all we have and since I provided sources they still stand.

My opponent brings up the alternatives, but each one of them is futile. Japan refused to surrender after Potsdam, but eventually came to terms. (

The Bat bombs plan was cancelled, because they flew into Edwards air force base during testing and blew it up. (

We also tried to Warn Japan as we dropped leaflets that were in Japanese that had warned the Japanese of such an attack, but they ignored it. ( Also imagine if the US told the Japanese government that, "Hey look at the Tokyo bay and we'll drop our new super awesome weapon." We drop it and nothing happens. This would only make the Japanese fight harder as they would be calling our bluff.

Contention 2: Cold War

One has to look at the probability. If one has a weapon and they do not know how it would work they are more capable to use it. Russia still would have stolen our nuclear weapon technology, because it was inevitable that the US and Russia were going to go into a Cold War as Russia said the US was their next enemy as Communism and Capitalism are polar opposites.

Debate Round No. 2


Contention 1:

Before the order was given by Hirohito, no Japanese civilians had killed theirselves in such numbers. I'm pretty sure you can find this yourself on the wiki page about the Japanese suicides.

Still though, this wole first contention you have spoken about an invasion without taking the alternatives into account. We are ofcourse convinced that the Japanese would fight - we are just not convinced that an invasion was the only other way.

You completely ignored what I said, as I don't provide sources. I find it mere logic that Japanese were not the savages you describe them to be, as only a very few have actually let their children die. For these, you use american memoires as a source: that proves that it was on a small scale, rather than in terms of thousands of mothers letting their own children die. I don't believe the average woman would be capable of such a thing, though. You don't need research for that. These cases, are exceptions.

About Operation Downfall: in my source, you will find plenty of proof that the estimates later seemed incorrect. America had already damaged Japan to such a degree, the Japanese defenses were not as strong as estimated back then. For example, Japan had alot less planes left and, if you have not read this yet: Kamikaze's damage was overrated afterwards. Not only that, Japans plane production was reduced so much could not launch attacks similar to those they had launched at, F.E., Okinawa.
Your provided source is a well-known site always used in defense of America. I prefer the wikipedia article on the subject, as it is written more objectively: It shows all estimates, There are no vague claims like "1000 casualties per hour". There is no way to estimate such a thing. Although i agree that these estimates all prove that the A-bombs should be chosen instead of an invasion, I have always been pleading for other alternatives and not this one.

Your reply to my alternatives lacks decent sources. The argument of negotiation still stands. Just because America did not receive an offer from Japan concerning surrender, does not mean the Japanese have not tried. Third parties, if you are entirely honest you will admit that my opponent ignores the fact that internally the Japanese cabinet had 2 members in their cabinet actively seeking to convince the others for a fast solution to get peace. These are the 2 cabinet members: and
Although wikipedia claims that Togo was in favour of surrender as well, that is not true.
America knew that the Japanese cabinet had this debate internally (to surrender or not, and under which terms) but did not act upon that knowledge. They completely ignored it. If i wished, i would here provide you a source to the letter i have seen at Hiroshima Peace Museum in which the American goverment expresses the hope that Japan would not surrender before they could use the bombs. This would have been a major argument to me, but I shall not use it as i cannot find a copy on the internet.

I am not in favour of the bat bombs, but although the project was cancelled they could have re-opened it as it was a better alternative than A-bombing.

You did not try to warn Japan. That is just utterly wrong. The article you have shown has no links to other major works, and clearly got quite a few things wrong about these warnings.
1) Distinct LeMay bombing leaflets (only warning from firebombings, way too late: thousands already died in firebombing of tokyo etc.) from the leaflets that only exist on the Truman archive page. Those on the Truman page have been researched by historian Alex Wellerstein, along with the other warnings. This article says everything that should be said about possible "warnings":
2) In this article, it is proven that the Americans made no mention of the nuclear weapon to the Japanese people at all. At least not one that was received. The ideal warning would have been one that is on the same day as the bombing,
3) In the end, warnings don't really matter. You wouldn't believe it either if the Russians now dropped leaflets saying you had to leave your home behind because you would be bombed some time that is not defined.

Contention 2: Cold War

I agree. But the Japanese civilians should not suffer just to be set as an example of how terrible the weapons are - especially if they are not your intended enemy.


Contention 1: It saves lives

Saipan was not the only place that Mass suicide by the Japanese occurred. At the Battle of Okinawa entire families and communities on the island committed suicide there. ( My opponent is not sourcing sources, because he is ignoring the nature of the Japanese in World War 2. You forget that the East and West are two different places and that the Japanese went to extremes to die for their emperor. (

Operation Downfall has had many estimates. Operation Olympic (invasion of southern Japan) has been estimated a lone would be 1.2 million US caulties. While only 267,000 deaths. ( Within the first month is was predicted about 31,000 US deaths alone. General Marshal estimated that the Japanese would suffer 10 million causalities. My opponent sites wikipeadia, but since wikipeadia is an unreliable source I do beg of him to use the source that wikipeadia has footnoted.

My opponent concedes on the bat bombings.

Two cabinet members don't mean anything. In the US we could say Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are the only people pushing for war against China and it wouldn't mean a thing, because they would need a majority to actually do something.

Yes we did try to warn the Japanese. Here is what the leaflets read.


Because your military leaders have rejected the thirteen part surrender declaration, two momentous events have occurred in the last few days.

The Soviet Union, because of this rejection on the part of the military has notified your Ambassador Sato that it has declared war on your nation. Thus, all powerful countries of the world are now at war with you.

Also, because of your leaders' refusal to accept the surrender declaration that would enable Japan to honorably end this useless war, we have employed our atomic bomb.

A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s could have carried on a single mission. Radio Tokyo has told you that with the first use of this weapon of total destruction, Hiroshima was virtually destroyed.

Before we use this bomb again and again to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, petition the emperor now to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better, and peace-loving Japan.

Act at once or we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war."

Source on Leaflet, Harry S. Truman Library, Miscellaneous historical document file, no. 258., and (

Contention 2: Cold War

My opponent is failing to realise the danger of nuclear war and if the atomic bomb hadn't been dropped on Japan he fails to realise it's dangerous potential.
With today's nuclear weaponry of Neutron Bombs will excellerate the Earth's volcanic activity causing Earth to explode. ( Tom J. Chalko states that the militarise will be likely to use this bomb, because of it's radiation's ability to penetrated the deepest bunkers to fry troops.

Also, I'll be gone for the weekend could you please hold off your argument until tomorrow or sometime this weekend.

Debate Round No. 3


Contention 1: it did not save lives

"At the Battle of Okinawa entire families and communities on the island committed suicide there."
Show me proof that over 25% of the civilians comitted suicide, and such argument will be taken into account. However, I am still convinced that the amount willing to die were less than 10%. Ofcourse such people existed, but it is not so that the entire nation was going to do that. The Japanese at Hiroshima were mainly poor people incapable of fighting due to starvation. They are indeed different places, but to say that the Japanese were complete savages is nonsense. This people had logic too, as can be seen in the following work:
That which you have read, are basic examples of generalization to picture the enemy as inhuman. Writing history like that is wrong.

In your second part, you talk about Operation Downfall. I will let this be as i have made my point clear: 1) I debate that there were alternatives, so it is useless for my opponent to talk about it and 2) my opponent is using estimates made at those times, which appear to be unreliable and estimated wrongly. In other words, America estimated the worst possible scenario.

"Two cabinet members don't mean anything. In the US we could say Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are the only people pushing for war against China and it wouldn't mean a thing, because they would need a majority to actually do something."

As you agree that it is so that there were 2 in favour, I must remind you that Prime Minister Suzuki himself was in favour of surrender as well. But again, America did not act upon it. Should a whole nation be punished, including those who wanted to surrender, if it was possible to side with them and convince the Japanese to surrender?

Next, my opponents persists on debating about the leaflets, without any counterarguments.
I have sourced historian Alex Wellerstein which has proven that these leaflets were not received by the Japanese. This is also a major explanation why on the entire internet, no testimonies can be found about Japanese civilians having read these particular leaflets. Perhaps you are at least able to recognize that Hiroshima received no warning, and if you had actually checked Wellerstein's article you would have been convinced that the leaflets were not thrown on Nagasaki either. My opponent quotes the entire content of the leaflet not knowing it was not produced in time to be delivered.

Contention 2: Cold War

I fully agree that nuclear weapons are dangerous and that they should not be used. But, this is all assuming that either America or Russia would've been that unreasonable to drop such bomb on the other.

Excuse me for reading your last sentence only now. Should you be too late, you'll still have your round. I'll either forfeit mine too and then continue, or you can post your argumentation in the comment section. Either way, I don't want to take away your chance for a fair debate!


Excuse me for trying to rush. I only have a few minutes left before my time expires.

Contention 1: It Saved Lives

Okay I was off by 5%, at the battle of Okinawa 2,000 people committed suicide out of the 100,000 troops protecting the island. (

Please extend across my Operation Downfall argument as it still holds water in this debate.

I already expressed the failure in the failure of the bat bombings. The US would not use them, because they blew up Edwards Air Force Base. (
Other alternatives were proved useless as the the atomic bomb was the only permissible way to go and save lives.

Please Extend across my Kyujo Incident that proves even after the atomic bombings that Japan was not going to surrender. (

If Prime Minister Suzuki wanted to surrender then why didn't Japan do so.

My source outweighs my opponent's source, because it is from the Truman Library is an actual living historical document. So my argument upon the leaflets being dropped on Japan warning the Japanese people still stands.

Contention 2: Cold War

If we take a look at the Doomsday clock we can see that the world was very close to thermo nuclear war even with both sides knowing what the bomb does. The Doomsday clock is a measurement of how close we are to nuclear war by how close it gets to midnight. (
Debate Round No. 4


I'm very sorry that you had to rush. It seems that this is also the last round of this debate...

Because my oponnent can't make a conclusion anymore, I won't either: fair is fair!

So, I will simply reply to his comments.

He asks me to extend about Operation Downfall, but it is hard for me to debate such a thing based on estimates. I'd rather argue that negotiation was the better option and an invasion or the bombs were not necessary, but here's what I do know about the invasion: There were indeed trainings of civilians. But there were not enough uniforms or weapons. They had to train with bamboo sticks, so I'm quite sure that any reasonable man wouldn't actually charge the well-armed Americans who would gun them down before they reached the enemy. I'm sorry that I cannot source such information, as no interviews exist of it. The only source available is an order by the military leaders to mobilise, and the mandatory training schools.

I must deduct from my readings in "barefoot gen" that there weren't much people eager to commit suicide or die for their emperor, as they were only worried about survival and getting enough food for their children. It seems only reasonable no person would, as i said earlier, send their children to war. Even though orders were indeed given to do so, I don't believe a mother could do such a thing. That being said, I believe the estimates were too high considering that they had all the time of the world to firebomb more cities to reduce the materials even more significantly. I'm not a fan of this option, and would choose A-bombs over an invasion combined with firebombing, which is why I argued in favor of negotiation!

"I already expressed the failure in the failure of the bat bombings. The US would not use them, because they blew up Edwards Air Force Base. (
Other alternatives were proved useless as the the atomic bomb was the only permissible way to go and save lives."

I don't have a source on that, but I recall the bat bombs being tested on a remake - fake - japanese village. The test was succesful. Although, yes, the project was canceled. But again, I believe in negotiation as a better way to save lives and as the universal key to ending and preventing wars.

About the Kyujo incident: As you said well, that concerns only a few military leaders. No cabinet members were killed. This is what I've read about it on wikipedia: "They attempted to place the Emperor under house arrest, using the 2nd Brigade Imperial Guard Infantry. They failed to persuade the Eastern District Army (Japan) and the high command of the Imperial Japanese Army to move forward with the action. Due to their failure to convince the remaining army to oust the Imperial House of Japan, they ultimately committed suicide. As a result, the communique of the intent for a Japanese surrender continued as planned."
That means they failed not by accident, as the majority were simply not convincable to stop retreating. Besides, this all happened without an intervention, an attempt of negotiation by America. It is for that that I plead, that they should've negotiated so that the cabinet members wishing for peace would gain more power. Besides, we are well aware that if this coup had succeeded the A-bombs wouldn't have mattered. These few military leaders would continue fighting even if they had been hit by a thousand tsunami's, simply because they knew they'd die anyways.

Prime Minister Suzuki was not able to surrender without a majority of the cabinet supporting his decision. They have blocked his ability to decide, by making the Japanese people believe that the Potsdam terms were too ridiculous to accept. It's a known fact that Suzuki was still considering it, and that he asked the press to just print terms and nothing else. The press did not do so, and the newspapers were manipulated by the military leaders. Suzuki now couldn't even decide for his own anymore. He still requested Togo to get more favourable terms in Russia, though. That is exactly why the surrender took so long: they felt no urge!

Then, my opponent does something absurd: he trusts the Truman online library, which is in no way meant to be a historical archive. Max Wellerstein is an actual historian who compared sources, while the Truman library misinterpreted its own source (due to lack of interest?) and just posted the translated version with unverified information. No historian has ever cited the Truman documentation except for Wellerstein. There is a reason why this source was completely ignored, except by amateurs on the internet. Besides, my opponent has not countered Wellerstein's facts. Wellerstein is not a source btw, it is the historical critique that follows to a source. Therefore, from the conclusion of the ONLY critique the document was ever submitted to, we can conclude that these are not warnings that count and that the leaflets were dropped a day too late.

Contention 2 I will leave entirely untouched as this is my opponents strongest argument. I haven't the knowledge to counter it.


Contention 1: It saved lives

I have to continuing highlighting my point here on how the estimations are very important. That is the only data we have available on Operation Downfall and Operation Olympic (Brought up in a previous round). So I emphasize that these points still get extended across the board.

The Japanese military had forced their own people to commit suicide at the Battle of Okinawa. This shows how important that these stakes were and showed that Japan would fight to the last man in Operation Downfall proving that my estimations are correct and that they may very well be higher. ( We can both agree that the fire bombings were inhuman as they included the famous fire tornado. We know the death tolls and effects that it would have done. All we have to do is look to the Fire bombings of Dresden, Germany.

The Truman Library Houses this historical document and I trust the living breathing document over someone who was not alive at the time that can have his opinions and beliefs curve his view points. Plus Prime Minister Suzuki did not have majority and could not make the surrender. It wasn't until after the second atomic bomb he had support and with the US bombing of Tokyo to stop the Kyujo Incident then Japan was able to accept the Potsdam terms of surrender. (

Contention 2: Cold War

My opponent concedes to a very key argument here. Without knowing what the nuclear weapon was capable of nuclear anialation would have occurred. To further prove my point I offer the famous "Daisy Girl" Ad. (see Video)

With that I thank you and please vote Con.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Mhykiel 2 years ago
Get a few more debates that are not "Life's work" in for practice. One lost debate does not amount to a great loss in ranking.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
Nothing wrong with a rematch.

Regardless of who wins the debate, your points will still be valid (I assume). One suggestion for next time is clear definitions at the start.
Posted by revic 2 years ago
@Ragnar You're right that he has kindof done something weird by adding his own argument in.

I wish there would have been conclusions in this debate but unfortunately it is not so. Now, all we have is a quick overview of arguments and counterarguments where my arguments don't count as Lannan13 was constantly in the offence. I wish I could redo this debate now that I'm more familiar with the site and its habits. I'm in for a painfull loss here, as this topic is basically my life's work: nothing interests me more...

Sorry if I offended you, or anyone else here.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
@revic : That I dislike someone else's conduct, does not mean I am against you. I'll probably end up voting, just a bit busy right now to give it the full consideration it deserves.
Posted by revic 2 years ago
Why don't you vote yourself? You're obviously against me here and you're quite annoyed that this guy gave me a boost for S & G.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
@Seeginomikata: Please leave fluffing to the capable hands of professionals. Adding S&G on to give pro an unwarranted boost, only ruins your otherwise valid vote. Also claiming to not agree with pro before or after, even while stating "You can't justify the use of any kind of weapon on a person because of their culture" is a pretty blatant misrepresentation of your strong bias.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
Will post my arguement tomorrow pending staff meeting.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by travis18352 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: better arguments by con
Vote Placed by Mhykiel 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Interesting debate. I think Con made slightly better arguments that he defended well. Pro even admitting to not having a rebuttal for Con's contention 2. Because Pro was also instigator I feel BOP was on him. As for reliable sources, I gave to con because his sources were more closely related to the point he was making. And Pro's fewer sources were half Wikipedia relying on an abridged or consolidated source to make his point.