When presented with the new Atomic option they reasoned that the loss of 2-300,000 people in Japanese cities would be measurably fewer lives lost than the continuation of the War. (We must remember that this was prior to the advent of smart weaponry, and that entire cities would be fire-bombed prior to invasion and hand to hand combat in trenches. War was hell.)
Decision to Drop the Bomb
At 08:15 on August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the nuclear bomb called “Little Boy” over the center of Hiroshima. It exploded about 2,000 ft above the city with a blast equivalent to about 13 kilotons of TNT instantly killing an estimated 70,000-80,000 people.
The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile, with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles. Infrastructure damage was estimated at 90% of Hiroshima’s buildings being either damaged or completely destroyed.The peace faction seized on the bombing as decisive justification of surrender. KaÂichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest advisers, stated:
“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war.” Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief Cabinet secretary in 1945, called the bombing “a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war.”
According to these historians and others, the pro-peace civilian leadership was able to use the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to convince the military that no amount of courage, skill, and fearless combat could help Japan against the power of atomic weapons.
The End of World War II
Many believe the atomic bomb hastened the end of the Second World War in Asia liberating millions in occupied areas, including thousands of Western citizens; about 200,000 Dutch and 400,000 Indonesians from Japanese concentration camps.
Moreover, Japanese troops had committed atrocities against millions of civilians (such as the infamous Nanking Massacre) and ,it was reasoned, the early end to the war prevented further bloodshed.
The saddest revelation about the bombings came in the form of The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, after interviewing hundreds of Japanese civilian and military leaders after Japan surrendered, which reported:
“Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
Here now is a reenactment of the bombing of Hiroshima. Keep in mind that modern day warheads would have an effect 100 times that of 1945.
Wikipedia has an excellent entry with more information regarding the Atomic bombs dropped on Japan.