One of the interesting items I've learned just recently is that a few months before we dropped the Atomic Bombs we fire bombed Tokyo and killed something like 86,000 people. The truth in hindsight is that Japan was preparing to surrender and would have with out the A-Bomb. But as far as I know, no one in power in the U.S. knew this and for all concerned it looked like they were going to attempt to fight to the last man..... after Iwo and other islands we took this seemed an absolute certainty.
Since this isn't "political" I don't feel badly about setting you straight.
Yes, the firebombings of Tokyo months before the A-bombs killed many more Japanese than the atomic bombs. NO, Japan was NOT "preparing to surrender" and Japan would NOT have surrendered without the face saving aspect that the atomic bombs brought into play.
One of several good books about these times is The Fall of Japan, by (I believe) William Craig. He notes (as do others) that the "peace feelers" which were sent out through emissaries to the Allies were NOT coming from anyone in the Japanese High Command. Hence, they were meaningless. The equivalent in Europe would have been for the janitor at Hitler's bunker to be sending out "peace feelers." Meaningless.
In fact, the Japanese government had prepared and distributed propaganda films which made clear that Japanese resistance upon the invasion of the Japanese home islands would involve "the mobilization of the children." Yes, that's right. Even kids were expected to participate in the resistance. Mothers with toddlers were expected to kill their own children, rather than submit to the "disgrace" of surrender.
Talk to American veterans who went ashore after the surrender. The number of suicide planes, suicide boats, and the number of people willing to man these terribly destructive weapons were not lacking. Every report written about what the Japanese had in store for the invasion forces is nothing short of shocking. There would have been an absolute waste of, most likely, at least two million people, the majority of whom would have been Japanese. America certainly would have lost at least as many men as we'd lost in the entire war to date, over 300,000.
Even after Emperor Hirohito was made aware of the terrible destruction from our 2nd bomb at Nagasaki (we dropped the 2nd bomb because there was not even the smallest amount of talk about surrender after our first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima), and the Emperor himself decided that surrender was the only tenable action, there was an attempted coup by furious Japanese Army officers. They attempted to storm the Imperial Palace and do the unthinkable: assassinate the Emperor. This plot, of course, was to end the talk of surrender. There were a considerable number of men in the Japanese High Command (mostly Army) who were fine with Japan fighting to the last man, woman, and child.
Please avail yourself of the casualty estimates for both the American and the Japanese had Operation Downfall been necessary. The "low" estimates for American losses were in the neighborhood of 300,000 and the high estimates were 1,000,000 Americans killed or wounded. The casualty estimates for the Japanese were phenomenal. "Low" estimates were one to two million dead. High estimates were ... EVERYONE dead.
Dropping the bombs allowed the Japanese people, and their Emperor to "save face" because this new weapon truly had the potential to wipe out large percentages of their population. Had America not dropped those two bombs, the Japanese High Command would have DEFINITELY continued to fight on, pulling millions of civilians into the fight once the invasion of the Home Islands had started.
Please do not perpetuate the thoroughly dishonest notion that "the Japanese were preparing to surrender anyway." That is dishonest nonsense. - DixieBoy