The hiroshima and nagasaki atom bomb | International Relations Dissertation

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The American decision to use the two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II has come in for feverish debate in the years following the incident. It is one of the best-documented events in history, and has, at the same time, provoked lasting, emotionally heated reaction.

Almost everyone with even a fleeting interest in World War II seems to have a strong opinion on this American action. (Harbour, 1999,p. 68) To state that the Americans bombed the Japanese because the latter were their rivals in the war is to speak simplistically of an issue that was a product of complex factors. The dropping of the bombs on the two cities was the climax of the great rivalry the two countries had developed against each other over some years; thus, to try to understand the motives behind America’s actions, one needs to look at how this rivalry developed between these two distant countries, whose culmination was the bombing of the two cities.

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The Japanese and Americans had been pitted against each other in the Pacific many years before World War II began. Some historians fix the date of the crystallisation of US-Japanese rivalry at 1931, when the Japanese occupied Manchuria in China. The Americans considered this an audacious attack on their interests in Asia. 1931 not only marked anadir in the relations between America and Japan, this year was also extremely significant to Japan’s administration, for this was when the radical, militant elements in the Japanese administration led successfully what has been termed a coup, by which they ‘overthrew’ the moderate elements in the royal government and set the country on the long road of fascism of the kind that Europe was falling prey to.(Morris and Heath, 1963, pp. 2, 3 and 20) This Japanese act was the outcome of an ongoing rivalry, which dates back to an earlier period, when Japan embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialisation.

A strong animosity had developed in America against the Japanese from the time she started growing in strength having realised that the way to prosperity lay in industrialisation, and had tried to make herself a strong industrial country. The rapid pace and force of Japanese industrialisation was started since her first contact with the western world, which, ironically, began with the US itself, (Wainstock, p.1)which had contributed more than any other country to Japan’s industrial strength, but was not able to tolerate its expansionist designs later.(Levine, 1995, p. 1) In an era of aggrandisements leading to the war, Japan, since she did not have the resources to match her rapid industrialisation, committed acts of aggression on several countries of South East Asia. Sensing that her food supplies could be cut off with ease by an enemy,

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