A couple of years ago an American writer named Greg Mitchell wrote an informative book on the huge cover-up orchestrated by the US government on the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan, and the censorship of the first Hollywood movie on the subject. (1) The government was in possession of much live film footage shot by the US military of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Mitchell says would have shocked viewers, with ghostlike ruins and babies with burned faces. He includes many of these original photos in his book, and details the extensive efforts to hide the facts and evidence of the use of the atomic bombs and the tapestry of lies created after the fact to justify this atrocity and present it as a necessary evil.
The movie script was further altered to show American president Truman agonising over the decision when in truth he proudly boasted that he never lost any sleep over it, and further wrote in a letter to a critic, “I have no qualms about it whatever”. (3)
Hollywood had begun the creation of yet another myth of American history. From Mitchell’s notes, even minor details in the movie were altered to make the bombing appear justified. Nuclear radiation fallout was dismissed as trivial, and fabricated scenes were inserted to depict the American bombers as being heavily bombarded with flak (untrue) to make the attack appear more courageous.
Claims were fabricated that the use of the atomic bombs would shorten the war by a year, which was 100% false since the Japanese had already repeatedly offered to surrender, as well as claims that use of the atomic bomb would save at least half a million American lives, also patently untrue. In fact, the bombings saved no American lives since it was already abundantly clear that no invasion of Japan would be necessary to effect a surrender, and in fact the prospect of a physical invasion was never even on the table. But the bombings did needlessly claim at least an additional nearly one million Japanese lives, even though Wikipedia states this at little over 100,000.
The final movie was presented as “basically a true story” to the countless Americans who saw it. The New York Times called it a “creditable re-enactment”, and praised its handling of the moral issues of a “necessary evil”. A popular news magazine praised its “aura of authenticity and special historical significance”. And the “humanitarian bombing” of Hiroshima entered American mythology as factual American history. But that’s not how it was.
Ellsworth Torrey Carrington, in “Reflections of a Hiroshima Pilot” (4), quoted the second B-29 pilot as saying, “After the first bomb was dropped, the atom bomb command was very fearful that Japan might surrender before we could drop the second bomb, so our people worked around the clock, 24-hours-a-day to avoid such a misfortune.” One of the greatest lies fabricated for the movie was the story of US President Truman proclaiming that prior to the actual bombings the US would drop leaflets over Japan to warn the population of “what is coming” as a means to “save lives”. Harrison Brown, who had worked on the bomb, called this fiction of warning leaflets “the most horrible falsification of history”. Wikipedia, lying as always, tells us “Various sources give conflicting information about when the last leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima prior to the atomic bomb.” But in fact no leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima prior to the bombing on August 6.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the original targets for the first atomic bombs. Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves is generally blamed for the suggestion to bomb Kyoto, but it appears well-documented that it was Bernard Baruch who persistently demanded Kyoto be destroyed because of its cultural and historical value to the Japanese people, its destruction opening a wound that would never heal. Henry Stimson, then US Secretary of War, refused to accept Kyoto as a target for that same reason, but was over-ruled. However, Kyoto was protected by Providence and a dense cloud cover that prevented the American bombers from locating it with sufficient accuracy, leaving them to proceed to their alternates.
In May of 1945, several months before the atomic bombs were ready, the self-named “Masters of the Universe” held a meeting at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco to discuss the ending of the war in the Pacific. The issue was that Japan was already suing for peace, and the collective opinion of these gentlemen was, according to Edward Stettinius, then Secretary of State, “We have already lost Germany. If Japan bows out, we will not have a live population on which to test the bomb … our entire postwar program depends on terrifying the world with the atomic bomb … we are hoping for a million tally in Japan. But if they surrender, we won’t have anything.” The advice of John Foster Dulles was “Then you have to keep them in the war until the bomb is ready. That is no problem. Unconditional surrender.” Stettinius replied, “They won’t agree to that. They are sworn to protect the Emperor.” Dulles’ response: “Exactly. Keep Japan in the war another three months, and we can use the bomb on their cities. We will end this war with the naked fear of all the peoples of the world, who will then bow to our will.” (5)
A great many Americans today are fond of justifying their nation’s use of nuclear weapons in Japan by telling us it shortened the war, fully confident their moral superiority remains intact. But in truth, the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki mostly as a “once in a lifetime chance” to witness the effects of nuclear blasts on a human population. It is not widely known that the US dropped two different types of bombs – uranium and plutonium – onto the two cities, these bombings being live laboratory experiments to determine the differences in yield and effect between the two. The US Department of Energy still lists these explosions as “tests”.
There was another important but never-discussed reason for the choice to drop atomic bombs. The Americans had been conducting high-level bombing raids on Japan for some time and, in spite of great success, were nevertheless disappointed in the overall results. We are familiar with the Americans’ fire-bombing of Dresden in Germany and their apparent delight in the results of that travesty, but American history has quietly buried, and Americans have never had to confront, the fact that the US conducted a similar and long-running campaign against Japan.
At a meeting on April 27, 1945, the so-called “Target Committee” met at the Pentagon to discuss the list of prospective Japanese cities for use of the atomic bomb. Tokyo was eliminated because, in the words of the committee, it was “now practically all bombed and burned out and is practically rubble with only the palace grounds left standing”. The members further discussed the fact that there were few undamaged cities remaining in Japan for a demonstration of the power of their new atomic weapon, noting that their policy for a year had been one of “systematically [fire-] bombing out [cities] with the prime purpose in mind of not leaving one stone lying on the other.”
US General Curtis LeMay, one of history’s most accomplished pathological killers, had learned of the fire-bombing of Dresden and wanted to conduct his own genocide on a tapestry that offered far more potential than a single German city. Accordingly, he conducted an intense year-long campaign of extermination against the people of Japan. For an entire year, the Americans waged a fire-bombing campaign that eventually included nearly 100 Japanese cities, devastating Japan’s fragile wood-and-paper-constructed communities. This campaign killed exponentially more civilians than we are told about for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the same Curtis LeMay who would boast only a few years later that he had carpet-bombed and killed as much as 40% of the civilian population of North Korea – for no reason whatever.
The prior high-altitude bombing attacks on Japanese cities were considered by the Americans to be “ineffective”, so LeMay shifted to night raids using incendiary explosives and ordered his bombers to fly at very low altitudes (500 feet) to ensure destruction of Japan’s vulnerable wood-and-paper buildings, and of course to ensure destruction of the civilian population residing in them. It was his judgment that the night attacks, blanket bombing raids on civilians, were an appropriate measure to multiply both the destruction and the civilian terror. By that time, Japanese air defenses were nonexistent and no useful military targets remained; the Americans were simply “pacifying” a helpless civilian population.
In the most celebrated case, “Operation Meetinghouse”, US bombers conducted a night raid on Tokyo that destroyed 50 square Kms of the city. The downtown Tokyo suburb of Shitamachi had been targeted as the center of this raid because the area contained the highest civilian population density of any city in the world at the time, with some 750,000 people living in the easily-flammable wood-frame buildings in that district. LeMay wanted to conduct an “experiment” in the effects of firebombing by setting ablaze this virtual paper city. Just after midnight, 334 massive B-29 Superfortress bombers flying at an altitude of only 150 meters, carried out an intense three-hour raid that dropped a half-million M-69 incendiary bombs. These incendiary devices, as with Dresden, created an immense firestorm fanned by winds of 50 Kms per hour that totally razed the Shitamachi district and spread flames throughout the remainder of the city, destroying almost 50 square Kms of Tokyo.
The B-29 bombers for these extermination raids were carrying a mixture of incendiary explosives that included napalm infused with white phosphorus, perhaps the most vicious and immoral of all weapons ever used on civilian populations, this contribution to humanity having been created and developed by Harvard University. The incendiaries produced firestorms similar to those in Hamburg, Germany, two years prior, and that in Dresden only a month earlier. Temperatures on the ground in Tokyo reached 1,800 degrees in some places. Survivors’ accounts tell of women running through the streets with burning babies strapped to their backs, of people leaping into swimming pools to try to escape the flames only to be boiled alive. In his book, “War Without Mercy”, John Dower wrote “Canals boiled, metal melted and buildings and human beings burst spontaneously into flames”. About 65% of Tokyo’s commercial area, and about 20% of its industry, was destroyed. Almost 300,000 buildings burned to the ground in Tokyo alone. This was the single deadliest air raid of the Second World War. Few escaped the inferno.
There were widespread documented reports that during the three hours of the attack there were such great blood-red mists and an overwhelming stench of burning human flesh rising into the air and filling the cockpits of the low-flying American bombers, that the crews were forced to don their oxygen masks to keep them from vomiting. Such was the human carnage. This was genocide by any measure, and yet the entire sordid mess has been excised from all US history books. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s aide, Brigadier Gen. Bonner Fellers, called LeMay’s bombing of Tokyo “one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all history”, but LeMay was proud of his accomplishment in Japan, as he would later be in Korea, boasting that he successfully “scorched and boiled and baked to death well over half a million Japanese civilians, perhaps nearly a million”, in that one event in Tokyo alone. After the success of this first attack, LeMay was determined to continue, stating his intention to have Tokyo entirely “burned down – wiped right off the map”, and proceeded to carry out his homicidal determination with repeated fire-bombings covering an increasingly greater area of Japan. The incendiary bombs ignited unimaginable firestorms in these cities, storms that created updrafts so intense that the bombers were sometimes carried upwards to altitudes of as much as 10,000 feet. These genocidal raids were so successful that the US was running out of cities to bomb, Air Force executives complaining that few remaining cities were worth the attention of even 50 bombers while they could put up at least 450 at one time. “The totality of the devastation in Japan was extraordinary, and this was matched by the near-totality of Japan’s defencelessness.”
But Tokyo was only one of many cities fire-bombed by LeMay and the Americans. In total, almost 100 Japanese cities and their civilian populations suffered the same fate, about 40 of Japan’s major cities experiencing destruction of 50% to almost 100%, and dozens of others between 25% and 50%, and leaving at least 30% of the Japanese population homeless by the end of the war. This year-long orgy of hate and killing “brought the mass incineration of civilians to a new level in a conflict already characterized by unprecedented bloodshed”.
Inexplicably, US-supplied population statistics suggest the death toll from all this incendiary bombing was virtually nil, Japan’s pre-war population listed at 73 million and post-war at 72 million. (Oct 1940 – 73.000 million; Oct 1945 – 71.999 Million). Wikipedia is one source of these nonsense statistics, but there are many others. In any case, we need only think. In addition to the usual casualties of war, a full year of intense fire-bombing of almost 100 cities, with destruction rates averaging 50%, then topped off with two atomic bombs, will produce casualties greater in number than zero.
There have been some mass adjustments made to Japan’s population statistics for the period immediately before and during World War Two, since in comparisons of census figures, civic population numbers and fatality counts, very little makes sense. The Americans, and the Japanese at one point, claimed the death toll from the Tokyo fire-bombing at as little as 35,000, which is prima facie nonsense since the Shitamachi area alone contained more than twenty times this number and was destroyed so completely – and so rapidly – the population could not possibly have escaped. I have taken the trouble to extract from the Japanese government’s prior census figures by city and, from this, the population of the city of Tokyo shows an almost 60% reduction between 1940 and 1945, which is about what one would expect: Oct 1944: 6,558,161; Oct 1945: 2,777,010. These figures suggest a death toll of almost four million, most of whom would have necessarily been direct victims of the firebombing. The first fire-bombing destroyed about 50 square kilometers (about 20 square miles) of Tokyo, but LeMay carried out many subsequent raids on successive nights that finally brought the total devastated area of Tokyo to more than 150 square kilometers or almost 60 square miles. With the fierce winds of up to 100 mph created near the center of the firestorm and a total inability to fight fires of this magnitude, and given that the relatively small Shitamachi area alone contained about 750,000 people and constituted only about 10% of the area the Americans fire-bombed, death claims of 35,000 are ridiculous.
From a comparison of widely published and presumably accurate prior census figures available for 40 of Japan’s major cities, the population differential between the two above dates produces a reduction in total population of almost 50%, from about 19,750,000 to 10,500,000, which is again what would be expected and which indicates around ten million deaths resulting primarily from the fire-bombing in these 40 cities alone. Various historians and political scientists have offered different explanations as to why both the Americans and the Japanese would have been eager to mask the true casualty figures, but the reasons are mostly obvious. The Americans were desperate to obliterate evidence of a great many of their crimes during the Second World War, and they totally controlled the post-war media in both Germany and Japan, eliminating public access to accurate information. And, as with the Philippines, Indonesia, and other nations victimised by US military massacres, the Americans destroyed and re-wrote those nations’ history books to make the public ignorance permanent. Naturally, this information has also evaporated from the historical record, the world no longer aware that the US is one of the great book-burners and historical revisionists of all time. I would remind you here of Indonesian historian Bonnie Triyana, who wrote “Ours is an oblivious society. For nearly 50 years nobody has ever taught us what really happened in 1965. Almost nobody knows that there were millions killed”.
This exposure of buried history is unlikely to reveal much sympathy for the Japanese, given their own savage and pathological conduct during that same war, but this story is not about the Japanese; it is about the Americans. It is yet one more revelation of American bloodlust, of not only a willingness but an eagerness to deliberately target civilian populations with an actual intent to either exterminate or at least savagely deplete.
The fire-bombing of Japan is only one chapter of a book written over more than 200 years. It was preceded by Germany and other similar chapters and would soon be followed by Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and many others. For all of their history, the Americans have regularly engaged in literal orgies of slaughter of civilian populations in circumstances entirely bereft of cause, killing for the pleasure of killing. From the first landing of European settlers in the New World, the invaders, led by Christopher Columbus, exterminated 125 million people for the sheer joy of killing, making extinct the entire Inca, Aztec and Maya civilisations as well as 90% of North American aboriginals. Americans have carried on this tradition ever since, making the world safe for democracy by exterminating its population.
Larry Romanoff is a frequent contributor to Global Research.