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> Bombing of Tokyo, Bombing of Tokyo
mabadesc
Posted: March 10, 2005 04:30 am
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On the night of the 9th to the 10th of March, 1945, 300 US B-29's launched an air raid over the industrial section of Tokyo. In the course of several hours, they dropped over 600,000 incendiary cylinders, creating a fire that engulfed the entire city district. Casualties (mostly civilian, but also some military) were counted at 83,000, with a conservative estimate of about 100,000 (including the missing, unreported victims, etc).

IMO, this was a huge and cruel misjudgment on the part of the Americans. Did the benefits outweigh all the death and damage created among the civilian population? Far from it, I think.

Comments, opinions? Similar examples from both the Axis and Allied sides?

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Chandernagore
Posted: March 10, 2005 08:36 am
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After the rape of Nanking, not much of what was done to the Japanese could trigger sympathy for the poor devils.

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cipiamon
Posted: March 10, 2005 09:36 am
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I heard of an other Tokyo raid in wich died 300.000, i watched in a documentary but i don't know the date.
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Chandernagore
Posted: March 10, 2005 10:18 am
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 10, 2005 06:11 pm
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I tend to see the firebombing of Tokyo as part of the same calculation that led to the dropping of the atomic bombs that August.

I think Nanking was less relevant in American thinking than their own experience in the Pacific War. The American military saw the Japanese as being willing to throw away lives for the most trivial benefit, or just to avoid facing defeat. The kamikaze attacks and many examples of suicidal charges during the island fighting fed this perception. The experience at Saipan in June 1944, where families blew themselves up with hand grenades or threw themselves off cliffs rather than be captured by Americans, extended it to civilians as well.

I would sum up the American attitude as: "We are in this war to win. Many of the people of Tokyo will die in the process, by their own hand if necessary. They will take as many of us with them as they can. Considering that, our first responsibility is to our own troops, their families, and the American public in general. We should use the means available to us to end the war on our terms."

Cruel? Certainly. And the military benefit seems to have been modest. Japan's war industry had been devastated by earlier bombing and the loss of overseas resources. I don't really know how to judge the psychological impact. Obviously it did not end the war immediately, but it may have been one additional factor along with the atomic bombs and the loss of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

This post has been edited by Jeff_S on March 10, 2005 06:12 pm
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mabadesc
Posted: March 10, 2005 07:17 pm
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QUOTE
I tend to see the firebombing of Tokyo as part of the same calculation that led to the dropping of the atomic bombs that August.


Jeff, I agree with the American attitude you described, and I personally think using the atomic bomb to hasten the end of the war was the correct decision.

However, I don't quite agree with your view on the Tokyo bombing being part of the same equation as the atomic bombs.

The atomic bomb had a major psychological effect and introduced a new concept of fighting war. It was a clear statement designed to show the Japanese they had no choice.

Conventional bombing raids, though maybe not to the same extent as the raid on Tokyo, were well-known. Their effects were somewhat tolerated and accepted by the population.
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Florin
Posted: March 11, 2005 06:36 am
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One of the mistakes did by both sides involved in WWII was the idea that bombing the civilian targets (clearly not industrial areas or military unit locations) can break the moral of the other side and may offer advantage in combat.

Well, it proved to not be the case, again and again - considering either side.
It resulted indeed in a lot of losses, cultural and economical, and of course of innocent human lives, but it is safe to say that it did not affect the evolution of the frontlines. That bombing of Tokio was against the civilians of the city.

Of course, if we consider the bombing of the industrial areas, the story is different. The hellish bombing of Germany affected its industrial ability to supply the frontlines. The less hellish bombing of Romania affected seriously the gasoline production available for the Axis. It is interesting to observe that the industry of Czechoslovakia, which produced one fifth of the tanks and a quarter of the trucks delivered to Wehrmacht and Waffen SS, escaped not bombed by the Allies.

After WWII, the military leaders continued to persist in their mistake of thinking that bombing the civilians will break the will of the other side to fight. It did not happened during the Korean War, or later in Vietnam, or in the world we live today.

This post has been edited by Florin on March 11, 2005 06:38 am
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Victor
Posted: March 11, 2005 01:16 pm
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An insulting generalization by C-2 has been deleted. One should refrain from using such genralizations, because they are the result of a rather simplistic line of thought, which only leads to collective guilt and more hate. Using the same logic, one could say that all Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Russians etc were guilty for the the war crimes comitted by some part of the respective countries military. This view is obviously flawed.
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 11, 2005 04:09 pm
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ Mar 10 2005, 07:17 PM)
Jeff, I agree with the American attitude you described, and I personally think using the atomic bomb to hasten the end of the war was the correct decision.


Although I worry about the Pandora's box America opened, I tend to think it was a correct decision too. My father was on Okinawa, preparing for the invasion of Japan, when the atomic bombs were dropped. So I may owe my life to them, which I am certain influences my thinking.

QUOTE
However, I don't quite agree with your view on the Tokyo bombing being part of the same equation as the atomic bombs.

The atomic bomb had a major psychological effect and introduced a new concept of fighting war.  It was a clear statement designed to show the Japanese they had no choice. 

Conventional bombing raids, though maybe not to the same extent as the raid on Tokyo, were well-known.  Their effects were somewhat tolerated and accepted by the population.


I have thought about this question and keep coming to different conclusions. Certainly the firebombing of Tokyo was conventional bombing in a technical sense. Conventional bombing was also understood by all the combatants (not sure that I would say "accepted", but I see your point... it was understood to be a legitimate tactic). But the numbers of casualties, and the horrific destruction it inflicted on the highly flammable Japanese cities made that raid as much like an atomic bombing as any conventional bombing could be.

It will always be speculation whether using that tactic later that year against Hiroshimana and Nagasaki would have brought the war to a close. I tend to think not. But I agree with those who say that the use of the atomic bombs was signalling to the Soviets as much as to the Japanese. It's much more powerful to prove that you can cause that level of destruction with one bomber rather than hundreds.
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dragos
Posted: March 11, 2005 04:29 pm
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QUOTE (Jeff_S)
But I agree with those who say that the use of the atomic bombs was signalling to the Soviets as much as to the Japanese. It's much more powerful to prove that you can cause that level of destruction with one bomber rather than hundreds.


As far as I know, the results of the A-bombs were beyond expectations even for the Americans. Ironically, the dreaded A-bombs ended the bloodies war ever as an epitome of the destructive power of man, in a general context when the value of the human life hit the bottom.
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C-2
Posted: March 11, 2005 08:47 pm
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QUOTE (Victor @ Mar 11 2005, 01:16 PM)
An insulting generalization by C-2 has been deleted. One should refrain from using such genralizations, because they are the result of a rather simplistic line of thought, which only leads to collective guilt and more hate. Using the same logic, one could say that all Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Russians etc were guilty for the the war crimes comitted by some part of the respective countries military. This view is obviously flawed.

Victor,I'm a moderate person...
All I said was that in that war as in many others ,armies comitted atrocities ..
Isn't that is war all about?
Kiling as many oponents and demolishing his infrastructure?
What's your definition for war?
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Victor
Posted: March 12, 2005 07:39 am
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You made it sound like all Japanese were war criminals. That is a gross generalization IMO.
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Indrid
Posted: March 12, 2005 10:12 am
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japan had to be defeated quickly. of course. just like in dresden's case, it was nothing more than a simple economical calculation that launcjed that: the quicker we end the war, the less americans die. the same logic resided behind throwing the A bomb, in my opinion. Truman in my opinion was a poor president but his position would have been even worse if 100k or more americans would have died in assaultin japan's shores, in the case of a asian " normandy". why waste american lives, when u could waste japanese lives. once again, simple algorithms, large results. good ot bad has nothing to do with it.
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mabadesc
Posted: March 14, 2005 06:50 pm
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Very well summarized, Indrid.
I agree.

The only comment I still have lies in the difference between the a-bomb and the raids on Dresden or Tokyo.

The a-bomb was a new technology. It was used to shock and intimidate (and it worked).

The raids over Tokyo and Dresden were conventional. People were used to conventional bombing raids, maybe not to that large extent, but they were used to the idea. The shock and intimidation value is small or non-existent.

If the psychological argument disappears, then there is no excuse for the destruction of Dresden and part of Tokyo, IMO.
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Indrid
Posted: March 15, 2005 07:55 am
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i think it was more a demonstration of will. just like dresden. make war such a horrific experience that the alternative, even if unconditional surrender, would sound acceptable
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