Japan: Rising Sun Notes

for The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

Site Search

Also sponsored by Peace Pins

Popular pages:

U.S. War Against Asia
Barack Obama
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Natural Liberation


Page 18 of 20

Notes from The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945 by John Toland

Book Club Edition, Random House, New York, copyright 1970

Independently, on June 13, Prime Minister Suzuki made an appeal for peace to the Japanese Diet. It met with a mixed reception [928-929].

The Japanese were hoping that the Russians would broker a peace deal with the United States for them, not realizing that Stalin had already decided to attack Japan in Manchuria. Other initiatives were underway as well, as of June 24, 1945: although Japan “had turned down two offers to negotiate in Sweden,”  negotiations in Switzerland were getting under way. But the Americans insisted on unconditional surrender, which was unacceptable to the Japanese, despite vague indications the Emperor might be kept in a symbolic role. [932-934]

Harry Truman had become President in time for the Potsdam meeting in July, 1945. Although the war was going well against Japan, both Marshall and MacArthur wanted Truman to get the Russians to attack Japan in Manchuria. Truman did not plan on tests of the atomic bomb being successful. Former ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, appalled by the fire bombing of Tokyo, wanted Truman to modify the unconditional surrender demand to allow for the retention of the Emperor. Truman replied, “it seems to me a sound idea.” Marshall, Stimson and Forrestal liked Grew’s idea, but Secretary of War Stimson wanted to drop an atomic bomb on Japan before making the offer. [940-941]

Arthur Compton and other scientists suggested that the atomic bomb be demonstrated, rather than used on a military target. The idea was rejected. [942]

Grew and Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy wanted to offer Japan an honorable surrender; that idea was offered to President Truman on June 18, 1945. Admiral Leahy also thought demanding unconditional surrender only would make it harder for the Japanese to surrender, increasing American casualties. [943-945]

Truman made the decision to use the atomic bomb and keep the unconditional surrender demand on his way to the Potsdam conference. [946]

On July 26, 1945 Truman ordered a message, the Potsdam Declaration, beamed openly to Japan. It threatened “utter devastation” but did not mention the a-bomb, which was now tested and ready for attack. It did not offer to retain the emperor. It did promise Japan would not be “enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation” if they surrendered unconditionally. The Japanese reaction was mixed, with Suzuki and Togo believing it could be a basis for negotiation, Toyoda urging rejecting it as “absurd.” They decided the declaration could be printed in Japanese newspapers with no immediate comment by the government. [955-956]

On July 29, 1945 Prime Minister Suzuki made a statement to reporters on the ultimatum, using the word mokusatsu. He believed this would be translated into English as “no comment,” but instead it was translated as “ignore” or “treat with silent contempt.” [957]

More confident in the success of the atomic bomb, Truman became ambiguous with the Russians over whether they should invade Manchuria. [957]

The Japanese still hoped the Russians would stay neutral and broker a peace deal. [958-959]

Continued page 19

III Blog list of articles