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

Note: This is a work in progress, and one I am not likely to finish (short of receiving a grant or an offer from a larger publisher) for some time. Everything posted here should be considered a draft. [Main Page, U.S. War Against Asia]


Notes from Memoirs by Harry S. Truman

[Truman 1] Memoirs, Volume One, Year of Decisions by Harry S. Truman. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City N.Y. 1955. Copyright 1955.

390-392. Potsdam Declaration text. Ends with: “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces… The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.” Proclaimed on July 26, 1945.

396. Sato, the Japanese Ambassador to Moscow, on July 13, 1945 offered to send Prince Konoye to Moscow “to ask the Soviet Government to take part in mediation to end the present war and to transmit the complete Japanese case in this respect.” Further, “Prince Konoye was especially charged by his Majesty, the Emperor, to convey to the Soviet Government that it was the desire of His Majesty to avoid more bloodshed by the parties engaged in the war.”

396-397. Radio Tokyo on July 28 “had reaffirmed the Japanese government’s determination to fight.” Truman calls the Potsdam Declaration an “ultimatum.”

Special note: (not in Truman): Article 25 of Section IV of the  CONVENTION RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR ON LAND, the Hague Convention of 1907,  states  “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.” Also Article 27, “In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.” Also in 23 “To declare that no quarter will be given” is prohibited.

415. July 16, 1945 Truman was at Potsdam and received word of the successful testing of the first atomic bomb. No decision had been made to use the bomb, and plans for conventional invasion of Japan were kept in place.

416-417 Acting Secretary of State Grew proposed allowing the Emperor to remain as had of state if the Japanese surrendered. This was approved, prior to the successful a-bomb test. Truman claims he wanted to get a surrender without using the bomb or even an invasion, and that the Potsdam Declaration was a final chance for the Japanese. He does not explain why the offer to keep the Emperor is not included in the Declaration.

419. Truman lists the people who were involved in the decision to use the a-bomb against mainly civilian targets. Truman makes clear the final decision was up to him.

420. Truman claims he wanted to follow the laws of war and drop the bombs on military targets.

421. “On July 28 Radio Tokyo announced that the Japanese government would continue to fight. There was no formal reply to the joint ultimatum… There was no alternative now. The bomb was scheduled to be dropped after August 3 unless Japan surrendered before that day.

421. Hiroshima destroyed on August 6. Regarding bombardments on undefended civilian buildings, note Truman says the report to him on the bombing of Hiroshima stated “There was no fighter opposition and no flak.”

425. After Russia announced on August 8 it would enter the war against Japan on the 9th, Truman learned that Ambassador to Russia Sato had remarked “that the Pacific war would not be of long duration.”

426. Nagasaki a-bombed August 9.

427. Radio Tokyo broadcast: “… the Emperor … desires earnestly to bring about an early termination of hostilities … the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis-à-vis the enemy powers. … The Japanese Government is ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam … with the understanding that said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler.”

428. Showing Truman was not sincere about the incorporation of the Grew proposal into the Potsdam declaration, “Could we even consider a message with so large a “but” as the kind of unconditional surrender we had fought for.”

429. Allies reply to Tokyo’s offer for surrender. Mainly it just said that the Emperor had to sign the surrender terms as stated at Potsdam and the Emperor would be subject to the “Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.”

430. The Soviets decided to continue to advance into Manchuria.

432. A main Truman goal was that Japan would be ruled by the U.S. only, and not be divided into sectors with out allies.

436. Truman accepts the August 14, 1945 message of surrender from the Japanese.

440-442 Truman and Stalin argue about who gets the Kurile Islands.

451. Truman personally chose the U.S.S. Missouri, sitting in Tokyo Bay, as the place for the Japanese surrender. Since he claimed elsewhere in the book to be a student of history, without a doubt he knew he was repeating the Perry scenario.

[Truman 2] Memoirs, Volume Two, Years of Trial and Hope by Harry S. Truman. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City N.Y. 1955. Copyright 1955.

62. “It was perfectly clear to us that if we told the Japanese to lay down their arms immediately and march to the seaboard the entire country would be taken over by the Communists. We therefore had to take the step of using the enemy as a garrison until we could airlift Chinese National troops to South China and send marines to guard the seaports.” “This operation of using the Japanese to hold off the Communists was a joint decision of the State and Defense Departments of which I approved.”

63. “There were nearly three million Japanese in China, over one million of them military.  Unless we made certain that this force was eliminated, the Japanese, even in defeat, might gain control of China simply by their ability to tip the scales in the contest for power.

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