Sir: The surrender of Japan had more to do with Hiroshima than Peter Popham thinks ("Why the bomb did not end the war", 7 August). His view that Japan accepted US terms for fear of a Soviet invasion is far less plausible than the conventional explanation.
It must have been clear to the Japanese that Stalin's opportunistic entry into the war in the Far East was aimed at annexing territories in Manchuria and the Kuriles long claimed by Moscow as its own. That the USSR had no interest in attempting a tricky and costly invasion of Japan from across the sea was underlined by the movement of the easternmost Soviet forces away from Japan during August 1945.
No army was being assembled for an attack on Japan itsself; rather, Emperor Hirohito's decision to over-rule his generals and surrender unconditionally to the US was probably motivated by the sense that "enough was enough".
Hirohito had long recognised that Japan would ultimately lose the war. Faced with the Americans' apparent willingness to annihilate his civilian subjects, the Emperor merely brought forward the inevitable recognition of defeat. One can argue about the ethics of using the bomb, but it certainly did end the war.
Royal United Services
Institute for Defence Studies
7 AugustReuse content