Japan’s Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said Saturday that he thinks the dropping of atomic bombs by the United States in the closing days of World War II “could not be helped” as it was aimed at preventing the Soviet Union from entering the war against Japan.
“I understand the bombings brought the war to its end. I think it was something that couldn’t be helped.”
The United States “dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki although it knew Japan would lose the war” without having to resort to using an atomic bomb, Kyuma said.
Noting that the Soviet Union was preparing to wage a war against Japan, he said the United States must have thought the use of an atomic bomb could prompt Japan’s surrender, thus preventing the Soviet Union from carrying out its intentions.
“Luckily Hokkaido was not occupied. In the worst case, Hokkaido could have been taken by the Soviet Union,” he said. “I don’t hold a grudge against the United States.”
This is a perfectly valid reasoning that, frankly, I agree with. It’s how many Americans justify Hiroshima. But for the minister of a relatively unpopular government to make this remark weeks before a national election in a country where more than 80% of the public believes the atomic bombing was the indiscriminate massacre of ordinary citizens just moments before national defeat that is not justified for any reason.
The watchword of this blog has long been one of Robert D. Kaplan’s “top ten rules”: Speak Victorian, Think Pagan. Policymakers must have the freedom to think of all possibilities and options, unrestricted. But never speak outloud: the public isn’t ready to hear it, your enemies will have access to inner thoughts, and the substances of the debate will get lost in the controversy. Defense Minister Kyuma should continue to think pagan, but always speak Victorian in public.