I was exposed the other day to an interesting theory of why the Emperor of Japan surrendered so quickly after we atom-bombed them. None of the conventional explanations really make much sense. On the one hand, there's the theory that our ability to instantly obliterate cities made him realize that continuing the war would see Japan largely depopulated. That doesn't really hold up though. We inflicted a far worse bombing on Tokyo, the night of March 9-10, which burned out the heart of the city, and killed at least 100k (an almost certainly low estimate), right in his backyard, where he could go and see what had been done. He toured the wasteland, saw the hordes of charcoal corpses, and didn't bat an eye. It was pretty obvious at that point that we were going to kill as many of them as it took, even if the number were 'all of them'. Hirohito didn't care, and let the war rumble on.
The other chief contender is that the Soviet Union's declaration of war made them realize that they couldn't win. That seems just overall wrong to me. They were enthusiastically preparing to receive the American invasion with bamboo spears, and single-shot pistols made from gas pipe. Top generals, including Anami the War Minister, were openly admitting that they'd be wiped out, but didn't really seem to see that as much of a drawback. Anami in particular gave this absolutely psycho speech about how Japan would be destroyed like a beautiful jewel shattering, and the deaths of 70 million Japanese would inspire the world for all time to come.
What did happen, then? On the day that Hiroshima was bombed, Truman gave this speech about it, where he said, "The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East." He had it slightly wrong, of course, but it was a new technology. At the same time, Yoshio Nishina, Japan's sole heavy-duty physicist, was sent to Hiroshima to see what had happened, and make a report to the Emperor. He phoned into the Emperor's cabinet meeting on the ninth to make his report, just before or just after they got the news of Nagasaki. He reported back that it had indeed been an atomic bomb, just as Truman had said. The Emperor announced his decision to surrender shortly afterward.
Is the idea that this was a weapon using 'the force from which the sun draws its power' what provoked surrender? Hirohito was, after all, considered the direct descendant of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. Japan even has the sun on their flag. The idea of the Emperor's divinity was widely accepted at the time, and it needs no great leap of imagination to suspect that Hirohito himself believed it as well. Having your chief diety and many-times great grandmother turned against you would be a bit of a shock. I think this makes a lot of sense.
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This is a scenic view of the provincial city of Munkacs, in eastern Hungary, taken in 1930, and probably intended for a post card. Do you see the four men on the left-hand side. Now look above them - it very much looks to me as though the one guy (prolly a teenager) is in the process of surprising another with a kick in the butt.
Original posted at https://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/194660.html