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Operation Coronet   >   Books   >   Codename Downfall

   
 

Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan


Should the United States have used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? This remains, to this day, one of the most controversial issues of the Second World War. Those who believe that the atomic bombs should not have been used, most often argue that Japan was close to the point of surrender anyway, while those who believe the use of atomic bombs was correct, usually point to the fanatical Japanese resistance in the Pacific campaign, and the expected massive casualties (both Allied and Japanese) that would have resulted from an invasion of the home islands.

This book offers a fresh perspective on this question, and some interesting insights into what an invasion of Japan might have been like. The general thrust of the book is that an invasion would have been a bloodbath with perhaps as many as a million or more Allied casualties, and several million Japanese casualties. This argument is based on several factors:
  1. The Japanese government was not apparently preparing to surrender, but rather to fight what they considered a decisive battle (which they called "Operation Ketsugo", which means "Operation Decision") against the invasion.

  2. The Japanese government appeared willing and able to mobilize virtually the entire population of the home islands (both civilians and military) to fight the invading Allied forces. This included, for example, mobilizing virtually all able-bodied healthy men and women, and even arming them with muskets, bows, and spears.

  3. The Japanese had correctly anticipated the Allied invasion plans, and had prepared large forces to meet them.

  4. The US military expected severe casualties among their own troops (demonstrated for example by manufacturing nearly half a million Purple Heart medals). While of course, these were expected figures, there expection was not purely a guess, but an estimate based on recent experience of warfare in the Pacific.

  5. The US military was considering using atomic weapons and possibly chemical weapons (gas), to assist the invasion.

  6. Destruction of the Japanese transport infrastructure during invasion could have resulted in famine among the Japanese civilian population.
If you accept these arguments, the obvious conclusion is that while the destruction of two Japanese cities by atomic weapons was horrific, it was less horrific than the alternative. Of course, no single book is ever likely to settle this argument conclusively (and some people may also argue that the use of atomic weapons was absolutely immoral regardless of utilitarian considerations), but this book is certainly an interesting contribution to the debate, and therefore worth reading.


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Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan

By Thomas B. and Norman Polmar Allen

Headline Book Publishing
Hardcover (384 pages)

Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan
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Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan To Invade Japan

By Thomas B. Allen

Headline Book Publishing
Paperback (408 pages)

Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan To Invade Japan
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Key questions of the Second World War, what would have happened if the Allies had not dropped the bomb, and had to invade Japan?

   


 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
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