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The high American death toll in the much smaller invasions of the Marianas, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and elsewhere led the US army's Chemical Warfare Service to devise a plan to use massive chemical weapon attacks to support the invasion of the mainland.
The details were contained in A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic, an anodyne title for an extraordinary proposal that involved two different if almost simultaneous uses for thousands of tons of chemical weapons. The main weapons to be used were two chemical blister agents, phosgene and mustard gas, together with hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen chloride.
At the time of the invasion itself, tactical strike aircraft would drop nearly 9,000 tons of chemical weapons on the defending troops in the first fifteen days, with further attacks planned at the rate of just under 5,000 tons every thirty days from then on. As US troops came ashore, they would bring in howitzers and mortars that could deliver an additional forty-five tons a day of poisonous gas on Japanese positions.
This represented a massive use of chemical weapons, but it was dwarfed in scale by the proposed attacks on Japanese cities. In what the document described as an "initial gas blitz", long-range B-29 and B-24 strategic bombers would attack a large number of cities across Japan – starting with Tokyo, fifteen days before the ground invasion started. Over the next, initial fifteen-day period, over 56,000 tons of gas bombs would be dropped on cities, followed by almost 24,000 tons of gas bombs dropped every month from then on until the war ended or all the planned targets had been hit.
Although this plan was completed only in June 1945, it originated in work started by the Chemical Warfare Service more than eighteen months earlier; as early as April 1944, a detailed study – Selected Aerial Objectives for Retaliatory Gas Attacks on Japan – had been completed assessing the vulnerability of cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka to gas attack. The analysts believed that their densely populated residential areas, with narrow streets and few open spaces, were particularly susceptible to chemical warfare. Moreover, mustard gas is readily absorbed by wood, and Japanese wooden houses would have been very difficult to decontaminate.
The intention was to maximise casualties, mostly civilian, and the study stated:
"The Gas Attack Program is aimed primarily at causing the maximum number of casualties, crippling transportation and public services, complicating and delaying the repair of HE [high explosive] bomb damage and making targets more vulnerable to incendiary attack."
By June 1945, the full gas-attack plan was submitted to Major General William N Porter, head of the Chemical Warfare Service, detailing fifty urban and industrial targets, including twenty-five cities that were particularly susceptible to gas attack. According to the report, "Gas attacks of the size and intensity recommended on these 250 square miles of urban population … might easily kill 5,000,000 people and injure that many more."
The chemical warfare attacks were never implemented, but the programme was in no sense theoretical. While the plans were being formulated, much effort was put into manufacturing and stockpiling the weapons so that they would be ready if needed. The first chemical weapon plant had been opened in April 1944 at Warners, New York state, initially producing about eighty tons of poison gas a week. This was later increased to over 400 tons a week, and more plants were built so that by 1945 the US army had over fifty million chemical artillery shells and the US army air corps had more than a million bombs and 100,000 aircraft spray tanks.
By any means necessary: the United States and Japan
Originally posted by Sth HemisphereI think any war is sad but what about all the allies pows that never returned
Originally posted by Gazrok
While I agree that the dropping of the bomb saved many lives, it also set a dangerous precedent.
We, the self-appointed police of the world, willingfully targetted civilians and blew them to hell. This action has made our criticizing of others doing the same almost null and void. We fell off our high horse that day gentlemen.
Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin
To claim that evaluation is revisionism is not entirely accurate.
Also as Twitchy pointed out, the Japanese offered a conditional surrender before we bombed them twice.
Japanese historians uncovered another key element of the story. After Hiroshima (August 6), Soviet entry into the war against Japan (August 8), and Nagasaki (August 9), the emperor intervened to break a deadlock within the government and decide that Japan must surrender in the early hours of August 10. The Japanese Foreign Ministry dispatched a message to the United States that day stating that Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration, "with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler."
Originally posted by FredT
Again with conditions. More to the point they were simply not willing to accept terms that were acceptable to the allies during that time. Only a revisionist would try to apply current morality and thinking on what happened 60 years ago.