- Mar 8, 2013
Bombing of Tokyo in 1945. is given far less attention than some objectively less deadly attacks (London Blitz, attack on Pearl Harbor, or bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki). Yet it is important to understand why it happened, how it was so deadly, and why the memory of the attack is so negligible.
While conventional bombardment of Japan is given far less attention than the atomic bombs that succeeded it, it was overall far more deadly. Just in Tokyo, some 100 000 people were killed.
US involvement into the Second World War began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. Until then, United States had maintained official neutrality as outlined by the US President Franklin Roosevelt in his 1937 “Quarantene Speech”, though by 1941. this neutrality was a dead letter on paper. In 1939., president Roosevelt sharply criticized the bombardment of civilians carried out in Europe, declaring that:
The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenseless men, women and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.
If resort is had to this form of inhuman barbarism during the period of the tragic conflagration with which the world is now confronted, hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who have no responsibility for, and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities which have now broken out, will lose their lives. I am therefore addressing this urgent appeal to every Government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply.
US began pushing Japan back following victories in battles of Coral Sea and Midway. Part of the US strategy was so-called “island hopping”, where US forces would attack and seize only those islands that had or could support an acceptable air strip. Nevertheless, the fighting was heavy on both the sea and the land.