U S Government - Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory / Public Domain
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been a topic of heated debate until today, many national bodies and individuals passionately debating both sides of the argument. Not picking a side in this article but simply presenting the counter-argument, we explore what would have happened if the bombs were not dropped.
As we know, Japan did not surrender after the first atomic bomb but realized what power it had after the second bomb was dropped. Then, World War II finally came to a halt.
If that was not the case, the contingency plan was Operation Downfall. Although entire books and full documentaries were written about this possibility, we’ll give you the main points that will show the gravity of this invasion. Also, we found a short clip which we shared on the bottom of this page featuring interviews of the soldiers that were being prepped for the mission if the need arose.
Operation Downfall was the proposed plan to invade mainland Japan. If it happened, it would have been the largest amphibious operation in history, dwarfing the D-Day invasion.
It had two main parts. Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet.
Set to begin in November 1945, Operation Olympic was the plan to capture the southernmost parts of Japan and set them as a staging area for continuing the invasion which was Operation Coronet.
Then, from there, 40 divisions were to push northbound until they eventually reached Tokyo. This would require them to fight every step of the way there.
Now, here’s the argument for dropping the bombs.
Although these are estimates, the most agreed upon statistical battle analysis was made for the Secretary of War Henry Stimson by analyst William Shockley. According to him, the U.S. would have sustained anywhere between 1.5-4 million casualties with at least half a 1-2 million dead and Japan would have 5-10 million fatalities. This does not include other Allied countries which would have been involved such as the U.K., Russia, Australia and many others.
Without those estimates, World War II would have extended for more than two years and claimed at least a few more million lives. The atomic bombs had an estimated death toll of 200,000+.
Operation Downfall would have been much more horrendous to carry out.