Victory in the Pacific: American Experience

Warning Leaflet Dropped On Japan

Translation: "If the war continues the result will be destruction of the homeland of Japan. This is an obvious fact. The longer the war continues, the greater will be the work in reconstructing the nation after the war, and the nation's resources will be forever impoverished. It is an easy matter to sacrifice one's life for the nation. But true loyalty is to put an end to the war and to work toward reconstructing the nation."

To use the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki “was not a weighty matter,” said historian Barton Bernstein.

“In the framework of mid-1945 no one around Truman had any sustained and serious doubts about using the bomb.” “There’s no way that any American president, faced with the expenditures that had been put into the project, faced with the casualties in the Pacific, could not have used that bomb,” states historian Conrad Crane.

Victory in the Pacific: American Experience
Air dates:
Monday, May 23, 9:00pm on WOSU TV
Tuesday, May 24, 1:00am on WOSU TV
Tuesday, May 24 9:00 pm WOSU PLUS

The two-hour program examines the final year of World War II in the Pacific, and features the first-hand recollections of both American and Japanese civilians and soldiers – even a kamikaze pilot who survived his failed mission. “In the annals of warfare, the final year of the war in the Pacific stands alone,” says Hoyt. “It would be as brutal as war gets.”

Ever since the Battle of Midway in June 1942, American forces had been on the offensive, moving across the central and south Pacific. Step by step, island by island, they had pushed Japanese forces back to the very doorstep of Japan. Their last stop before an invasion of Japan’s main islands was Okinawa. This bloody and costly battle ended in June 1945. Some of the surviving troops returned to bases in Guam. Their orders were to rest, recuperate and train for their next battle – the invasion of Japan.

Long Odds for Survival
Going into battle again after surviving the mud, rain, and misery of the 82-day battle for Okinawa was disheartening for the Marines. For Jack Hoag, with the 6th Marine Division, the future seemed bleak. On Okinawa, both had witnessed the fierce resolve with which the Japanese soldiers had fought. The two Marines had lost countless friends, and felt deep foreboding. Hoag would later describe the situation:

“I figured my odds would be running out. We knew we were going to go to Japan, because that was the last stop. We were told that they were going to contest every foot of it, civilians and Japanese military. They had something like 8,000 kamikaze planes in readiness they had never used. We were told that they were going to use them to blow up all the troop ships coming in. And that’s what the Japs had intended to do. So we probably wouldn’t have even gotten there.”

U.S. Casualties:

  • Saipan (Jun-Jul 1944): 16,612
  • Leyte (Oct 1944): 15,584
  • Iwo Jima (Feb-Mar 1945): 26,821
  • Okinawa (Apr-Jun 1945): 49,151

Japanese Casualties:

  • Saipan (Jun-Jul 1944): 23,811
  • Leyte (Oct 1944): 49,000+
  • Iwo Jima (Feb-Mar 1945): 22,000
  • Tokyo (Mar 9-10, 1945): 83,000
  • Okinawa (Apr-Jun 1945): 110,000
  • Hiroshima (Aug 6, 1945): 92,133 – 200,000
  • Nagasaki (Aug 9, 1945): 25,677 – 122,000

Ienaga, Saburo. The Pacific War, 1931-1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan’s Role in World War II. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
Zeiler, Thomas W. Unconditional Defeat: Japan, American, and the End of World War II. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 2004.