Abstract

This article reexamines the widely held presumption that nuclear weapons played a decisive role in winning the war in the Pacific. Based on new research from Japanese, Soviet, and U.S. archives, it concludes that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, played virtually no role in this outcome. A comparison of the responses of high-level Japanese officials to the bombing and the Soviet invasion on August 9 makes clear that the Soviet intervention touched off a crisis, while the bombing of Hiroshima did not. The article examines the evidence that, to save face, Japanese leaders blamed the bomb for losing the war. Finally, it sketches the profound impact this reappraisal may have on how nuclear weapons will be viewed in the future.

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