While living in Japan, I went to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is deeply unsettling. A lot of pictures and information that most Americans have never seen, and which would break your heart endlessly. I bought a book there to remind me of how awful it was.
A couple of months ago on PBS I watched a series on WW2, showcasing color film footage in Japan, from before and during the war, and entries from Japanese diaries. I already knew that the mindset of the Japanese at that time was incredibly hard to imagine, but the program really underscored how bizarre it was. For example, one diary records that when the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of the war was announced at schools, all children and teachers were ecstatic and cheering. (It made me think of how certain Muslim groups today behaved after 9/11.) Being captured alive was the worst shame a soldier could have, and many Japanese soldiers died needlessly because of this deep-seated belief. Because of this ideology the taking of Okinawa was one of the war's hardest tasks, with high casualties because all of the Japanese fought to the death. The US
According to the PBS production, MacArthur mused about the possibility of using atomic bombs to clear out the Japanese for the US troops, who were to be landing on the beaches of southern Kyushu.. He certainly did not seem, at that time, to grasp that such use would have resulted in utter annihilation of both armies. So I wonder about well he really comprehended this situation, before the bomb fell.
But ...I found it strange that the bomb was dropped while the Japanese were making quiet moves to figure out a strategy to have peace and yet keep their emperor. That is the one element which makes this event probably the most tragic: Signs of potential progress were dismissed, in order for a 'toy' to be tested.
(But, as mentioned, even after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese still didn't surrender!! The determination to fight to the death was amazingly still intact in enough of the leaders.)
Well, it's too, too bad that they didn't surrender right then. Because they didn't, they got another dose.
BTW I agree with Six to a degree, that Americans viewed Japanese as subhumans. They surely looked at the fact that the Japanese armies had long been busy committing atrocities throughout Asia, as well as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as evidence that this race had no conscience at all! Also, the war propaganda certainly underscored a subhuman caracature, if you have ever seen any of it...
However, the Japanese at that time certainly considered anyone who was not Japanese as subhuman! Their current understanding of the value of peace is certainly not a by-product of their own WW2 culture, but more of a much-too-late "aha!" experience after the bomb... ...and, perhaps, thru the American occupation (during which much relief was received): that is, they probably began to appreciate being dealt with rather mercifully, in contrast to their own merciless actions elsewhere.
(The Japanese even seem to appreciate these bombings in some bizarre way, because it distracted/made up for their own actions in Asia. Kinda like being able to reclaim honor (an extremely important concept to them) in the eyes of the world; that it gave them moral highground in the end. (This is only my perception.) They never talk about Pearl Harbor and they have revised history for their children's schoolbooks, and write nothing about their cruel handiwork in Asia before and during the war--which has angered their Asian neighbors no end...)
Still rambling here... Sorry.
Anyway, to my knowledge, America has not apologized for dropping the bomb, and the Japanese have not apologized for its aggression to China, Korea, America, and other countries. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I feel we should apologize for it. ... (and maybe that will give them example for them to follow, and see that they won't lose face...?)
Just my 2 cents, all mixed up.
(And I really enjoy your comments, Jim. I agree with you on your attitude.)