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Invasion Plans

A North American B-25 makes a bomb run on a Japanese destroyer escort off Formosa in April 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A North American B-25 makes a bomb run on a Japanese destroyer escort off Formosa in April 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-25s leave a Japanese tanker aflame at Mako Island in the Formosa Strait in April 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-25s leave a Japanese tanker aflame at Mako Island in the Formosa Strait in April 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)


After months of bombardment by AAF and naval aerial forces, Japan was reeling. By July 1945, its cities were devastated, its industrial might was crippled, and the blockade imposed by Allied aircraft, submarines and mines cut it off from outside sources of food and other supplies. AAF planes attacked Japan with almost complete freedom in preparation for the planned invasion.

The first amphibious assault was to take place on Nov. 1, 1945, on Kyushu with a second landing scheduled for March 1, 1946, on Honshu. With an army of two million men and a force of some 8,000 aircraft remaining, the Japanese retained sufficient strength to make an invasion extremely costly. Military advisors to President Harry Truman estimated that an invasion of Japan would cost between 250,000 and one million Allied casualties, plus an equal number for the enemy. Fortunately, for the peoples of all nations involved, the inestimable carnage in human lives was not necessary.

On July 26, 1945, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declarations calling for Japan's surrender. Two days later, the Japanese Premier announced to the Japanese press that his government would ignore the ultimatum. Based on the apparent rejection of peace efforts and the desire to avoid the need to invade Japan, Truman gave the order to employ a new weapon of mass destruction -- the atomic bomb.

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