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The Aftermath of the Mission

Atomic bomb damage at Nagasaki. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Atomic bomb damage at Nagasaki. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Even after the second atomic bomb attack, disagreement raged within the Japanese government between peace advocates and those who urged continued resistance. An attempted coup by militant extremists failed, and on Aug. 14, Japan surrendered unconditionally. In a break with tradition, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender in a recorded radio message. Japan accepted the terms of the July 26 Potsdam Declaration calling for unconditional surrender -- terms which the Japanese had rejected previously. This was the first time the Japanese people had ever heard their emperor's voice, and some Japanese officers committed suicide upon hearing his decision. On Aug. 28, U.S. aircraft began landing the first occupation forces at Tokyo. B-29s now were flying relief missions, dropping food, medicine and other supplies to U.S. Allied prisoners at some 150 Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

Americans generally felt no moral dilemma over the dropping of the atomic bombs. The surrender ended more than a decade of Japanese aggression in Asia and the Pacific. After three and one-half years of brutal warfare following Pearl Harbor, Americans anxiously awaited the homecoming of surviving service personnel and a return to peacetime normalcy. To an American POW working in a coal mine near Nagasaki when the atomic bomb detonated, the bomb meant survival. He weighed only 98 pounds after 40 months of captivity.

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