Dear Mr. Chairman:
Your courteous letter, enclosing the resolution of the Hiroshima City Council, was highly appreciated. The feeling of the people of your city is easily understood, and I am not in any way offended by the resolution which their city council passed.
However, it becomes necessary for me to remind the City Council, and perhaps you also, of some historical events.
In 1941, while a peace conference was in progress in Washington between representatives of the Emperor of Japan and the Secretary of State of the United States, representing the President and the Government of the United States, a naval expedition of the Japanese Government approached the Hawaiian Islands, a territorial part of the United States, and bombed our Pearl Harbor Naval Base. It was done without provocation, without warning and without a declaration of war.
Thousands of young American sailors and civilians were murdered by this unwarranted and unheralded attack, which brought on the war between the people of Japan and the people of the United States. It was an unnecessary and terrible act.
The United States had always been a friend of Japan from the time our great Admiral succeeded in opening the door to friendly relations between Russia and Japan in the early 1900s. The President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, intervened and brought about a peace settlement.
But in the 1930s Japan joined the Axis Powers, and when the Hitler regime in Germany and Mussolinis government in Italy were defeated, Japan was left alone.
From Potsdam in 1945, before Russia declared war on Japan, Great Britain, China and the United States issued an ultimatum suggesting that Japan join the Germans and Italians in surrender. This document, sent to the Japanese Government through Sweden and Switzerland, evoked only a very curt and discourteous reply.
Our military advisers had informed Prime Minister Churchill of Great Britain,
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of China and the President of the United States that it would require at least a million and a half Allied soldiers to land in the Tokyo plain and on the south island of Japan.
On July 16, 1945, before the demand for Japan's surrender was made, a successful demonstration of the greatest explosive force in the history of the world had been accomplished.
After a long conference with the Cabinet, the military commanders and Prime Minister Churchill, it was decided to drop the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities devoted to war and work for Japan. The two cities selected were Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When Japan surrendered a few days after the bomb was ordered dropped, on August 6, 1945, the military estimated that at least a quarter of a million of the invasion forces against Japan and a quarter of a million Japanese had been spared complete destruction and that twice that many on each side would, otherwise, have been maimed for life.
As the executive who ordered the dropping of the bomb, I think the sacrifice of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was urgent and necessary for the prospective welfare of both Japan and the Allies.
The need for such a fateful decision, of course, never would have arisen, had we not been shot in the back by Japan at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.
And in spite of that shot in the back, this country of ours, the United States of America, has been willing to help in every way the restoration of Japan as a great and prosperous nation.
Harry S. Truman
Honorable Tsukasa Nitoguri
Hiroshima City Council