Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

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Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#1

Post by ELB » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:42 am

Blogger EX-SKF is apparently a Japanese blogger with excellent written English whom I never heard of before Instapundit posted this link (part 1):
http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2013/08/spec ... art-1.html

There is also this post (part 2):
http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2013/08/spec ... art-2.html

I know nothing else about the blogger except that he has a lot of interest and posts about Fukushima reactor. The blogger's posts are from 2013, about a Japanese documentary that aired in 2011. The two links above translate a Japanese documentary that says the WWII Japanese government knew that that a B-29 was enroute to Hiroshima to likely to drop an atomic bomb... but did not warn the the city. Two days later they knew another B-29, using the same call-sign (V675) was enroute, but did nothing to warn the locals then either.


Cliff's notes:

The Japanese knew the US was working on an atomic bomb, and had started their own program. They were not able to successfully refine uranium from uranium ore, and cancelled their program in June 1945, just before the US detonated its first bomb at Trinity. Even within the confines of the government they were not able to admit the Japanese could not do something that the Americans could, so out loud they said refining uranium was impossible. The Japanese were aware of the Trinity test, but since "officially" they had concluded that it was impossible to extract usable uranium from ore, therefore the US must not be able to build a bomb either, and so "officially" the Trinity test was just a very large conventional bomb. No one dared admit out loud that the US might have an atomic weapon.

Japanese intelligence had also determined that a special B-29 unit had recently started operation on Tinian. In general US radio traffic was encrypted, but for reasons unknown to me, the lead element of a message was the unencrypted call-sign. The Japanese knew B-29s operated in large formation (often 300 planes for a single raid), and that call signs fell into the V400, V400, V700 groups for planes from the North Marianas. When call signs in the V600 group started being used, they were able to figure out there were only about 12 or 14 aircraft in this group, based on Tinian, so concluded those airplanes had a special mission, that involved a lot of precision bombing practice on islands near Tinian. This information was provided to the top elements of the government, the same people who knew of their own atomic program and the efforts of the Americans.

When the Enola Gay executed its mission the Japanese intel identified it, and a weather reconnaissance B-29 an hour ahead of Enola Gay, five hours before the Enola Gat was over Hiroshima. They noted it transmitted a message to Washington DC. They notified their top headquarters that a weather recon B-29 followed by a "special task" bomber was enroute, but the headquarters did nothing to warn Hiroshima. The city had air raid shelters that would have protected at least part of the population (a 14 year old girl who was in a shelter only 700m from ground zero survived without injury and was interviewed for the documentary). Also there were squadrons of a special fighter plane that could fly high enough to intercept B-29s, but nobody that could take action was alerted. The locals had alerted on the WX recon plane, but realizing it was a recon and not knowing it was followed by another bomber, they stood down.

When Bock's Car was launched, Japanese Intel again identified it as a special task bomber from Tinian hours before its arrival --- it was even using the same call sign, V675. Again they notified up the chain, and no one acted on the intelligence, despite the bombing of Hiroshima. Bock's Car went to Kokura City first, but it was obscured by weather, so it went to its alternate target, Nagasaki. Again the local squadron of fighters dedicated to attacking B-29s was not alerted, and Bock's Car completed its mission without interference.

There is much more at the link, well worth reading.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#2

Post by C-dub » Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:46 pm

This all sounds similar to the theory that FDR knew Pearl was going to be attacked. The issue I have with that similarity is that if FDR knew the reason is obvious. We needed to be in that war and there was no way that was going to happen voluntarily.

I can’t think of a similar or valid reason the Japanese government would not warn their people.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#3

Post by ELB » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:42 pm

C-dub wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:46 pm
...
I can’t think of a similar or valid reason the Japanese government would not warn their people.
Did you read the posts at the link?

I think there is a case to be made that the government was so bureaucratically inept and so overwhelmed by (losing) the war that they didn't quite put 2 and 2 together. But unless NHK is completely lying it is apparent that the Japanese knew the US had an atomic weapon, and that there were B-29s at Tinian that were segregated and not being used for regular bombing missions. In this case, they failed to put 2+2 together twice.

It would not be the only time that government leaders had plain evidence of a threat to their people and purposely failed to act on it because that would collide with their own beliefs and priorities.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#4

Post by C-dub » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:06 pm

ELB wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:42 pm
C-dub wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:46 pm
...
I can’t think of a similar or valid reason the Japanese government would not warn their people.
Did you read the posts at the link?

I think there is a case to be made that the government was so bureaucratically inept and so overwhelmed by (losing) the war that they didn't quite put 2 and 2 together. But unless NHK is completely lying it is apparent that the Japanese knew the US had an atomic weapon, and that there were B-29s at Tinian that were segregated and not being used for regular bombing missions. In this case, they failed to put 2+2 together twice.

It would not be the only time that government leaders had plain evidence of a threat to their people and purposely failed to act on it because that would collide with their own beliefs and priorities.
I did.

It wasn't that they were so inept or overwhelmed, they didn't want to admit that someone else could do what they couldn't so they said it was impossible. Did you read it?

Just kidding.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#5

Post by ELB » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:38 pm

I lean more towards shear denial of reality, but I made to the case for ineptness as a slightly less damning possibility.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#6

Post by oljames3 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:58 pm

I have not read the linked articles and do not intend to. Nagasaki was not the Army's first choice as a target. That decision was made in flight due to cloud cover over the primary target.

As Veteran's Day 2019 approaches, the US Army remains the only entity having used atomic weapons in war.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#7

Post by chasfm11 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 8:30 am

oljames3 wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:58 pm
I have not read the linked articles and do not intend to. Nagasaki was not the Army's first choice as a target. That decision was made in flight due to cloud cover over the primary target.

As Veteran's Day 2019 approaches, the US Army remains the only entity having used atomic weapons in war.
Estimates of casualties in Nagasaki are around 40,000. While some estimates have been inflated beyond that level for Dresden,Germany, it appears that an accurate count was closer to 25,000. My point is that it wasn't just the atomic weapon that inflicted massive civilian deaths. One might argue that the atomic bomb is more efficient but I'm not sure that really matters.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#8

Post by Rob72 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:49 am

C-dub wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:46 pm
This all sounds similar to the theory that FDR knew Pearl was going to be attacked. The issue I have with that similarity is that if FDR knew the reason is obvious. We needed to be in that war and there was no way that was going to happen voluntarily.

I can’t think of a similar or valid reason the Japanese government would not warn their people.
There is a HUGE cultural element that most Americans don't understand. First, the 30s were a period of a global renaissance, with a great deal of (comparatively) rapid international travel. Most of the scientists (American, German, Russian, Japanese, British) had met each other several times in the decades prior to WWII, and had numerous conversations about nacent nuclear theory. Noting that because as the war progressed, EVERYONE was working on the bomb, the limiting factors being the amount of pre-war research by the scientists, availability of materials, production capacity, and political belief in concept. The accomplishments of all of the eventually engaged societies led to a hubris that humans were God-like, and could achieve whatever they set their minds to. Of course, if I am "God", and am entitled to all the resources needed to achieve my goals, if you deny me resources, you are 1) a stupid and lower life form, and 2) simply be existing, you are my enemy. Very simplistic, but carries most of the conflicts and philosophies that led to the war.

Culturally:

Germans- believed in the might of technology and had a powerful incentive to fight, based on the after-effects of WWI. Not all were "true believers", but after being culturally demonized, economically ruined, and literally having rebuilt their society in spite of the best efforts of Western Europe(post WWI), it was easy to project dehumanization, or turn a blind eye.

British- had the best overall view of the building conflict through a highly developed intelligence service. Mainly interested in rebuilding The(-ir) Empire to a semblance of its former glory, but deeply enmeshed in global intrigue.

Americans- riding high on a renewed concept of the Monroe Doctrine, made possible by the immense industrial revolution. Truthfully, war is money, and prior to Pearl Harbor, we sold to everyone. We were culturally at our peak, defeating most obstacles to development and building the nuveau riche, of which Roosevelt was one.

Russians- staggering along in Progressive Glory. Culturally very similar to the Japanese, that similarity being a profound paranoia and sense of unappreciated/dismissed superiority. Immense resources were dedicated not to building the society, but to building the "narrative" of the glory of communism (sound familiar?).

Japanese- The Chosen Ones, still with a deeply rooted belief that the Emperer was divine, that they were the first and highest lifeforms, and that they would eventually rise to supersede all other cultures. It is important to note the incredibly deep and profound rooting of this racism, as it is the basis for the after-war stories of the "Surprise American attack," the Americans used the atomic bomb, but why is never discussed.

The Japanese spent years indoctrinating their people in the idea that there could be no co-existence with the gaijin (white-devils), and that 1) it was their duty as Nippon to defend their country to the death. Not doing so would be a disgrace to their identity, and you would no longer exist to the other members of the society, 2) the gaijin would exterminate them and wipe away the glory of their culture if they surrendered. This was believed, pretty universally.

Warning the people, accepting surrender, would have been denying who they were. Death before dishonor is a real concept.

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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#9

Post by Paladin » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:21 am

Interesting stuff.

One other piece of WW2 history that hasn't received a lot of attention:

Deadly WWII U.S. firebombing raids on Japanese cities largely ignored
From January 1944 until August 1945, the U.S. dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Japanese cities, according to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. It estimated that 333,000 people were killed, including the 80,000 killed in the Aug. 6 Hiroshima atomic bomb attack and 40,000 in Nagasaki three days later. Other estimates are significantly higher. Fifteen million of the 72 million Japanese were left homeless.

The bombing campaign set a military precedent for targeting civilian areas that persisted into the Korean and Vietnam wars and beyond. But the non-atomic attacks have been largely overlooked.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

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Post by equin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:58 pm

Interesting stuff.
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Re: Japanese Documentary: Govt knew A-bomb was coming, did not warn cities

#11

Post by Redneck_Buddha » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:18 pm

Some of the destruction wrought on German cities was pretty horrific, as well. Entire cities like Dresden effectively wiped out.

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