My father was a WWII vet., served in the Pacific, and like most veterans, didn't speak much about his experiences. When I was younger, I could never figure out why he hated the "Japs" so much, and we used to knock heads over the morality of the nuclear attacks.
As I grew up, and saw documentaries and gradually heard the filtered stories of the appalling behavior, the brutality toward Allied POWs and occupied civilians by most Japanese soldiers, I came to understand a little, why.
Last year, SBS ran very late at night (after midnight if I recall), a documentary series on the war from the Japanese perspective. It was very enlightening, and very sad.
And it brought to mind the paradox that "They do what the do because they are what the are, and they are what they are because they do what they do".
But even today, and with many musings on this vexed issue, I still cannot reconcile myself to those events, and the many other "lesser evils" committed on all sides, not being acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity.
I just wish we lived in a mature enough world where this type of failure of global humanity, is not an option.
Why the nuclear attack on Japan was right (The Age 06/08/03)
Wartime records and memoirs show that the emperor and some of his aides wanted to end the war by the summer of 1945. But they were vacillating and couldn't prevail over a military that was determined to keep going even if that meant, as a navy official urged at one meeting, "sacrificing 20 million Japanese lives".
The atomic bombings broke this political stalemate and were thus described by Mitsumasa Yonai, the navy minister at the time, as a "gift from heaven".
Without the atomic bombings, Japan would have continued fighting by inertia.
This would have meant more firebombing of Japanese cities and a ground invasion, planned for November 1945, of the main Japanese islands. The fighting over the small, sparsely populated islands of Okinawa had killed 14,000 Americans and 200,000 Japanese, and in the main islands the toll would have run into the millions.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum