Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

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Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan sheds new light on the decision by the United States, at the end of the Second World War, to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan. Hasegawa argues that the decision to drop the atomic bombs was made in order to keep the Soviet Union from making large gains in the Pacific Theater, thus it was the first of many Cold War chess matches. In the first chapter of his book “Triangular Relations and the Pacific War” Hasegawa details American, Japanese, and Russian Relations prior to the Second World War up until shortly after the Yalta Conference. He summarizes Russo-Japanese relations from the founding of Vladivostok to the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, presenting the ominous background in diplomatic relations before the founding of the Soviet Union. Hasegawa then details the aggressive actions taken by Japan in China and the Pacific during the 1930s, along with the hardline stance taken by the United States against such actions in comparison with the Soviet strategy of appeasement. The promise by the Soviet Union to join the Pacific War as well as the Manhattan project and Japanese peace activists are discussed as Hasegawa details wartime relations. In chapter two “Stalin, Truman, and Hirohito Face New Challenges” Hasegawa takes ample time to discuss key policy decisions as the war came to a close. Beginning with the planning of the American invasion of Japan to commence on November 1, 1945, and the staggering American casualties at Okinawa causing planners to rethink invasion. The key to this chapter however, is the transition of power from Roosevelt to Truman. As Truman inherited wartime America, he had difficult decisions... ... middle of paper ... ...khalin, the Kuril Islands, and parts of China before American troops could land. Stalin and Truman clashed over this, but in the end came to agreement as the Yalta terms were more or less respected. Hasegawa’s argument attributing the Japanese surrender to Soviet aggression is at times compelling. His book clearly presents that Japanese surrender cannot entirely be attributed to the atomic bombings, however it also cannot be entirely attributed to Soviet aggression either. The lack of a hasty surrender by the Japanese seems better attributed to the extreme internal partisanship and indecision amongst the Japanese leadership, even when faced with Soviet invasion and American annihilation from the air. Works Cited Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. Racing the enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the surrender of Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.

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