Testimony of Major General Charles W. Sweeney on May 11, 1995

Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney (1919~2004) and the Japanese version of his memoir “WAR’S END:An Eyewitness Account of America’s Last Atomic Mission”

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. I am Major General Charles W. Sweeney, United States Air Force, retired. I am the only pilot to have flown on both atomic missions. I flew the instrument plane on the Hiroshima mission, and 3 days later on August 9, 1945 commanded the second atomic mission over Nagasaki. Six days after Nagasaki the Japanese military surrendered and the Second World War came to an end.

Fifty years ago millions of my fellow citizens served our country in a time of national crisis — a crisis which engulfed our panel; a crisis in which the forces of fascism were poised to extinguish the democracies of the world. It was a crisis in which the forces of evil were clearly defined, or at least I thought so until last fall when I read the first accounts from the Air Force Association of the proposed script for the exhibit of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution.

It was obvious to me that the Enola Gay was being used to advance a theory about atomic missions and the United States’ role in World War II that transformed the Japanese into victims and cast the United States as a vengeful aggressor engaged in a war to destroy an ancient culture. My first reaction was, as you can imagine, personal disbelief. I just could not believe that the Smithsonian, an institution whose very name signifies honesty and integrity in the preservation of American artifacts, could be so wrong.

Like the overwhelming majority of my generation I did not want a war. We are not a Nation of warriors. There is no warrior class, no master race, no Samurai. Yet during the years when my generation and our parents were struggling through the Great Depression, the Japanese were engaged in the conquest of their neighbors. That is an unfortunate fact of history. Without the slightest remorse or hesitation the Japanese military slaughtered innocent men, women, and children. In the end, they would kill over 20 million of their Asian neighbors.

The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, timed for Sunday morning to inflict the maximum loss of ships and human life, thrust the United States into a war in the Pacific whose outcome then was far from certain. Seventeen hundred sailors are still entombed in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona that sits on the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Many, if not all, died without ever knowing why.

The fall of Corregidor and the resulting treatment of Allied prisoners of war dispelled any remaining doubt about the inhumaneness of the Japanese army even in the context of war. The Japanese military considered surrender a dishonor to one’s self, one’s family, one’s country, and one’s God, and thus they showed no mercy.

This was the true nature of the enemy we faced. This was the reality which President Harry Truman confronted as he considered sending yet even more American soldiers, sailors, and airmen into the horror of the war in the Pacific. Declassified transcripts of the secret codes which we had broken during the war and were available to President Truman and his military advisors underscore the Japanese attitude 50 years ago. The transcripts show the Japanese had no intention of surrendering unconditionally. They were stalling for time and fully prepared to continue to sacrifice their own citizens. And as time passed more Americans died.

The Japanese military was fully prepared to fight on, even after the Hiroshima mission. In fact, even after the Nagasaki mission, some Japanese military leaders were still advocating fighting on.

We know that in a pre-invasion meeting at the White House on June 18, 1945 Admiral William Leahy predicted to President Truman, based on the experience of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, 30 to 35 percent of the 770,000-man invasion force would be killed or wounded in the first 30 days of an invasion of the Japanese mainland. That calculates out to about a quarter of a million American men. President Truman remarked that the invasion would create another Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other; one of the most horrendous battles we ever fought. Now it would be expanded the whole length of Kyushu, the southern island of the four main islands of Japan.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed. General MacArthur’s chief surgeon. Brigadier General Guy Dennett, estimated that in the 120-day campaign to invade and occupy only the island of Kyushu, 395,000 casualties would be sustained. For President Truman, for me and for my crew, the probability of so many casualties was not an abstraction but a sobering reality.

The world is a better place because German and Japanese fascism failed to conquer. Japan and Germany are better places because we were benevolent in our victory. The youth of Japan and the United States, spared from further needless slaughter, went on to live and have families and grow old. Today millions of people in America and Japan are alive because we ended the war when we did. This is not to celebrate the use of atomic weapons. Quite the contrary. It is my fervent hope that my mission is the last such mission ever flown. But that does not mean that back in 1945, given the events of the war and the recalcitrance of our enemy. President Truman was not obliged to use all the weapons at his disposal to end the war.

Now, 50 years later after their defeat, some Japanese officials claim they were the victims, ignoring the clear evidence of their own brutality and mind set. Incredibly, how can any American academic support such a proposition, thus aiding and giving support to a 50-year attempt by the Japanese to rewrite their own history and ours in the process. Such an effort to rewrite history does a disservice to both countries. There is an entire generation of Japanese who do not know the full extent of their country’s conduct during World War II.

By forgetting our own history we contribute to Japanese amnesia, to the detriment of both nations. Unlike the Germans who acknowledge their guilt, the Japanese persist in the fiction that they did nothing wrong. That they were the victims of circumstances. This only forecloses any genuine prospect that the deep wounds suffered by both nations can be healed. We must know and remember history.

I have always had the utmost respect for the Smithsonian Institution and its mission. I do not understand how it could have planned to so unfairly mistreat the United States’ role in

World War II, to denigrate the bravery of our American soldiers, sailors, and airmen and the courage of President Truman. By canceling the proposed exhibit and simply displaying the Enola Gay, has the truth won out? Maybe not. Maybe this exhibit reveals a deeper problem.

Imagine taking your children or grandchildren to the original proposed exhibit. Would they learn of the sacrifices their fathers and grandfathers endured in that war in the Pacific so that all of us could be free in 1995, free to visit the Smithsonian or anywhere else we choose? Would they understand the important historical context which led the President of the United States to make the decision to end that brutal conflict using all the weapons at his disposal? I think not.

In the end, what would our children and grandchildren think that their country stood for? In trying to understand the reason why the Smithsonian did this I certainly do not get any clue from the stated reason the director gave for canceling the proposed exhibit. As I recall, he said the Smithsonian realized that it had been too ambitious by combining a highly emotional commemorative event for veterans with an historical analysis. This reason is at best condescending to the veterans. I suggest that the forces behind the revisionism of our history at the Smithsonian were flat out wrong in their analysis, and they should have said so.

The soul of a nation, its essence, is its history. It is that collective memory which defines what each generation thinks and believes about itself and its country. For this reason the facts must always be preserved. This does not mean debate should be stifled. It does mean that any debate must be founded upon a recognition of all the facts. At the Smithsonian there was an absence of some rather basic facts and a conclusion which was unsupported by those basic facts.

My fellow veterans and I were impelled to ask how could the Smithsonian have been so terribly wrong about the true nature and meaning of the war in the Pacific and the atomic missions? Fortunately, this threat to our national identity was aired out in the open because the proposed exhibit of the Enola Gay was so devoid of factual support. Other historic events may be too subtle to be seen as clearly. Certainly the country was fortunate that millions of veterans of the war, and citizens of the United States who are not necessarily veterans, were still alive to report on what really happened. I might point to one specific class of Americans, and they are the ones whose husbands, sons, loved ones were poised to conduct, to participate in that invasion.

So I come before this committee to ask you as Members of Congress to do all in your power to protect and preserve the integrity of the process by which our national identity is formed and debated. Our history is a precious asset. In a free society such as ours there must always be an ongoing debate about who we are and what we stand for.

The key question, however, is what role is appropriate for the Smithsonian in this ongoing debate and what process is to be employed in making decisions about historic interpretation at the Smithsonian? Of course, this assumes that the Smithsonian should expand its role beyond the preservation and exhibition of significant American artifacts — American artifacts.

The fact that you are holding these hearings is an encouraging sign for many Americans that such an inquiry will prevent future attempts to revise, rewrite, or slant our historical record in any way by any Government-supported agency. I would like to ask this committee to help the American people understand how the decisions as to what history the Smithsonian will display are made. Are these decisions based on ideology or some agenda, or are they the product of careful review and presentation of historical facts?

The issue is not that a group of pesky, aging veterans raised questions about a proposed exhibit. The issue is one of trust. Can the American people trust the Smithsonian ever again to be objective and unencumbered by ideology? This is an important debate and I thank this committee for holding these hearings.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[The prepared statement of General Sweeney follows:]

Statement OF Major General Charles W. Sweeney, USAF (Ret.)

I am Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, United States Air Force, Retired. I am the only pilot to have flown on both atomic missions. I flew the instrument plane on the right wing of General Paul Tibbets on the Hiroshima mission and 3 days later, on August 9, 1945, commanded the second atomic mission over Nagasaki. Six days after Nagasaki the Japanese military surrendered and the Second World War came to an end.

The soul of a nation, its essence, is its history. It is that collective memory which defines what each generation thinks and believes about itself and its country.

In a free society, such as ours, there is always an ongoing debate about who we are and what we stand for. This open debate is in fact essential to our freedom. But to have such a debate we as a society must have the courage to consider all of the facts available to us. We must have the courage to stand up and demand that before any conclusions are reached, those facts which are beyond question are accepted as part of the debate.

As the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions approaches, now is an appropriate time to consider the reasons for Harry Truman’s order that these missions be flown. We may disagree on the conclusion, but let us at least be honest enough to agree on basic facts of the time, the facts that President Truman had to consider in making a difficult and momentous decision.

As the only pilot to have flown both missions, and having commanded the Nagasaki mission, I bring to this debate my own eyewitness account of the times. I underscore what I believe are irrefutable facts, with full knowledge that some opinion makers may cavalierly dismiss them because they are so obvious — be- cause they interfere with their preconceived version of the truth, and the meaning which they strive to impose on the missions.

This evening, I want to offer my thoughts, observations, and conclusions as someone who lived this history, and who believes that President Truman’s decision was not only justified by the circumstances of his time, but was a moral imperative that precluded any other option.

Like the overwhelming majority of my generation the last thing I wanted was a war. We as a nation are not warriors. We are not hell-bent on glory. There is no warrior class — no Samurai — no master race.

This is true today, and it was true 50 years ago.

While our country was struggling through the great depression, the Japanese were embarking on the conquest of its neighbors — the Greater East Asia Co-Pros-perity Sphere. It seems fascism always seeks some innocuous slogan to cover the most hideous plans.

This Co-Prosperity was achieved by waging total and merciless war against China and Manchuria. The Japanese, as a nation, saw itself as destined to rule Asia and thereby possess its natural resources and open lands. Without the slightest remorse or hesitation, the Japanese Army slaughtered innocent men, women and children. In the infamous Rape of Nanking up to 300,000 unarmed civilians were butchered. These were criminal acts.


In order to fulfill its divine destiny in Asia, Japan determined that the only real impediment to this goal was the United States. It launched a carefully conceived sneak attack on our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Timed for a Sunday morning it was intended to deal a death blow to the fleet by inflicting the maximum loss of ships and human life.

1,700 sailors are still entombed in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona that sits on the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Many if not all, died without ever knowing why. Thus was the war thrust upon us.

The fall of Corregidor and the resulting treatment of Allied prisoners of war dispelled any remaining doubt about the inhumaneness of the Japanese Army, even in the context of war. The Bataan Death March was horror in its fullest dimension. The Japanese considered surrender to be dishonorable to oneself, one’s family, one’s country and one’s god. They showed no mercy. Seven thou- sand American and Filipino POW’s were beaten, shot, bayonetted or left to die of disease or exhaustion.


As the United States made its slow, arduous, and costly march across the vast expanse of the Pacific, the Japanese proved to be a ruthless and intractable killing machine. No matter how futile, no matter how hopeless the odds, no matter how certain the outcome, the Japanese fought to the death. And to achieve a greater glory, they strove to kill as many Americans as possible.

The closer the United States came to the Japanese mainland, the more fanatical their actions became.

Saipan — 3,100 Americans killed, 1,500 in the first few hours of the invasion

Iwo Jima — 6,700 Americans killed, 25,000 wounded

Okinawa — 12,500 Americans killed, total casualties, 35,000

These are facts reported by simple white grave markers.

Kamikazes. The literal translation is DIVINE WIND. To willingly dive a plane loaded with bombs into an American ship was a glorious transformation to godliness — there was no higher honor on heaven or earth. The suicidal assaults of the Kamikazes took 5,000 American Navy men to their deaths.

The Japanese vowed that, with the first American to step foot on the mainland, they would execute every Allied prisoner. In preparation they forced the POW’s to dig their own graves in the event of mass executions. Even after their surrender, they executed some American POW’s.


The Potsdam Declaration had called for unconditional surrender of the Japanese Armed Forces. The Japanese termed it ridiculous and not worthy of consideration. We know from our intercepts of their coded messages, that they wanted to stall for time to force a negotiated surrender on terms acceptable to them.

For months prior to August 6, American aircraft began dropping fire bombs upon the Japanese mainland. The wind created by the firestorm from the bombs incinerated whole cities. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese died. Still the Japanese military vowed never to surrender. They were prepared to sacrifice their own people to achieve their visions of glory and honor — no matter how many more people died.

They refused to evacuate civilians even though our pilots dropped leaflets warning of the possible bombings. In one 3-day period, 34 square miles of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka were reduced to rubble.


And even after the bombing of Hiroshima, Tojo, his successor Suzuki, and the military clique in control believed the United States had but one bomb, and that Japan could go on. They had 3 days to surrender after August 6, but they did not surrender. The debate in their cabinet at times became violent.

Only after the Nagasaki drop did the Emperor finally demand surrender.

And even then, the military argued they could and should fight on. A group of Army officers staged a coup and tried to seize and destroy the Emperor’s recorded message to his people announcing the surrender.


These facts help illuminate the nature of the enemy we faced. They help put into context the process by which Truman considered the options available to him. And they help to add meaning to why the missions were necessary.

President Truman understood these facts as did every service man and woman.

Casualties were not some abstraction, but a sobering reality.

Did the atomic missions end the war? Yes . . . they . . . did.

Were they necessary? Well that’s where the rub comes.

With the fog of 50 years drifting over the memory of our country, to some, the

Japanese are now the victims. America was the insatiable, vindictive aggressor seeking revenge and conquest. Our use of these weapons was the unjustified and immoral starting point for the nuclear age with all of its horrors. Of course, to support such distortion, one must conveniently ignore the real facts or fabricate new realities to fit the theories. It is no less egregious than those who today deny the Holocaust occurred.

How could this have happened?

The answer may lie in examining some recent events.

The current debate about why President Truman ordered these missions, in some cases, has devolved to a numbers game. The Smithsonian in its proposed exhibit of the Enola Gay revealed the creeping revisionism which seems the rage in certain historical circles.

That exhibit wanted to memorialize the fiction that the Japanese were the victims — we the evil aggressor. Imagine taking your children and grandchildren to this exhibit.

What message would they have left with?

What truth would they retain?

What would they think their country stood for?

And all of this would have occurred in an American institution whose very name and charter are supposed to stand for the impartial preservation of significant American artifacts.

By cancelling the proposed exhibit and simply displaying the Enola Gay, has truth won out?

Maybe not.

In one nationally televised discussion, I heard a so-called prominent historian argue that the bombs were not necessary. That President Truman was intent on intimidating the Russians. That the Japanese were ready to surrender.

The Japanese were ready to surrender? Based on what?

Some point to statements by General Eisenhower years after the war that Japan was about to fall. Well, based on that same outlook Eisenhower seriously under- estimated Germany’s will to fight on and concluded in December, 1944 that Germany no longer had the capability to wage offensive war.

That was a tragic miscalculation. The result was the Battle of the Bulge, which resulted in tens of thousands of needless Allied casualties and potentially allowed Germany to prolong the war and force negotiations.

Thus the assessment that Japan was vanquished may have the benefit of hindsight rather than foresight.

It is certainly fair to conclude that the Japanese could have been reasonably expected to be even more fanatical than the Germans based on the history of the war in the Pacific.

And, finally, a present-day theory making the rounds espouses that even if an invasion had taken place, our casualties would not have been a million, as many believed, but realistically only 46,000 dead.

ONLY 46,000!

Can you imagine the callousness of this line of argument? ONLY 46,000 — as if this were some insignificant number of American lives.

Perhaps these so-called historians want to sell books.

Perhaps they really believe it. Or perhaps it reflects some self-loathing occasioned by the fact that we won the war.

Whatever the reason, the argument is flawed. It dissects and recalculates events ideologically, grasping at selective straws.

Let me admit right here, today, that I don’t know how many more Americans would have died in an invasion— AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!

What I do know is that based on the Japanese conduct during the war, it is fair and reasonable to assume that an invasion of the mainland would have been a prolonged and bloody affair. Based on what we know — not what someone surmises — the Japanese were not about to unconditionally surrender.

In taking Iwo Jima, a tiny 8 square mile lump of rock in the ocean, 6,700 marines died — total casualties over 30,000.

But even assuming that those who now KNOW our casualties would have been

ONLY 46.000 I ask

Which 46,000 were to die?

Whose father?

Whose brother?

Whose husband?

And, yes, I am focusing on American lives.

The Japanese had their fate in their own hands, we did not. Hundreds of thousands of American troops anxiously waited at staging areas in the Pacific dreading the coming invasion, their fate resting on what the Japanese would do next. The Japanese could have ended it at any time. They chose to wait.

And while the Japanese stalled, an average of 900 more Americans were killed or wounded each day the war continued.

I’ve heard another line of argument that we should have accepted a negotiated peace with the Japanese on terms they would have found acceptable. I have never heard anyone suggest that we should have negotiated a peace with Nazi Germany. Such an idea is so outrageous, that no rational human being would utter the words. To negotiate with such evil fascism was to allow it even in defeat a measure of legitimacy. This is not just some empty philosophical principal of the time — it was essential that these forces of evil be clearly and irrevocably defeated — their demise unequivocal. Their leadership had forfeited any expectation of diplomatic niceties. How is it, then, that the history of the war in the Pacific can be so soon forgotten?

The reason may lie in the advancing erosion of our history, of our collective memory.

Fifty years after their defeat, Japanese officials have the temerity to claim they were the victims. That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the equivalent of the


And, believe it or not, there are actually some American academics who sup- port this analogy, thus aiding and giving comfort to a 50-year attempt by the Japanese to rewrite their own history, and ours in the process.

There is an entire generation of Japanese who do not know the full extent of their country’s conduct during World war II.

This explains why they do not comprehend why they must apologize —

  • for the Korean comfort women,
  • for the Medical experimentation on POW’s which match the horror of those conducted by the Nazi’s,
  • for the plans to use biological weapons against the United States by infecting civilian populations on the West Coast,
  • for the methodical slaughter of civilians,
  • and for much more.

In a perverse inversion, by forgetting our own history, we contribute to the

Japanese amnesia, to the detriment of both our nations.

Unlike the Germans who acknowledged their guilt, the Japanese persist in the fiction that they did nothing wrong, that they were trapped by circumstances. This only forecloses any genuine prospect that the deep wounds suffered by both nations can be closed and healed.

One can only forgive by remembering. And to forget, is to risk repeating history.

The Japanese in a well-orchestrated political and public relations campaign have now proposed that the use of the term “V-J Day” be replaced by the more benign “Victory in the Pacific Day”. How convenient.

This they claim will make the commemoration of the end of the war in the

Pacific less “Japan specific.”

An op-ed piece written by Dorothy Rabinowitz appearing in the April 5 Wall

Street Journal accurately sums up this outrage:

The reason it appears, is that some Japanese find the reference disturbing — and one can see why. The term, especially the “J” part, does serve to remind the world of the identity of the nation whose defeat millions celebrated in August 1945. In further deference to Japanese sensitivities, a U.S. official (who wisely chose to remain unidentified) also announced, with reference to the planned ceremonies, that “our whole effort in this thing is to commemorate an event, not celebrate a victory.”

Some might argue so what’s in a word — Victory over Japan, Victory in the Pacific — Let’s celebrate an event, not a victory.

I say everything is in a word. Celebrate an EVENT!

Kind of like celebrating the opening of a shopping mall rather than the end of a war that engulfed the entire Earth — which left countless millions dead and countless millions more physically or mentally wounded and countless more millions displaced.

This assault on the use of language is Orwellian and is the tool by which history and memory are blurred. Words can be just as destructive as any weapon.

Up is Down.

Slavery is Freedom.

Aggression is Peace.

In some ways this assault on our language and history by the elimination of accurate and descriptive words is far more insidious than the actual aggression carried out by the Japanese 50 years ago. At least then the threat was clear, the enemy well defined.

Today the Japanese justify their conduct by artfully playing the race card. They were not engaged in a criminal enterprise of aggression. No, Japan was simply liberating the oppressed masses of Asia from WHITE Imperialism.

Liberation!!! Yes, they liberated over 20 million innocent Asians by killing them. I’m sure those 20 million, their families and the generations never to be, appreciate the noble effort of the Japanese.

I am often asked was the bomb dropped for vengeance, as was suggested by one draft of the Smithsonian exhibit. That we sought to destroy an ancient and honorable culture.

Here are some more inconvenient facts.

One, on the original target list for the atomic missions Kyoto was included.

Although this would have been a legitimate target, one that had not been bombed previously. Secretary of State Henry Stimson removed it from the list because it was the ancient capital of Japan and was also the religious center of Japanese culture.

Two, we were under strict orders during the war that under no circumstances were we to ever bomb the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, even though we could have easily leveled it and possibly killed the Emperor. So much for vengeance.

I often wonder if Japan would have shown such restraint if they had the opportunity to bomb the White House. I think not.

At this point let me dispel one of many longstanding myths that our targets were intended to be civilian populations. Each target for the missions had significant military importance — Hiroshima was the headquarters for the southern command responsible for the defense of Honshu in the event of an invasion and it garrisoned seasoned troops who would mount the initial defense.

Nagasaki was an industrial center with the two large Mitsubishi armaments factories. In both Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese had integrated these industries and troops right in the heart of each city.

As in any war our goal was, as it should be, to win. The stakes were too high to equivocate.

I am often asked if I ever think of the Japanese who died at Hiroshima and


I do not revel in the idea that so many on both sides died, not only at those two places but around the world in that horrible conflict. I take no pride or pleasure in the brutality of war whether suffered by my people or those of another nation.

Every life is precious.

But it does seem to me such a question is more appropriately directed to the

Japanese war lords who so willingly offered up their people to achieve their visions of greatness. They who started the war and then stubbornly refused to stop it must be called to account. Don’t they have the ultimate responsibility for all the deaths of their countrymen?

Perhaps if the Japanese came to grips with their past and their true part in the war they would hold those Japanese military leaders accountable. The Japanese people deserve an answer from those that brought such misery to the nations of the Far East and ultimately to their own people. Of course this can never happen if we collaborate with the Japanese in wiping away the truth.

How can Japan ever reconcile with itself and the United States if they do not demand and accept the truth?

My crew and I flew these missions with the belief that they would bring the war to an end. There was no sense of joy. There was a sense of duty and commitment that we wanted to get back to our families and loved ones.

Today millions of people in America and in Southeast Asia are alive because the war ended when it did.

I do not stand here celebrating the use of nuclear weapons. Quite the contrary.

I hope that my mission is the last such mission ever flown.

We as a nation can abhor the existence of nuclear weapons.

I certainly do.

But that does not then mean that, back in August of 1945, given the events of the war and the recalcitrance of our enemy. President Truman was not obliged to use all the weapons at his disposal to end the war.

I agreed with Harry Truman then, and I still do today.

Years after the war Truman was asked if he had any second thoughts. He said emphatically, “No.” He then asked the questioner to remember the men who died at Pearl Harbor who did not have the benefit of second thoughts.

In war the stakes are high. As Robert E. Lee said, “it is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.”

I thank God that it was we who had this weapon and not the Japanese or the

Germans. The science was there. Eventually someone would have developed this weapon. Science can never be denied. It finds a way to self-fulfillment.

The question of whether it was wise to develop such a weapon would have eventually been overcome by the fact that it could be done. The Soviets would have certainly proceeded to develop their own bomb. Let us not forget that Joseph Stalin was no less evil than Tojo or his former ally Adolf Hitler. At last count, Stalin committed genocide on at least 20 million of his own citizens.

The world is a better place because German and Japanese fascism failed to conquer the world.

Japan and Germany are better places because we were benevolent in our victory.

The youth of Japan and the United States, spared from further needless slaughter, went on to live and have families and grow old.

As the father of ten children and the grandfather of 21, I can state that I am certainly grateful that the war ended when it did.

I do not speak for all veterans of that war. But I believe that my sense of pride in having served my country in that great conflict is shared by all veterans. This is why the truth about that war must be preserved. We veterans are not shrinking violets. Our sensibilities will not be shattered in intelligent and controversial debate. We can handle ourselves.

But we will not, we cannot allow armchair second guessers to frame the debate by hiding facts from the American public and the world.

I have great faith in the good sense and fairness of the American people to consider all of the facts and make an informed judgment about the war’s end.

This is an important debate. The soul of our nation, its essence, its history, is at stake.

source:   United States Senate Committee On Rules And Administration, “The Smithsonian Institution management guidelines for the future : hearings before the Committee on Rules and Administration, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, First Session May 11 and 18, 1995”. Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/stream/smithsonianinsti00unit/smithsonianinsti00unit_djvu.txt


The Go Game Under Atomic Bomb


Despite the chaotic and exhausting war, the game of Go had continued in Japan in a reduced form. In May 1945, the building of Japanese Go Association (Nihon Ki-in) was burned down to the ground along with the rest of Tokyo during the Allies’ air raid. The Honinbo tournament, the oldest and the only existing tournament was therefore rescheduled in Hiroshima.

The 3rd Honinbo Tournament was held between the owner of Honinbo title, Hashimoto Utaro, and the challenger, Iwamoto Kaoru. The game 1 had been played from July 23 to 25 in the downtown Hiroshima. But the game 2 was moved to the suburb area after the match place being machine-gunned by American aircraft.

The atomic bomb was dropped at 8:15 on August 6, the third day of game 2. The game site was about 3 miles from ground zero. The shockwaves from the explosion struck the building, shattered the windows, and overturned the board. Hashimoto was blown out of the room but received only minor injuries. Though terrified, the players cleaned up the room, picked up stones, relaid the board position, and continued the game. The game was played to a conclusion at noon, with Hashimoto holding white winning by five points. This tied the match 1-1.

The war was over when the match was resumed. Despite the critical shortage of food, Hashimoto and Iwamoto played four games in consecutive days from Novemeber 11 to 24, ending in a 3-3 draw. A three-game playoff was held in August 1946. Iwamoto won two straight games and successfully claimed the Honinbo title. Tortured by poor health, Segoe Senkaku, the referee of the Atomic Bomb Game, committed suicide in 1972 at the age of 83. However, Hashimoto lived to 87 and even more impressively, Iwamoto made it to 97.

Address on the Dissolution of the Combined Fleet


English Translation

Address on the Dissolution of the Combined Fleet

The war of twenty months’ duration is now a thing of the past, and our United Squadron, having completed its function, is to be herewith dispersed. But our duties as naval men are not at all lightened for that reason. To preserve in perpetuity the fruits of this war; to promote to an ever greater height of prosperity the fortunes of the country, the navy, which, irrespective of peace or war, has to stand between the Empire and shock from abroad, must always maintain its strength at sea and must be prepared to meet emergency.

This strength does not consist solely in ships and armament; it consist also in immaterial ability to utilize such agents. When we understand that one gun which scores a hundred per cent. of hits is a match for a hundred of the enemy’s guns each of which scores only one per cent. it becomes evident that we sailors must have recourse before everything to the strength which is over and above externals. The triumphs recently won by our Navy are largely to be attributed to the habitual training which enable us to garner the fruits of the fighting.

If then we infer the future from the past, we recognize that though war may ceases we can not abandon ourselves to ease and rest. A soldier’s whole life is one continuous and unseasing battle, and there is no reason why his responsibilities should vary with the state of the times. In days of crisis he has to display his strength; in days of peace to accumulate it, thus perpetually and uniquely discharging his duties to the full. It was no light task that during the past year and a half we fought with wind and waves, encountered heat and cold, and kept the sea while frequently engaging a stubborn enemy in a death or life struggle; yet, when we reflect, this is seen to have been only one in a long series of general maneuvers, wherein we had the happiness to make some discoveries; happiness which throws into comparative insignificance the hardships of war.

If men calling themselves sailors grasp at the pleasure of peace, they will learn the lesson that however fine in appearance their engines of war, these, like a house built on the sand, will fall at the first approach of the storm. From the day when in ancient times we conquered Korea, that country remained for over 400 years under our control, to be lost immediately as soon as our navy declined. Again when under the sway of the Tokugawa in modern days our armaments were neglected, the coming of a few American ships threw us into distress, and we were unable to offer any resistance to attempts against the Kuriles and Saghalien.

On the other hand, if we turn to the annals of the Occident, we see that at the beginning of the 19th century the British Navy which won the battles of the Nile and of Trafalgar, not only made England as secure as a great mountain but also by thenceforth carefully maintaining its strength and keeping it on a level with the world’s progress, has throughout the long interval between that era and the present day safe-guarded the country’s interests and promoted its fortunes.

For such lessons, whether ancient or modern, Occidental or Oriental, though to some extent they are the outcome of political happenings, must be regarded as in the main the natural result of whether the soldier remembers war in the day of peace. We naval men who have survived the war must take these examples deeply to heart, and adding to the training which we have already received our actual experiences in the war, must plan future developments and seek not to fall behind the progress of the time.

If, keeping the instructions of our Sovereign ever graven on our hearts, we serve earnestly and diligently, and putting forth our full strength, await what the hour may bring forth, we shall then have discharged our great duty of perpetually guarding our country. Heaven gives the crown of victory to those only who by habitual preparation win without fighting, and at the same time forthwith deprives of that crown those who, content with one success, give themselves up to the ease of peace. The ancients well said:

“Tighten your helmet strings in the hour of victory.”

(Dated) 21st December, 1905.

Original Text


然れども我等海軍軍人に責務は決して之が為に軽減せるものにあらず、此戦役の収果を永遠に全くし、尚ほ益々国運の隆昌(りゅうしょう)を扶持(ふうじ)せ んには時の平戦を問はず、先づ外衝(がいしょう)に立つべき海軍が常に其武力を海洋に保全し、一朝緩急に応ずるの覚悟あるを要す。

而(しこう)して、武力なるものは艦船兵器のみにあらずして、之を活用する無形の実力にあり。百発百中の一砲能(よ)く百発一中の敵砲百門に対抗し得るを 覚(さと)らば我等軍人は主として武力を形而上に求めざるべからず。近く我海軍の勝利を得たる所以(ゆえん)も至尊霊徳に由る処多しと雖(いえど)も抑 (そもそも)亦(また)平素の練磨其因を成し、果を戦役に結びたるものして若し既往を以って将来を推すときは征戦息(や)むと雖(いえど)も安んじて休憩 す可らざきものあるを覚ゆ。惟(おも)ふに武人の一生は連綿不断の戦争にして時の平戦に依り其責務に軽重あるの理(ことわり)無し。

事有らば武力を発揮し、事無かれば之を修養し、終始一貫其本分を尽さんのみ。過去一年有余半彼(か)の波濤(はとう)と戦い、寒暑に抗し、屡(しばしば) 頑敵(がんてき)と対して生死の間に出入(しゅつにゅう)せし事、固(もと)より容易の業(わざ)ならざりし、観ずれば是亦(これまた)長期の一大演習に して之に参加し幾多啓発するを得たる武人の幸福比するに物無く豈(あに)之を征戦の労苦とするに足らんや。


昔者(むかし)神功皇后三韓を征服し給ひし以来、韓国は四百余年間我統理の下にありしも一度(ひとたび)海軍の廃頽(はいたい)するや忽ち之を失ひ又近 世に入り徳川幕府治平に狃(な)れて兵備を懈(おこた)れば挙国米船数隻の応対に苦しみ露艦亦(また)千島樺太を覬するも之に抗争する能(あた)はざるに 至れり。翻って之を西史に見るに十九世紀の初めに当たり、ナイル及びトラファルガー等に勝ちたる英国海軍は祖国を泰山の安きに置きたるのみならず爾来後進 相襲(あいつい)で能(よ)く其武力を保有し世運の進歩に後れざりしかば今に至る迄永く其(その)国利(こくり)を擁護し、国権を伸張するを得たり。

蓋(けだ)し此の如き古今東西の殷鑑(いんかん)は為政の然らしむるものありしと雖も主として武人が治に居いて乱を忘れざると否とに基づける自然の結果た らざるは無し。我等戦後の軍人は深く此等(これら)の事例に鑑(かんが)み既有の練磨に加ふるに戦役の実験を以ってし、更に将来の進歩を図りて時勢の発展 に遅れざるを期せざるべからず。若し夫(そ)れ常に聖諭(せいゆ)を奉戴(ほうたい)して孜孜奮励し、実力の満を持して放つべき時節を待たば庶幾(こいね がわ)くは以って永遠に護国の大任を全うする事を得ん。神明は唯(ただ)平素の鍛練に力(つと)め、戦はずして既に勝てる者に勝利の栄冠を授くると同時に 一勝に満足して治平に安(やすん)ずる者より直(ただち)に之を奪ふ。


明治三十八年十二月二十一日 連合艦隊司令長官 東郷 平八郎

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow


The Song of Everlasting Sorrow

China’s Emperor yearning, for beauty that shakes a kingdom,

Reigned for many years, searching but not finding,

Until a child of the Yang, hardly yet grown,

Raised in the inner chamber, unseen by anybody,

But with heavenly graces that could not be hidden,

Was chosen one day for the Imperial household.

If she turned her head and smiled she cast a deep spell,

Beauties of Six Palaces vanished into nothing.

Hair’s cloud, pale skin, shimmer of gold moving,

Flowered curtains protected on cool spring evenings.

Those nights were too short. That sun too quick in rising.

The emperor neglected the world from that moment,

Lavished his time on her in endless enjoyment.

She was his springtime mistress, and his midnight tyrant.

Though there were three thousand ladies all of great beauty,

All his gifts were devoted to one person.

Li Palace rose high in the clouds.

The winds carried soft magic notes,

Songs and graceful dances, string and pipe music.

He could never stop himself from gazing at her.

But the Earth reels. War drums fill East Pass,

Drown out  ‘The Feathered Coat and Rainbow Skirt’.

Great Swallow Pagoda and Hall of Light,

Are bathed in dust – the army fleeing Southwards.

Out there Imperial banners, wavering, pausing

Until by the river forty miles from West Gate,

The army stopped. No one would go forward,

Until horses’ hooves trampled willow eyebrows.

Flower on a hairpin. No one to save it.

Gold and jade phoenix. No one retrieved it.

Covering his face the Emperor rode on.

Turned to look back at that place of tears,

Hidden by a yellow dust whirled by a cold wind.

As Shu waters flow green, Shu mountains show blue,

His majesty’s love remained, deeper than the new.

White moon of loneliness, cold moon of exile.

Bell-chimes in evening rain were bronze-edged heartbeats.

So when the dragon-car turned again northwards

The Emperor clung to Ma-Wei’s dust, never desiring

To leave that place of memories and heartbreak.

Where is the white jade in heaven and earth’s turning?

Lakes and gardens are still as they have been,

Taiye’s hibiscus, Weiyang’s willows.

A flower-petal was her face, a willow-leaf her eyebrow,

How could it not be grief just to see them?

Plum and pear blossoms blown on spring winds

Maple trees ruined in rains of autumn.

Palaces neglected, filled with weeds and grasses,

Mounds of red leaves spilled on unswept stairways.

Burning the midnight light he could not sleep,

Bells and drums tolled the dark hours,

The Ocean of Heaven bright before dawn,

The porcelain mandarin birds frosted white,

The chill covers of kingfisher blue,

Colder and emptier, year by year.

And the loved spirit never returning.

A Taoist priest of Linqiong rode the paths of Heaven,

He with his powerful mind knew how to reach the Spirits.

The Courtiers troubled by the Emperor’s grieving,

Asked the Taoist priest if he might find her.

He opened the sky-routes, swept the air like lightning,

Looked everywhere, on earth and in heaven,

Scoured the Great Void, and the Yellow Fountains,

But failed in either to find the one he searched for.

Then he heard tales of a magic island

In the Eastern Seas, enchanted, eternal,

High towers and houses in air of five colours,

Perfect Immortals walking between them,

Among them one they called The Ever Faithful,

With her face, of flowers and of snow.

She left her dreams, rose from her pillow,

Opened mica blind and crystal screen,

Hastening, unfastened, clouded hair hanging,

Her light cap unpinned, ran along the pavement.

A breeze in her gauze, flowing with her movement,

As if she danced ‘Feathered Coat and Rainbow Skirt’.

So delicate her jade face, drowned with tears of sadness,

Like a spray of pear flowers, veiled with springtime rain.

She asked him to thank her Love, her eyes gleaming,

He whose form and voice she lost at parting.

Her joy had ended in Courts of the Bright Sun,

Moons and dawns were long in Faerie Palace.

When she turned her face to look back earthwards

And see Chang’an – only mist and dust-clouds.

So she found the messenger her lover’s gifts

With deep feeling gave him lacquer box, gold hairpin,

Keeping one half of the box, one part of the hairpin,

Breaking the lacquer, splitting the gold.

‘Our spirits belong together, like these precious fragments,

Sometime, in earth or heaven, we shall meet again.’

And she sent these words, by the Taoist, to remind him

of their midnight vow, secret between them.

‘On that Seventh night, of the Herdboy and the Weaver,

In the silent Palace we declared our dream was

To fly together in the sky, two birds on the same wing,

To grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree.’

Earth fades, Heaven fades, at the end of days.

But Everlasting Sorrow endures always.

Bai Juyi

On An Old Battlefield



Li Hua

VAST, vast,―a limitless extent of flat sand, without a human being in sight; girdled by a stream and dotted with hills; where in the dismal twilight the wind moans at the setting sun. Shrubs gone: grass withered: all chill as the hoar-frost of early morn. The birds of the air fly past: the beasts of the field shun the spot; for it is, as I was informed by the keeper, the site of an old battle-field. “Many a time and oft,” said he, “has an army been overthrown on this spot; and the voices of the dead may frequently be heard weeping and wailing in the darkness of the night.”

Oh, sorrow! oh, ye Qins, ye Hans, ye dynasties now passed away! I have heard that when the Qis and the Weis* gathered at the frontier, and when the Jings and the Hans** collected their levies, many were the weary leagues they trod, many were the years of privation and exposure they endured. Grazing their horses by day, fording the river by night, the endless earth beneath, the boundless sky above, they knew not the day of their return; their bodies all the time exposed to the pitiless steel, with many other unspeakable woes.

Again, since the Qin and the Han dynasties, countless troubles have occurred within the boundaries of the empire, desolating the Middle Kingdom. No age has been free from these. In the olden days, barbarians and Chinese alike meekly followed their Imperial guide. But the place of right was usurped by might; the rude soldier cast aside the obligations of morality, and the rule of reason lost its sway.

Alas! methinks I see them now, the bitter wind enveloping them in dust, the Tartar warriors in ambuscade. Our general makes light of the foe. He would give battle upon the very threshold of his camp. Banners wave over the plain; the river closes-in the battle array. All is order, though hearts may beat. Discipline is everything: life is of no account.

And now the cruel spear does its work, the startled sand blinds the combatants locked fast in the death-struggle; while hill and vale and stream groan beneath the flash and crash of arms. By-and-by, the chill cold shades of night fall upon them, knee-deep in snow, beards stiff with ice. The hardy vulture seeks its nest: the strength of the war-horse is broken. Clothes are of no avail; hands frost-bitten, flesh cracked. Even nature lends her aid to the Tartars, contributing a deadly blast, the better to complete the work of slaughter begun. Ambulance wagons block the way: our men succumb to flank attacks. Their officers have surrendered: their general is dead. The river is choked with corpses to its topmost banks: the fosses of the Great Wall are swimming over with blood. All distinctions are obliterated in that heap of rotting bones…

Faintly and more faintly beats the drum. Strength exhausted, arrows spent, bow-strings snapped, swords shattered, the two armies fall upon one another in the supreme struggle for life or death. To yield is to become the barbarian’s slave: to fight is to mingle our bones with the desert sand…

No sound of bird now breaks from the hushed hillside. All is still, save the wind whistling through the long night. Ghosts of the dead wander hither and thither in the gloom: spirits from the nether world collect under the dark clouds. The sun rises and shines coldly over the trampled grass, while the fading moon still twinkles upon the frost-flakes scattered around. What sight more horrible than this!

I have heard that Li Mu led the soldiers of Zhao to victory over their Tartar foes, clearing the country for miles, and utterly routing the Huns. The Hans, on the other hand, exhausted in vain the resources of the empire. They had not the man, and their numbers availed them naught.

The Zhous, too, drove back the barbarous hordes of the north; and having garrisoned the country, returned safely home.

Then they offered thanks to the Gods, and gave themselves up to the universal enjoyment which peace alone can bring.

The Qins built the Great Wall, stretching far away to the sea. Yet the poison-breath of war decimated the people, and mile upon mile ran with their red blood.

The Hans beat down the Xiongnu, and seized Mount. Yin-shan. But their corpses lay pillowed over the plain, and the gain was not equal to the loss.

O high Heaven! which of these but has father and mother, who bore them about in childhood, fearing only lest maturity should never come? Which of these but has brothers, dear to them as themselves? Which of these but has a wife, bound by the closest ties? They owe no thanks for life, for what have they done to deserve death? They may be alive or dead the family knows it not. And if one brings the news, they listen, half doubting, half believing, while the heart overflows with grief. Sleeping and waking, they seem to see the lost one’s form. Sacrifices are made ready and libations poured, with tearful eyes strained towards the far horizon; heaven and earth, nay, the very trees and plants, all seeming to sympathize with their sorrow. And when, in response to prayers and libations, these wanderers return not, where shall their spirits find repose? Verily there shall be a famine over the land, and the people be scattered abroad. Alas! such is life, and such it has ever been. What resource then is left but to keep within our frontier lines?

(translated by Herbert Giles)

*Qi (齐) and Wei (魏) are major states of Eastern and Central China during the Zhou Dynasty.

**Jing (荆), commonly known as Chu (楚), was a state in the Yangtze Valley during the Zhou Dynasty; Han (韩) was a minor state during the Western Zhou Dynasty.