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Genzai Bakudan by Steve Payne

Author says: what if the moral justification for ending the war had instead been used by Japan? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

August 12th 1945,

Please click to Digg our site.at Konan in mountainous northeast Korea, Allied Scientists present at the invitation of the Emperor of Japan were witness to the demonstration detonation of a small nuclear weapon known as the "genzai bakudan" (or greatest warrior) shortly after midnight on this day1.
Watch the speculative documentary about this disputed test detonation

"This one definitely provides lots of food for thought today. Reallly fascinating. :-)" - reader's commentsShortly after the emergence of this stalemate between the two nuclear-armed belligerents, a peace settlement was negotiated in which the Empire could claim a face-saving victory by retaining control of the Japanese Homeland Islands. And also justify the development of the genzai bakudan by publishing a military estimate that over twenty million deaths would have been suffered in resisting an Allied Invasion.

"If they'd had A-bombs, they'd've used them. By 1945 the Japanese Empire was in the grip of what amounted to a methamphetamine psychosis. " - reader's commentsIn keeping with the increasingly alarmist tone of the American press, the US Government shared a similar concern. Because since the invasion of Normandy, America had been suffering sixty five thousand deaths a month and the latest projections indicated a casualty count of between two hundred thousand and one million personnel for the invasion of Japan. On the eve of the Potsdam Conference, the question of whether the US could realistically sustain this level of casaulties had driven President Truman to obtain an assurance from Stalin that the Soviet Union would also declare war upon Japan. But having just obtained that assurance, Truman then receive the game-changing news that America had an operational nuclear weapons programme.

By the first week of August, Truman's gun-jumping error was clear, because the Soviet Union was storming into Korea and Manchuria, raising the prospect of a communist-dominated post-world era. Out of desperation, Truman approved the demonstration detonation of an atomic weapon in Tokyo Bay2. But instead of forcing a Japanese surrender, instead he received a reciprocal invitation to a similar detonation in Japanese-occupied North Korea. And the possibility of nuclear weapons being used on X-Day, forced the President to scrap the plans for the invasion of Japan. And accept an altogether different military outcome, peace with a defeated, but not yet surrendered Japan that might well become a valued military partner in the forthcoming war with the Soviet Union.

On September 2nd, the formal cessation of hostilities in World War Two was marked on this day by the counter-signature of the Treaty of Tokyo by US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes and Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu.

The Allied delegation had arrived onboard the USS Missouri, the American battleship named after the home state of the absent US President. Because Harry S. Truman had followed diplomatic protocol, opting out of attendance after Emperor Hirohito had declined to attend, instead both chose to send a high-ranking representative.

"MacArthur would have still gotten a big fat NO just like in the OTL." - reader's commentsOf course if the Imperial Japanese Navy had succeeded in destroying the US Pacific Fleet with its experimental nuclear weapons, then the USS Missouri would also have been missing. Because less than three weeks before, both Governments had conducted demonstration detonations of their respective atomic bombs. Although the US programme was far more technologically advanced, Allied Scientists had been fooled into believing that Japan had sufficient capability to turn an Allied Invasion into a military disaster.

In a key note speech he delivered at the ceremony, Allied Supreme Commander Douglas McArthur spoke of the development in apocalyptic terms: "Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door".

Inside of five years, that prediction would be put to the severest test (as would any doubt that conventional warfare had been superseded by atomic weapons). As the UN Supreme Commander in Korea, MacArthur would lead an international force which included troops from Imperial Japan. Facing defeat at the hands of the Chinese Communists, a desperate MacArthur would request authorisation for the detonation of thirty to fifty nuclear weapons on Chinese Military bases in Manchuria. There could be "No Substitute for Victory" warned Brass Hat.

Scott Palter comments 1. the Japanese bomb story is one of those fringe WW2 things that refuses to die. Japan had the theoretical physics people and the Japanese military had a program of some sort in what is now NK that may or may not have had a small Trinity type test detonation right at the end.
2. the anti-Communist part of the entire A bomb story is ex post facto rationalization. Japan wanted out of the war from the Fall of Saipan summer of 44. Issue was that the Japanese military would not consent to an occupation or loss of territory they had in 1931 [Korea, Taiwan - Manchuria is fuzzy]. In reverse Truman was between a rock and a hard place. US public just wanted the war [conscription, price controls, mass mobilization, endless dead] over but Truman did not feel he had the political capital to go against FDR on Unconditional Surrender. Nagasaki, not Hiroshima, broke the log jam on the Japanese side. Emperor actually acted like a ruler and survived multiple coup attempts over the next few days. In turn Hirohito modified unilaterally the Potsdam terms. Truman swallowed this because of the tidal wave of popular public approval including near riots by sailors and soldiers realizing that they were not going to die invading Japan. So the big thing you need for this to work is to delay Soviet entry into the Far Eastern war by a month or so. Easiest way is to say the Alsace offensive and the last two Budapest offensives are not done by Hitler. Instead he sends ever man and gun he can to die in Fortress Berlin, perhaps pulling the army groups out of Courland and East Prussia as well. Instead of a Berlin defended by home guards and a few near broken army divisions [plus stray Waffen SS battlegroups pretending to be field divisions] you get a final fortress of the type the Germans claimed they were building in the Bavarian alps in OTL. War in Europe ends 4-5 weeks later. This in turn delays Stalin long enough for other scenarios to play out in the Far East.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site. In reality the site at Konan was overrun by Sovet troops just weeks later.
1) The Youtube documentary discusses the historical background to this alleged event. The members of the Manhattan Project were completely unaware of the Japanese program and therefore we posit that they would assume detonation capability implied delivery capability (which of course it does not)
2) In other words, rather than drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Truman decides to go for an off-shore demonstration instead.

Steve Payne, Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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