Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog









 by Steve Payne

Author says: what if the US Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson had not honeymooned in Kyoto1? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s). The photograph shows the Emperor during an Army Inspection in 1938.

On August 6th 1945,

the US Army Air Force dropped an atomic bomb on the Imperial Capital City of Kyoto killing the Emperor Hirohito as he prepared to break with a centuries-old protocol of official silence by instructing the Japanese Government to accept the Allies terms for unconditional surrender.

USAAF a-bombs Kyoto, killing Emperor Hirohito before he can end the policy of MokusatsuAt a similiarly fateful meeting held in Los Alamos on May 10th, a committee chaired by J. Robert Oppenheimer had identified Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and the arsenal at Kokuraas as suitable targets for the bomb. When an expert on Japan, Professor Edwin O. Reischauer strongly disagreed with the inclusion of Kyoto his argument forced the "City of Temples" to the top of the list. Because hardliners in the US Government judged that Kyoto was precisely the symbolic target they sought for destruction. In addition, the city was an important centre for military industry, as well an intellectual center. And so the decision was made.

"The last ditch battle out side of Tokyo is extreme [unlikely]" - reader's commentIn a sense the hardliners chose well because the US Government surely did succeed in making an unanswerable expression of authority. But the effects on the Empire of Japan were tragically misjudged. Not only was a key voice of moderation removed at a critical juncture, but also a transitional post-war figurehead was eliminated. With the publication of the Sugiyama memo, President Truman later argued (somewhat disengeniously) that the Emperor had the supreme command of the Japanese Army and the Navy and would almost certainly have been executed on the orders of the Tokyo Trials.

Ironically, whilst Hirohito had adopted the traditional protocol of remaining officially silent during the military councils, his commanders had insisted upon a policy of "mokusatsu", treating the Allies demands for surrender with a silent contempt. But now that silence had been broken. Believing that the Allies meant to destroy Japan as a distinct cultural entity, Military High Command abandoned the remaining Home Islands in order to concentrate their still considerable land forces in the defence of the Tokyo Plains.

Author says 1) the source article Who Saved Kyoto? in the New York Times reports: the credit belongs to Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, who twice visited Kyoto in the 1920's, was conscious of its irreplaceable cultural assets and concerned for the postwar reputation of the United States. He committed himself to keeping the city off the target list and stuck to that decision in the face of many who urged its atomic bombing.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

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.


Site Meter


Hit Counter