A spiral of destruction
The USA for the first time used napalm bombs against housing districts in Japan. On March 9th 1945, the US bombing raid on Tokyo cost the lives of 130,000 people, 267,000 buildings on a surface of 41 square miles were destroyed, and more than one million people became homeless. The second biggest city Osaka was bombed on March 13th, some 4,000 people died, some 100,000 houses were destroyed. Altogether more than 600,000 buildings were destroyed in Japan in 4 bombing raids. In June 1945 – 2 months before the two nuclear bombs were dropped – in Tokyo and Kobe some 50% of the houses were in ruins. The same scorched earth policy was practised in Nagoya, Osaka and Kawasaki.
By the end of the war more than 2 million houses were destroyed and some 13 million people made homeless by napalm bombs alone. While the US justifications of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki try to present this barbaric attack as an exception, saving the life of thousands of US-soldiers, in reality the nuclear bombs on these two cities were a culmination point of a whole spiral of destruction and annihilation, leading yet again in the years following World War II to a systematic build-up of a nuclear arsenal.1
The balance sheet of the 1937-45 war was particularly disastrous for the two major Asian powers China and Japan.
The war cost the lives of 15-20 million people in China and Japan. Japan, the country which had unleashed the war, was the big loser and became utterly exhausted and militarily crippled. It was the first time for centuries that war had raged on Japanese territory. Japan lost all its conquests (from its colonies Korea and Manchuria to its short-lived war conquests in South-East Asia). Unlike Germany, Japan was not divided into several zones of occupation; the main reason being that the conflict between the USA and the USSR had already taken much sharper proportions in East Asia than in Europe a few months before the war ceased in May 1945. Most Japanese cities were destroyed, its population was starving, and much of its navy was sunk or damaged. During the war Japan lost some 1200 commercial ships (which corresponded to 63 % of its trade tonnage). In short the country was “amputated”.
Having lost control over the war spiral, Japan had to submit to US domination and was occupied for the first time. It lost is status as the first regional imperialist shark to the USA.
Destruction in China were equally devastating. The human death toll mounted to several million people. Paradoxically Korea, the Japanese colony, was spared largely from the hostilities – only to become a new theatre of war a few years later.
1 "The US flagship USS Indianopolis, which had carried the first atomic bomb across the Pacific, before it was dropped on Hiroshima, was sunk by Japanese torpedoes. While the largest part of the crew survived, some 600 marines - clinging to their rescue boats once the boat capsized - were killed by sharks. Nuclear disaster for the Hiroshima population! Death through sharks in the sea for the US-soldiers, who carried the bomb!" (Andrew Wiest, Campaigns of World War II, The Pacific War, London, 2000)