(In lieu of disinteresting, if not disgusting, news happening here and around the world to blog about, let me share with you instead more “what if” and “if only” stories in the past, which, while being considered history, continues to engross us. – Quierosaber)
At the end of the Big Three (Stalin, Churchill and Truman) conference at Potsdam at the end of July, Allied leaders issued a declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan, which had begun to put feelers for a negotiated peace, and hoping to continue the nascent diplomatic contacts, replied with a holding statement to the world’s press that intended to offer ‘no comment’ on the unconditional surrender demand.
The Japanese word used – mokusatsu – has several shades of meaning, such as, to ignore, to refrain from comment or even, in some context, to seek more information. The American interpreter who provided the translation for Secretary of War Henry Lewis Stimson, who was advising President Truman on plans to use the atomic bomb, used ‘ignore’. The American stiffened their attitude towards Japan’s apparent intransigence, and quickened the preparations for the drop on Hiroshima.
Had a different slant been used, the moral pressure not to inflict the terrifying weapon on civilians might have been too strong to resist.
The unfortunate misinterpretation made it fate accompli.