The US atomic bomb attacks and the Soviet Union's entry into World War II that led to Japan's surrender were "God's gifts," the Japanese navy minister was quoted as saying at that time in documents released on Friday by the US National Security Archive.
Navy minister Mitsumasa Yonai told an adviser to the Japanese ruling elite that the two events provided a good excuse to surrender at a time when local hostility to Emperor Hirohito and his government was increasing rapidly.
The conversation was among the first complete published translations from the Japanese of accounts of key high-level meetings and discussions in Tokyo leading to the end of the war, the archive said.
The translations were released on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima as part of a comprehensive online collection, including declassified US government documents, on the first use of the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific.
"It may be inappropriate to put it in this way, but the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war are, in a sense, God's gifts," Yonai said, nearly a week after a US B-29 dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
Three days later another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The two bombs killed some 210,000 people.
"Now we can end the war without making it clear that we have to end the war because of the domestic situation," said Yonai, who was among the six-member inner Cabinet led by then prime minister Kantaro Suzuki.
"I have long been advocating the conclusion [of the war], not because I am afraid of the enemy's attacks or because of the atomic bombs or the Soviet participation in the war," he said.
"The most important reason is my concern over the domestic situation," he said.
The bombings came as Hirohito, once considered a demigod, was losing public support for continuing the war amid growing hostility toward him and his government.
Faced with such domestic pressure, Hirohito and his advisers welcomed the dropping of the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war against Japan because they provided the emperor with credit for ending the turmoil.
The effect of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the Japanese decision to surrender compared with the impact of the Soviet entry into the war has been a subject of controversy among historians.
The curtain fell on Japan's quest for Asian hegemony less than a week after the Nagasaki nuclear bombing on Aug. 9, 1945, as Japan surrendered unconditionally by accepting the Potsdam Declaration.
Hirohito turned into a figurehead and died in 1989, leaving the ancient Chrysanthemum Throne to his son Akihito.
But Hirohito's death never resolved questions over his own responsibility for Japan's actions in the war.
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