Volume XXXI – Number 2

Roger Earp

Abstract: The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States definitively marked the end of Japan’s involvement in World War II. These weapons brought mass destruction eradicating all life caught in its blast indiscriminately, poisoning those on the outskirts of the blast radius, and leaving the land unlivable. With no laws governing this new weapon, the United States chose to use it despite knowing its destructive potential. In the bombings’ aftermath, many questions were raised regarding not only the morality but also the legality of nuclear weapons. Upon reviewing these attacks through the norms and general principles of international law, another question must be asked of the necessity of these attacks. Could a demonstration of power have been done in an unpopulated area to pressure Japan into surrender, or would they only respond to violence?

Keywords: World War II, International Law, Japan, United States, Nuclear Weapons

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