I read this piece during the week and thought it was insightful.
A Japanese researcher is putting forth the idea–one that has been out there–that it was actually the Russians declaring war on Japan that led to the end of the Pacific War. Prior to then, the Imperial Japanese had held out hope that they could persuade the Soviet Union to intervene as a broker and work out a deal between that ally and the other Western allies (the U.S. and Great Britain). Only when Stalin went into Manchuria did this “option” clearly fall through.
The Mother Jones commentary says that the theory is a good one in that it explains certain pieces of the story of the end of the war. For example, the United States had had superior tactical advantage in the air for some time before the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb. Yet Japan had not surrendered.
If you insert into the story the idea that the Japanese war machine was trying to play the Russians off the Americans and the British for post-war influence in the Pacific, that explains why Japan didn’t surrender throughout early 1945. It’s also in keeping with the seedier side of Japanese-style political fighting. How many times it always seems like they are trying to pit one foreigner against another one–most recently Ozawa trying to use the Chinese as a lever against the U.S. I don’t know how many times I saw a situation where the “useful” foreigner was employed by a Japanese to gain an end versus another foreigner. So it would be no surprise that the military councils of the 1940’s there would think that way.
Once they realized that they blew it with the Russians, and that a fight with them was really going to hurt–the Russians had some payback coming from the Russo-Japanese War (early 1900’s)–then the United States didn’t seem like such a bad enemy to lose to. So they gave up.
From what I saw of the nastier side of Japan, this fits. And the many times that the United States and its citizens were just used by Japan in the last 65 years also fits the story, when you consider that MacArthur really didn’t do the housecleaning that he should have . . .