Despite the opposition weighing just as heavily against the bombs as the support, the ultimate decision by President Truman to employ the atomic bombs was made during the Potsdam Conference at Potsdam, Germany. This event took place between July 17 and August 2, 1945, and involved numerous Allied leaders including “The Big Three”: U.S. President Harry Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin. While the primary focus was the management of post-war Germany, the terms of unconditional surrender for Japan were also outlined in the Potsdam Declaration as a result of this conference. In addition, Truman mentioned an undisclosed “powerful new weapon” to Stalin, who encouraged the weapon’s use if it would help end the war quickly (Potsdam Conference).
Towards the end of the conference, Japan was issued an ultimatum with the threat of “prompt and utter destruction” (but no mention of the bomb), which it flatly rejected (Potsdam Conference). But Japan’s main concern with the “unconditional surrender” of the Potsdam Declaration was the absence of any assurance that their national and spiritual leader, Emperor Hirohito, would be protected (The Pacific War Research Society). So Prime Minister Winston Churchill; Secretary of War, Henry Stimson; Secretary of Navy, James Forrestal, and Undersecretary of State, Joseph Grew, pushed Truman to retaining the emperor so Japan could surrender. However, new secretary of state, James Byrnes returned it warning, “There would be hell with the voters.” According to a poll, few Americans wanted Hirohito to stay, a majority wanted him executed (Steinmann).
Following Japan’s rejection, Truman allowed use of the atomic bomb anytime after August 3, 1945 (Truman Presidential Museum and Library).
"Atomic Bomb-Truman Press Release-August 6, 1945." Student Activity. Truman Presidential Museum and Library. 05 Aug. 2005 <http://www.trumanlibrary.org/teacher/abomb.htm>.
" Potsdam Conference." 21 July 2005. Wikipedia. 05 Aug. 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potsdam_Conference>.
The Pacific War Research Society. The Day Man Lost. Japan: Kondasha International Ltd, 1972.