The bombing of Hiroshima had caused its intended effect, pushing the Supreme Council for the Direction of War to plan for surrender and take a renewed consideration of the Potsdam Declaration. Yet even the bombing of Nagasaki couldn’t convince the obstinate military hardliners, who even in the face of Japan’s complete annihilation, clung to their fanaticism and pushed for continuing the war. As a result, the stalemate within the cabinet persisted, and the Prime Minister was desperate for a resolution (Zeiler 187).
He then called in the Emperor and his advisers to choose between the two courses. The “impressionable” Emperor, who had neither opposed nor welcomed the war, now sided with the peace faction. Even with the Emperor’s support for surrender, the debate dragged on. But on the morning of August 10, the Emperor gave his verdict. Before his cabinet, Emperor Hirohito declared that “if we let matters stand and did not act, the Japanese race will perish and I would be unable to protect my subjects.” Hirohito agreed to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but only if the Emperor could retain his position as representative of the Japanese people. (Zeiler 187)
The Truman administration accepted the surrender on the emperor’s term, concluding that the emperor was the only one who could convince the Japanese troops to lay down their arms. This way, more bloody fighting in Asia could be avoided and the war could be ended quickly. Furthermore, a quick resolution would give Soviet Stalin (who had only declared war on Japan a few days before) less bargaining power and claim at the peace table in addition to denying him territory. So on August 12, the Allies agreed to maintain the status of the emperor, but holding him responsible in helping with the surrender and allowing the Japanese people to choose their own government. (Zeiler 187)
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Zeiler, Thomas W. Unconditional Defeat: Japan, America, and the end of World War II. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources Inc, 2004.