MUCH of the recent correspondence on the use of the atomic bomb during the Second World War (Letters, January 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 & 17) seems to owe many of its facts to contemporary Allied propaganda and long-discredited documentaries thereafter – in particular the TV series The World At War, which whilst enjoyable and epic, now shows its age.

Let's get the facts straight: Hirohito only "ruled" Japan de facto when the Japanese cabinet, that is, military junta, was so frozen in confusion and deadlock after the two atomic bombs that it turned to the Emperor to make a decision, and still had to face down an attempted counter coup by Japanese junior officers, who feared reprisals from the civilian population post-surrender for the brutalities inflicted on civilians if their relatives were known to have been taken prisoner.

The Japanese had been trying to negotiate a peace since April. Their planes were largely out of fuel and B-29 Superfortresses – a plane which cost more to develop than the atomic bomb – were already carpet-bombing them with impunity, but were double-crossed by their Russians "friends" who omitted to tell the US and UK Japan was ready to throw in the towel because they wanted to attack once its non-aggression pact with Japan expired to secure occupation territory within its homeland upon surrender.

The bomb was meant for Hitler and Berlin – a devastating finale to warn to dictators across the world the democracies would show them no mercy – let alone appeasement – from now on. But the Battle of the Bulge meant Germany collapsed too soon. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki paid the price of Secretary of State James F Byrne's obsession with scaring Stalin, all in vain.

Mark Boyle,

15 Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone.

SANDRA Phelps’s thoughtful letter (January 17) echoes the words of Albert Einstein – “the release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking ... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind”.

Throughout the centuries prophets and visionaries have pleaded that we should act as brothers and sisters, and should not kill one another. Everybody nodded and said “Aye, right enough” – and carried on killing. This response was possible when wars were like bloody football matches, and people would bring picnic baskets to watch the show. But last century the two greatest bloodbaths in history took us to the brink, and with Hiroshima, we gazed with horror into the abyss.

We have made such immense advances in the technology of industrialised slaughter that we have reached the logical end of our endless search for ever better ways of killing each other. So what had been an easily-ignored platitude has now become an inescapable imperative. We now have no choice. We must choose life or death.

That is why Martin Luther King said: “We must live together as brothers – or perish together as fools”.

A far cry indeed from justifying Hiroshima by renewing Trident.

Brian M Quail,

2 Hyndland Avenue, Glasgow.