Over a month after the war had ended in Europe the Supreme Allied Commander finally managed to get home – and was greeted as the conquering hero that he was. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s contribution to steering the Allies to victory had been hugely important, overseeing great military undertakings with many imponderables, not least of all D-Day, and pulling together a team of military leaders that included more than one ‘difficult’ individual, as well as dealing with enormous political pressures from above, both British and American.
Now the wider U.S. military command faced more difficult decisions as they determined how to bring the war with Japan to an end. Not all were privy to the atomic bomb secrets – and in any event the weapon remained untested even now. They had to proceed on the basis that it would eventually be necessary to invade the Japanese mainland, and had to face up to the likely scale of casualties. Admiral Leahy was not alone in thinking that it might be possible to avoid horrendous casualties by now seeking some sort of peace accord:
General of the Army, D. D. Eisenhower, arrived in Washington from Europe and led a parade from Army Headquarters to the Capitol Building. The streets were crowded by a larger number of spectators than has been seen before by anybody now in Washington.
In the Chamber of the House of Representatives, before a joint session of the House and Senate, General Eisenhower made a very well prepared address which was not delivered with particular skill. The galleries were crowded with visitors and on the floor of the Chamber seats were provided for the Supreme Court, Cabinet Officers, Ministers, and Ambassadors from foreign countries, and the American Chiefs of Staff.
Immediate1y following General Eisenhower’s address we proceeded to the Statler Hotel and participated in a luncheon for 1,000 guests given by the City of Washington in honor of the General…
From 3:30 to 5:00 PM. the President conferred with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy; and Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, in regard to the necessity and the practicability of an invasion of Japan. General Marshall and Admiral King both strongly advocated an invasion of Kyushu at the earliest practicable date.
General Marshall is of the opinion that such an effort will not cost us in casualties more than 63,000 of the 190,000 combatant troops estimated as necessary for the operation.
The President approved the Kyushu operation and withheld for later consideration the general occupation of Japan. The Army seems determined to occupy and govern Japan by military government as is being done in Germany.
I am unable to see any justification from a national defense point of view for a prolonged occupation of Japan. The cost of such an occupation will be enormous in both lives and treasure. It is my opinion at the present time that a surrender of Japan can be arranged with terms that can be accepted by Japan and that will make fully satisfactory provision for America’s defense against future trans- Pacific aggression.
Dined with the President at a dinner given in honor of General Eisenhower to a large number of military and political officers. For the first time in my experience cocktails were served to the guests in the East Room of the White House. A number of enlisted men, brought by General Eisenhower from Europe, attended the dinner which was served on small tables filling the State Dining Room.