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    Men dressed as Japanese imperial army soldiers and sailors hold the Japanese national flag at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo August 15, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two

    70th Anniversary of Japan's Surrender in World War II

    © REUTERS / Issei Kato
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    On August 14, 1945, Imperial Japanese Emperor Hirohito recorded a speech to the nation announcing the termination of the war and Japan's unconditional surrender.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The surrender of Japan was announced August 15, 1945, and the official documents were formally signed on September 2, 1945, ending World War II.

    1940 Tripartite Pact between Germany, Japan, Italy

    Planning to enter WWII, the Japanese ruling parties hoped that England and France, mired in the European theater, would be unable to provide sufficient forces to defend their colonies and strongholds in Asia, and the Soviet Union would focus its resources on the war with Nazi Germany. The stage was set for Japan to seize Pacific and Southeast Asian territories controlled by the then-limited Allied forces. The Japanese priority was to take French Indochina as a bridgehead to stage an attack on China and then occupy Malaya.

    On September 27, 1940, the Tripartite Pact was signed in Berlin between Germany, Italy and Japan. The three governments announced that their union intended to establish "peace throughout the world" and to achieve that goal the alliance would build what it called "a new order in Greater Eastern Asia and Europe."

    In September 1940, following the surrender of France, Japan occupied Northern French Indochina and in July 1941, Southern Indochina.

    Japan's battle with Allied Forces

    On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked several US bases in the Pacific Ocean, including Pearl Harbor, airfields in the Philippines and other US and British facilities in the Pacific. The United States quickly declared war on Imperial Japan. During the first year of the war Japan enjoyed strategic supremacy at sea and in the air. By mid-1942, it had occupied the Philippines, Indochina, Thailand, Burma, Malaya and Indonesia, establishing a colonial regime but triggering strong opposition by residents, leading to an expensive and ultimately unsustainable increase of its occupation force.

    In May 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the US Navy won its first victory over the Japanese Navy, and in June 1942, the Japanese suffered a major maritime defeat in the Battle of Midway. Toward December 1942, the tide of war in the Pacific theater shifted in favor of the United States and its allies. Japan lost its strategic initiative and switched to a posture of defense. In the summer of 1943, the Allies began their offensive operation in earnest.

    Between January 1944 and August 1945, Pacific theater war supremacy was completely with the Allied powers, carrying out many major amphibious landing operations and taking control of numerous Pacific islands, as well as active operations in China, Burma and other parts of Asia. In January-July 1945, Allied forces liberated a number of regions in China and Burma. In the summer, the US Air Force intensified its airstrikes on Japan. On August 6 and 9, the United States used nuclear weapons, dropping two atomic bombs, one apiece on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The last act

    On August 8, 1945, in accordance with Crimea and Potsdam conference resolutions, the Soviet Union officially joined the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, and on August 9, entered the war against Japan.

    Following the Soviet Union’s entry into the Pacific theater of World War II, the Japanese government, overwhelmed by the horrific devastation of the twin nuclear attacks, realized they could not continue to fight. On August 10, the Japanese government announced via neutral countries – Switzerland and Sweden – that it would accept the Potsdam Declaration, but would not accept peace conditions that would deprive the Emperor of his powers.

    The governments of the USSR, the United States, the United Kingdom and China reiterated their demand for unconditional surrender. They pointed at the provision of the Potsdam Declaration stipulating that from the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the government of Imperial Japan must end. At the moment of capitulation the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers would take the steps necessary to implement the terms of the surrender.

    Japan's surrender

    On August 14, 1945, Imperial Japanese Emperor Hirohito recorded a speech to the nation announcing the termination of the war and Japan's unconditional surrender. Upon learning of the Emperor’s speech, on the night of August 14-15, a group of fanatical Japanese officers tried to prevent the country's surrender. Their goal was to remove the so-called "peace champions" from the political arena and exhort the armed forces to perform a coup. To prevent the Emperor’s speech from being made public, they sought to destroy the recording before it was aired. The majority of the Tokyo garrison refused to join the plotters, remaining loyal to their oath of allegiance. The hastily organized coup was suppressed within hours.

    On August 15, the Imperial Rescript on the acceptance of the terms of surrender was aired on the radio.

    On that same day, hostilities between Anglo-American and Japanese armed forces effectively ceased, but Japanese troops continued to resist Soviet forces in northeastern China, Korea, South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Japan's Kwantung Army units had not received their orders to terminate hostilities.

    On August 9-September 2, 1945, Soviet forces carried out the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation, routing the Kwantung Army, liberating the northeastern and northern provinces of China (Manchuria and Inner Mongolia), the Liaodong Peninsula and Korea, and eliminating Japanese aggression and their major military and economic base on the Asian continent. The Kwantung Army was engaged by Soviet forces of the Transbaikal, 1st and 2nd Far Eastern Fronts, the Pacific Fleet, the Amur Military Flotilla and Mongolian forces. Following the routing of the Kwantung Army and the loss of its military and economic base in northeastern China and North Korea, all military elements of Imperial Japan were finally brought to a halt.

    On September 2, 1945, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri.


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