End of WWII

September 02, 2018

On 2 September 1945, the Japanese Empire formally surrendered to the Allies – by signing the Instrument of Surrender – officially bringing war in the Asia-Pacific to an end (and WWII overall), cementing total victory for the Allies.

The formal surrender was:

  • nearly four months after the Axis powers in Europe had formally surrendered (8 May 1945)
  • nearly four years since the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour, the US naval base in Hawaii (7 December 1941), and
  • almost six years to the day since the official start of the war in Europe (3 September 1939).

The signing ceremony occurred at 9am (lasting 23 minutes) in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. After the relevant Japanese representatives signed the Instrument of Surrender, representatives from nine Allied powers applied their signatures, beginning with US General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur (the Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers). Australia’s representative, General Sir Thomas Blamey, was the sixth Allied powers signature on the Instrument.

The formal surrender and signing occurred nearly three weeks after Japan had formally announced its surrender to the Allies in WWII, fully accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration via a cable to then US President, Harry Truman. That Japanese announcement occurred on 15 August 1945, known as Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day or Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day), bringing an end all WWII fighting/hostilities as well as joy and relief to the civilian populations of the Allied powers.

The delay allowed the Instrument of Surrender to be drafted with carefully-constructed terms and conditions to best ensure an orderly transition to a lasting peace and no resurgence in Japanese aggression.

Commemorate the formal surrender of Japan to the Allies in WWII by:

  • if you are in/near Canberra, visiting the Australian War Memorial there and checking out its absorbing and informative WWII display
  • viewing film footage of WWII from the Australian War Memorial
  • downloading and watching your favourite WWII movie (maybe with some help from this list)
  • viewing the signed Instrument of Surrender (Allied and Japanese copies)
  • reading the terms and context of the Potsdam Declaration
  • having a meal and/or a drink down at your local Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) Club and paying respects to the men and women who have served our country and are doing so now
  • following the Royal Australian Army, Air Force and/or Navy on Facebook to show your support for our land, air and sea defences (but without painting the nail of your pinky (finger) pink), and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, veterans, conservatives, anti-nihilists, fellow proud Aussie patriots and those that still think our borders, national interests, values, freedoms, culture and way of life are worth fighting for.

Further details of Japan’s formal surrender in WWII

The subsequent Allied occupation and reconstruction of Japan (codenamed Operation Blacklist) lasted for nearly seven years after which Japan's sovereignty was fully restored. Ever since the Occupation, Japan has successfully embraced peace, freedom and prosperity – a testament to its people.

In his book “Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq”, author John Dower describes why the occupation and aftermath was a success:

“Discipline, moral legitimacy, well-defined and well-articulated objectives, a clear chain of command, tolerance and flexibility in policy formulation and implementation, confidence in the ability of the state to act constructively, the ability to operate abroad free of partisan politics back home, and the existence of a stable, resilient, sophisticated civil society on the receiving end of occupation policies – these political and civic virtues helped make it possible to move decisively during the brief window of a few years when defeated Japan itself was in flux and most receptive to radical change.”

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