Why Did Japan Surrender in WW2 | Summary History, Facts, & Causes
That's how Japan surrendered
Japan, now virtually defeated, had begun surrender negotiations in early July 1945.
In Tokyo, it was known that all resistance was useless and that the Soviet armies were preparing to break into Manchuria in accordance with the agreement reached in Potsdam.
Background of the time
On August 6, there was a terrible commotion in the world: Hiroshima had been razed to the ground by the first A-bomb used as a weapon of war.
On August 8, Moscow declared war on Japan and launched its armies into Manchuria.
There was hardly any resistance; that was virtually a military walk and it didn't take long for the Soviet sailors to hoist the flag of the hammer and sickle in historic Port Arthur, a reminder of a not-too-distant disaster of tsarist Russia.
On 9 August, Nagasaki was"wiped off the map", also with all its inhabitants, by the second A-bomb.
On September 2, General MacArthur received the unconditional surrender of Japan on board the battleship"Missouri" - Truman is a native of the state that gave his name to the warship - in the vast Tokyo harbor.
Not even the speed with which the dramatic events took place brought the world out of its amazement and horror.
Audio of the surrender of the Japanese
Newsreel of the surrender ceremony on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
The Great Attack
The images of the atomic mushrooms and the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shrank everyone's spirits.
300,000 civilian victims, men, women, and children! Many thousands more turned into human waste, condemned to long and painful agonies! Why was that done?
It was claimed as justification for the brutal course of action that anything could be feared of Japan's fanatical tenacity, that the war would be shortened, that many lives would be saved in the end.
It was a very poor justification.
Only those who wanted to believe in it believed it. Soon another explanation for that cruelty emerged that seemed clearly unnecessary.
Moscow had been warned that it must be contained, that it had a weapon against which all the victorious Soviet armies could do nothing.
With which the Soviet conquest of Berlin had not been prevented, it would be Washington who would impose its law on defeated Japan.
This was a new struggle in which he would find himself in an inferior position.
But as time went by I laughed, many saw in the holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the first acts of the"cold war", relentless and ferocious. From now on, capitalism and socialism would have to watch their weapons.
The attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima (300,000 inhabitants) was reduced to ashes and three days later Nagasaki, forcing the unconditional surrender of Japan.
Emperor Hirohito informs his people by radio of his commitment to lay down arms, the Japanese war minister commits suicide and officially signs the surrender on the American battleship Missouri in September 1945.
However, this can otherwise be understood as Japan on the verge of collapse, the United States wanted to test newly developed nuclear weapons, and at the same time the Soviet advance that was beginning on disputed territory with Japan.
The United States became the most powerful state.
The launch of the atomic bombs
The launching of the two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945 will give rise to a long controversy.
Did the American decision to annihilate the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve an exclusively military purpose or did it also have political and diplomatic aspects?
For some researchers, Japanese surrender could be achieved through the extreme blockade or by appealing to diplomatic channels.
The fanatical behaviour of the Japanese suicide bombers was rather a manifestation of the weakness and powerlessness of the resistance to the superior resources of the US submarine states that had cut off supplies and in March 1945 an air raid effectively demonstrated this US superiority.
President Harry Truman justified the use of the deadly new weapon as a means of shortening the war and reducing casualties.
The nuclear weapon was developed solely to win the war and for this purpose, the terrible resolve was taken to use it.
But other researchers have pointed out that such a demonstration of American power was not necessary to defeat Japan.
Truman's"atomic diplomacy" was clearly aimed at intimidating him into using his negotiating power in post-war peace agreements with the Soviet Union.
With the atomic bomb, the United States downplayed the importance of Soviet intervention against Japan.
A Soviet advance was feared in Manchuria, Korea and other territories occupied by the Japanese during the war. In fact, Japan was negotiating the mediation of the USSR. The"atomic extortion" was intended to curb Soviet post-war ambitions or demands.
In addition, the United States had to justify the costly investment in the development of the Manhattan Project (the name given to the secret research and construction plan for the first bomb).
Video of the signature formal surrender
On the morning of 2 September 1945, more than two weeks after accepting the Allies terms, Japan formally surrendered.
The ceremonies, less than half an hour long, took place on board the battleship USS Missouri, anchored with other United States' and British ships in Tokyo Bay. This episode recounts that story.
The Great Ceasefire
In the letter, Japan called for"an immediate cessation of hostilities" in order to"save humanity from the calamities that would mean a continuation of the war" and stressed the will of"His Majesty the Emperor" - Hirohito - to"support the cause of world peace".
They also linked the signing of a capitulation to the Allies' respect for the sovereignty of Emperor Hirohito.
"The Japanese Government is prepared to accept the terms listed in the joint declaration discussed in Potsdam on 26 July 1945 by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and China, which was subsequently signed by the Soviet Government with the understanding that such a declaration does not compromise any claim that would prejudice His Majesty's prerogatives as Sovereign Leader.
The agreement was reached five days later, on August 15, although it was not until September 2 that Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu was commissioned to sign the unconditional surrender on behalf of Emperor Hirohito.
While U.S. General Douglas MacArthur broadcast the capitulation by radio from the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.