V-J Day: 70 Years On
”Victory over Japan Day” heralds the defeat of Japan in the Second World War under Hirohito, Japan being the final Axis power to falter meant an official end to the Second World War as the Axis powers in Europe had already been defeated as commemorated by VE day three months ago. Controversy shrouds the surrender of Japan and the reasons they initially surrendered to the Allies, their surrender marked the enormous influence and power of the newly developed atomic bomb which laid waste to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their destructive power helped cement what would be the political struggle for power and dominance between the United States and Soviet Union, although the celebration commemorates the final end to the Second World War, its implications led to a new, frosty war.
Gyokuon-hōsō or ”Jewel Voice Broadcast” was the radio broadcast in which Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War, it was the announcement to the Japanese people that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military and the end of the Second World War, the speech was broadcast at 12pm Japan standard time on August 15, 1945, putting an end to all conflict and therefore bringing the Second World War to a close.
Gathered from the August 15, 1945 issue of The New York Times, translated, the text can be read here:
”TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:
After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.
We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.
Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.
But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.
We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to Our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.
The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day.
The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude.
The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.
Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with you, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.
Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.
Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.
Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.”
The tone of the speech ensures a positive out look should be viewed under the terms of the surrender as a new beginning for Japan. Japan was later occupied and suffering did continue to rebuild itself as a nation with its pride wiped out it needed to find alternative methods to rectify the issue. The nature of the surrender has sparked controversy, especially regarding the use of nuclear weapons by the United States, as they remain the first and only use of nuclear weapons actively against an opposing nation. Even throughout the heavy political conflict of the Cold War which was largely drawn from the overwhelming destructive power and influence of nuclear weapons they never used but mainly threatened.
V-J Day is the celebration felt by the Allies the day Japan surrendered, it is celebrated on August 15 in the United Kingdom and September 2 in the United States. The announcements saw public celebrations throughout the nations, enormous crowds littered the streets, most notable in Times Square, New York City, where the largest crowd the city had witnessed gathered to celebrate the end of the Second World War. On Saturday I witnessed a return of that celebration, a ceremony led by the Royal British Legion heralded the arrival of Second World War veterans who commemorated the closing of the war 70 years ago.
V-E Day may seem more significant as the war was finished in common home ground but V-J Day is the official conclusion of the Second World War. The surrender however is under more scrutiny as time goes by for the nuclear attacks against Japan by the United States but this claim was to ensure that the war was put to an abrupt end and help reduce the loss of American lives significantly if the war would draw out. The Soviet Union were planning a swift invasion of Japan for which they felt heavy casualties but there were many factors which led Hirohito to throw in the towel and life the white flag. Overall the finalisation of the Second World War was marked by Japanese surrender and although Japan did take two serious blows it helped end a war which resulted in the deaths of so many millions, much more than the loss of lives felt by the two nuclear attacks and the fire bomb air raids the previous nights before.
This article has been the first in a few months, I have been experiencing problems regarding the functionality of the site and therefore it has been disabled for quite a while, I’ll try and ensure this does not happen again as I did initially plan to write many articles throughout the months but I could not draft and therefore publish them but I will catch up eventually, sorry for the inconvenience.