WWII in the Pacific: the Defeat of Japan, 1944-45

Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian mainland, and from the Pacific side. Japan eventually surrendered in 1945, but we discuss why that was so complicated and difficult. And we bust the many myths surrounding the “unconditional surrender” of Japan. Listen and learn!

Imperial Surrender

The Imperial Rescript of Surrender (玉音放送 gyokuon-hōsō) was the speech delivered by Emperor Shōwa on 15 August 1945, effectively announcing that Japan would surrender, ending World War II. To be precise, Emperor informed the Japanese people that Japan would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (which, among other things, stipulated the unconditional surrender of Japan). This English translation, translated by Tadaichi Hirakawa by the request of Japanese Government, was also broadcasted to overseas at the same time, and its entire text appeared in the New York Times, 15 August 1945.

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 We lay close to heart. Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to secure 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 aggrandisement. But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by every one — the gallant fighting of 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, it would not only 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 home 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 ye, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictate of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.

Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with ye, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity. Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may endanger needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead ye astray and cause ye to lose the confidence of the world. Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitudes; foster nobility of spirit; and work with resolution so as ye may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep place with the progress of the world.

From: Wikisource – https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Imperial_Rescript_on_Surrender

Buzzkill Bookshelf

John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

Though Western allies were clearly headed for victory, pure racism fueled the continuation and intensification of hostilities in the Pacific theater during the final year of World War II, a period that saw as many casualties as in the first five years of the conflict combined. Dower doesn’t reach this disturbing conclusion lightly. He combed through piles of propaganda films, news articles, military documents, cartoons–even entries in academic journals in researching this book.

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