“War … not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”

"American servicemen and women gather in front of "Rainbow Corner" Red Cross club in Paris to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese."

“American servicemen and women gather in front of “Rainbow Corner” Red Cross club in Paris to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese.”

The Emperor as head of the Imperial General Headquarters in 1943. Hirohito was not just Emperor but believed to be a living god, his relationship with the senior military leaders was difficult for the west to understand.

The Emperor as head of the Imperial General Headquarters in 1943. Emperor Hirohito was not just sovereign leader of the nation but believed by most Japanese to be a living God, his relationship with his senior military commanders was difficult for the west to understand.

Finally the war against Japan came to an end. Those who accepted the reality of Japan’s military position finally prevailed against strong elements in the senior command who wanted a more ‘honourable’ end, even if it meant their annihilation and that of millions of their people. More junior officers had also unsuccessfully attempted a coup d’etat, in the days since peace negotiations began on the 9th, in order to continue the war.

President Truman was able to announce the surrender on the 14th August. It was not until the 15th when the Emperor broadcast to the nation, that the Japanese people learned of their country’s surrender. It was a weak transmission of a voice never before heard by the public, speaking in an archaic version of Japanese – many Japanese struggled to comprehend what it actually meant:

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….

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.

Crowd of people, many waving, in Times Square on V-J Day at time of announcement of the Japanese surrender in 1945

Crowd of people, many waving, in Times Square on V-J Day at time of announcement of the Japanese surrender in 1945

In London's Piccadilly Circus,a group of servicemen and women, and a civilian woman, link arms as they walk towards the camera, singing as they dance in celebration around Eros (not pictured), on the news that the war in Japan is over. Behind them, crowds of people are gathered in the sunshine. Several buses can also be seen. This photograph was taken from beside Eros, looking towards Piccadilly (left) and Regent Street (right).

In London’s Piccadilly Circus,a group of servicemen and women, and a civilian woman, link arms as they walk towards the camera, singing as they dance in celebration around Eros (not pictured), on the news that the war in Japan is over. Behind them, crowds of people are gathered in the sunshine. Several buses can also be seen. This photograph was taken from beside Eros, looking towards Piccadilly (left) and Regent Street (right).

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