The History of Victory over Japan Day

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2016
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Many may not be able to accurately pin-point the date we claimed victory over Japan, but many will recognize the famous picture immortalizing the day forever. The famous image “V-J Day in Times Square” has become one of the most recognized and iconic post-war images to-date. It is right up there with the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. But what is Victory over Japan Day?

The History of Victory over Japan Day

The Details of the Surrender

Victory over Japan Day (also known as V-J Day) is the day Japan surrendered in World War II.

Battling together in World War II, the Allied Forces: United States, China, and Great Britain, met on July 26, 1945 in Postdam, Germany to discuss the terms required for Japan’s eventual surrender. Their steadfast declaration stated, "We will not deviate from them [these terms]. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay." Sadly, the terms set forth in the penned Postdam Declaration that July day went unanswered. The United States was unwilling to admit they could win the war without a major military strike. Therefore, with no word from the Japanese, the United States resolved to utilize the most powerful weapon they had. The product of the famed Manhattan Project was unveiled and on August 6th,1945 a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that 90,000-146,000 Japanese perished instantly.

Promptly after the bombing at Hiroshima, United States President Harry Truman delivered another staunch warning to Japan, "expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth". This message too, went unheeded. As a result, three days later on August 9th, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.  Approximately, 39,000-80,000 Japanese lives were lost as a result of the second bomb. To further complicate and impair the Japanese during this time of incredible vulnerability, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan later that day.

After the Bombings

The devastation after the bombs on the two Japanese cities was epic. Their war-time supplies were at an all-time low, and most of their military vehicles were inoperable. The result:  Japan finally submitted to Allied terms on August 14, 1945. Harry Truman announced in the evening of August 14th that Japan had agreed to the terms of the Postdam Declaration. The news tore through the US quickly, prompting many spontaneous celebrations, one of which took place in Times Square. It is during that celebration, Albert Eisenstaedt snapped the famous image “V-J Day in Times Square”, also known as “the Kiss”. Due to the timezone differences between the United States and Japan, August 15th is also recognized as “V-J Day”. While the US and other Allied countries shared their excitement during the days of August 14th and 15th, no surrender documents were signed during that time. It was not until two weeks later, on September 2, 1945 that the signing of the surrender took place aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. With surrender documents in hand, President Truman proclaimed September 2nd as the official Victory over Japan Day.  

Treaty With Japan

The Japanese World War II surrender documents were the first step toward peace with Japan. Without them, the war would have battled on with many more lives lost. The final war resolutions were not completed until the Treaty of San Francisco took effect on April 28, 1952. Japan and the Soviet Union took more time to come to an agreement. It wasn’t until four years later when they signed the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956.

Remember the Day

Throughout history there are many dates that have different meanings. It is important to recognize the value and significance of the variances. This September 2nd, stop and take a moment to consider the importance of the day. Take time to celebrate the date the United States had written documentation of Japanese surrender to end one of the most deadly wars of all time.

Written by Brook Appelbaum


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