September 2 marks the official end of the Second World War in the Pacific, and therefore the end of the global conflict. On that day 75 years ago, formal documents of Japan’s unconditional surrender were signed by representatives of the United States and Japan aboard the ship USS Missouri, as it lay anchored in Tokyo Bay.
With Germany’s surrender on May 8, World War II had come to an end in Europe. Nonetheless, fighting raged on in the Pacific, and the war would not be over until Japan laid down its arms.
On July 26, ten days after the United States successfully tested the atomic bomb, Allied leaders issued the Potsdam Declaration, a document which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan. If Japan refused the offer, it would “suffer prompt and utter destruction.” Japan declined the ultimatum.
It therefore became necessary to defeat Japan on the battlefield, clearly a formidable task. For over three years, the United States and its allies in the Pacific clashed with Japan in some of the largest naval battles in history. Fierce battles across the Pacific Islands, which more often than not resulted in mass suicides by defeated Japanese soldiers and civilians alike, convinced the United States command that an invasion of Japan would result in enormous loss of life on both sides.
It was therefore decided that the war must be ended swiftly and decisively. After dropping leaflets warning of imminent air attacks and urging civilian populations to evacuate, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, three days apart. Finally, Japanese leadership became convinced that the war was unwinnable, and on August 14, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced that Japan would surrender.
“Today the guns are silent,” General Douglas MacArthur, who accepted Japan’s surrender on behalf of the Allies, said after the ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.
[ACT 1 0:46 – DALET: POLICY/ACTUALITIES]“A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain with death--the seas bear only commerce--men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed…"
“To the Pacific basin has come the vista of a new emancipated world. Today, freedom is on the offensive, democracy is on the march. Today, in Asia as well as in Europe, unshackled peoples are tasting the full sweetness of liberty, the relief from fear.”
On September 2, 1945, the Second World War had truly, finally ended and a new era began.