Victory Over Japan Day | World War II

Victory Over Japan Day | World War II

Overview

Victory over Japan Day also recognized as Victory in the Pacific Day, V-J Day, or V-P Day commemorates the surrender of Imperial Japan in World War II, effectively ending the conflict. The term has been applied to both the days on which Japan's surrender was first announced August 15, 1945, in Japan and August 14, 1945 (in the United States and the rest of the Americas and the Eastern Pacific Islands due to time zone differences) as well as September 2, 1945, when the surrender document was signed, officially ending World War II. For example, the official V-J day in the United Kingdom is August 15, whereas the official V-J Day in the United States is September 2. The Allies chose V-J Day after V-E Day was selected as the name for the victory in Europe. On September 2, 1945, the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay formally surrendered. The official name for August 15 is "the day for grieving war dead and praying for peace," but it is commonly referred to as "memorial day commemorating the end of the war" in Japan. The Japanese government approved an ordinance in 1982 that established its official name.

Surrender

Events Before V-J Day

The Allies unleashed atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. The Soviet Union announced war on Japan on August 9. On August 10, the Japanese government declared its surrender under the Potsdam Declaration's terms. The announcement of the Japanese offer sparked worldwide rejoicing. On Regent Street in London, Allied soldiers formed a conga line. On the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Americans and Frenchmen sang "Don't Fence Me In." "It's over in the Pacific," American soldiers in occupied Berlin screamed, hoping that they would not be sent there to battle the Japanese. The Japanese, unlike themselves, were intelligent enough to give up in a hopeless situation, and the Germans were grateful that the atomic bomb was not ready in time to be used against them. The nuclear explosions were briefly mentioned in Moscow publications, with few comments. The Soviet authorities refused to make any pronouncements concerning the bombs' implications for politics or science, even though "Russians and foreigners alike could hardly talk about anything else."

The Chinese lit firecrackers in Chungking and "nearly buried [Americans] in gratitude." Residents in Manila sang "God Bless America." Six men were murdered, and lots were injured on Okinawa when American forces "grabbed every gun in reach and started firing into the sky" to celebrate; ships sounded general quarters and fired anti-aircraft guns because their crews suspected a kamikaze attack was taking place. B-29 units on Tinian Island were notified that their next mission over Japan had been cancelled, but they couldn't rejoice because it might be rescheduled.

Japan's Acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration

Emperor Hirohito's proclamation of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was aired to the Japanese people over the radio shortly after noon Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945. The Japanese government had said earlier that Day on Radio Tokyo that "acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation [would] be coming shortly" and had informed the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to US President Harry S Truman through the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. On August 14, around 7:00 p.m. (daylight time in Washington, D.C.), Truman made a nationwide broadcast disclosing the communication and announcing the formal event for September 2. "The announcement of V-J Day must wait upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan," Truman remarked while announcing Japan's surrender on August 14.

V-J Day was the actual end of World War II, as the European Axis Powers had surrendered three months earlier (V-E Day), even though a peace treaty between Japan and most of the Allies was not completed until 1952, and between Japan and the Soviet Union until 1956. From the beginning, the moniker V-P Day was used in Australia. According to the Australian War Memorial, the government gazetted a public holiday for V-P Day in that year, according to the Canberra Times of August 14, 1945.

Public Celebrations

Before Truman's statement, Americans began rejoicing "like if happiness had been rationed and kept up for the 3 years, 8 months, and 7 days since December 7, 1941" (the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), conferring to Life magazine. "We want Harry!" chanted a mob in Washington, D.C., as they attempted to break into the White House grounds.

Two naked women plunged into a pond in the Civic Center in San Francisco to the soldiers' delight. Then, thousands of drunken people, the vast majority of whom were Navy enlistees who had not served in the war theatre, embarked on "a three-night orgy of damage, looting, attack, burglary, rape and homicide" and "the lethal riots in the city's history," according to the San Francisco Chronicle, with over 1,000 people injured, 13 killed, and at least six women raped. The Chronicle concluded that "the city essentially tried to pretend the riots never happened" because none of these activities resulted in serious criminal charges, and no civilian or military officer was sanctioned.

The immense throng ever seen in Times Square, New York City, came to celebrate. The triumph was declared with the headline "OFFICIAL TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER" on the "zipper" news ticker at One Times Square; the six asterisks symbolized the branches of the US Armed Forces. Workers in the Garment District threw out textile scraps and ticker tape, resulting in a five-inch-high pile on the streets. The conclusion of the war spurred a "coast-to-coast frenzy of [servicemen] kissing... everyone in skirts who happened along," according to Life magazine, which published photos of similar kisses in Washington, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Famous Photographs: V-J Day in Times Square, one of the most famous images ever published by Life, included one of the most memorable kisses that day. It was shot on August 14, 1945, immediately after President Truman made his proclamation, and crowds began to gather to celebrate. Alfred Eisenstaedt was photographing in Times Square when he came across a sailor "I grabbed a white item. They kissed while I stood there. I also yelled four times." Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen (right) captured the identical scene in a shot featured in the New York Times. Some individuals have claimed to be the sailor or the female, who was thought to be a nurse for a long time. The woman in the Alfred Eisenstaedt photo was eventually revealed to be Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant. The latter confirmed in a later interview that she was not the woman in the shot "I didn't want to be kissed, and I didn't want to be kissed. So the guy approached and kissed or grabbed her." In another famous shot, the Dancing Man in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, was captured by a press photographer and a Movietone newsreel. As a symbol of triumph in the war, the film and stills from it have become iconic Australian history and culture.

Japanese Reaction

On the 15th and 16th of August, some Japanese troops committed suicide due to the capitulation. Over a hundred American prisoners of war were also killed. In addition, the Imperial Japanese Army murdered many Australian and British prisoners of war in Borneo at both Ranau and Sandakan. Death orders were discovered at Batu Lintang camp, also in Borneo, for the murder of 2,000 POWs and citizen internees on September 15, 1945. However, the camp was liberated four days before the orders were carried out. Japanese soldiers fought Soviet forces on multiple fronts following VJ-Day for almost two weeks.

Ceremony Aboard USS Missouri

On September 2, 1945, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender has formally signed on boarding the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, and Truman declared September 2 to be the official V-J Day.

Chronology

Period

Events

April 1 – June 21, 1945

The Combat of Okinawa was fought on the island of Okinawa. There were more than 82,000 US military casualties and 117,000 Japanese and Okinawans. In addition, approximately one-fourth of the Okinawan civilian population died, often resulting from Imperial Japanese Army-organized mass suicides.

July 26

The Declaration of Potsdam is signed. "Surrender or suffer quick and absolute devastation," Truman warns Japan.

July 29

Japan rejects the Potsdam Declaration.

August 2

The Potsdam Conference has come to a close.

August 6

Little Boy, an atomic weapon, is dropped on Hiroshima by the United States. Truman tells Japan to surrender or "anticipate a rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which has never been perceived on this earth" in a news release issued 16 hours later.

August 9

The Soviet Union announced war on Japan and invaded several Japanese-controlled regions. Fat Man, another atomic bomb, was dropped on Nagasaki by the United States.

August 10

The Japanese Foreign Ministry, acting on the Emperor's orders, informs the Allies (through Swiss diplomatic channels) of Japan's decision to surrender unconditionally following the Potsdam Declaration's stipulations, provided the Emperor is allowed to continue in power.

August 11

The Allies inform the Japanese government (again through Swiss diplomats) that they are willing to accept Japan's surrender in its current form.

August 14

The Allied powers announced the surrender of Japan, and the Emperor informed his people via a special radio broadcast. In newspapers in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, "V-J Day" or "V-P Day."

September 2

In Tokyo Bay, an official surrender ceremony is placed aboard the USS Missouri, and President Truman proclaims September 2 as "V-J Day."

November 1

Operation Olympic, the planned Allied attack of Kyushu, is set to begin.

March 1, 1946

Operation Coronet, the planned Allied attack of Honshu, is set to begin.

September 8, 1951

The Treaty of San Francisco was contracted by 48 countries, including Japan and most Allies.

April 28, 1952

The Treaty of San Francisco is signed, officially ending the war between Japan and most Allies.

Post-War

Following the war, some Japanese soldiers fought on remote Pacific islands until the 1970s, with the last recorded Japanese soldier surrendering in 1974.

Commemoration

Australia

Many Australians prefer the phrase "VP Day" to "VJ Day," yet on pages 250 and 251 of The Sun News-1946 Pictorial's publication The Sixth Year of War in Pictures, the name "VJ Day" is used. "VJ-Day" is also stamped on an Australian Government 50th Anniversary Medal awarded in 1995.

Radio Amateur: Amateur radio operators in Australia celebrate the "Remembrance Day Contest" on the weekend closest to VP Day, August 15, to honour amateur radio operators who died in World War II, as well as to encourage friendly competition and help participants improve their functional skills. The contest begins at 0800 UTC on Saturday. It lasts for 24 hours, starting with a broadcast that includes a speech by a notable or distinguished Australian such as the Prime Minister of Australia, Governor-General of Australia, or a military leader and reading the names of amateur radio operators who have died. The Wireless Institute of Australia is organizing it, with operators from each Australian state contacting operators from other Australian states, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. The state with the highest participation rate receives a trophy, which is determined by a formula that includes the number of operators, contacts made, and radiofrequency bands used.

China

On September 2, 1945, when Japan's final official surrender was accepted onboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China, which represented China on Missouri, proclaimed three-day holidays beginning September 3 to commemorate V-J Day. September 3 was designated as "Victory of the War of Resistance Against Japan Day", starting in 1946 and evolving into Armed Forces Day in 1955. In mainland China, September 3 is celebrated as V-J Day.

Hong Kong

On August 30, 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army turned Hong Kong over to the Royal Navy, and it reverted to its pre-war status as a British dependent. Annually, on August 30 (later changed to the Saturday preceding the last Monday in August), Hong Kong observed "Liberation Day," which was a public holiday before 1997. The festivity was moved to the third Monday in August after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997 and renamed "Sino-Japanese War Victory Day," the Chinese name of which is literally "Victory of War of Resistance against Japan Day" as it is in the rest of China. Still, this day was removed from the list of public holidays in 1999. However, the Chief Executive's Office stated in 2014 that a commemorative ceremony would be held on September 3 throughout mainland China, in honour of the "Victory Day of the Chinese people's fight of resistance against Japanese aggression."

Korea

Gwangbokjeol (literally "the day the light returned") is a public holiday in South Korea that is observed every year on August 15. Victory over Japan Day commemorates the liberation of Korea from Japanese domination. In North Korea, the day is also celebrated as a public holiday known as Liberation Day, and it is the only public holiday observed in both Koreas.

Mongolia

In Mongolia, victory over Japan Day is commemorated in a dualistic manner. The achievement of Soviet and Mongolian soldiers in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol is also observed. The battle's 50th anniversary was celebrated for the first time in 1969. After that, it was commemorated on a large scale every five years until 1989, when it faded in importance and was confined to academic debates and lectures. The anniversary has just lately made a comeback in Mongolian history. The Mongolian Armed Forces and the Russian Armed Forces celebrate it together. Throughout the 70th, 75th, and 80th centenaries in 2009, 2014, and 2019, the Russian President attended the celebrations alongside Mongolia's President as part of the latter's state visit to the Mongolian capital.

Netherlands

On or around August 15, the Netherlands hosts one national and many regional or municipal commemoration services. The national service takes place at The Hague's "Indisch memorial," where the sufferers of the Japanese profession of the Dutch East Indies are remembered, generally in the presence of the head of state and cabinet. In addition, there are roughly 20 services at the Indies commemoration centre in Bronbeek, Arnhem. The occupation by the Japanese signalled the end of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia. On August 17, 1945, Indonesia declared independence just two days after the Japanese surrendered. However, the Indonesian War of Independence continued until 1949, when the Netherlands officially recognized Indonesian sovereignty in late December.

North Vietnam

H Ch Minh established the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam when Japan surrendered. Because the August Revolution triumphed over Japanese forces, Vietnam commemorated August 19 as V-J Day.

Philippines

V-J Day is commemorated on September 3 as the "Surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita Day." Every September 2, the province of Ifugao commemorates the courage of Philippine war veterans and General Yamashita's informal surrender to joint Filipino-American troops headed by Cpt. Grisham in the metropolis of Kiangan on September 2, 1945.

Russia/Former Soviet Union

On September 3, 1945, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union declared it a national holiday (the day after the surrender of Japan). The only celebration days after was a Red Army parade in Harbin. This day was a national holiday in 1945 and 1946. It became a working day in later years, and no celebrations were held on this day. Victory over Japan Day is a significant occasion in modern Russia, and it is commemorated as one of the numerous Days of Military Honour. In recent years, bills in the State Duma have advocated making it a national holiday, such as in 2017.

The Eastern Military District holds an annual military parade in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk or Khabarovsk, one of the few parades this day. On September 2, marches were held in Russia's federal territories that commemorate the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, including Buryatia, Yakutia, and the Altai Republic. In addition, victory over Japan Day is celebrated in the breakaway Moldovan republic of Transnistria alongside their Republic Day merriments, which take place on the same day.

United States of America

Even though September 2 is marked as "V-J Day" in the United States, it is not a federal or state holiday. On the second Monday in August, Rhode Island commemorates the end of World War II as "Victory Day."

V-J Day was first observed on September 2nd every year in the United States in 1948, but as the conflict faded from memory, so did the holiday. V-J Day was abolished for economic reasons, according to WPRI-TV, since workers were given a paid day off. Even the state of Rhode Island debated whether or not to have its own Victory Day ceremonies. V-J Day is still observed in some towns across the United States. On the second Sunday in August, Moosup, Connecticut, hosts an annual V-J day parade, which has the distinction of being the oldest continuous V-J day procession since the Japanese surrendered in 1945. Arkansas was the solitary other state to make the festival a statewide holiday, but it did so in 1975, leaving Rhode Island the only state that now observes it.

World Peace Day

In the 1960s, it was proposed that September 2, the anniversary of World War II's end, be designated as an international holiday dubbed World Peace Day. However, this holiday was initially observed on September 21, 1981, when the United Nations General Assembly began its annual discussions.

Last updated: 2022-January-13
Tags: History World War II
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