Tuesday, August 10, 2010

65 Years Later - August 10, 1945

 Genbaku Dome -Hiroshima Peace Memorial

A day in history:

After the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan announced willingness to negotiate its surrender to the Allies under the condition that the status of the Emperor Hirohito remained unchanged. 

"Following the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the Japanese government met to consider what to do next. The emperor had been urging since June that Japan find some way to end the war, but the Japanese Minister of War and the heads of both the Army and the Navy held to their position that Japan should wait and see if arbitration via the Soviet Union might still produce something less than a surrender. Military leaders also hoped that if they could hold out until the ground invasion of Japan began, they would be able to inflict so many casualties on the Allies that Japan still might win some sort of negotiated settlement. Next came the virtually simultaneous arrival of news of the Soviet declaration of war on Japan of August 8, 1945, and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki the following day. Another Imperial Council was held the night of 9th August and this time the vote on surrender was a tie, 3-to-3. For the first time in a generation, the emperor stepped forward from his normally ceremonial-only role and personally broke the tie, ordering Japan to surrender.  On August 10, 1945, Japan offered to surrender to the Allies, the only condition being that the emperor be allowed to remain the nominal head of state.

On 12th August, the United States announced that it would accept the Japanese surrender, making clear in its statement that the emperor could remain in a purely ceremonial capacity only. Debate raged within the Japanese government over whether to accept the American terms or fight on. 

Meanwhile, American leaders were growing impatient, and on 13th August conventional air raids resumed on Japan. Thousands more Japanese civilians died while their leaders delayed. The Japanese people learned of the surrender negotiations for the first time when, on  August 14, B-29s showered Tokyo with thousands of leaflets containing translated copies of the American reply of 12th August. Later that day, the emperor Hirohito called another meeting of his cabinet and instructed its members to accept the Allied terms immediately, explaining that he could not endure the thought of letting his people suffer any longer. If the war did not end the whole nation would otherwise be reduced to ashes.

On August 15, 1945, the emperor's broadcast announcing Japan's surrender was heard via radio all over Japan. For most of his subjects it was the first time that they had ever heard his voice. The emperor explained that the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, and that the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb. Over the next few weeks, Japan and the United States worked out the details of the surrender, and on September 2, 1945, the formal surrender ceremony took place on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri."

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