‘They fought and suffered in ferocious conditions. They witnessed incomprehensible horrors. They lost their lives – and many were imprisoned. And they did this for us – to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.’
The Second World War in Asia began on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, and also launched simultaneous attacks on British, Dutch, and American colonies in the Far East.
Japan finally surrendered on August 14, 1945, more than three months after Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender ended the war in Europe.and only after the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war on Japan. In Europe the next day was celebrated as VJ Day. The formal surrender of Japan eventually took place on September 2, 1945, aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Events before V-J Day
On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On 9 August, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The Japanese government on 10 August communicated its intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but demanded too many conditions for the offer to be acceptable to the Allies.
The news of the Japanese offer, however, was enough to begin early celebrations around the world. Allied soldiers in London danced in a conga line on Regent Street. Americans and Frenchmen in Paris paraded on the Champs-Elysées singing “Don’t Fence Me In”. American soldiers in Berlin shouted “It’s over in the Pacific”, and hoped that they would now not be transferred there to fight the Japanese. Germans stated that the Japanese were wise enough to give up in a hopeless situation, but were grateful that the atomic bomb was not ready in time to be used against them. Moscow newspapers briefly reported on the atomic bombings with no commentary of any kind. While “Russians and foreigners alike could hardly talk about anything else”, the Soviet government refused to make any statements on the bombs’ implication for politics or science.
In Chungking, Chinese troops fired firecrackers and “almost buried [Americans] in gratitude”. In Manila, residents sang “God Bless America”. On Okinawa, six men were killed and dozens were wounded as American soldiers “took every weapon within reach and started firing into the sky” to celebrate; ships sounded general quarters and fired anti-aircraft guns as their crews believed that a Kamikaze attack was occurring. On Tinian island, B-29 crews preparing for their next mission over Japan were told that it was cancelled, but that they could not celebrate because it might be rescheduled.
Japan accepts the Potsdam Declaration.
A little after noon on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people over the radio. Earlier the same day, the Japanese government had broadcast an announcement over Radio Tokyo that “acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation would be coming soon”, and had advised the Allies of the impending surrender by sending a cable to U.S. President Harry S Truman via the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. A nationwide broadcast by President Truman was aired at seven p.m. on August 14 announcing the communication and that the formal event was scheduled for September 2. In his announcement of Japan’s surrender on August 14, President Truman said that “the proclamation of V-J Day must wait upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan”.
Since the European Axis Powers had surrendered three months earlier (V-E Day), V-J Day would be the official end of World War II. In Australia and most other allied nations, the name V-P (Pacific) Day was used from the outset. The Canberra Times of August 14, 1945, refers to VP Day celebrations, and a public holiday for VP Day was gazetted by the government in that year according to the Australian War Memorial. VJ finally brought to a close the most destructive war that mankind had ever seen. Millions of people were killed on all sides, not simply combatants. The ferocity of the campaign in the Far East and Pacific
There will be givernment sponsored commemorations, and details can be found by going to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vj-day-70-plans-announced. A service will also be held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which will be attended by veterans from the Malayan Volunteers Group, the Far East Prisoners of War Association and members of the Children & Families of the Far East Prisoners of War, who partly funded a memorial building there. Details of this event can be found at: