Capitulation of Japan (September 2, 1945)

Capitulation of Japan (September 2, 1945)

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The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 finally lead to the Japanese surrender. The official surrender, signed on board the American battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, on September 2, 1945, marks the end of World War II. Begun on December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, pacific war has seen hundreds of thousands of combatants clash in the globe’s largest theater of operations, in both land and sea air warfare. At the end of the conflict, Japan has about two million dead. Almost 40% of the cities and all of the country's economic structures are destroyed.

The attempts of the "party of peace"

Already damaged by the setbacks of 1942, the credit of the war party was definitively destroyed by the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The massive bombardments have not ceased on the Japanese archipelago since the end of 1944, but the atomic horror is so unexpected that on August 15, 1945, Japanese radio announces that the emperor himself will speak, for the first time. times in twenty years of reign.

The intervention of the Mikado announces the official surrender, the reason given being the desire for peace in the face of the horror of the new American weapon. However, a posteriori defeat seemed inevitable, atomic weapon or not. The euphoria of late 1941 and early 1942 quickly gave way to doubt in some Japanese power circles, including the Emperor's closest adviser: the Marquis Kido. The latter, despite failures during 1942 and 1943, obtained the support of Prince Konoye. The year 1944 seemed decisive then: Kido planned to approach the Soviet Union, and he was supported in this by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mamoru in person.

However, it is difficult for this peace party to obtain the support of the population, indoctrinated by the tough guys of the Empire, despite the intensification of the American bombardments at the end of 1944. However, in October of that same year , Prime Minister Tojo must give up power, and with him a good part of the "war party". The Imperial Navy admits that it is no longer able to engage in offensive operations. On November 7, the Soviet danger materialized when Stalin placed Japan among the aggressors of the USSR.

Difficulty accepting the idea of ​​defeat

The end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945 are for Japan the real signs of the imminent rout: in addition to the increasingly deadly bombardments on the archipelago itself, the Japanese Empire is losing the Philippines, the Marianas, then Okinawa, the last step before Japan itself.

Yet the peace party has yet to go into hiding. Kido and Konoye manage to meet the Emperor, who begins to worry about the situation. But they must remain discreet, the soldiers still being threatening despite Tojo's departure. The Peace Party nevertheless manages to put the respected Admiral Suzuki in power, also in favor of a rapid peace, normally. But the new head of the Japanese government was still wasting time in indecision, and in April 1945 the Peace Party made little headway. It must be said that even on this side, the decision to capitulate to the enemy is difficult to take, in nothing diplomats as much as the military (and even the population) have not considered any reality of defeat since the successes. of the Japanese Empire during the 1930s. The Japanese mentality of the time was not prepared for it. Potsdam's stab

The German defeat is a reality, and it gives a beneficial boost to the Japanese "peace party". The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Togo, tried in May 1945 to get closer to the USSR, but his Soviet counterpart was much less in a hurry: it was a failure, and this time an encouragement for the military to continue the war "until 'at the end ". It takes the intervention of the emperor, who summons the Supreme Council, to restore hope to the supporters of peace. With very chosen terms he succeeded in relaunching the track of rapprochement with the USSR.

We are already in July 1945! Stalin is at the Potsdam conference (where he is said to have informed the Allies of the Japanese attempts), the Bomb was tested in New Mexico. The proclamation of Potsdam at the end of July 1945 gives a scathing setback to the Japanese "peace party": it mentions the demand for an unconditional surrender of Japan, without any mention of the Emperor's future and from the throne. For the military, this is proof that the Allies want the end of the regime and the Japanese Empire and the occupation of the country, and for them it is unacceptable. Obviously, for the emperor himself it is also difficult to support, and so the "pacifists" lose their last trump card.

Japan under nuclear fire

Despite everything, in the face of the scale of the casualties and the looming threat of invasion, even the war party, led by Minister Anami, is starting to lower its ambitions. He is prepared to renegotiate Potsdam. It is unfortunately too late, the Japanese have wasted too much time with their indecision and the fear of seeing the imperial throne disappear. The United States, also pressed by Soviet ambitions, atomized Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and three days later Nagasaki. Under the Yalta Accords, the USSR declared war on Japan on August 8 and invaded Manchuria the next day.

The panic is total in Tokyo, and the goal is soon only to save the imperial throne, despite the nuclear threat on the capital itself! It takes several hours for Japanese officials to come to their senses and realize the obvious to finally admit the obligation to surrender. The Potsdam clauses are finally accepted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Togo, but the military absolutely insists on avoiding an occupation of the country. Prime Minister Suzuki then asks the emperor himself to choose between the Togo option and that of the military.

September 2, 1945: the surrender of Japan

On August 10, 1945, Japan announced its willingness to capitulate, but it took several days to sort out the details ... which were not. Indeed, it is a question of what will become of the emperor. US Secretary of State Byrnes announces that the emperor will be "subordinate to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers", causing renewed anger among the Japanese military. Discussions continued over the next few days, but the emperor finally chose the peace party, and the cabinet unanimously approved the decision. The August 15 speech by the emperor himself announces the surrender of Japan and must nip in the bud the wishes of extremists of all stripes who would have liked to profit from the instability of the regime. This did not prevent an attempted conspiracy, however, which luckily failed on the night of August 14. The war minister, Anami, committed suicide, followed by several other "war party" officials.

The surrender of the Japanese armies is officially signed on the deck of the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945, during a ceremony presided over by General MacArthur. At the head of the American occupation troops (1945-1950), the latter will play a decisive political role in the demilitarization of Japan and in its democratic transition.

Non-exhaustive bibliography

- P. Souty, The Pacific War 1937-1945, PUL, 1995.

- F. Boy, The Pacific War, Casterman, 1997.

- J. Costello, The Pacific War, 2 volumes, Pygmalion, 1982.

- The Second World War, Jules Tallandier editions, 7 volumes, 1966.

Video: Japanese Sign Final Surrender 日本の降伏


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