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On This Day… The End Of World War Two

Written by: George Chittenden : 26 May 2019

It was on this day, 15th August, back in 1945 when Emperor Hirohito accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender issued by the Allied leaders, and effectively ended WWII. An interesting fact that often gets overlooked when we talk about Japan and World War II is Stalin and the Soviet Unions involvement in relation to forcing Japan’s surrender. Yeah, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had a huge influence on the Emperor’s decision, but there were other factors too.

September 2nd on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur signed the Japanese In

September 2nd on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur signed the Japanese In

Earlier that year in February, Joseph Stalin met with Allied leaders and promised to attack Japan three months after Germany’s surrender. Obviously, it would take time to transfer his Russian forces from Europe to the Far East, and Stalin kept his promise. On August 9th Soviet troops invaded Manchuria, which was the same day Nagasaki was bombed. This invasion was devastating for Japan as they had been trying throughout July that year to engage the Soviets as brokers in a peace deal with the Allies. This invasion is relatively unheard of, and it makes you wonder why? Is it because it shows Stalin in a good light? Perhaps it suggests that America didn’t actually need to drop the atomic bombs, or maybe it’s just another event of WWII that gets overlooked.

The Times Square kiss

The Times Square kiss

Either way, when Hirohito gave a recorded radio address across the Empire announcing the acceptance of surrender, the entire world celebrated. In Times Square that famous, and rather dubious kiss occurred, which technically happened on August 14th due to the time difference between Japan and the United States. A few weeks later, on September 2nd on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers, officially bringing World War II to an end.

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