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September 2, 1945

Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri as General Richard K. Sutherland watches, September 2, 1945

Photo Credit: Army Signal Corps photographer LT. Stephen E. Korpanty - Naval Historical Center Photo # SC 213700

The Japanese Sign the Instrument of Surrender on Board the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay

Japan’s signing of the Instrument of Surrender on 2nd September 1945 marked a formal end to the bloodiest conflict in human history, and the chroniclers of this timeline hope: the last true total war in human history.

More than 40 U.S. warships entered Tokyo bay, carrying thousands of troops under the command of five-star U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. That day marked the occupation of Japan by the United States. The battleship USS Missouri was chosen for the formal surrender ceremony, as she was named after President Truman's home state.

The official Instrument of Surrender was prepared by the War Department and approved by President Truman. It set out in eight short paragraphs the complete capitulation of Japan. The opening words, "We, acting by command of and in behalf of the Emperor of Japan," signified the importance attached to the Emperor's role by the Americans who drafted the document. The short second paragraph went straight to the heart of the matter: "We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated."

Afterward, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, also signed. He accepted the Japanese surrender "for the United States, Republic of China, United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and in the interests of the other United Nations at war with Japan."

Further reading:


into the future after 2 September 1945 in Japan, from the Council on Foreign Relations :

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