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These proceedings are closed: The Surrender of Japan


On the morning of Sunday, September 2, 1945, the bloodiest human or natural catastrophe in history ended at last as the Japanese formally surrendered to the Allies aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Speaking to a live worldwide radio audience, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, American General Douglas MacArthur, opened the ceremony by announcing, “We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude, a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.”

With more than 250 Allied warships lying at anchor in the bay and the flags of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China all soaring high above the array of leaders assembled on the deck of the Missouri, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the surrender document on behalf of the Japanese government. He was followed by General Yoshijiro Umezu, who signed for the Japanese armed forces. After Umezu added his name to the document, historian William Craig reports, “Some of the officers in his delegation had tears on their cheeks.”

After the two Japanese delegates had performed their duty, General MacArthur signed the surrender document as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and also on behalf of the United States. After other Allied representatives penned their names, MacArthur concluded the 23-minute ceremony by saying, “Let us pray now that peace be restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.”

Footage of the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

Reflecting on the moment the surrender ceremony ended, one Japanese diplomat wrote, “the skies parted and the sun shone brightly through the layers of clouds. There was a steady drone above and now it became a deafening roar and an armada of U.S. airplanes paraded into sight, sweeping over the warships.”

After the thousands of planes had finished flying over, General MacArthur took to the microphone one last time and delivered an incredible speech, in which he declared, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won.” Remembering the painful past and looking toward the future, he said, “We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.” MacArthur concluded his speech with a tribute to the warriors who had fought the good fight, stating, “And so, my fellow countrymen, today I report to you that your sons and daughters have served you well and faithfully … Their spiritual strength and power has brought us through to victory. They are homeward bound-take care of them.”

Header Photo: Japanese General Yoshijiro Umezu signs the surrender document aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museums)



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