15 August 2016
Japan surrendered to the Allies on 15 August 1945
On this day in history, 1945: Japan surrenders to the Allies, following nuclear bombs having been dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August and on Nagasaki on 9 August.
The number of deaths as a result of the bombings has only been broadly estimated – 90,000 to 146,000 for Hiroshima and 39,000 to 80,000 for Nagasaki – and many of these deaths occured in the weeks and months to follow, as a result of radiation sickness and burns, but the forces of Japan were too weakened to continue, though their will remained.
Despite a failed coup, and the view of the military commanders that to surrender was shameful, at noon (Japan Standard Time) on 15 August Emperor Hirohito broadcast his announcement on the radio that Japan had agreed to the Allies terms of surrender, fearing that to continue to fight would result in the end of human civilisation.
Such are the twists and turns of history, Hirohito had actually pre-recorded his surrender speech, and had to smuggle it out of his Imperial Palace in a laundry basket – to save it falling into the hands of his Army.
While copies have been made, the original record that sounded the final surrender has never been played since.
The surrender was signed on 2 September and the Second World War ended.
Listen to the ‘Jewel Voice Broadcast’, as Hirohito’s declaration of surrender is called, with subtitles, below: