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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 16 - 22  > ‘August 15’ of 1945 opened new chapter of peace
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2017 August 16 - 22 [PEACE]

‘August 15’ of 1945 opened new chapter of peace

August 17, 2017
August 15 is the anniversary of the “end” of the Pacific War in Japan, the day a new chapter of peace for Japan opened 72 years ago.

Japan’s invasion of northeastern China commenced in 1931. The Empire of Japan then engaged in war for almost 15 years. The Imperial Council with the attendance of Emperor Hirohito on August 14, 1945 decided to accept the Potsdam Declaration and informed the Allied Powers of this decision. At noon the next day, the Showa Emperor, Hirohito, in his address to the public on radio announced Japan’s surrender. On September 2, representatives of the then Japanese government signed the Instrument of Surrender on the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. That was the end of the war.

Until around 1951, newspapers in occupied Japan called September 2 the anniversary of “surrender”. Later, however, August 15, the day of the radio broadcast by Emperor Hirohito, became the anniversary of the end of the war. The annual Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead hosted by postwar governments takes place on this day.

Some argue, however, that August 15 should be called the day of Japan’s “defeat” in the Pacific War rather than the anniversary of the end of the war. The word choice varies depending on the intended purpose or the context. For example, for those in the Imperial military and bureaucracy who had promoted the war, August 15 was the day Japan “lost” the war.

For the general public who had forcibly been mobilized to support the war, August 15 was the day they felt free of worry about being killed. Due to the militarist education and false information given by the newspapers and radio broadcasts, most people had been forced to take a part in war without knowing the fact that it was a war of aggression.

For the Japanese Communist Party forerunners who had perceived that it was a war of aggression and had never given in to the fierce crackdown against their antiwar activities, August 15 was the day they won their fight against the promoters of the war of aggression.
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