Shigemitsu Mamoru (1881-1957), was a Japanese diplomat perhaps most famous for signing the Instrument of Surrender on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on behalf of the Emperor on September 2, 1945, officially ending Japan's involvement in World War II. In photographs and newsreels of that momentous event, Shigemitsu is the somewhat stuffy looking fellow with long black coattails, a black top hat, and a cane.
But both before and after the surrender, Shigemitsu enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one of Japan's foremost diplomats. Born in Oita on the island of Kyushu, and a 1907 graduate in Law from Tokyo Imperial University, Shigemitsu joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and gradually rose up through the ranks.
Prior to the war he served as consul at the Japanese consulate then located in Portland, Maine (1930), Ambassador to China (1931-1932), Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs (1933-1936), Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1936-1939), and Ambassador to Great Britain (1940-1941). It was during his stint in Shangai in 1932 that a Korean dissident threw a homemade bomb at the reviewing stand he was on, blowing off his leg and forcing him to live out his life using an artificial leg and the cane which he carried with him on the Missouri.
Recalled from Great Britain on the even of the outbreak of war with the Western Powers in 1941, he was sent back to China as Ambassador to the Japanese puppet state in Nanking. Then in a surprising turn, prime minister Hideki Tojo named him Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1943, a move many foreign observers interpreted as a possible sign that Japan was preparing to sue for peace, since Shigemitsu had been a vocal opponent of the militarists.
Nevertheless, the war dragged on for two more years, and despite his pacifist leanings and his being the one to sign the surrender document, Shigemitsu was eventually tried and convicted of war crimes, especially for his part in abetting the activities Unit 731 in his role as Ambassador to China. Initially he was sentenced to 7 years in prison, but was soon pardoned as part of the "Reverse Course." This allowed him to rejoin the Foreign Ministry, and he again served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1954-1956. During his visit to Washington DC in 1955, he laid the groundwork for the revision of the US-Japan Security Treaty into the format under which the US-Japan alliance still operates to this day.
Shigemitsu finished up his career by serving as Japan's very first ambassador to the United Nations, after Japan finally gained entry to the body in December of 1956. He died shortly thereafter, on January 26, 1957, at the age of 69.