On August 14, 1945, Japan
surrendered, ending World War II
and bringing peace
to the world. This day would go down in history
as Victory over Japan Day, or VJ Day. The bombings of Hiroshima
were the nail in the coffin for Japan's war effort, and they surrendered unofficially only five days after the Nagasaki bombing, and officially signed treaty
papers on September 2.
Nazi Germany had surrendered on May 8, 1945, known as VE Day. The Japanese war machine was still raging on, however. When their European allies surrendered, the Japanese took a more defensive stance. Military experts predicted that a full scale Allied invasion of the Japanese islands would be extremely costly for both sides, and Japan adamantly refused the Potsdam Declaration ultimatum which called for their unconditional surrender. The American government had decided that the best course of action would be to unleash nuclear weaponry upon the nation of Japan, After the bombing of Hiroshima, the Japanese government had not acted or contacted the American government, so the United States followed through with a second attack on Nagasaki.
After their nation had been devastated by the bombings, the Japanese government finally decided to surrender. General Douglas MacArthur was placed in charge of the logistics of the surrender, disabling the remnants of the Japanese military and establishing a peacekeeping presence. Official proceedings and the signing of the surrender documents happened on September 2, marking the official end of World War II. The nations that had not been the victors in this war did not have a huge say in the peace process, despite the desire for the world to achieve a lasting peace. The five victorious nations, the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and the Soviet Union, would become the five countries to lead the United Nations as permanent members of the Security Council.
In the newspapers of the world that day, there were hundreds of photos of soldiers and civilians rejoicing together. There is a great deal of controversy around the photo showing a man returning home and kissing a woman in Times Square. Altogether, 11 different men and 3 different women have claimed to be the people in that photo. One thing is for sure, however: all of the peoples of the world breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that the war would finally reach its end.
For more military history, see the Jane's Military History Nodes metanode.