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This Day In History: V-J Day, Japan Formally Surrenders, Ending World War II

September 02, 2016

This day in history, the Japanese formally surrendered, officially ending World War II, the most devastating war in human history.

President Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur to lead the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. Truman chose the USS Missouri as the site of Japan’s formal surrender, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state.

MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive in Japan. More than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay on September 2 to take part in the formal surrender.

The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China waved on board above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out the blood and carnage of the past.”

Ten more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. The 20-minute ceremony brought about the end of World War II.