72 years ago on August 14th, Japan officially announced their acceptance to the Potsdam Declaration, and would sign it in in less than a month, ending World War II. On September 2nd, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. This day is also known as V-J Day, a name selected by the Allies signifying victory over Japan. The official name for the day, however, is “the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace.”
World War II was a global war that involved over 30 countries and lasted six years. The war was fought between two groups of countries. On one side were the Axis Powers, including Germany, Italy and Japan. On the other side were the Allies, including Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, the Soviet Union, China and the United States of America.The war in Europe began on September 1939, when Germany, under Chancellor Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. Two years later on December 7th, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This attack was the catalyst for the United States’ involvement and began the war in the Pacific.
In late spring of 1945, the Allies began bombing major Japanese cities and continued through the summer. In July, the Allies offered the Japanese government a Postdam Declaration, a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. The Allies warned Japan that if they did not surrender they would face “prompt and utter destruction”. It was on August 6th, 1945 when the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima.The bomb is also known as “Little Boy” because it was the smaller of the two atomic bombs. The Little Boy explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed over 80,000 people. Three days later a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man” was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. A day later Japan, communicated its intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.
Japan’s surrender ended World War II, and Americans immediately began to celebrate. President Harry S. Truman stated, “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.” As the years passed, celebrations of V-J Day scaled down due to Japan becoming a close American ally, and the celebrations being offensive to the Japanese-American population.
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