The 70th anniversaries of the end of World War II took place last week. Starting with the general surrender of Imperial Japan on September 2, other surrenders were accepted throughout the Pacific. The result is that for 70 years Japan has enjoyed a prosperous peace and the United States and Japan have become unshakeable allies.
Much ceremony surrounded the liberation of the Pacific. It is worth remembering these events and their participants to appreciate how far the war was fought and how wide the peace would extend.
On the morning of September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay is the Empire of Japan became history. U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, accepted Imperial Japan’s surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers and signed in his capacity as Supreme Commander. After MacArthur came Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz for the United States and then representatives from China, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
On September 3rd, Major General Edmond H. Leavey, Deputy Commander of the United States Army Forces, Western Pacific, in Baguio, Philippines, accepted the surrender of all Japanese Forces in the Philippines and officially ended the war there [Video]. The John Hays Air Base at Baguio had been the first target bombed by Japan in their invasion of the Philippines on December 8, 1941.
On September 6, at Rabaul, New Guinea Australian Army Lt. General Vernon A.H. Sturdee on board the British carrier HMS Glory accepted the surrender of Japanese forces on New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomon Islands. At Bougainville on September 8, the surrender of local forces were accepted by Australian Army Lt. General Stanley G. Savige, II Corps commander and American Marine Lt. Colonel John P. Coursey who survived the Pearl Harbor attacks on the USS Arizona.
On September 9,on Morotai, part of the Moluccas, Australian Brigadier General Thomas W. Blamey accepted the surrender of the Japanese Second Army in the Netherlands East Indies [Video]. On the same day, Japanese Expeditionary Forces in China, Formosa, and northern Indo-China were surrendered in Nanking to KMT General Ho Ying-chin. Japanese forces in Manchuria surrendered to scattered US Marines units or not at all. Russia and Japan have yet to sign a peace treaty.
Also on the 9th, the Japanese government and armed forces in Korea were surrendered in Seoul. The territory south of the 38-degree parallel surrendered to Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge, Commanding General of the XXIV Corps and Admiral Kincaid, Commander of the U. S. Seventh Fleet. Forces north of the 38-degree line were surrendered to the Russian commander.
On 10 September, Wotje Atoll and Maloelap in the Marshall Islands capitulated. The next day Timor just north of Australia, Ponape in the Carolines, and the remaining Japanese forces on the New Guinea mainland surrendered.
On September 2nd, General MacArthur had broadcast the announcement of peace to the world. His words expressed the thoughts of one who had felt both the bitterness of defeat and the gratification of victory, who knew well the horrors of warfare and the futility of attempting to achieve peace by resort to the sword.
Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won....
As I look back upon the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when Democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that he has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in Peace what we won in War.
A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of Victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the War potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concept of War.
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start, workable methods were found insofar as individual citizens were concerned but the mechanics of an instrumentality of large international scope have never been successful. Military Alliances, Balances of Power, Leagues of Nations all in turn failed leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advance in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh....