If Dec. 7, 1941 was “A day that will live in infamy,” with the sinking of our battleship USS Arizona BB-39, then Sept. 2, 1945, was a monumental day on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, “Big Mo,” BB — 63. Japan’s surrender spared the pain and suffering of 1 million American casualties and tens of millions of Japanese lives and hundreds of millions of future generations.
Do the math! Those 1 million American servicemen were given a new lease on life. They returned home, married the most wonderful gal in the world, used their GI Bill to complete their education, and made their contribution to the 1946–1964 Baby Boom, a population bulge of 77 million. Those Boomers married, had children and grandchildren, a total of four generations of DNA.
In Jan. 1945, the Japanese military began training every Japanese male and female from age six years to use bamboo spears to defend their homeland. They were instructed to kill as many invading American GIs as possible before they were killed.
In 1943 our War Department began planning the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, which would have dwarfed D-Day. Nine Atomic bombs would have been dropped inland near the three Kyushu landing zones before the invasion on Nov. 1, 1945. American air superiority would drop massive amounts of napalm, an incendiary bomb which rapidly burns oxygen and everything it touches.
From three years of island hopping in the Pacific our Marines and GIs learned the Japanese didn’t surrender. A common expression among Marines as they walked through a battlefield with dead Japanese soldiers was, “if you’re not sure if he’s dead, give him two in the head.”
Our military was not concerned with collateral damage. More atomic bombs would be dropped before the March 1946 planned invasion of the industrial heart of Japan, Operation Coronet. This would have reduced Japan to an atomic wasteland by 1947.
The Japanese cabinet consisted of three military leaders, three civilian leaders and the Emperor of Japan. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporized by atomic bombs on Aug. 6 and 9, the cabinet met several times to discuss their options. The military members of the cabinet were against surrender. The civilian members were in favor of unconditional surrender to save tens of millions of Japanese lives. The cabinet was deadlocked until the Emperor cast his deciding vote, for unconditional surrender.
The Kyujo Incident occurred on Aug. 14, 1945. The Staff Office of the Ministry of War of Japan with some members of the Imperial Guard of Japan failed to place the Emperor under house arrest at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The Japanese people heard Emperor Hirohito’s voice for the first time as he announced Japan’s unconditional surrender, ending the war.
At 09:02 on 09/02/1945, the Allied and Japanese representatives signed the Instrument of Japanese surrender, officially ending World War II. At the conclusion of the 23-minute ceremony, General Douglas MacArthur spoke.
“It is my earnest hope — indeed the hope of all mankind — that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.”
Immediately after the surrender ceremony, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds and 1,200 Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft flew over Tokyo Bay at 1,500 feet as a sample of American air power.
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.