SHAKO: 70th Anniversary of End of World War II
V-J Day Plus 70.
Seventy years ago today, September 2, 1945 the Second World War came to an end, after six and a half horrendous years that saw millions killed around the globe.
On the battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, representatives of the Imperial Japanese government signed the formal surrender documents just weeks after atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Defense Department website, DoD Live notes that in addition to the dignitaries from nine countries on the Missouri that day was the American flag flown in 1853 on the USS Powhatan by Commodore Matthew C. Perry (see in the background of the photo below). Perry flew the flag on the first of his two expeditions to Japan, which resulted in the Convention of Kanagawa, that forced the Japanese to open the country to American trade.
Perry’s successful mission was the first time American military might forced the Japanese Empire to do something it didn’t want to do. We wonder if the flag display in 1945 was meant to be ironic, spiteful or simply triumphant.
Five-star General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signed the document as the supreme commander in the Pacific Theater of War. Five-star Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz signed it as the chief U.S. representative. In addition to the Japanese delegation, the instrument of surrender was signed by representatives of China, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union (which declared war on Japan in the final days of the conflict.) Japan had invaded British, French and Dutch Far East colonial territories in 1941-42 and bombed northern Australia, as well as attacking the Philippines (then a U.S. Territory), Guam, Wake Island, Midway and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Japan went to war with China in 1937.
DoD Live also notes that while September 2, 1945, is known as the end of World War II, the state of war did not formally end until the treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 20, 1952.
Today Japan is one of the United States’ strongest partners in the Asia-Pacific region, although for many years local residents have sought the removal of U.S. bases in the home islands and Okinawa.
A commemoration of the 70th anniversary was held Wednesday at the USS Missouri, which now resides as a war memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the U.S. war with Japan began on December 7, 1941.
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
Entry filed under: Army, Asia-Pacific, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, Navy, News Developments, Photos, SHAKO. Tags: Army, Japanese Surrender, Marine Corps, Navy, Topics, USS Missouri, V-J Day, World War II.