** World War II Japan surrender Allied reaction VJ-Day

World War II: Japanese Surrender--Allied Reaction (August 14, 1945)

Figure 1.--No one was more elated about VJ-Day than the men in the Pacific preparing for Operation Down Fall. Also the men in Europe and American preparing for redeployment to the Pacific. Many were sure that they would not survive the invasion of Japan. The odds against surviving bttles in Europe and the Pacific and the climtic invasion of the Home Island were not good. Only with VJ-Day were these men and their families sure that they had survived the war. And like this veteran could begin the post-War Baby Boom.

President Truman announced Japan’s surrender at a press conference at the White House (August 14). He informed the American people, “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.” Jubilant Americans immediately declared August 14 'Victory over Japan Day', or 'V-J Day'. This of course followed the precedent set in Europe. (May 8/9, 1945 when the Allies accepted NAZ Germany’s surrender had been christened 'Victory in Europe Day', or 'V-E Day'.) Pandemonium broke out in America and Britain with President Truman's anouncement. Memorable celebrations took place in major cities. Images from V-J Day celebrations around the United States and the world reflected the overwhelming sense of relief that the killing had ended as well as the exhilaration of victory after nearly 4 years of bloody fighting. There was dancing and showers of confetti and streamers, especially in America. One iconic photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine, a sailor passionately kisses a nurse in the midst of a crowd of people celebrating in New York City’s Times Square. It was anti-climatic in Europe to VE-Day. But the celebrations in America, Australia, and Britain were heart felt. A major difference was the areas liberated were not independent contries, except for China. The United States had been in the process of granting indepndence to the Philippines, but the other territories were colonies of either Japan or the European colonial powers. Only Korea immediately became indpendent. In the Pacific, the Allies began preparations for landing occupation forces. The American focus was on the Home Islands abd disarming the Japanese forces there. A major priority was given to prisoner of war recovery. This was a fairly simple matter on the Home Islands as soon as the occupation forces landed. But Allied POWs and civilian internees were beig held in countless camps throughout the Japanese Empire still controled by Japanese forces. Getting to them was a huge undertaking. No one was more relieved than the Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen. There was widespread belief among the American miltary already in the Pacific. American casualties in the Pacific were a small fraction of Japanese casualties. The death toll of Japnese Pacific garrisons often approached 100 percent because the Japanese refused to surrender. But still casualy rates in the most important actions were quite high. And as the Americans got closer and closer to the Home Islands, the fighting got more and more intnse. Iwo and Okinawa in 1945 were the two worst battles for the Americans. And Operation Downfall, the invasion of Kyūshū, would have been the bloodiest battle of all. Unlike most of the other Ameican Pacific assaults, it could not have been settled with a few divisions. The Japanese had cramed much of what they had left into the island defenses. And units standing down in occupied Germany were being moved to the Pacific. Many of the soldiers involved were convinced that they would not survive the War. As one GI in occupied Germany remarked. "I felt lucky to have survived the fighting with the Germans after D-Day. I lost a lot of pals. Going to Japan, the odds were just stacked high against me." Many GIs in Europe felt just like him.


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Created: 10:25 PM 8/21/2016
Last updated: 4:05 PM 8/28/2016