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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY & HERITAGE COMMAND

Tokyo Bay: The Formal Surrender of the Empire of Japan, USS Missouri, 2 September 1945

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Extract, The Formal Surrender on the Empire of Japan, pages 93-97 of 11 February 1946 Report on Surrender and Occupation of Japan by Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas.

The formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Government, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, and all Japanese and Japanese-controlled armed forces wherever located, was signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) at 0908 on 2 September 1945. Looking down upon the ceremony, to present a reminder of an earlier occasion on which Japanese truculence had been humbled by American sea power was the American Flag which had flown over Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry's flagship USS Mississippi (Sidewheel Steamer) when he steamed into the Bay of Yedo (Tokyo Bay, as it was known after 1868) in 1853. An interesting sidelight concerning this 31-starred flag was the circumstance of its being framed in reverse, as a result of the obverse side's having suffered such decomposition from mildew that it had been necessary at some time in the flag's history to back that side with cotton batting.

Acting on behalf of Emperor Hirohito and of the Japanese Government, Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed first for Japan. The next to affix his signature to the surrender document was General Yosshijiro Umezu, Chief of Staff, Japanese Army Headquarters, who signed for the Imperial General Headquarters. Both Japanese emissaries, as well as the various Allied representatives, signed two documents - one for the Allies, and a duplicate to be retained by Japan.

As Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General of the Army MacArthur, attended by Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, defender of Bataan and Corregidor, and by Lieutenant General Arthur E. Percival, British commander at Singapore at the time of the Japanese conquest of that base, signed next. Both generals, recently released from a prison camp near Mukden, Manchuria, had been especially invited by General MacArthur to witness the surrender of Japan.

The Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers the called upon the other signatories in the following order:
For the United States - Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
For the Republic of China - General Hsu Yung-Chang.
For the United Kingdom - Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, GCB, KBE.
For the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - Lieutenant General Kuzma Nikolaevish Derevyanko.
For the Commonwealth of Australia - General Sir Thomas Blamey.
For the Dominion of Canada - Colonel Lawrence Moore-Cosgrave.
For the Provisional Government of the French Republic - Major General Jacques LeClerc (Count Philippe de Hauteclocque).
For the United Kingdom of the Netherlands - Admiral C. E. L. Helfrich.
For the Dominion of New Zealand - Air Vice Marshall L. M. Isitt, RNZAF.

The complete text of the surrender articles signed by the Japanese and Allied representatives was as follows:

"We, acting by command of and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, hereby accept the provisions in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China, and Great Britain 26 July 1945 at Potsdam, and subsequently to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which four powers are hereafter referred to as the Allied Powers.

"We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese Armed Forces and all Armed Forces under Japanese control wherever situated.

"We hereby command all Japanese forces wherever situated and the Japanese people to cease hostilities forthwith, to preserve and save from damage all ships, aircraft, and military and civil property, and to comply with all requirements which may be imposed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by agencies of the Japanese Government at his direction.

"We hereby command the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters to issue at once orders to the commanders of all Japanese forces and all forces under Japanese control wherever situated to surrender unconditionally themselves and all forces under their control.

"We hereby command all civil, military, and naval officials to obey and enforce all proclamations, orders, and directives deemed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to be proper to effectuate this surrender and issued by him or under his authority; and we direct all such officials to remain at their posts and to continue to perform their non-combatant duties unless specifically relieved by him or under his authority.

"We hereby undertake for the Emperor, the Japanese Government, and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration in good faith, and to issue whatever orders and take whatever action may be required by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by any other designated representative of the Allied Powers for the purpose of giving effect to that declaration.

"We hereby command the Japanese Imperial Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters at once to liberate all Allied Prisoners of War and civilian internees now under Japanese control and to provide for their protection, care, maintenance, and immediate transportation to places as directed.

"The authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the State shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender".

Immediately upon the signing of the surrender articles, the Supreme Commander ordered that the following proclamation be issued by Emperor Hirohito:

"Accepting the terms set forth in the declaration by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China on July 26, 1945, at Potsdam and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I have commanded the Japanese Imperial Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters to sign on my behalf the Instrument of Surrender presented by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and to issue General Orders to the military and naval forces in accordance with the direction of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. I command all my people forthwith to cease hostilities, to lay down their arms, and faithfully to carry out all provisions of the Instrument of Surrender and the General Orders issued by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters hereunder."

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Japanese received copies of General Order No. One, prepared previously by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and approved by the President of the United states, containing instructions for disarming Japan. The General Order, which was to be issued through the Japanese Government, called upon all commanders in Japan and abroad to lay down their arms, cease hostilities at once, and to remain in their present locations, and it required that all Japanese except the police force in the main islands of Japan be disarmed.

It further provided that the Allied Powers should be furnished lists of all land, air, and anti-aircraft units, aircraft, naval and merchant vessels in or out of commission or under construction; maps of minefields and all other obstacles to movement by land, sea, or air should be provided; locations and descriptions of all military installations and establishments; and locations of all camps and other places of detention of United Nations prisoners of war and civilian internees. Other sections of the General Order stressed that all military and naval installations were to be kept intact, as well as all industrial establishments engaged in war work.

To implement the formal instrument of surrender, General Order No. 1 specified that immediate contact be made by each Japanese commander with the indicated Allied commander, or his designated representative, for each of the six surrender regions into which the Japanese area of influence was divided. These regions and the commanders to whom the surrenders would be tendered were as follows:

(a) The senior Japanese commanders and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces within China (excluding Manchuria), Formosa, and French Indo-China north of 16 degrees North, would surrender to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek.

(b) The senior Japanese commanders and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces in the Japanese mandated islands, Ryukyus, Bonins, and other Pacific Islands were to surrender to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

(c) The Imperial General Headquarters, its senior commanders, and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces in the main islands of Japan, minor islands adjacent thereto, Korea south of 38 degrees North, and the Philippines should surrender to CinCAFPac.

(d) The senior Japanese commanders and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces within Manchuria, Korea north of 38 degrees North, Karafuto, and the Kurile Islands would surrender to the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in the Far East.

(e) The senior Japanese commanders of all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces within the Andamans, Nicobars, Burma, Thailand, French Indo-China (south of 16 degrees North), Malaya, Sumatra, Java, the Lesser Sundas (including Bali, Lombok, and Timor), Boeroe, Ceram, Ambon, Kai, Aroe, Tanimbar (and islands in the Arafura Sea), Celebes, the Halmaheras, and Dutch New Guinea would surrender to the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia Command, Lord Louis Mountbatten.

(f) The senior Japanese Commanders and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces within Borneo, British New Guinea, the Bismarcks, and the Solomons would surrender to the Commander-in- Chief, Australian Military Forces, General Sir Thomas Blamey.

A subsequent readjustment, made at the request of the British Chiefs of staff led to the following procedures being adopted in the Japanese capitulation of Ocean and Nauru Islands:

At Ocean, the Australian Commander concerned in accepting the surrender signed once on behalf of the theater commander (Cincpac-Cincpoa) and a second time on behalf of the United Kingdom, as the territorial authority. At Nauru, he signed once on behalf of the theater commander (Cincpac-Cincpoa) and again on behalf of Australia, the territorial authority.

The question of the Admiralty islands' being retained by the United States because of their strategic importance was also the subject for an exchange of views by the governments of the United States and of Australia, the nation to which the Admiralties had been mandated after World War I. The Prime Minister of Australia urged that control of all Australian-mandated territories should revert to that country as soon as possible, now that the requirements of war no longer made their retention by the United States a military necessity.

The American view, that security against future Japanese aggression was of prime importance, prevailed, however-at least for the time being - with the result that Manus Island (in the Admiralty Group), with its superb Seeadler Harbor, as well as Emirau and St. Matthias Islands (in the St. Matthias Group), and the Ninigo Group (to the west of the Admiralties), all of which had been in the Philippine Sea Frontier, were added as bases under Commander Marianas, in the Pacific Ocean Areas, during the last week of September. A Naval Operating Base was established at Manus, while Emirau, which had been rolled up as an air base several months earlier, was retained as an emergency landing stripe.

Simultaneously, preparations continued for the roll-up of American bases in South pacific and Southwest Pacific islands being returned to British, French, Australian, and Dutch sovereignty. It was evident that by 15 October the shore establishments in the South Pacific would be sufficiently rolled up to permit the closing of the headquarters on Noumea and the establishment aboard USS Vincennes (CL-64) of mobile headquarters which would enable ComSoPac to move with greater freedom to the various ports in which the roll-up was being accomplished.

At the same time, USS Birmingham (CL-62) was assigned to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Australia-New Guinea (a command established on 15 August, 1945, under Commander SEVENTH Fleet) to facilitate his visiting of the ports in the roll-up of the area was to be accomplished.

Somewhat earlier, on 27 August, the War Department had decided to maintain token garrisons on the South Pacific islands of Aitutaki and Penryhn (in the Cook Islands), pending the completion of negotiations with the government of New Zealand by the American State Department.

Simultaneously with the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan on 2 September, the title of Commander Allied Naval Forces Southwest Pacific Area was abolished, and all naval forces thereunder, except United States vessels, passed to British Control.

On 17 September, Supreme Allied Headquarters shifted to Tokyo from Yokohama. The Supreme Commander, his aides, and other high-ranking officials established themselves in the American Embassy, while headquarters officials were located in the lavish, seven-story Dai-Ichi Hotel and the Mutual Insurance building facing a section of the moat around the Emperor's Palace. Six hundred officers and 1,400 enlisted men moved into Tokyo with headquarters. The rear echelon of general headquarters remained in Manila. The EIGHTH Army took over Yokohama buildings formerly occupied by supreme Headquarters.

The same day, a British Flag was formally hoisted over the British Embassy by a Marine guard from the cruiser HMS Newfoundland relieving the Marine guard from the battleship HMS King George V which had been on duty at the Embassy since 8 September.

In a move by premier Higashi-Kuni to purge from his cabinet all members who might not prove acceptable to the Supreme Commander, Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, who had signed the surrender document for the Imperial Japanese Government aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63), was asked, on 18 September, to resign. He was replaced the same day by Shigeru Yoshida, a career diplomat well known for his consistent stand against Japanese aggression. Yoshida was reported to have opposed the war from the start, and to have been jailed for a month early in 1945 because of his persistent efforts to bring about peace through diplomatic channels. Premier Higashi-Kuni stated that he made the appointment because "his record is free of any suspicion of actively supporting the war."

The same week, Taketora Ogata was removed as President of the Board of Information and Minister without Portfolio, after he had been ordered arrested by the Supreme Commander as one of the leaders of the notorious Black Dragon Society. His place was taken by Tatsuo Kawai. Ogata retained his post as Chief Cabinet Secretary, however.



Source: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, Report of Surrender and Occupation of Japan, Ser: 0395 of 11 February 1946, Box 255, World War II Command File, Operational Archives Branch, Naval History & Heritage Command, Washington DC.