September 2 is officially designated as the formal end of World War II by many historians. Although the end of the fighting in different theaters came on various days, September 2, 1945, is the day Japan formally surrendered on the deck aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. General Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender on the part of the Allies and other counitres that were enemies of Japan.
The formal document signed by Japanese officials was called The Japanese Instrument of Surrender. The short ceremony (only 23 minutes) was broadcast by radio throughout the world. Although September 2 was the day the formal treaty was signed, many historians choose August 15 as the formal date for the end of the war. It was on August 15 that Japan’s ruler, Emperor Hirohito, officially accepted the terms of surrender stated in The Potsdam Declaration, and the news was broadcast by radio.
In his speech during the September 2 ceremony, General MacArthur stated a wish for humanity to look differently at human relationships and avoid future wars. He said, in part:
“The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence* and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
*Rebirth, reawakening, change of belief
Although MacArthur was often criticized for these ideas being naive and idealistic, they are still a a hallmark of some pacifist groups. Read his full speech here.
Between 50- 60 million people died during the war. This figure is estimated to be about 2% of the world’s total population at the time. The country losing the most people was Russia, at 29 million, followed by Poland and Germany. The United States lost about 413 servicemen and women.
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