Japanese Instrument of Surrender
The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the written agreement that enabled the surrender of the Empire of Japan, marking the end of World War II. It was signed by representatives from the Empire of Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dominion of New Zealand on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
The date is sometimes known as Victory over Japan Day, although that designation is more frequently used to refer to the date of Emperor Hirohito's Gyokuon-hōsō (Imperial Rescript of Surrender), the radio broadcast announcement of the acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration at noon Japan Standard Time on August 15.
The ceremony aboard the deck of the Missouri lasted twenty-three minutes and was broadcast throughout the world. The instrument was first signed by the Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu "By Command and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Government" (9:04 a.m.). Then General Yoshijirō Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, "By Command and on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters" signed (9:06 a.m.).
After MacArthur's signature as Supreme Commander, the following representatives signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of each of the Allied Powers:
- Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz for the United States (9:12 a.m.).
- General Hsu Yung-Ch'ang for the Republic of China (9:13 a.m.).
- Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser for the United Kingdom (9:14 a.m.).
- Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko for the Soviet Union (9:16 a.m.).
- General Sir Thomas Blamey for Australia (9:17 a.m.).
- Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave for Canada (9:18 a.m.).
- Général d'Armée Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque for France (9:20 a.m.).
- Lieutenant Admiral C.E.L. Helfrich for the Netherlands (9:21 a.m.).
- Air Vice-Marshal Leonard M. Isitt for New Zealand (9:22 a.m.).
On September 6, Colonel Bernard Theilen took the document and an imperial rescript to Washington, D.C., and presented them to President Harry S. Truman in a formal White House ceremony the following day. The documents were then exhibited at the National Archives.
As witnesses, American General Jonathan Wainwright, who had surrendered the Philippines, and British Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, who had surrendered Singapore, received two of the six pens they used to sign the instrument. Another pen went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and one to MacArthur's aide. All of the pens used by MacArthur were black, except the last which was plum colored and went to his wife. A replica of it, along with copies of the instrument of surrender, is in a case on the Missouri by the plaque marking the signing spot.
Flags at the ceremony
The deck of the Missouri was furnished with two American flags. A commonly heard story is that one of the flags had flown over the White House on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. However, Captain Stuart Murray of the Missouri explained:
"At eight o’clock we had hoisted a clean set of colors at the mainmast and a clean Union Jack at the bow as we were at anchor, and I would like to add that these were just regular ship’s flags, GI issue, that we’d pulled out of the spares, nothing special about them, and they had never been used anywhere so far as we know, at least they were clean and we had probably gotten them in Guam in May. So there was nothing special about them. Some of the articles in the history say this was the same flag that was flown on the White House or the National Capitol on 7 December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and at Casablanca, and so forth, also MacArthur took it up to Tokyo and flew it over his headquarters there. The only thing I can say is they were hard up for baloney, because it was nothing like that. It was just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag and a Union Jack. We turned them both in to the Naval Academy Museum when we got back to the East Coast in October.
"The only special flag that was there was a flag which Commodore Perry had flown on his ship out in that same location 82 years before [sic: the actual number of years was 92]. It was flown out in its glass case from the Naval Academy Museum. An officer messenger brought it out. We put this hanging over the door of my cabin, facing forward, on the surrender deck so that everyone on the surrender deck could see it."
That special flag on the veranda deck of the Missouri had been flown from Commodore Matthew Perry's flagship in 1853–1854 when he led the US Navy's Far East Squadron into Tokyo Bay to force the opening of Japan's ports to foreign trade. MacArthur was a direct descendant of the New England Perry family and cousin of Commodore Matthew Perry.
Photographs of the signing ceremony show that this flag is displayed backward — reverse side showing (stars in the upper right corner). The reason being is that flags being shown on the right of an object plane, ship, or person are set to have the stars on the upper right corner. The reason for that is that it looks like it is heading into battle; as if it was attached to a pole and someone was carrying it and the wind blowing it so flag was unfurled and flying. If it had the stars in the upper left corner while being displayed on the right side of the object it would look like it was going away from such battle. The cloth of the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum directed that a protective backing be sewn on it, leaving its "wrong side" visible; and this was how Perry's 31-star flag was presented on this unique occasion.
A replica of this historic flag can be seen today on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This replica is also placed in the same location on the bulkhead of the veranda deck where it had been initially mounted on the morning of September 2, 1945 by Chief Carpenter Fred Miletich. The original flag is still on display at the Naval Academy Museum, as is the table and tablecloth upon which the instrument of surrender was signed, and the original bronze plaque marking the location of the signing (which was replaced by two replicas in 1990).
Differences between versions
The Japanese copy of the treaty varied from the Allied in the following ways:
- The Allied copy was presented in leather and gold lining with both countries' seals printed on the front, whereas the Japanese copy was bound in rough canvas with no seals on the front.
- The Canadian representative, Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, signed below his line instead of above it on the Japanese copy, resulting in everyone after him to sign one line below the intended one. This was attributed to Col. Cosgrave being blind in one eye, as he lost its sight during World War I. When the discrepancy was pointed out to General Sutherland, he crossed-out the pre-printed name titles of the Allied nations and rewrote by hand the titles in their correct relative positions. This alteration was initially not acceptable to the Japanese, in order to make it so, Sutherland then initialed (as an abbreviated signature) each alteration; and the Japanese representatives did not demur further.
- Cairo Declaration (1943)
- Potsdam Declaration (July 1945)
- General Order No. 1 (Aug. 1945)
- Surrender of Japan
- Victory over Japan Day
- Broom, Jack. "Memories on Board Battleship," Seattle Times. May 21, 1998.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Umezu signing.
- Prepared by the War Department. Approved by President Truman (1945). Japanese Instrument of Surrender [scan] .
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Nimitz signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Hsu Yung-Ch'ang signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Fisher signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Derevyanko signing.
- The Soviet Union had only declared war on Japan a month earlier, after the Hiroshima bombing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Blamey about to sign.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Cosgrave signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Leclerc signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Helfrich signing.
- Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Isitt signing.
- Tsustsumi, Cheryl Lee. "Hawii's Back Yard: Mighty Mo memorial re-creates a powerful history," Star-Bulletin (Honolulu). August 26, 2007.
- Ellwand, Geoff. "Making a mess of history," CBC News. April 27, 2006; "... Peace Be Now Restored," Time. September 10, 1945.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Surrender of Japan, 2 September 1945|
- National Archives & Records Administration Featured Document
- USS Missouri's Captain Stuart Murray interviewed about the surrender ceremony
- Alsos Digital Library bibliography of references on Japan's surrender
- Instrument of Surrender (full text)
- MaritimeQuest Japanese Surrender Pages
- Procedure for Assembling on Veranda Deck
- Admiral Haley's Flag