Gyokuon-hōsō

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The Gyokuon-hōsō record inside the NHK Museum of Broadcasting.

The Gyokuon-hōsō (玉音放送?), lit. "Jewel Voice Broadcast", was the radio broadcast in which Japanese Emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War (大東亜戦争終結ノ詔書 Daitōa-sensō-shūketsu-no-shōsho?), announcing to the Japanese people that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military at the end of World War II. This speech was broadcast at noon Japan standard time on August 15, 1945 after the Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the declaration of war against Japan by the Soviet Union.

The speech was probably the first time that an Emperor of Japan had spoken (albeit via a phonograph record) to the common people. It was delivered in the formal, classical Japanese that few ordinary people could easily understand. It made no direct reference to a surrender of Japan, instead stating that the government had been instructed to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration fully. This created confusion in the minds of many listeners who were not sure if Japan had surrendered. The poor audio quality of the radio broadcast, as well as the formal courtly language in which the speech was composed, worsened the confusion. A digitally remastered version of the broadcast was released on 1 August 2015.

Broadcast[edit]

The speech was not broadcast directly, but was replayed from a phonograph recording made in the Tokyo Imperial Palace on either August 13 or 14, 1945. Many elements of the Imperial Japanese Army were extremely opposed to the idea that Hirohito was going to end the war, as they believed that this was dishonourable. Consequently, as many as one thousand officers raided the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14 to destroy the recording. The rebels were confused by the layout of the Imperial palace and were unable to find the recording, which had been hidden in a pile of documents. The recording was successfully smuggled out of the palace in a laundry basket of women's underwear and broadcast the following day, although another attempt was made to stop it from being played at the radio station.[1][2]

To ease the anticipated confusion, at the conclusion of the speech a radio announcer clarified that the Emperor's message did mean that Japan was surrendering. According to French journalist Robert Guillain, who was living in Tokyo at the time, upon the announcement's conclusion, most Japanese retreated into their homes or places of business for several hours to quietly absorb and contemplate the significance of the announcement.[3]

After the recording was played, the record used for playing it disappeared in the post-surrender chaos, but a radio technician had secretly made a copy, which was given to Occupation authorities and is the source of all recordings available today. The original record was later recovered but has never again been played.[4]

Content[edit]


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The rescript was translated into English by Tadaichi Hirakawa and was broadcast to overseas Allies at the same time.[citation needed]

The main subject of the speech was to announce the surrender of Japan, that Hirohito "ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration."

In the speech, Hirohito notes that the war is "Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia […]", but "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage".

He then cites "Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives", referring to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred days before. He, however, never mentioned the Soviet invasion of Manchuria that had also begun a few days before. Finally, and most famously, he says: "However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable."

Full text[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Hirohito’s “Jewel Voice Broadcast”". The Air Force Association. August 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Most Influential Wartime Speeches No. 4 Emperor Hirohito 1945". RealClearWorld. November 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ Guillain, Robert (1982). I Saw Tokyo Burning: An Eyewitness Narrative from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima. Jove Publications. ISBN 978-0-86721-223-5. 
  4. ^ 2007年(平成19年)9月18日放送 『鶴瓶のニッポン武勇伝 言わずに死ねるかっ!!我が家のスゴイ人GP』

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