Jewel Voice Broadcast

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Jewel Voice Broadcast
The Gyokuon-hōsō record inside the NHK Museum of Broadcasting.
Other names Gyokuon-hōsō, 玉音放送
Running time 12:00 pm–12:04 pm
Country Empire of Japan
Language(s) Classical Japanese
Hosted by Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa 昭和天皇 Shōwa-tennō)
Air dates August 15, 1945 (1945-08-15) to August 15, 1945 (1945-08-15)

The Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送 Gyokuon-hōsō?) was the radio broadcast in which Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa 昭和天皇 Shōwa-tennō) 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 Soviet invasion of Manchuria.

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 whether 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 30 June 2015.


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]


The rescript was translated into English by Tadaichi Hirakawa (ja) and was broadcast to overseas Allies at the same time. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recorded the broadcast, and its entire text appeared in The New York Times.[5]

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, Republic of China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration."[citation needed]

In the speech, Hirohito noted that the war arose out of "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 stated, "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, did not mention the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and other Japanese-held territories that had also begun a few days before. Finally, and most famously, he said: "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 insufferable."

Full text[edit]

Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War4.jpgImperial Rescript on the Termination of the War3.jpgImperial Rescript on the Termination of the War2.jpgImperial Rescript on the Termination of the War1.jpg
Original manuscript of the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War,

written vertically in columns going from top to bottom and ordered from right to left, with the Privy Seal imprinted

Single page print of the Rescript, again with the Privy Seal

Media releases[edit]

  • Komori, Yōichi (August 2003). 天皇の玉音放送 [The Emperor's Jewel Voice Broadcast] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Gogatsu Shobō. ISBN 9784772703949. Book includes a CD. 
  • Kawakami, Kazuhisa (30 June 2015). 昭和天皇 玉音放送 [Shōwa Emperor Jewel Voice Broadcast] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Asa Shuppan. ISBN 9784860637996. Book includes a CD. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hirohito's "Jewel Voice Broadcast"". The Air Force Association. August 2012. Archived from the original on September 10, 2013. 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』
  5. ^ "Text of Hirohito's Radio Rescript", The New York Times, p. 3, 15 August 1945, retrieved 8 August 2015 
  6. ^ "Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender". 1945. 

External links[edit]