/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on August 12, 2009 at 5:25 am

Victory in Japan Ends World War II – V-J Day..or is it?

national-world-war-II-memorial in Washington DC World War II was the most widespread war in history, involving 100 million military personnel from 58 allied countries and 10 Axis countries. 

The war started in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland and ended on August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered.

In the six years, an estimated 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians died as a result of the war across Europe, Asia, Africa and most of the high seas. 

But this week, we commemorate “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan or “V-P Day”, Victory in the Pacific), which is actually two different dates.

The first dae is August 15, 1945, the day the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender was communicated to the world. The second “V-J” date, September 2, 1945, was two weeks later when Japan officially signed the formal surrender in Tokyo Bay, aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri.

At noon on August 15th, Japanese radio broadcast for the first time in history, the voice of Japan’s emperor, Imperial Majesty Hirohito. The prerecorded message announcing the nation’s surrender shocked both the population and the Japanese military.

The day before the surrender was communicated, heavy debate and infighting among the Japanese cabinet, along with an attempted coup by the Japanese Army almost kept the war raging on. 

Enola Gay at the Air & Space - Udvar-Hazy Center Surrender of Japan - USS Missouri -1945

But thinking the Americans had a stockpile of over 100 atomic bombs, the Japanese believed another atomic bomb attack, this time on Tokyo, was imminent.  While the American did not have other atomic bombs ready, two more may have been ready within the weeks to come.

The surrender forced Japanese military officers to disobey their training of never to surrender.  Virtually all didlay down their arms, except some soldiers located on remote islands that were cut off from communications and never learned of the surrender. 

The most notable soldier not to surrender, Army Second Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, made world headlines in 1974 when he finally emerged from jungles of a Philippine Island 30 years after the end of the war. He was convinced that the war was still being fought.

On September 2, 1945, the surrender treaty was signed by two members of the Japanese government and 9 Allied representatives including General Douglas McArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, and Admiral Chester W. Nimitx, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet.

Around Washington, DC, there are numerous World War II memorials dedicated to the soldiers, victims and survivors of World War II, along with some amazing collections of war artifacts.

Some of the the most popular memorials, monuments and museums with World War II exhibits or memorials include:

Images – WW-II Memorial, Enola Gay and National Firearm Museum – personal collection  ©2008-09, Jon Rochetti, USS Missouri - public domain

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