Monday, August 14, 2006

On This Day In History

As I type this, the day is August 15th and exactly sixty-one years ago something happened that was both miraculous and heart braking at the same time. It was today, August 15th, 1945 that Japan officially agreed to an unconditional surrender and ended World War II. For almost everyone in the world, this was good news and rightly so but for Japan, it was devastating.

Here, people were told that they must turn on their radios and listen at 12pm, fifteen minutes from now actually, and that there would be an important message. They were going to hear Emperor Hirohito speak. This was something that was a first in the history of Japan, for the average Japanese person, they had never heard the Emperor's voice. When the broadcast started, most people were in awe of the fact they were hearing the Emperor himself, then he delivered the message that he had agreed to the Potsdam Declaration and that Japan was going to unconditionally surrender to the Allied forces. The entire world heard him say these words and celebrations erupted around the globe. In Japan, people wept. It was heart braking for them to have heard their Emperor for the first time and for him to tell them that they were to stop fighting, that they were beaten. Hirohito's speech actually ran a bit longer than what most of the world heard that day. After, he announced the surrender, most of the Allied radios tuned out, but in Japan he had more important instructions for the people. Hirohito told the people of Japan that it was now their duty to the country to cooperate fully with Allied forces. His words were laying the groundwork for the peaceful occupation of Japan. The Japanese remember one part of the speech in particular to this day, "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."

Hirohito had probably recorded the message a day or two earlier and records were cut and shipped throughout the world, the message became known in English as the "Jeweled Voice Broadcast".

The air raid siren just sounded here, letting everyone know that it is now noon and as soon as the siren ended, big fireworks started going off! In Tokyo, Prime Minister Koizumi visited Yasukuni shrine to remember the nation's war dead. This will not make the Chinese or the Koreans happy but I like the fact that he does it. Yes, Japan did some horrible things in WWII but that does not make those that died any less brave for sacrificing themselves for their country and what they believed in. China and Korea both need to understand that what happened, took place more that sixty years ago and all their doing now is annoying a younger generation of Japanese that were not even born yet when the atrocities were committed.

In closing this post, I am going to leave everyone with some pictures. We have all seen the celebrations that took place in New York when the war ended, sailors lifting up women and kissing them, confetti raining down on everyone, the works. Now, I will show you what it was like here in Japan. All of these pictures were taken as the people in the shots were listening to the Emperor tell them they they were surrendering and that the war was over. It was a less-jubilant atmosphere to say the least.


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