Japan’s unconditional surrender, 2 September 1945

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Seventy years ago the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr Mamoru Shigemitsu, signed an instrument of unconditional surrender to the Allied nations. It marked the end of the Second World War which had begun six years and one day earlier with Germany’s invasion of Poland.

The signing ceremony took place on board USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. News reports of the ceremony recall how HMS King George V., HMS Duke of York, USS South Dakota, USS Iowa were positioned in a line abreast on both sides of USS Missouri. Beyond these battleships was a great circle of destroyers, light cruisers, heavy cruisers and aircraft carriers including HMAS Shropshire, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Warramunga, HMAS Bataan and other Royal Australian Navy vessels.

Japanese Foreign Minister signing the surrender documents while Allied delegations look on

Mr Shigemitsu, Japanese Foreign Minister signing the instrument of surrender on behalf of Japan aboard USS Missouri.
Source: Australian War Memorial, collection, 040962.

As well as the Japanese Foreign Minister, the instrument of unconditional surrender was also signed by General Yoshijirō Umezu, Chief-of-Staff of the Japanese Army. General MacArthur then signed the instrument on behalf of all the United Nations at war with Japan before asking representatives of the nine Allied Powers to sign. General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces, signed as Australia’s representative. Seven other Australian delegates were present for the ceremony representing the AIF, RAN and RAAF.

Australias posing in uniform at Japanese surrender ceremony

Australian delegates at the Japanese surrender ceremony on board USS Missouri.
Source: Australian War Memorial, collection, 019136

After the surrender instrument had been signed by the nine United Nations delegates General MacArthur is recorded as saying

“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always”.

The ceremony concluded with General MacArthur saying that he would discharge his new responsibilities with justice and tolerance, but would take all necessary measures to ensure that the terms of surrender were fully, promptly and faithfully complied with.