The Japanese signed the terms of surrender in the American battleship Missouri early yesterday and the war is now officially over. The full occupation of Japan, however, is only just beginning.
Thirty minutes after the surrender document had been signed yesterday an Allied convoy of 42 ships sailed into Tokio [sic] Bay and began unloading troops. By nightfall the United States Eighth Army had landed 13,000 men, swelling the occupation forces to beyond 35,000. The army of occupation will grow to about 500.000, when it will dominate the whole Japanese homeland. At present the forces are awaiting General MacArthur’s word to march into Tokio.
Stalin, in a broadcast yesterday, declared that with the defeat of Japan the Soviet Union would regain Southern Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. This, he said, would wipe out the great stain of Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904.
On board the USS Missouri, Tokio Bay, September 2
World peace was restored at eighteen minutes past nine this morning, Tokio time (1 18 am BST), when General MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific, pronounced the Japanese surrender proceedings closed. Signature of the surrender documents by Japanese and Allied representatives was completed in eighteen minutes. Thus ended the second world war almost six years to the day after it began with the German attack on Poland.
Winding up the solemn proceedings, General MacArthur said:
The guns are silent, a great tragedy has ended, a great victory has been won, the skies no longer rain death, the seas bear only commerce, men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight, the entire world lives quietly at peace.
The holy mission has been completed, and in reporting this to you the people, I speak for thousands of silent lips for ever stilled among jungles and beaches and in deep waters of the Pacific which marked the war. I speak for the unnamed brave millions who are homeward bound to take up the challenge of that future which they did so much to salvage from the brink of disaster. A new era is upon us.
“Our last chance”
After the signing General MacArthur said that all past attempts to prevent and settle international disputes had failed, leaving only the crucible of war. “The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, doom will be at our door.”
The dull haze that hung over Tokio Bay throughout the morning was relieved momentarily when the sun broke through just as the ceremony was drawing to a close. First to sign were Mamoru Shigemitsu,the Japanese Foreign Minister, representing the Japanese Government and General Yoshijiro Umezo, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army, representing the Imperial General Staff. Then General MacArthur signed and, standing before a battery of microphones, called in turn on the Allied representatives to affix their signatures.
A Japanese objection
After the ceremony had been concluded, however, the Japanese, examining their copy of the signed surrender document, discovered that one of the Allied signatories had affixed his name one space too low and that the remaining signatures were out of their proper spaces. They refused to take the copy in this condition. After a hurried consultation General MacArthur’s Chief of Staff, General Sutherland, corrected the document to the satisfaction of the Japanese.
Then the Japanese representatives filed down the gangway to the piping of the bosun’s whistle and boarded an American destroyer for the ten-mile trip to shore.
This is an edited extract.