Tag Archives: Hirohito

Japan Surrenders to End World War II

On Sunday, September 2, 1945, the Japanese Government formally surrendered on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri. The United States was represented by General Douglas MacArthur, while the Japanese government was represented by Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, and their military was represented by General Yoshijiro Umezu.

Over the final months of World War II, President Truman decided to follow Roosevelt’s plan for reclaiming the defeated Axis Powers, which included sending General Douglas MacArthur to Japan to oversee all developments. This was a difficult decision for Truman, because he had a deep personal dislike for MacArthur. However, Truman believed MacArthur’s selection to be the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP) of Japan would be widely accepted in the US, due to his popularity. Therefore, with MacArthur in place, he took a hands-off approach regarding decisions in Japan. The real story was that Truman had as much as he could handle with Europe and the Soviet Union. This action was paramount, as one of Truman’s most important accomplishments was keeping the Soviet Communists out of Japan, which was an everlasting benefit to Japan and the world.Silhouette fedora

At the Potsdam Conference, a declaration was signed by President Truman, British Prime Minister Churchill and Chinese President Chiang, below are some of the key points that Japan had to accept:

  • “The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.
  • “There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.
  • “Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.
  • “The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.
  • “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.
  • “Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese, participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.
  • “The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.
  • “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all.”

This quotation come from the Potsdam Conference Declaration and is referenced from the website  http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/war.term/093_03.html

These terms were acknowledged as accepted by the Emperor on behalf of the Japanese Government on August 14, 1945.

On August 30, MacArthur had arrived in Tokyo to begin to set up his occupation staff. MacArthur believed he was an not expert on Japan, so one of the first appointments MacArthur made was Frank Schuler, due to his long-standing knowledge of Japan. Schuler had worked in the U.S. Embassy before World War II, and then during the war, he served as a spy in the country. He probably had as much working knowledge of the Japanese as anyone on MacArthur’s staff. However, MacArthur relied heavily upon the advice of his Chief of Intelligence, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who helped design the occupation plan, with the centerpiece of keeping the emperor in place.

Also on MacArthur’s team were Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger and Brigadier General Courtney Whitney. Whitney was a lawyer and prepared most of the documentation for MacArthur to execute. Eichelberger was to be in charge of the Eighth Army and supervise the non-political occupation of Japan. MacArthur did not allow the Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to be involved in his operation; Willoughby was a one-man intelligence team. Although he was knowledgeable of the military conflict, he was not very well connected, thus he could not provide valuable intelligence. An example of this poor intelligence, MacArthur believed that Hirohito was so removed from society that he never used a telephone or delivered a public speech. It is my opinion that MacArthur never wanted the involvement of the Army’s OSS, and this was due to infiltration of communists within the highest levels of the OSS organization, and MacArthur—a control freak—could not control these individuals.MacArthur and Hirohito

The historic meeting between Hirohito and MacArthur came on the morning of September 27. Hirohito was dressed in striped trousers and a morning coat when he reluctantly entered reception room at the refurbished American Embassy. He handed his top hat to an aide and entered General Douglas MacArthur’s office. It was agreed that he should act submissive and humble. Accepting responsibility for the war, he offered to abdicate or do whatever else was necessary, which he did. Yet MacArthur informed him that the United States wanted him to stay in power. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, it was the image of General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito standing side by side during their historic first meeting. In it, a casually dressed MacArthur towers over the stiff, formally attired emperor. For millions of Japanese, it brought home in an entirely new way the notion that they had lost the war. Just that day, Hirohito had spent almost three hours discussing his own presentation to MacArthur. MacArthur quickly became very popular with the Japanese people, because the emperor answered to him. Clearly, that picture contributed to the situation.

At the point of surrender, it was up to the Emperor Hirohito and his advisers to keep as much of their Empire as possible, including its political and economic structure. Hirohito believed that, up until the surrender of Germany, they could negotiate to keep the Philippines. On the day, Japan officially surrendered to the United States, the Diet, the Japanese governing body, unofficially ordered that $10 billion US dollars in goods, including banknotes, must be given to key diplomats and elites (essentially their Zabatsu families), to hide from the United States’ occupying force. Paramount to all of their efforts was protection of the emperor’s family and keeping the war-crime prosecution to a minimum. Concurrently, Secretary of War Stimson, Japanese Ambassador Grew, General MacArthur, and General Marshall had to design a plan to keep the emperor, in order to enable the rapid evolution of the Japanese people and their economy. However, they agreed it must be done in such a way as to give Hirohito concern for his future. It is important to note that the United States position was counter to that of their Allies (the British and Australians), who believe that all Japanese who were responsible for the war, including Hirohito, should be punished. One of MacArthur’s main objectives was a peaceful occupation, as they had real concerns about the safety of the US occupying force.WP_20150308_001

On September 3, 1945, a historical event not readily discussed occurred when Yamashita surrendered in the mountains north of Baguio, Luzon, Philippines, under orders from the Japanese government. General Major A.S. “Jack” Kenworthy of the military police made the official arrest of Yamashita, furnished the security and an escort for him as he went down from Baguio to New Bilibid Prison. While this seems like a mere afterthought on the surface, there is much hidden in the surrender of the last full Japanese army unit. In the time period between the dropping of the two atomic bombs and the official surrender, the Japanese Golden Lily team had substantial amounts of gold still to be buried in the Philippines. It was up to Yamashita to continue his guerilla activity as long as possible, so that the gold could be buried. It’s important to note that the final burial was achieved just before the Japanese government advised Yamashita he could surrender.

This year, on the seventieth anniversary of such a monumental event, the news cycle was complete quiet. Why is that? Do you believe, as I do, that these largely unknown historic truths about the Japanese surrender should be discussed openly, even taught in our universities as part of our world’s history? Ask a friend if they’re aware of these facts. If not, I encourage you to share this essay with them. Don’t let our history be lost, like the stolen war gold still hidden somewhere in the mountains of the Philippines.

The Seventieth Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb

August 6, 2015, is the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, which occurred per the order of United States President Harry S. Truman. Japan refused to surrender, so a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. World War II ended with that second bomb.

What you’ve just read is what we were taught in school and what we saw on television. The truth, however, is far from being that simple, and the decision-making process was much more stressful than the public was led to believe.Silhouette fedora

Over the past three years, I have been researching for my forthcoming novel about the Soviets spying on the Atomic Bomb Project at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. I’ve discovered that few people in the world know the whole story behind the use of the atomic bombs and the behind-the-scenes activities. Today, seventy years later, the United States remains the only country in the history of the world to use atomic weapons. I venture to say that those people believing the use weapons of mass destruction was wrong, would quickly change their minds, if they knew the whole truth.

In advance of the release of my fact-based novel (which by definition is fictional), I’d like to share with you a few snippets of absolute truth that will shed a brief ray of light on the jarring decision making process.

Truman wanted to drop the atomic bomb on a purely military target; however, few valuable targets remained as a result of the fire-bombing campaign. The fire-bomb raids inflicted heavier casualties than either of either atomic bombs, but it created the psychological effect of a single weapon of such explosive force.

The wheels on this locomotion of destruction began five months earlier in April of 1945. On the morning of April 12th, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made one last effort to smooth out his delicate relationship with Stalin, but that afternoon, Roosevelt died, and Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. Up to that point, Truman had rarely seen Roosevelt and was not fully briefed on the War, or on the pending problems with the Soviet Union, or—more importantly—on the Manhattan Project. Truman thus required full briefing as rapidly as possible.

April also brought the invasion of Okinawa, an island on Japan’s doorstep. After two months of bloody land fighting, the stage was set for invasion of Japan’s main islands.

Hirohito believed that the US would ultimately invade mainland Japan, in order to finish off his country. Hirohito planned to detonate two dirty bombs over MacArthur’s mainland invasion fleet; therefore, he prepared a defense plan that would inflict terrible loss on the US army. At this point, he believed the US would negotiate a conditional surrender of Japan.

Japan had purchased uranium from Germany, which was being shipped in a German submarine that left Norway for Japan on April 15, 1945. When Germany surrendered on May 14th, the submarine turned and went to New Hampshire, where it surrendered all of its raw materials and data. Japan believed that, if they had surrendered first, they might have had a better political position for conditional submission. But now the US was ready to finish off Japan and would take nothing less than unconditional surrender. Despite the destruction of most of Japan’s war industry, on June 9, Japanese Premier Suzuki announced that Japan would fight to the very end, rather than accept unconditional surrender.

At the Potsdam Conference, principal allies the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain met to discuss, among other things, ending the war. The chief representatives were President Truman, Premier Stalin, former Prime Minister Churchill, and newly elected Prime Minister Clement Attlee. While there, they formulated the invasion plan for Japan. Part of the invading army would include US Troops, plus Russian and Chinese troops. Naturally, this terrified the Japanese, who feared the ruthlessness of the the Russians and the Chinese, whom they had treated horrifically.

Truman was still at the Potsdam Conference when he received results of the atomic bomb test. He talked at length about the bomb with Churchill and General Eisenhower. Truman did not particular trust nor like Stalin and only mentioned that he had a new weapon that was very destructive. Stalin acted uninterested and replied that he hoped it would finish off the Japanese. My research shows that Stalin was already aware of process by his spies in New York and Los Alamos of the results of the test.

On August 8, Japan tried to persuade the Soviets to mediate surrender negotiations. Soviet Diplomat Molotov canceled the meeting with the Japanese. Because of this, President Truman believed he must move fast, with the likelihood of the Soviets entering the Pacific War to spread Communism. Thus, Hoover decided to drop the second bomb.

August 9th, Stalin announced that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan. Simultaneously, the Soviet forces invaded Manchuria and North Korea. That same night, Hirohito met with key staff members to discuss viable options. The morning of August 10, a diplomatic note was sent to Sweden and Switzerland, declaring Japanese surrender under one condition: Hirohito must remain in power.

What was unknown to but a select few US personnel was that the next atomic bomb would not be ready until about August 21st. Secretary of State George Marshall and General Leslie Groves believed two bombs would move the Japanese to surrender. On August 13, Major General John Hull telephoned an officer at The Manhattan Project on behalf of General Marshall, saying that the chief of staff wanted all future bombs reserved for tactical use in Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan. The Manhattan Project officer estimated that seven bombs would be ready. Seven!

At noon on August 14, in Washington, DC, President Truman met with the Duke of Windsor and British Ambassador John Balfour and told them that the latest Japanese message indicated no acceptance of the surrender terms. He had no alternative but to order the dropping of an atomic bomb on Tokyo. Fortunately, at 4:05 p.m. local time, he learned that the Japanese had indeed surrendered.

On August 14, Emperor Hirohito announced to the people of Japan that they had accepted the Allies’ unconditional surrender. He was afraid that soon the US would use this new weapon on Tokyo. Later in the day, Hirohito contemplated two choices; the first his ritual suicide, and the second to resign in total humiliation.

President Truman saved many US soldier’s lives, as well as the lives of many Japanese. Some believe that he also prevented expansion of Communism into Asia, as well.

Atomic scientists then believed that the ground would be safe to walk on one hour after detonation of the a-bomb. Of course, we now know this is far from the truth, and that the far-reaching fallout of those mushroom clouds exists still today, as evidenced in the abnormally high cancer rate of those exposed to atomic radiation.

I never expected to discover these shocking—even harrowing—facts when I began researching this history that I believed I knew rather well. Digging deep to uncover little-known truths is a writer’s job, however, even when writing fiction. Did it surprise you, as it did me, to learn these facts? Or were you taught these events unadulterated? In light of this information, has your opinion of the incidents changed, and if so, how?WP_20150308_001

I’m interested your opinions! Please share with me in the comment section below any thoughts you may have. Who knows? Something you say, or a question you ask, might influence my forthcoming novel. If so, I’ll be sure to thank you in my acknowledgments!