August 15, 1945.
"By the Emperor Showa's (昭和天皇) (the 124th Emperor; known as Emperor Hirohito) Gyokuon-hôsô [Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War] (玉音放送), the Empire of Japan accepted the Allied Nations' Potsdam Declaration demanding unconditional surrender" — this is what we have learnt. But there is a question whether Japan surely accepted "unconditional surrender." The description written on the school textbooks is actually a big misunderstanding. This essay confirms the truth of Japan's surrender by referring to the original text of the Potsdam Declaration.
It is a big mystery why a legend "Japan accepted unconditional surrender" has been believed. Because the clause 13 of the Potsdam Declaration has been misunderstood by the Japanese.
There is no description of demanding for the "unconditional surrender of the country Japan" but "of all Japanese armed forces" (demilitarization). In fact, the Emperor Showa was not forced to abdicate and the government continued to function (the prime minister was selected by Japan's side as well) although Japan was under control of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) that stationed the Occupation Army (US Army). The status of Japan remained as "independent and sovereign." It was just demilitarized by the clause 13 or the Potsdam Declaration but has never accepted to abandon the country. Nevertheless, the Japanese people believed that they lost everything because there were many suffering demands by the SCAP's excessive administration such as Shintô Directive (神道指令),[*1] the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) and the Constitution of Japan. The IMTFE is against the international law and the enactment of the Constitution of Japan infringes the Hague Conventions.
The clause 10 guarantees the status of the Japanese people, and states "freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights."
The Clause 12 states that the occupying forces will be withdrawn from Japan as soon as a certain objectives have been accomplished. Let's review the clause 13 once again.
Therefore, the Potsdam Declaration just presents the Allied Nations' conditions "to provide proper and adequate assurances" if Japan accepts "unconditional surrender of armed forces." That means it was "conditional surrender" rather than "unconditional surrender."
"Unconditional surrender" generally means "no questions and answers" that, in the case of Japan, the Allied Nations were able to do whatever they want such as to enslave or to annihilate the Japanese. The Potsdam Declaration just presents "conditional surrender" with bargaining terms between the Allied Nations and Japan. It was a lot better condition than the case of Germany that the Allied Nations did not accept the new regime (Adolf Hitler nominated Karl Dönitz as prime minister and the supreme commander of the defense army before suicide) and consequently, the country "Germany" was practically abandoned when it surrendered.
Accordingly, this is what I meant to say in this essay that Japan has never accepted "unconditional surrender" but it was
an honorable defeat.
People sometimes tend to criticize the history by only a prejudice without confirming the actual fact. We must look back "Japan's past war" under correct knowledge. We don't have to feel servile forever by only losing one war. People should learn how to be more confident in themselves.
#1. Sintô Directive (神道指令)
Soon after World War II, the Shinto Directive was issued by the Occupation Army. It required Japan to initiate a policy of church/state separation. The demand was so severe that there was no parallel even in Western countries. Along with other new policies such as the reformation of the family system and land system, the Shinto Directive had serious influence upon the promotion of moral education as well as upon Shinto itself. Confucianism probably suffered more damage than Shinto did. As time went on, however, something traditional gradually revived. This is not because conservative and reactionist groups have manipulated this change but probably because the people have tried to revise the lines along which modernization went too far.HIRAI Naofusa (平井直房).
Traditional Culture and Modernization, Several Problems in the Case of Japan.
Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University (國學院大學日本文化研究所).
If Shinto is interpreted as a sectarian religion in terms of the science of religion and is treated as such, this would mean eliminating national and social protocol from the State and society. The Shinto Directive positioned it is as one sectarian religion to be dealt with by the principle of separation of state and religion. Shinto was removed from the public schools together with other sectarian religions. Thus on November 3, 1945, the current Constitution which stipulates the earlier principle of separation of state and religion was proclaimed and implemented, starting May 3, 1947.SUGIHARA Seishirô (杉原誠四郎). Separation of State and Religion and Japanese Education. International Coalition for Religious Freedom Conference on "Religious Freedom and the New Millennium," Tokyo, Japan, May 23-25, 1998.
Terms and Related information (Wikipedia Links)
- Gyokuon-hôsô [Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War] (玉音放送), Aug. 15, 1945.
- Potsdam Declaration, July 26, 1945.
- Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (called the 'General Headquarters' (GHQ) in Japan)
- International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Trials), May 3, 1946 – Nob. 12, 1948.
- Hague Conventions, October 8, 1907.
- Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945.