On this day in 1945, the Japanese signed its surrender, ending World War II and four years of fighting between it and the United States.
The surrender was signed on board board the battleship, USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay before representatives of nine Allied nations, including Australia and New Zealand.
General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, the Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, said on the day that the Japanese and the Allied powers did not meet “in a spirit of mistrust, malice or hatred but rather, it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve”.
Despite that, however, none of the Japanese delegates was saluted by any of the high-ranking officers.
General Carl A. Spaatz later revealed that US planes had been ready with bombs to halt any last-minute act of treachery by the Japanese.
Seeing a battleship of high-ranking Allied officers on the Missouri might have presented a tempting target for a final suicide attack.
The process took just 23 minutes and was broadcast around the world.
Interestingly, while the Allied copy was presented in leather and gold lining with both countries’ seals printed on the front, the Japanese copy was bound in rough canvas with no seals on the front.