August 14-15, 1945, HARD SURRENDER
Only after unbelievable death and destruction — and a plot by military officers to thwart the surrender — did Japan capitulate to the Allies and end World War II.
On August 6 an American atom bomb nicknamed ‘Little Boy’ had wiped out the city of Hiroshima. As many as 166,000 people died in a four-month period following the explosion.
Two days later a plutonium bomb dubbed ‘Fat Man’ destroyed Nagasaki, killing up to 80,000 people.
But the horrendous loss of lives and total devastation still didn’t convince Japan it was beaten.
On August 14 the largest and longest bombing raid of the Pacific War was launched against Japan. More than 400 B-29s attacked the country, and another 300 that night.
August 14, 1945, 2:49 a.m.
Japanese Emperor Hirohito was now convinced. He met with senior Army and Navy officers and asked for their support in ending the war. The Japanese cabinet convened and unanimously agreed to a surrender.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry transmitted orders to its embassies in Switzerland and Sweden to accept the Allied terms of surrender. These orders were received in Washington, D.C., at 2:49 a.m. on August 14.
But some Japanese military leaders weren’t done yet.
Rebel officers ATTEMPT COUP
Late on the night of August 12, Major Kenji Hatanaka and several top officers were already plotting to seize the Imperial Palace and prevent Emperor Hirohito from delivering his surrender speech.
At 11:30 p.m. on August 14, Hatanaka’s rebels put their plan into action.
Just after 1 a.m. Hatanaka and his men surrounded the Imperial Palace. Hatanaka went immediately to the office of Lt. General Takeshita Mori, commander of the 1st Imperial Guards Division, whose cooperation was crucial for the rebellion to succeed.
When Mori refused to join the rebellion, Hatanaka shot him.
At 3 a.m. Hatanaka was informed that the Eastern District Army was on its way to the palace to end the attempted coup.
ATTEMPT TO SEIZE RADIO STATION
Hatanaka hurried to the national radio studio, and, brandishing his pistol, tried desperately to get on the air to explain his actions to the Japanese people.
But it was useless, and at 8 a.m., having held the palace grounds for much of the night, the rebellion ended.
At 11 a.m. on August 15, an hour before the Emperor’s broadcast announcing the surrender, Hatanaka put his service revolver to his forehead and shot himself.
Japanese Emperor Hirohito went ahead and issued his radio broadcast announcing the surrender of Japan.
It was the last day of combat for the United States forces. Japan’s surrender came several months after the surrender of Nazi Germany, thus ending six years of hell on earth.