August 15, 1945: Emperor surrenders Japan in World War II
As the 124th Emperor of Japan, Hirohito had a lot on his plate with World War II. Japan aligned with Germany and Italy as part of the Axis Powers. They also landed a surprise attack on America. Fortunately, he put his foot down before things got worse.
The ultimate attack
While Japan shocked everyone with the attack, they were quickly losing steam in the war. Losses in the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway lowered morale. Nothing could prepare them for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. Air Force. Taking place between August 6 -August 9, 1945, the attacks took the lives of 226,000 people. “I sympathize with the pilots who actually dropped the bombs. I don’t have any enmity against the people of the United States. But I still don’t want to forgive the government, the people who decided to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. I always think that politicians who decide on these crucial matters should go themselves to carry out such an action,” Hiroshima bombing survivor Norimitsu Tosu told NCR Online.
Throwing in the towel
The destruction of the bombings caused Hirohito to panic. Fearing his people would become extinct, he pulled Japan out of the war. On August 15, 1945, he surrendered Japan via a voice recording. “Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization,” he stated.
Not so fast
After the recording, Hirohito had plans to step down from his position. In a surprising move, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur suggested that Hirohito stayed as emperor. Hirohito continued his reign until his death on January 7, 1989. During this time, he helped increase Japan’s economy, which became the second-largest in the world. Hirohito got another chance to fix his beloved country, and he did so tenfold.