On this day in 1945, the USS Missouri hosts the formal surrender of the Japanese government to the Allies. Victory over Japan was celebrated back in the States.
As Japanese troops finally surrendered to Americans on the Caroline, Mariana, and Palau islands, representatives of their emperor and prime minister were preparing to formalize their capitulation. In Tokyo Bay, aboard the Navy battleship USS Missouri, the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, and the chief of staff of the Japanese army, Yoshijiro Umezu, signed the “instrument of surrender.” Representing the Allied victors was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the U.S. Army forces in the Pacific, and Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, now promoted to the newest and highest Navy rank, fleet admiral. Among others in attendance was Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, who had taken command of the forces in the Philippines upon MacArthur’s departure and had been recently freed from a Japanese POW camp in Manchuria.
Shigemitsu would be found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to seven years in prison subsequent to the surrender. The grand irony is that he had fought for concessions on the Japanese side in order to secure an early peace. He was paroled in 1950 and went on to become chairman of Japan’s Progressive Party. MacArthur would fight him again when he was named commander in chief of the United Nations forces in Korea in 1950.