Year
1945
Month Day
August 10

Japan accepts Potsdam terms, agrees to unconditional surrender

On August 10, 1945, just a day after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan submits its acquiescence to the Potsdam Conference terms of unconditional surrender, as President Harry S. Truman orders a halt to atomic bombing.

Emperor Hirohito, having remained aloof from the daily decisions of prosecuting the war, rubber-stamping the decisions of his War Council, including the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, finally felt compelled to do more. At the behest of two Cabinet members, the emperor summoned and presided over a special meeting of the Council and implored them to consider accepting the terms of the Potsdam Conference, which meant unconditional surrender. “It seems obvious that the nation is no longer able to wage war, and its ability to defend its own shores is doubtful.” The Council had been split over the surrender terms; half the members wanted assurances that the emperor would maintain his hereditary and traditional role in a postwar Japan before surrender could be considered. But in light of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, as well as the emperor’s own request that the Council “bear the unbearable,” it was agreed: Japan would surrender.

Tokyo released a message to its ambassadors in Switzerland and Sweden, which was then passed on to the Allies. The message formally accepted the Potsdam Declaration but included the proviso that “said Declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as sovereign ruler.” When the message reached Washington, President Truman, unwilling to inflict any more suffering on the Japanese people, especially on “all those kids,” ordered a halt to atomic bombing, He also wanted to know whether the stipulation regarding “His Majesty” was a deal breaker. Negotiations between Washington and Tokyo ensued. Meanwhile, savage fighting continued between Japan and the Soviet Union in Manchuria.

READ MORE: The Hiroshima Bombing Didn't Just End WWII—It Kick-Started the Cold War

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

On August 10, 2003, the United Kingdom records its first-ever temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the month, an intense heat wave scorched the European continent, claiming more than 35,000 lives. August 2003 was the hottest August ever recorded in the northern ...read more

Son of Sam

Son of Sam serial killer is arrested

On August 10, 1977, 24-year-old postal employee David Berkowitz is arrested and charged with being the “Son of Sam,” the serial killer who terrorized New York City for more than a year, killing six young people and wounding seven others with a .44-caliber revolver. Because ...read more

Louvre Museum opens

After more than two centuries as a royal palace, the Louvre is opened as a public museum in Paris by the French revolutionary government. Today, the Louvre’s collection is one of the richest in the world, with artwork and artifacts representative of 11,000 years of human ...read more

Smithsonian Institution created

After a decade of debate about how best to spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, President James K. Polk signs the Smithsonian Institution Act into law on this day in 1846. In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar ...read more

Pete Rose sets National League hits record

On August 10, 1981, Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies gets the 3,631st hit of his baseball career, breaking Stan Musial’s record for most hits by a National Leaguer. The record-breaking hit came in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team with whom Musial had spent ...read more

Virginia and Leonard Woolf marry

On August 10, 1912, Virginia Stephen, 30, marries Leonard Woolf, 31, at a registry office in London. Virginia Woolf, born in 1882, grew up surrounded by intellectuals. Her father was a writer and philosopher, and her mother was a British aristocrat. In 1902, Virginia’s father ...read more

First-ever electric guitar patent awarded to the Electro String Corporation

Versatile, inexpensive and relatively easy to play, the acoustic guitar was a staple of American rural music in the early 20th century, particularly black rural music such as the blues. But a significant physical limitation made it a poor fit in ensembles made up of brass, ...read more

"Red Dawn," first PG-13 movie, is released

On August 10, 1984, the action thriller Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze, opens in theaters as the first movie to be released with a PG-13 rating. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which oversees the movie rating system, had announced the new PG-13 category in ...read more

Child found decapitated

The severed head of six-year-old Adam Walsh, who disappeared from a shopping mall two weeks earlier, is found in a canal in Vero Beach, Florida. Two years later, career criminal Ottis Ellwood Toole, then an inmate at a Raiford, Florida, prison, confessed to Adam’s abduction and ...read more

Fatal Ford Pinto crash in Indiana

On August 10, 1978, three teenage girls die after their 1973 Ford Pinto is rammed from behind by a van and bursts into flames on an Indiana highway. The fatal crash was one of a series of Pinto accidents that caused a national scandal during the 1970s. The small and economical ...read more

London learns of American independence

On August 10, 1776, news reaches London that the Americans had drafted the Declaration of Independence. Until the Declaration of Independence formally transformed the 13 British colonies into states, both Americans and the British saw the conflict centered in Massachusetts as a ...read more