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The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the written agreement that enabled the Surrender of Japan, ending World War II. It was signed by representatives from the Empire of Japanmarker, the United States of Americamarker, the Republic of Chinamarker, the United Kingdommarker, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canadamarker, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dominion of New Zealandmarker on the deck of the USS Missourimarker in Tokyo Baymarker on September 2, 1945. The date is sometimes known as Victory over Japan Day, although that designation is more frequently used to refer to the date of Emperor Hirohito's Gyokuon-hōsō (Imperial Rescript of Surrender), the radio broadcast announcement of the acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration at noon Japan standard time on August 15.

Surrender ceremony

The ceremony aboard the deck of the Missouri lasted twenty-three minutes and was broadcast throughout the world. The instrument was first signed by the Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu "By Command and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Government" (9:04 a.m.). Then General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, "By Command and on behalf of the JapaneseImperial General Headquarters" signed (9:06 a.m.). Afterwards, U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, also signed (9:08 a.m.). As witnesses, U.S. Lieutenant General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, who had surrendered the Philippinesmarker, and British Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, who had surrendered Singaporemarker, received two of the six pens they used to sign the instrument. Another pen went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Pointmarker, and one to his aide. All of the pens used by MacArthur were black, except the last which was plum colored and went to his wife. A replica of it, along with copies of the instrument of surrender, is in a case on the Missouri by the plaque marking the signing spot.

After MacArthur's signature as Supreme Commander, the following representatives signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of each of the Allied Powers:

On September 6, Colonel Bernard Theilen took the document and an imperial rescript to Washington, D.C.marker, and presented them to President Harry Truman in a formal White Housemarker ceremony the following day. The documents were then exhibited at the National Archivemarker.

Flags at the ceremony

Huge formation of American planes over USS Missouri and Tokyo Bay celebrating the signing, September 2, 1945.

The deck of the Missouri was furnished with two Americanmarker flags. A commonly heard story is that one of the flags had flown over the White Housemarker on the day Pearl Harbormarker was attackedmarker. However, Captain Stuart Murray of the Missouri explained:

"At eight o’clock we had hoisted a clean set of colors at the mainmast and a clean Union Jack at the bow as we were at anchor, and I would like to add that these were just regular ship’s flags, GI issue, that we’d pulled out of the spares, nothing special about them, and they had never been used anywhere so far as we know, at least they were clean and we had probably gotten them in Guammarker in May. So there was nothing special about them. Some of the articles in the history say this was the same flag that was flown on the White House or the National Capitol on 7 December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and at Casablanca, and so forth, also MacArthur took it up to Tokyo and flew it over his headquarters there. The only thing I can say is they were hard up for baloney, because it was nothing like that. It was just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag and a Union Jack. We turned them both in to the Naval Academy Museum when we got back to the East Coast in October.
The only special flag that was there was a flag which Commodore Perry had flown on his ship out in that same location 82 years before. It was flown out in its glass case from the Naval Academy Museum. An officer messenger brought it out. We put this hanging over the door of my cabin, facing forward, on the surrender deck so that everyone on the surrender deck could see it."

The second flag on the veranda deck of the Missouri had been flown from Commodore Matthew Perry's flagship in 1853–1854 when he led the US Navy's Far East Squadron into Tokyo Baymarker to force the opening of Japan's ports to foreign trade. MacArthur was a direct descendant of the New Englandmarker Perry family and cousin of Commodore Matthew Perry. Perhaps it was MacArthur who insisted on the flag and saw himself as a second "opener" of Japan rather than the nation's conqueror.

Photographs of the signing ceremony show that this flag was actually displayed backward — reverse side showing (stars in the upper right corner). The cloth of the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the Naval Academy Museum directed that a protective backing be sewn on it, leaving its "wrong side" visible; and this was how Perry's 31-star flag was presented on this unique occasion.

A replica of this historic flag can be seen today on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This replica is also placed in the same location on the bulkhead of the veranda deck where it had been initially mounted on the morning of September 2, 1945 by Chief Carpenter Fred Miletich.


Differences between versions

The instrument of surrender, dated September 2, 1945.

The Japanese copy of the treaty varied from the Allied in the following ways:
  • The Allied copy was presented in leather and gold lining with both countries' seals printed on the front, whereas the Japanese copy was bound in rough canvas with no seals on the front.
  • The Canadian representative, Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, signed below his line instead of above it on the Japanese copy, forcing everyone after him to sign one line below the intended one. When the discrepancy was pointed out to General Sutherland, he simply crossed-out the pre-printed names of the Allied nations and wrote them himself in their correct relative positions; and the Japanese representatives did not demur further.

Current Locations

The Allied copy is stored at the National Archivesmarker in Washington, DCmarker, the Japanese version can be viewed at the Edo-Tokyo Museummarker in Tokyo, Japanmarker.

See also


  1. Broom, Jack. "Memories on Board Battleship," Seattle Times. May 21, 1998.
  2. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Umezu signing.
  3. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Nimitz signing.
  4. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Hsu Yung-Ch'ang signing.
  5. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Fisher signing.
  6. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Derevyanko signing.
  7. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Blamey about to sign.
  8. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Cosgrave signing.
  9. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Leclerc signing.
  10. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Helfrich signing.
  11. Broom, Seattle Times; see photo, Isitt signing.
  12. Tsustsumi, Cheryl Lee. "Hawii's Back Yard: Mighty Mo memorial re-creates a powerful history," Star-Bulletin (Honolulu). August 26, 2007.
  13. Ellwand, Geoff. "Making a mess of history," CBC News. April 27, 2006; "... Peace Be Now Restored," Time. September 10, 1945.

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