September 2, 1945, was an important day in history for a few reasons. It was the day Japan formally surrendered to the United States, marking the official end of World War II. However, it was also monumental for another reason – this was the first time in history Japan had surrendered to a foreign power.
To fully grasp the importance of that day, it is important to look back on the events that led up to it. To begin with, there was no guarantee the Allied forces would be able to beat the Japanese forces. In the early days of its involvement in the war, Japan saw some major successes. It was only through miscalculations and poor tactical choices that the Allied forces were able to find the opening they needed to stop the momentum of the Imperial Forces.
Japan’s involvement in World War II began in 1940 when the Japanese government signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy. Approximately a year later on December 7, 1941, the Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in response to the United States placing economic sanctions on Japan in an attempt to weaken its ability to attack its neighbors. President Roosevelt declared that day as a “day that will live in infamy,” and America officially entered the war.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Forces invaded the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. They also successfully attacked Guam, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, parts of New Guinea, and Singapore. June of 1942 brought about the turning point in the conflict between the United States and Japan. The Battle of Midway lasted from June 4th until the 7th. With the losses of Midway, Japan never regained air superiority, and the US forces were able to take an offensive position.
In 1944 the United States began bombing Japanese cities with conventional munitions. In July of 1945, the Allied forces issued the Postdam Declaration, demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan. It was refused.
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Then on August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped the second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki. This was the same day Russia declared war on Japan. With the devastation, the massive loss of life, and the threat of war with Russia, the Japanese government began negotiating its surrender with the U.S. on August 10, 1945.
On August 14, 1945, President Truman addressed the nation confirming Japan’s surrender. However, he stated that though the war was over, the formal declaration of victory over Japan would have to wait until the signing of the papers. This occurred on September 2, 1945, on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The war was officially over.