The Voice of the Crane

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Aim #19: How did the Allies manage to defeat Japan?
"The Voice of the Crane":The Imperial Rescript of August 15, 1945

On the night of 14 August 1945 technicians from NHK recorded the following message from Emperor Hirohito, informing the Empire of the surrender. The message was broadcast the following day.

To our good and loyal subjects

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provision of their Joint Declaration.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations, as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects, is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors, and which We lay close to heart.
Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement. But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone--the gallant fighting of military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people--the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. 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, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects; or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.
We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently co-operated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia. The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day. The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude. The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subject hereafter will certainly be great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all ye, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictate of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.
Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with ye, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity. Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead ye astray and cause ye to lose the confidence of the world. Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude; foster nobility of spirit; and work with resolution so as ye may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

  1. According to Emperor Hirohito why did Japan enter the war?

  2. According to Emperor Hirohito why did Japan surrender?

In developing your answers to Part III, be sure to keep these general definitions in mind:

(a) describe means “to illustrate something in words or tell about it”

(b) discuss means “to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail”
Part III

This question is based on the accompanying documents. The question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. Some of these documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, take into account the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.
Historical Context:

The United States decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a diplomatic measure calculated to intimidate the Soviet Union in the post-Second-World-War era rather than a strictly military measure designed to force Japan’s unconditional surrender.

Task: Using the information from the documents and your knowledge of United States history, answer the questions that follow each document in Part A. Your answers to the questions will help you write the Part B essay in which you will be asked to
• Describe the historical circumstances surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb
• Discuss the accuracy of this statement using the documents and your knowledge of the military and diplomatic history of this time period.

Part A

Short-Answer Questions
Directions: Analyze the documents and answer the short-answer questions that follow each document in the space provided.
Document 1

Another item on which I ventured to advise President Truman involved the Soviet's intention to enter the Japanese war. I told him that since reports indicated the imminence of Japan's collapse, I deprecated the Red Army's engaging in that war. I foresaw certain difficulties arising out of such participation and suggested that, at the very least, we ought not to put ourselves in the position of requesting or begging for Soviet aid. It was my personal opinion that no power on earth could keep the Red Army out of that war unless victory came before they could get in.

Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower, recollections of a July 1945 meeting with President Harry S Truman


  1. What did the United States have to do in order to keep the “Red Army” out of the war?


Document 2

Agreement Regarding Japan

The leaders of the three Great Powers-the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain-have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe has terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into the war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that: -
1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (The Mongolian People's Republic) shall be preserved;
2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.:

(a) the southern part of Sakhalin as well as all the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union,

b) the commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the preeminent interests of the

Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored,

(c) the Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad which provides an outlet to Dairen shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese Company, it being understood that the preeminent interest of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain full sovereignty in Manchuria. . . .
The Heads of the three Great Powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be, unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.
For its part the Soviet Union expresses its readiness to conclude with the National Government of China a pact of friendship and alliance between the U.S.S.R. and China in order to render assistance to China with its armed forces for the purpose of liberating China from the Japanese yoke.
Joseph V. Stalin

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Winston S. Churchill

Source: Agreements of the Yalta Conference (February 11, 1945)

  1. How could the United States be at a disadvantage if the Soviet Union entered the war in the Pacific?

Document 3

On July 17 world-shaking news had arrived. . . .

The atomic bomb is a reality. . . . Here then was a speedy end to the Second World War, and perhaps to much else besides. . . Up to this moment we had shaped our ideas towards an assault upon the homeland of Japan by terrific air bombing and by the invasion of very large armies. . . .
Now all this nightmare picture had vanished. In its place was the vision-fair and bright indeed it seemed-of the end of the whole war in one or two violent shocks. . . .
Moreover, we should not need the Russians. The end of the Japanese war no longer depended upon the pouring in of their armies for the final and perhaps protracted slaughter. We had no need to ask favours of them. A few days later I mentioned to Mr. Eden: "It is quite clear that the United States do not at the present time desire Russian participation in the war against Japan." The array of European problems could therefore be faced on their merits and according to the broad principles of the United Nations. We seemed suddenly to have become possessed of a merciful abridgment of the slaughter in the East and of a far happier prospect in Europe. I have no doubt that these thoughts were present in the minds of my American friends.

Source: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's recollections of news received during the

Potsdam Conference, July 1945 (1953)

  1. What are TWO reasons the United States would benefit from the reality of the atomic bomb?


Document 4

The question of whether the bomb should be used in the war against Japan came up for discussion. Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war. He knew at that time, as the rest of the Government knew, that Japan was essentially defeated and that we could win the war in another six months. At that time Mr. Byrnes was much concerned about the spreading of Russian influence in Europe. . . .

Source: Nuclear physicist Leo Szilard's recollection of a 1945 meeting between James Byrnes and a group of concerned atomic scientists (1949)

  1. According to Mr. Byrnes, what was the greatest threat to the United States?



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