Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese Surrender

Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese Surrender

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On September 2, 1945, aboard the U.S.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur presides over the signing and delivers a short speech on the momentous occasion.

The Story of the Percival Pens – Used In The Japanese Surrender Ceremony

The Cheshire Military Museum is home to over 20,000 artefacts covering over 300 years of history of soldiers from the County of Cheshire who have fought in conflicts around the globe. Of our extensive collection, the most historically significant are the priceless Percival Pens. General Percival was in charge of forces in Malaysia which fell to the Japanese in 1942.

Percival himself was briefly held prisoner in Changi Prison, where “the defeated GOC could be seen sitting head in hands, outside the married quarters he now shared with seven brigadiers, a colonel, his ADC, and cook-sergeant. He discussed feelings with few, spent hours walking around the extensive compound, ruminating on the reverse and what might have been”. In the belief that it would improve discipline, he reconstituted a Malaya Command, complete with staff appointments, and helped occupy his fellow prisoners with lectures on the Battle of France.

Along with the other senior British captives above the rank of colonel, Percival was removed from Singapore in August 1942. First, he was imprisoned in Formosa and then sent on to Manchuria, where he was held with several dozen other VIP captives, including the American General Jonathan Wainwright, in a prisoner-of-war camp near Hsian, about 100 miles (160 km) to the northeast of Mukden.

As the war drew to an end, an OSS team removed the prisoners from Hsian. Percival was then taken, along with Wainwright, to stand immediately behind General Douglas MacArthur as he confirmed the terms of the Japanese surrender aboard USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay on September 2 nd 1945. Afterwards, MacArthur gave Percival a pen he had used to sign the treaty.

US General Douglas MacArthur used the pen to sign a formal surrender ceremony, with General Arthur Percival standing behind him

Percival and Wainwright then returned together to the Philippines to witness the surrender of the Japanese army there, which in a twist of fate was commanded by General Yamashita. Yamashita was momentarily surprised to see his former captive at the ceremony on this occasion, Percival refused to shake Yamashita’s hand, angered by the mistreatment of POWs in Singapore.

The flag carried by Percival’s party on the way to Bukit Timah was also a witness to this reversal of fortunes, being flown when the Japanese formally surrendered Singapore back to Lord Louis Mountbatten.

By Cheshire Military Museum for War History Online

For more amazing artifacts, visit the Cheshire Military Museum

Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese Surrender - HISTORY

With the surrender decision made and accepted, the many details necessary to implement it had to be conveyed to the Japanese Government. To this end, on 19 August a combined military and diplomatic delegation left Japan in two specially marked "Betty" bombers. After landing at Ie Shima island, near Okinawa, the envoys were flown on to General MacArthur's Manila headquarters in a U.S. transport plane. In a series of meetings there, the Japanese received the Allies' instructions concerning surrender arrangements and initial occupation plans. The "firmness but fairness" shown in Manila favorably impressed the envoys and set the tone for the events that followed.

This page presents views of the Japanese delegation at Ie Shima and their arrival at Manila.

For views of other aspects of Japan's surrender, see: Japan Capitulates, August - September 1945

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

One of two specially-marked Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft lands at an airfield on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. The plane brought a Japanese delegation who were flown on to Manila in a USAAF C-54 transport to receive instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
The plane in the foreground, providing shade for onlookers, is a C-54. The guard in the right center foreground carries an M-1 carbine.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 66KB 740 x 605 pixels

One of two specially-marked (white overall, with green crosses) Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft on an airfield on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. The plane brought a Japanese delegation who were transferred to a USAAF C-54 to be flown to General MacArthur's headquarters in Manila, where they received instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
The wing in the foreground belongs to a C-54.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 61KB 740 x 615 pixels

One of two specially-marked (white overall, with green crosses) Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft on an airfield on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. The plane brought Japanese envoys who were transferred to a USAAF C-54 and flown to Manila, where they received instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
Note crowd of onlookers, and armed guards protecting the Japanese plane.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 107KB 740 x 615 pixels

Two specially-marked Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft on an airfield on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. They brought envoys from Japan, who were transferred to a USAAF C-54 and flown to Manila, where they received instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
Note towing tractor and motorcycle near the plane.

Courtesy of Edward Zahler, 1975.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 93KB 740 x 560 pixels

Crewmen of two specially-marked Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft which brought envoys from Japan to Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, on 19 August 1945. The delegation was there transferred to a USAAF C-54 and flown to Manila, where they received instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
One of the Japanese planes is faintly visible behind these men.

Courtesy of Edward Zahler, 1975.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 93KB 740 x 515 pixels

Members of a Japanese military & civilian delegation disembark, with their swords and other gear, from one of two specially-marked Mitsubishi G4M-1 ("Betty") aircraft on an airfield on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. The envoys were transferred to a USAAF C-54 and flown to Manila, where they received instructions concerning the surrender and occupation.
Note U.S. Military Policemen, photographers and other onlookers in the background.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 84KB 740 x 615 pixels

Japanese military and civilian envoys wait to board a USAAF C-54 aircraft at Ie Shima airfield, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. The delegation had come to Ie Shima from Japan in specially-marked aircraft, en route to General MacArthur's headquarters in Manila to receive instructions concerning surrender and occupation arrangements.
The officer in the center foreground is the delegation's head, Lieutenant General Torashiro Kawabe, deputy chief of the Japanese Army general staff.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 91KB 740 x 605 pixels

Japanese military and civilian envoys board a C-54 transport plane at Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19 August 1945. They were flown to Manila to receive instructions concerning surrender and occupation arrangements.
Officer approaching top of ladder is the delegation head, Lieutenant General Torashiro Kawabe.
Officer at left, behind the civilian envoy, is Rear Admiral Ichiro Yokoyama.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 99KB 740 x 615 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

A Japanese civilian envoy boards a USAAF C-54 transport plane at Ie Shima airfield, Ryukyu Islands, to be flown to Manila to receive instructions for surrender and occupation arrangements, 19 August 1945. He is a member of the military & civilian delegation that flew to Ie Shima from Japan in specially-marked aircraft.

Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 83KB 585 x 765 pixels

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (top right) watches from a balcony above a crowd of soldier spectators as the sixteen-man Japanese delegation arrives at City Hall, Manila, to make surrender arrangements.
Photo is dated 20 August 1945.

Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 106KB 740 x 625 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

For views of other aspects of Japan's surrender, see: Japan Capitulates, August - September 1945

Question Summary

Were there six pens, or five? Who were they given to at the time? Where are they now? The number and disposition of pens used by MacArthur are synthesized into this list from the various sources listed above (pen #5 below seems to be in question, those who indicate 5 pens omit this one, those who indicate 6 pens disagree as to its disposition):

(1) General Wainwright (undisputed by all accounts - is this pen now at West Point?)
(2) General Percival (undisputed by all accounts - now at Cheshire Military Museum?)
(3) West Point Military Academy (accurate? still there?)
(4) Annapolis Naval Academy (accurate? still there?)
(5) Personal souvenir (MacArthur) or given to Aide (any corroboration? whereabouts known today?)
(6) MacArthur's wife, Jean (reported lost or stolen a few years after the war - any news of it since then?).

Globalism Disillusion: Douglas MacArthur's Errors In Post-Defeat Japan

What does it take for someone cold-bloodedly to mow down countless innocents in a Paris music hall? Even more to the point, what does it take for him to blow himself up when he is done with his savagery? These are questions that baffle most of us. But there is one thing we can all agree on: globalism's role in throwing people of radically different traditions together has not always made the world a more harmonious place.

Some observers have sensed all along that globalism was a snare and a delusion. I claim to be among them. As far back as the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, I challenged the then almost universally held American consensus that post-defeat Iraqis would welcome the invasion -- and even greet the conquering Americans with flowers. Although I did not claim to be an expert on Iraq, I did know something about the flawed reading of history on which American thinking was based. Washington was heavily influenced by the Japanese people’s supposedly almost instantaneous conversion to American values in the first weeks after General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Tokyo in September 1945. What Washington did not understand was that Japan’s superficially cooperative demeanor hid much less friendly feelings. In the wake of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Japanese leaders unsurprisingly decided that further hostilities would have been counterproductive. With their backs to the wall, they determined to make a pretense of going along with American reforms. They smilingly obeyed MacArthur to his face and gutted his policies behind his back. MacArthur probably knew what was going on but chose to overlook it. The truth is that he had an agenda: he planned to run for President in 1948, so any news of sincere reform in Japan furthered his political ambitions. The American press loved the story and so, in the space of about two months, the myth of Japan’s Pauline conversion to American values became indelibly imprinted on the American national psyche.

MacArthur with a defeated Emperor Hirohito: make-believe in Tokyo in 1945 -- and mayhem in Paris . [+] seventy years later. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/GettyImages)

Of course, not all of the story was fiction. It is true, for instance, that Hideki Tojo, the Japanese leader who led the nation into the Pearl Harbor attack, was hanged by an American-dominated post-war tribunal. It is true too that post-surrender Japan did change in various ways.

The evidence, however, is that none of this did much to establish American values. In the case of Tojo, it is often forgotten that long before the end of the war, he had been discredited and he had been forced to resign as early as July 1944. To say the least, Japan’s post-war leaders had no compelling interest in saving his bacon and certainly his absence from post-surrender Japan’s power structure was a given irrespective of whether the Americans ever got involved.

As for the various changes that emerged in post-war Japan, most of them would have happened anyway. After all a nation at peace behaves differently from one at war. In reality post-war Japan channeled its aggression into its economic strategy – with results that became apparent first in dollar blouses, then in transistor radios, shipbuilding, steel, and cameras, and more recently in autos, computers, machine tools, advanced materials, and medical and scientific equipment.

The ultimate proof that American values never got established in Japan is that with the exception of a token few high-visibility war criminals who were hanged, most top war criminals were quickly restored to positions of power soon after the Americans left in 1952.

One particularly notable example was Nobusuke Kishi, an accused war criminal who narrowly escaped the gallows. In his wartime capacity as Munitions Minister he had been responsible for the enslavement of more than 700,000 Korean and Chinese workers, the majority of whom, according to historian John Dower, did not survive their ordeal. Kishi not only made no secret of his past but, once it was safe to do so, outspokenly denounced MacArthur's war crimes tribunal. All this did not stop him becoming Prime Minister of a "sincerely Americanized" in 1957. If you believe Kishi really embraced American values, you'll believe anything.

The arrival of jet-powered travel notwithstanding, the world remains a very big place, both psychologically and philosophically. Anyone who labors under the illusion that the Islamic world, for instance,will soon converge to Western values has a long wait ahead of him.

[General Douglas MacArthur addresses dignitaries at the signing of the Japanese Surrender]

Photograph relating to the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender which ended WWII. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, address the crowd at the beginning of the ceremony. Behind him from left to right stand: General Hsu Yung-Chang of China Admiral Sir Bruce A. Fraser, Royal Navy Lt. General Kuzma Derevyanko of the U.S.S.R. and General Sir Thomas Blamey of Australia.

Physical Description

1 photographic print: b&w 4 x 5 in.

Creation Information

Creator: Unknown. September 2, 1945.


This photograph is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2007 and was provided by the Heritage House Museum to The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 1426 times. More information about this photograph can be viewed below.

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Douglas MacArthur Receives the Japanese Surrender - HISTORY

By Susan L. Brinson

George Sterling received a teletype message from the War Department just after 5:15 am on August 15, 1945. Less than 45 minutes later, Sterling, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Radio Intelligence Division (RID), handed a message to the RID’s teletype (TWX) operator to send to the monitoring station in San Leandro, California. “Send following message at once in clear.”

At virtually the same moment across the country in San Leandro, where it was 3:00 am, the teletype machine began typing. “Send following message at once in clear.” The monitoring officer’s jaw dropped as the message continued.

Not long thereafter, the Portland and Santa Ana monitoring stations received a different TWX message from the boss. “San Leandro will send important message to Japs. Listen … for any station that may acknowledge.”

Was World War II finally ending?

August 15, 1945, was an important date in United States history. Volumes have been written about the Japanese surrender to the Allied powers on that date and the formal ceremony held 18 days later aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. But how did the United States and Japan make contact with each other to arrange the logistics of surrender? Virtually every known story focuses on the fits and starts of V-J Day, on the hesitations that occurred as the Japanese struggled to accept surrender, the roles that Sweden and Switzerland played as the diplomatic connections between the warring countries, and the worldwide celebrations that the end of World War II produced. The full story of how the Japanese and the Allies finally contacted each other has yet to be told. This is the story of the little-known Radio Intelligence Division of the Federal Communications Commission and how it played a key role in establishing initial contact between General Douglas MacArthur and the Japanese in order to formalize surrender and arrange the ceremony aboard the Missouri.

The RID’s War on Illegal Transmissions

The RID was formed on July 1, 1942, to monitor and locate enemy transmissions that threatened the United States, but it had been performing these duties for more than 30 years. Since a law was passed in 1910 to govern radio frequencies, the government had been monitoring the airwaves for illegal uses. During the 1930s, FCC engineers developed the technology and became proficient at tracking and capturing illegal transmissions, primarily among bootleggers and racetrack gamblers.

Protecting the United States from illegal transmissions required a safety net of monitoring stations throughout the country. Twelve primary and 90 secondary monitoring stations were established throughout the United States and its territories to accomplish that mission. After the start of World War II in 1939 and the United States’ increasing attention to domestic defense, its engineers were formed into the National Defense Office of the FCC and increasingly concentrated on transmissions coming from Germany, Italy, and their sympathetic allies. Sterling’s engineers proved their usefulness at locating clandestine messages when they intercepted and located a German spy operating from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., two days after Pearl Harbor. By August 1945, RID officers had traveled all over South America looking for clandestine transmissions by German spies and on many occasions had helped the Army or Navy locate their downed pilots in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

“Harnessing Radio to Help Fight the Global War”

When the U.S. entered the war in December 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, monitoring officers (MOs) at the western primary stations turned their attention to Japanese transmitters. Four stations in particular, located in Portland, Oregon San Leandro and Santa Ana, California and Honolulu, Hawaii, focused on finding and intercepting clandestine Japanese messages, absorbing Japanese Kana code, learning the frequencies over which the Japanese were most likely to transmit and the call signs they were likely to use, and otherwise focusing on understanding the “radio-operating characteristics of every type of radio-telegraph communications” that the Japanese used. Occasionally, the MOs would listen to and transcribe Japanese radio broadcasts, but these tasks were the exceptions to the rule monitoring broadcasts officially was the responsibility of the FCC’s Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service (FBIS). Instead, the RID’s monitoring officers became highly skilled at discerning the difference between normal and unusual Japanese transmissions and particularly in intercepting and copying Japanese traffic in Kana code directly into Romaji (a system of writing Japanese using letters of the Latin alphabet).

Thus, when the RID was officially formed in June 1942, it was already well schooled in the practice of “maintaining a continual policing of the entire radio spectrum to insure against clandestine radio activity.” Information the RID stations collected was often turned over to several other entities, including the Army, Navy, War Department, State Department, FBI, War Communications Board, U.S. Weather Bureau, and U.S. Coast Guard. The RID’s massive data collection was written into several manuals “showing full particulars of all Japanese Naval and Military [networks]” as well as an additional “manual of authorized occupancy of all frequencies above 30,000 kcs.” The RID played an important role in protecting the home front and helping the United States fight World War II. Few other people knew Japanese transmissions better than the RID monitoring officers and their boss, George Sterling.

Although its specific missions were secret, the RID itself was public knowledge during the war. Newspapers and magazines often carried stories about the division’s accomplishments. Several articles were published in the Christian Science Monitor, the Radio News, and especially the New York Times that explained how the RID worked and described some of its exploits. Hollywood further promoted the division in 1944 when MGM produced a 20-minute film titled Patrolling the Ether, in which a RID investigator is murdered by a German spy caught transmitting from a cemetery. The German spy ring eventually is captured while transmitting from a moving automobile. While overly dramatic (RID men neither carried pistols routinely, nor were they murdered), it nonetheless accurately reported RID monitoring stations, technology, and methods, with the goal of “harnessing radio to help fight the global war.”

Japanese Surrender Anticipated

By mid-summer 1945, the western primary stations devoted increased attention to monitoring Japanese transmissions from all sources. Since V-E Day, and especially the bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the western MOs hoped the Pacific War would end soon, too. They started paying particularly close attention to Japanese broadcasts from the Domei News Agency, which was controlled by Japan’s Ministry of Communications. Although monitoring such broadcasts actually was the responsibility of the FBIS, the RID maintained its own surveillance as well. Thus it was at 1:50 pm Eastern War Time (EWT) on August 10 when the Portland monitoring office reported to Sterling that Domei announced that the Japanese were “ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam.”

Any information about the anticipated end of World War II was top news, so celebrations broke out around the world when the story was reported to the public the next day, August 11. Almost immediately, announcements of Japan’s surrender were rescinded, and the world began a roller coaster ride of trying to determine whether the war was over or not. RID MOs continued to transmit so many transcribed Japanese broadcasts that Sterling, on the afternoon of August 13, admonished them to “refrain from transmitting” intercepts of broadcast messages, in part because it was the responsibility of the FBIS. More importantly, given the difficulties the United States encountered with making official contact with the Japanese and the growing worldwide tension regarding exactly when the surrender would occur, Sterling did not want his monitoring officers to contribute to the confusion.

Sterling, however, informed the western monitoring stations that he had “assigned a special task to [Portland] to keep [him] informed on Jap situation.” The Portland monitoring station took the lead on monitoring Japanese broadcasts. Sterling further told the other western monitoring stations that “any significant calls that appear to originate from Jap stations that appear to be unanswered should be reported [to him].”

A technician mans a communications position, monitoring radio transmissions between distant points.

Less than 12 hours after the Portland office received its assignment from Sterling, Monitoring Office Landsburg began sending updates to the boss. At 1:20 am EWT on August 14, Landsburg notified Sterling that Domei announced the “Japanese government started deliberations upon” the terms of surrender. Thirty minutes later, Landsburg telexed “FLASH. Learned Imperial message accepting Potsdam proclamation forthcoming.”

A Demanding Press

The western MOs waited for the expected announcement, but the airwaves remained silent on that score. Meanwhile, U.S. newspapers ran story after story about the anticipated Japanese surrender. The Washington Post, in particular, reported that the Japanese foreign minister visited the emperor on August 13, and cited the FCC as its source. Remembering Sterling’s admonition from just the day before, the MO at the San Leandro station assured Sterling that “no information [being reported in the news] is coming from here.”

By now the demand for current information was so high a San Francisco area reporter contacted the San Leandro station about doing an interview. Sterling initially gave permission but almost immediately rescinded it. The information the reporter sought was in the FBIS area of expertise. “Permission will be given after present crisis if then desired,” Sterling wrote to the San Leandro station. “You are instructed to refer all telephone calls to the supervisor of the western area which are received from representatives of government agencies, the press and public requesting information on radio communications pertaining to the current negotiations between the Allies and the Japanese.” Sterling was determined that the monitoring officers under his leadership would not be responsible for leaking information.

As tension around the world grew, Sterling tapped into the detailed information on which the RID’s outstanding reputation was built. He asked Landsburg which Japanese frequencies were likely to be active at 11 pm EWT. Landsburg responded using the J-codes assigned to Japanese stations: “JUP/JUD 13065/15880 kc … JZJ/JLT3 11800/15225 kc. These are the only frequencies we have knowledge of that will be active at [11 pm EWT]. However on especially important announcements Japs have been known to put all their [trans]mitters on the air.” Within 12 hours of this message, the western MOs would participate in establishing direct contact between General Douglas MacArthur and the Japanese.

A Message From MacArthur

In the early morning hours of August 15, 1945, in a sultry Washington, D.C., one of the FCC’s telex machines started receiving a message at 5:16 am. The telex was from the War Department in Washington. More specifically, it was from General Frank Stoner, head of the Army Communications Service in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. Stoner instructed the FCC to have the “person of highest authority … have the following message transmitted in the clear in any or all means available if possible …. Request you have the following operational priority message transmitted by every practical means at once.”

In less than 45 minutes, at 6 am EWT, George Sterling relayed Stoner’s message to the San Leandro monitoring station. The message started with detailed instructions from Sterling: “Send following message at once in clear on three channels … signing your regular FCC call. At conclusion advise [the Honolulu monitoring station] to relay message using same procedure signing their regular call … At conclusion listen for reply to message from any Jap stations that may call you for verification or to transmit traffic. Make contact if possible to insure delivery of this message.”

The message that was received from Stoner, and which Sterling now directed the San Leandro monitoring station to transmit in plain English, started:

“Send in clear 15 August 1945

From Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers

To the Japanese Imperial Government

To the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters”

The message was from General Douglas MacArthur, who had been appointed supreme commander for the Allied powers only hours earlier. It took 20 minutes for the entire message to transmit to San Leandro. The MO whose jaw initially dropped as he read the message immediately acknowledged its receipt and followed up by asking for clarifications.

“Shall [Honolulu] use his 4 [letter] call also?” “Yes,” Sterling responded. “You are authorized to advise him re[garding] the transmission of this message in plain English.” A few minutes later, the MO further inquired, “See no call for [San Leandro] 4 letter [call sign] … Will you check this please?” Sterling responded, “You shall use the call ‘KFCA.’”

Signed MacArthur

The MO began transmitting MacArthur’s message immediately:

“From Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers

To the Japanese Imperial Government

To the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters

I have been designated as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers…. And empowered to arrange directly with the Japanese authorities for the cessation of hostilities at the earliest practicable date. It is desired that a radio station in the Tokyo area be officially designated for continuous use in handling radio communications between this headquarters and your headquarters. Your reply to this message should give call signs, frequencies, and station designation. It is desired that the radio communication with my headquarters in Manila be handled in English text. Pending designation by you of a station in the Tokyo area for use as above indicated, station JUM … on frequency 13705 … kilocycles will be used for this purpose and … Manila will reply on 15965 kilocycles. Upon receipt of this message acknowledge. /Signed/MacArthur”

Waiting For a Reply

Sterling waited for over three hours for any Japanese to respond. He heard nothing.

A representative of the Japanese government signs the instrument of surrender ending World War II in the Pacific. The Federal Communications Commission played an intriguing role in delivering the news of Japan’s intent to surrender.

Sterling took action. At 8:41 am EWT he instructed the MO to send the message again: “Commencing at [9 am EWT] transmit for one hour at fifteen minute intervals McArthur’s [sic] message. Transmit at speed of twenty wpm good hand keying.” Only a minute later, Sterling sent an additional message to the Santa Ana and Portland monitoring stations, informing them that San Leandro would “send important message to Japs at [9 am EWT]. Listen at conclusion of message combing all bands for any station that may acknowledge or call [San Leandro]. Print any transmission intercepted for benefit of [San Leandro].”

The MO again sent the message, and again they waited.

Back in Washington, D.C., the teletype machine suddenly started transmitting a message from San Leandro. Had the Japanese responded?

No. It was the MO informing Sterling that “12 Naval District request identification on call ‘KFCA.’ Am I authorized to say if FCC?” Before Sterling could reply, the MO quickly followed up with “Skip it please. [He] hung up. Thanks anyway.”

A few minutes later, another message started coming from San Leandro. Had the Japanese answered the transmission?

Again, no. The MO was aggravated by the Honolulu monitoring officer, whom he instructed “to send that message only once. He is sending it again now and I am unable to make this broadcast at [9:30 EWT] due to [frequency use] of both of us.”

“Let it go [until] he’s done,” Sterling responded.

The MO allowed, “[He’ll] probably have better chance of Japs getting it from [Honolulu] but you said for him to only send it once. That’s the reason I mentioned it. Also fact that I can’t make this … schedule.”

A few minutes later, Sterling inquired, “any indication of reply to broadcast?”

“Not yet,” came the response. “There’s so many Japs on these channels [that I] can’t read any single one of them.”

And again a few minutes later came a message from the MO, “Haven’t heard any Japs using English yet. [They’re] all Kana [code].”

“Tokio [sic] Station Call Sign JNP Frequency 13740 … Language English”

Suddenly, on August 15 at 8:51 am EWT, the Santa Ana monitoring station transmitted “Jap just acknowledge message. Said [use] JNU3 13475 kc in few minutes for your official message. Adcock [direction finder] being secured until further notice.”

The RID had gotten through to the Japanese. Sterling relayed the frequency information to the War Department, after which the RID no longer transmitted on MacArthur’s behalf.

Over the next 36 hours, however, the RID continued to monitor the transmissions between MacArthur and the Japanese as they arranged for their emissaries to meet. At 10:35 am EWT on August 16, the Washington RID office received a message from the Portland station. The Japanese government had just sent a lengthy message to MacArthur in which the Japanese announced they were “in receipt of message of the United States government transmitted to us through the Swiss government and of a message from General MacArthur received by the Tokio [sic] radio graph office and desire to make the following communication [that] his majesty the Imperor [sic] issued an imperial order at 1600 oclock on August 16th to the entire armed forces to cease hostilities immediately.”

The Japanese further asked MacArthur to communicate with them on “Tokio [sic] station call sign JNP frequency 13740 … language English … in order to make sure that we have received without fail all communication sent by General MacArthur, we beg him to repeat” his message on the same frequency.

Ninety minutes later, at 11:37 am EWT, another message arrived from the Portland station containing additional information transmitted from the Japanese to MacArthur. This transmission included detailed information about the route that Japanese military leaders would take to arrive in Manchuria, China, and “the South.”

Less than an hour later, at 12:30 pm EWT, Landsburg at the Portland station transmitted the contents of a Domei broadcast to Sterling. “FLASH. The Imperial headquarters are endeavouring [sic] to transmit the Imperial order to every branch of the forces but before it took full effect a part of the Japanese air forces is reported to have made attack on the Allied bases and fleets in the south. While the Imperial headquarters are trying their best to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidents, the Allied fleets and convoys are again requested not to approach Japanese home waters until cease arrangements are made.”

The next morning, at 9:53 am EWT, the Portland office transmitted a long transcription of a Domei broadcast regarding Japan’s surrender. “As enunciated in Imperial [message, the] Potsdam declaration was accepted ‘because war situation has developed not necessarily in Japans advantage while general trends of world have all turned against her interests.’” The Domei asserted that the “Japanese people [should] not take an attitude [sic] that Japan would not have been defeated” if the military had used different strategies, if some countries had remained neutral, or the atomic bomb had not been dropped.

At 4:15 pm EWT on August 16, 1945, Sterling ordered the San Leandro and Portland monitoring officers to “discontinue copying coded material from Japan. Also cease copying point to point traffic between MacArthur and Japan and vice versa. Make certain that no one on your staff is making such copy.” Thirty-three minutes later, both stations acknowledged receipt of Sterling’s directive and bowed out of their role in the Japanese surrender.

Who Made First Contact With the Japanese?

As the excitement of V-J Day and the end of the war swelled, news media became interested in the FCC’s role in the surrender. The New York Times was one of the first to publish the story, on page one of its August 16 edition. “Two messages addressed to Tokyo asked first, for the establishment of radio communications between Tokyo and the Manila headquarters ….” They got the story right, but did not name the Radio Intelligence Division or the men who actually transmitted MacArthur’s message. Three days later the New York Times again reported that “on Wednesday [August 15] General MacArthur sent his first messages to Japan ordering establishment of radio facilities,” but, again, the report did not include the RID. The Portland Oregonian asked Landsburg at the Portland station for information about the Domei broadcast in which the Japanese accepted the Potsdam Declaration.

Landsburg asked Sterling’s permission to provide the information and reminded the chief that the “Domei [broadcast] in question was picked up by both RID and FBIS at same time.” The answer probably was not what Landsburg wanted to hear. “Since interception of Domei was an FBIS … show and RID was being used as a backstop … it is only ethical that [FBIS] personnel names be mentioned.” In any case, the Oregonian wanted to know who heard the first broadcast that the Japanese were surrendering, as opposed to who heard the first response to MacArthur’s message.

September 2, 1945: Formal Surrender of Japan in Images

September 2, 1945, the formal ceremonies, marking the surrender of Japan, took place aboard the USS Missouri.

This collection of images features pictures taken the morning of–and during–the ceremony, the two-page Instrument of Surrender, and a copy of the “souvenir” card given to those aboard the ship that day.

USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, Japan, 2 September 1945, the day that Japanese surrender ceremonies were held on her deck. Naval Historical Center.

A U.S. Army honor guard presents arms as representatives of the Allied Powers arrive at pierside to be taken to USS Missouri for the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Uniform patches and unit flag indicate that the honor guard is from the 11th Airborne Division Reconnaissance Battalion. USS Buchanan (DD-484) is alongside the pier. She carried some of the dignitaries out to the Missouri. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

General Jacques LeClerc leads the French delegation on board USS Nicholas (DD-449) to be taken to USS Missouri for the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

The Japanese delegation comes on board USS Nicholas (DD-449) to be taken to USS Missouri for the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Most sources state that the Japanese were transported to Missouri by USS Lansdowne (DD-486), while Nicholas carried members of the Allied Powers’ delegations. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Spectators and photographers crowd USS Missouri’s superstructure to witness the formal ceremonies marking Japan’s surrender, 2 September 1945. The framed flag in lower right is that hoisted by Commodore Matthew C. Perry on 14 July 1853, in Yedo (Tokyo) Bay, on his first expedition to negotiate the opening of Japan. It had been brought from its permanent home in Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy for use during the surrender ceremonies. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Japanese representatives on board USS Missouri (BB-63) during the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Standing in front are: Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff. Behind them are three representatives each of the Foreign Ministry, the Army and the Navy. They include, in middle row, left to right: Major General Yatsuji Nagai, Army Katsuo Okazaki, Foreign Ministry Rear Admiral Tadatoshi Tomioka, Navy Toshikazu Kase, Foreign Ministry, and Lieutenant General Suichi Miyakazi, Army. In the the back row, left to right (not all are visible): Rear Admiral Ichiro Yokoyama, Navy Saburo Ota, Foreign Ministry Captain Katsuo Shiba, Navy, and Colonel Kaziyi Sugita, Army. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, reading his speech to open the surrender ceremonies, on board USS Missouri (BB-63). The representatives of the Allied Powers are behind him, including (from left to right): Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, RN, United Kingdom Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko, Soviet Union General Sir Thomas Blamey, Australia Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, Canada General Jacques LeClerc, France Admiral Conrad E.L. Helfrich, The Netherlands and Air Vice Marshall Leonard M. Isitt, New Zealand. Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, is just to the right of Air Vice Marshall Isitt. Off camera, to left, are the representative of China, General Hsu Yung-chang, and the U.S. representative, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN. Framed flag in upper left is that flown by Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s flagship when she entered Tokyo Bay in 1853. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Lieutentant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, watches from the opposite side of the table. Foreign Ministry representative Toshikazu Kase is assisting Mr. Shigemitsu. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Watching from across the table are Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied powers are behind General MacArthur. Photographed from atop Missouri’s 16-inch gun turret # 2. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, signs the Instrument of Surrender as United States Representative, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Standing directly behind him are (left-to-right): General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Admiral William F. Halsey, USN, and Rear Admiral Forrest Sherman, USN. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signs the Instrument of Surrender, as Supreme Allied Commander, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Behind him are Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, U.S. Army, and Lieutenant General Sir Arthur E. Percival, British Army, both of whom had just been released from Japanese prison camps. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

General Hsu Yung-chang signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Republic of China, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

View of the surrender ceremonies, looking forward from USS Missouri’s superstructure, as Admiral Conrad E.L. Helfrich signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of The Netherlands. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is standing beside him. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, Chief of Staff to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, makes corrections to the Japanese copy of the Instrument of Surrender, at the conclusion of surrender ceremonies on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Japanese Foreign Ministry representatives Katsuo Okazaki (wearing glasses) and Toshikazu Kase are watching from across the table. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

U.S. Navy carrier planes fly in formation over USS Missouri (BB-63) during the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Photographed by Lieutenant Barrett Gallagher, USNR, from atop Missouri’s forward 16-inch gun turret. Aircraft types include F4U, TBM and SB2C. Ship in the right distance is USS Ancon (AGC-4). Credit: Naval Historical Center.

The Japanese delegation receives honors as they depart USS Missouri (BB-63) at the conclusion of the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. General Yoshijiro Umezu is in the center, saluting. Photographed by Lieutenant Barrett Gallagher, USNR, from atop Missouri’s forward 16-inch gun turret. Note photographers on platforms in the background, band in the lower left and “seahorse” insignia on the shoulder by the Marine in lower right. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

The Japanese representatives follow their escort officer along the deck of USS Lansdowne (DD-486), after the surrender ceremonies. Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu is leading the delegation, followed by General Yoshijiro Umezu. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Admiral William F. Halsey and Vice Admiral John S. McCain on board USS Missouri (BB-63) shortly after the conclusion of the surrender ceremonies, 2 September 1945. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

USS Proteus (AS-19) With submarines of Submarine Squadron 20 alongside in Tokyo Bay, on VJ-Day, 2 September 1945. Names of the submarines present, their commanding officers and the commanding officers of SubRon20 and USS Proteus are printed at the bottom of the image. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Wallet card souvenir of the occasion, issued to Lieutenant Robert L. Balfour, USNR, a member of Admiral Halsey’s staff. These cards were designed by Chief Shipfitter Donald G. Droddy and produced by USS Missouri’s print shop. One was issued to each man who was on board the ship on 2 September 1945, when the surrender of Japan was formalized on her decks. The cards contain the facsimile signatures of Captain Stuart S. Murray, ship’s Commanding Officer, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Admiral William F. Halsey. Credit: Naval Historical Center.

Additional Images from end of August-beginning of September 1945:

August 1945: MacArthur, Occupation, Pending Official Surrender
This collection of pictures features images from August 17–30, 1945

August 27, 1945, the Allied Fleet started making its way toward Tokyo Harbor. Japanese locals help guide the Fleet in the following days.

August 29th and 30th saw the liberation of Allied POWs, the first steps toward disarming Japan, and the arrival of General MacArthur in Japan, in advance of Japan’s official surrender.

August 1945: POWs Liberated
Late August, 1945, between Japan’s surrender and “official” surrender, Sept. 2, saw the liberation of prisoners of war.

This collection represents a few images from that period.

CALLIE OETTINGER was Command Posts’ first managing editor. Her interest in military history, policy and fiction took root when she was a kid, traveling and living the life of an Army Brat, and continues today.

This Day In History: General Douglas MacArthur Lands In Japan To Oversee Japan’s Formal Surrender Ceremony

This day in history, August 30, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan to oversee Japan’s formal surrender ceremony and to organize Japan’s postwar government, marking the end of World War II.

On August 30, 1945, MacArthur landed at Atsugi Airport in Japan and proceeded to drive himself to Yokohama. On his route, tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers lined the roads, their bayonets fixed on him. One last act of defiance-but all for nothing. MacArthur would be the man who would reform Japanese society, putting it on the path to economic success.

On September 2, 1945, the signing of the formal agreement of the Japanese surrender took place.

When World War II broke out, MacArthur was called back to active service-as commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Far East.

MacArthur was convinced that he could defeat Japan if it invaded the Philippines but the United States suffered horrific defeats at Bataan and Corregidor. By the time U.S. forces were compelled to surrender, he had already shipped out, on orders from President Roosevelt. As he was leaving he uttered his famous line, “I shall return.”

Refusing to admit defeat, MacArthur took supreme command in the Southwest Pacific, capturing New Guinea from the Japanese with an innovative “leap frog” strategy. MacArthur then returned to the Philippines in October 1944.

The 75th Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender, the End of World War II

At 10:04 p.m., six years to the day since Nazi Germany invaded Poland, sparking the beginning of World War II, New Yorkers took to Times Square . The crowd was abnormally small, especially considering the historic sight from the moving news bulletin on Times Tower. It indicated Japan’s formal surrender would be the following day, Sept. 2, 1945, and yet the citygoers applauded and cheered without a ruckus. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia even canceled the planned celebration at Central Park because “the people have had their big time and are satisfied.”

Their “big time” took place on Aug. 14, 1945, when President Harry Truman announced to the world Japan’s intentions to surrender. Nearly 2 million New Yorkers piled into the streets, transported into the city center by subways, buses, and their own two feet. Their celebratory cheers echoed around the buildings’ walls, and American flags were draped across lampposts for miles. One lucky US Navy sailor was even photographed by Life Magazine ’ s Alfred Eisenstaedt , sealing his place in history in what later became known as “The Kiss.”

The headlines celebrating the end of World War II and Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) were finalized not in the city streets but from aboard the USS Missouri battleship parked in Tokyo Bay. Smaller boats in the bay ferried admirals and generals from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the Soviet Union through 300 surrounding ships from several nations to the “ Mighty Mo .”

The symbolic ceremony commenced just after 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur welcomed 11 representatives from Japan, including Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu. There was a moment of silence for prayer, followed by a patriotic rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.

“It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice,” MacArthur said in a short speech.

MacArthur sat down in a chair surrounded by thousands of US Navy sailors and signed the declaration as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to end the war. Adm. Chester Nimitz signed on behalf of the United States Shigemitsu, on behalf of the Japanese government Umezu, representing the Japanese military and representatives of other spectating nations added their signatures as well.

“A million eyes seemed to beat on us with the million shafts of a rattling storm of arrows barbed with fire,” Japanese diplomat Toshikazu Kase later recalled . “Never have I realized that the glance of glaring eyes could hurt so much. We waited … standing in the public gaze like penitent boys awaiting the dreaded schoolmaster.”

The conclusion of the 23-minute ceremony was met with a flyover from B-29 Superfortress bombers and formations of carrier planes. The five pens used to sign the historic document were treasured souvenirs of the occasion. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and British Gen. Arthur Percival, two witnesses to the moment, each received a pen, one each was gifted to the US Naval Academy and the US Military Academy at West Point, and the last was a personal memento for MacArthur himself.

MacArthur’s thoughts were broadcast to the world:

“Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death — the seas bear only commerce, men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed. And in reporting this to you, the people, I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way. I speak for the unnamed brave millions homeward bound to take up the challenge of that future which they did so much to salvage from the brink of disaster.

“As I look back on the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that he has given us the faith, the courage, and the power from which to mold victory.”

His message brought forth reflections of a violent past and views of peace and prosperity for the future.

Watch the video: Lessons Learned: General MacArthurs Dismissal