The Collapse of Japan and the End of the War in the Pacific
The capture of Iwo Jima gave the Allies bases for fighter planes which were to escort the Superfortresses, based in the Marianas, when they attacked Japan. With Okinawa in U.S. hands other bombers could join the B-29's in the raids. The first Superfortresses flying from the Marianas struck Tokyo in November 1944. The number of planes used in the attacks increased with each raid until, in July 1945, over 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Japan. During July most of the industrial areas of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe, and Osaka had been destroyed. The Air Forces then turned its attention to secondary targets and to mining operations planned to blockade Japan so that her warships would be unable to leave the harbors and her ships carrying supplies would be unable to enter Japanese waters.
In July the U.S. Third Fleet was sent into Japanese waters to assist in preventing the Japanese fleet from leaving its bases and to shell enemy installations along the coast. Aircraft from naval carriers joined in the attack and the combined efforts of the Allied air power reduced Japan's air force to scattered remnants.
The Allies issued the Potsdam Proclamation on 26 July 1945 calling upon the Japanese to surrender unconditionally. Japan refused the terms and the Allies began a new series of attacks. On 6 August the first atomic bomb to be used against an enemy was dropped on Hiroshima; on 8 August, the Russians declared war on Japan; and on 9 August a second atomic bomb was released, this time over the city of Nagasaki. These blows were closely followed by a series of Allied aerial attacks and on 15 August Japan accepted the Potsdam terms, ending the war in the Pacific.
On 2 September 1945 the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers accepted the formal Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri in a twenty-minute ceremony.
JAPANESE SHIPPING in a northern Honshu harbor during a U.S. carrier-based aircraft attack (top); enemy cruisers anchored in the Japanese naval base at Kure Harbor, Honshu, being bombed by U.S. naval carrier planes (bottom). On 10 July 1945 carrier-based planes struck the Tokyo area, concentrating on airfields. This was the first of a series of attacks by aircraft and surface warships of the U.S. and British fleets. In late July attacks were carried out against enemy warships anchored in the harbors of Honshu.
THE U.S. THIRD FLEET off the coast of Japan. While the air strikes were going on, the surface warships were steaming up and down the east coast of Honshu shelling enemy installations. During these attacks by aircraft and surface vessels, steel-producing centers, transportation facilities, and military installations were struck; hundreds of enemy aircraft were destroyed or crippled; and most of the ships of the Japanese Imperial Fleet were either sunk or damaged.
A SHANTYTOWN which sprang up in a section of Yokohama after B-29's destroyed the original buildings (top); destruction of buildings by incendiary bombs in Osaka, Japan's second largest city (bottom). The bombing of Japan's key industrial cities was stepped up from less than two thousand tons of bombs dropped during December 1944 to over forty thousand tons dropped in July 1945. More and more bombers were sent against Japan with less fighter opposition until, by the end of July, the targets were announced in advance of the raids. This did much to undermine the civilian morale and the people began to realize that the end of the war was close at hand.
THE BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA with the first atomic bomb to be used against an enemy, 6 August 1945. With the refusal of the enemy to accept the unconditional surrender terms of the Potsdam Proclamation, it was decided to release a single atomic bomb from a Superfortress. The city chosen for the attack was Hiroshima, where important Japanese military installations were located.
HIROSHIMA was approximately 60 percent destroyed by the bomb. Ground zero (the point on the ground directly below the air burst of the bomb) was approximately 5,000 feet away from the hospital building in the center of the photograph, in the direction of the arrow. (This picture was taken a year after the atomic bomb was dropped.)
U.S. PERSONNEL STATIONED ON GUAM discussing the news of the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Before the Japanese had recovered from the first atomic bomb, another blow was delivered. On 8 August the Russians declared war on Japan and on the following day crossed the borders into Manchuria.
ATOMIC BOMBING OF NAGASAKI, 9 August 1945. This was the second atomic bomb to be dropped on a Japanese city.
A PORTION OF NAGASAKI after the atomic bomb was dropped. Nagasaki was a large industrial center and an important port on the west coast of Kyushu. About 45 percent of the city was destroyed by the bomb. The rectangular area in the lower left portion of the photograph is the remains of the Fuchi School. Along both sides of the river are buildings of the Mitsubishi factories which manufactured arms, steel, turbines, etc. The tall smoke stack in the right portion of photograph is that of the Kyushu electric plant. The school was approximately 3,700 feet from ground zero while the electric plant was approximately 6,700 feet away.
DAMAGE AT NAGASAKI, showing large areas where most of the buildings were leveled. Buildings constructed of reinforced concrete suffered less than other types. The circular structure, at lower center, is the Ohashi Gas Works, approximately 3,200 feet north of ground zero. The concrete building at left center is the Yamazato School, approximately 2,300 feet north of ground zero.
MOUNT FUJIYAMA. After the two atomic bombings and repeated blows by the Navy and Air Forces, the enemy capitulated on 15 August 1945.
ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP USS MISSOURI just before the Japanese surrender ceremony, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945. This formally ended the three years and eight months of war in the Pacific and marked the defeat of the Axis Powers.
U.S. B-29'S flying over the USS Missouri during the surrender ceremony.
U.S. AND JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHERS taking pictures of U.S. troops landing at Tateyama, Japan (top); vehicles landing at Wakayama Beach, Honshu (bottom). Following the defeat of Japan, Allied troops landed on the Japanese islands to begin their occupational duties. The invasion of Japan had been planned but the surrender of the enemy made assault landings unnecessary. However, many troops and much of the equipment landed over the beaches.
A JAPANESE WATCHING U.S. TROOPS LANDING on the beach at Wakayama.
MILITARY POLICEMEN STAND GUARD as Japanese soldiers carry rifles, light machine guns, and side arms from trucks into a building used as a collecting point (top); U.S. soldiers in a light Japanese tank at a collecting point (bottom). Tanks shown are tankettes, Type 92, 1932, which weighed three tons, carried a crew of two men, and had a 16.5-mm. machine gun as principal weapon. The tankettes developed a speed of 25 miles per hour and were used in reconnaissance and cavalry roles.
SCUTTLED JAPANESE AIRCRAFT CARRIER in Tokyo Bay (top); submarines tied up at Maizuru Naval Base (bottom). The submarine nearest the dock is a German U-boat which had been given the Japanese for training purposes.
V-J DAY PARADE IN HONOLULU. The total of U.S. Army casualties in the global war was nearly 950,000, including almost 330,000 killed in battle. Of the total, the war against Japan accounted for approximately 175,000 casualties including about 52,000 killed. In the South and Southwest Pacific Areas 72 combat landing operations were carried out in less than three years.
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