Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II

ISBN : 9780190091101

Marc Gallicchio
320 ページ
156 x 235 mm
Pivotal Moments in American History

Signed on September 2, 1945 aboard the American battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay by Japanese and Allied leaders, the instrument of surrender formally ended the war in the Pacific and brought to a close one of the most cataclysmic engagements in history, one that had cost the lives of millions. VJ-Victory over Japan-Day had taken place two weeks or so earlier, in the wake of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the entrance of the Soviet Union into the war. In the end, the surrender itself fulfilled the commitment that Franklin Roosevelt had made that it be "unconditional," as had been the case with Nazi Germany in May, 1945. Though readily accepted as war policy at the time, after Roosevelt's death in April 1945, popular support for unconditional surrender wavered, particularly when the bloody campaigns on Iwo Jima and Okinawa made clear the cost of military victory against Japan. The ending of the war in Europe spurred calls in Congress, particularly among anti-New Deal Republicans, to shift the American economy to peacetime and bring home troops. Even after the atomic bombs had been dropped, Japan continued to seek a negotiated surrender, further complicating the debate. Though this was the last time Americans would impose surrender unconditionally, questions surrounding it continued at home through the 1950s and 1960s, when liberal and conservative views reversed, and particularly in Vietnam and the definition of "peace with honor." It remained controversial through the ceremonies surrounding the 50th anniversary and the Gulf War, when the subject revived. In Unconditional, which publishes in time for the 75th anniversary of the surrender, Bancroft Prize co-winner Marc Gallicchio offers a narrative of the surrender in its historical moment, revealing how and why the event unfolded as it did and the principle figures behind it, including George C. Marshall and Douglas MacArthur, who would effectively become the leader of Japan during the American occupation. It also reveals how the policy underlying it remained controversial at the time and in the decades following, shaping our understanding of World War II.


Introduction: A Great Victory Has Been Won
Chapter I: Our Demand has been and it remains-Unconditional Surrender!
Chapter II: Popular opinion can offer no useful contribution.
Chapter III. [Admiral Leahy] said that his matter had been considered on a political level and consideration had been given to the removal of the sentence in question.
Chapter IV: I deem this reply a full acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration which specifies the unconditional surrender of Japan.
Chapter V: [T]he surrender today is no negotiated surrender. The Japanese are submitting to superior force now massed here.
Chapter VI: We demanded unconditional surrender, then dropped the bomb and accepted conditional surrender...
Chapter VII: The curators simply will not let go of the notion that the policy of demanding Japan's unconditional surrender was (a) unreasonable, (b) prolonged the war needlessly, and foiled Japan's earnest desire to make peace.
Conclusion: Much of the success of the occupation derived from the fact that Japan surrendered unconditionally, thereby ceding absolute and nonnegotiable authority to the victors.


Marc Gallicchio is Professor of History at Villanova University and was a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer in Japan, 1998-1999 and 2004-2005. He is co-author, with Waldo Heinrichs, of Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945, which won the Bancroft Prize in History.