It is difficult to imagine what it was like to live during a time of total war; we know it was not easy, either for the soldier on the battlefront or for the women and men and children at home. War is hell. What are some ways we can find out about the way people experienced the war?
How many people were killed in World War II?
What is the significance of August 15, 1945? (Compare this date and how it is commemorated in Japan, Korea, China, the United States, and other countries)
Read (and listen to) the Emperor’s Surrender Speech. Reactions? What reasons did the Emperor give for ending the war?
What is the difference between “surrender” (haisen / 敗戦) and “ending the war” (shūsen / 終戦)? What is the legacy of that difference?
Imagine yourself a citizen of Tokyo in the year 1945:
–January: People urged to commit themselves totally to the war effort
–February: News of Battle of Iwo Jima
–March 9-10: Tokyo Air Raids
–April-June: News of Battle of Okinawa
–May 7: News of defeat of Germany – end of war in Europe
–July: Potsdam Declaration sent to Japanese leaders (July 29)
–August: Atomic bombing of Hiroshima (8/6) and Nagasaki (8/9). Entry of Soviet Union into the war against Japan (8/8); Emperor’s announced Japan’s surrender (8/15). McArthur arrives in Japan (8/30)
–September; Japan signs official surrender papers (9/2), arrest of Tōjō Hideki and 39 other “war criminals” (9/11); (Emperor meets McArthur (9/27)
–October: McArthur announces democratic reforms (liberation of women, legalization of labor unions, academic freedom, economic and political reforms)
December: Women given the right to vote (12/17)
January 1, 1949 Emperor renounces his divinity
What was it like to live through this one year?