July 26, 1945: Prompt and Utter Destruction

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At the Potsdam Conference on July 26, 1945, the governments of the United States, Great Britain and China announced their terms of surrender for Japan.  The key points of the Declaration:

1.  Any occupation of Japan would be temporary until a democratic, peaceful, government was established and firmly in control, and the other goals of the occupation had been achieved.

2.  Japan, by trade, would have access to overseas raw materials and food.

3.  Japanese military forces would be disarmed and allowed to return to their homes.  Japan was to be deprived of any war making capability.

4.  Japan would consist of the Home Islands and such other minor islands as determined by the Allies.

5.  Stern justice would be meted out to Japanese war criminals.

6.  The Japanese were warned that the terms would not be deviated from and that failure of Japan to immediately surrender would result in prompt and immediate destruction.  Here is the text of the Declaration:

 

“1.We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

2.The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

3.The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

4.The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

5.Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

6.There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

7.Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

8.The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

9.The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

10.We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

11.Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

12.The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

13.We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

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One Comment

  1. I found the last video of Pres. Truman to be very interesting. PBS has a series titled “Nazi Mega Weapons” where they did an episode on the siege of Berlin titled “Fortress Berlin.” As the Russians advanced on the city the Germans were mobilized to its defense. This included the old and the Hitler Youth. The series said that some of the troops were just children.
    *
    Hitler ordered a fight to the death. The siege of the city started with an Allied aerial bombardment that smashed the city. Hitler also ordered a scorched earth policy of destroying all productive infrastructure to keep it from falling into enemy hands. As the Russians entered the city there were roving SS and Nazi extremist death squads that would charge any German found not fighting with treason and desertion and subject to execution on the spot, usually public hanging to make them an example to the remaining Germans. There was also a reported mass suicide of nearly four thousand Berliners.
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    The show said that the Russian casualty count stood at over 80,000 and it was said that the German losses were close to double this figure. This places the losses in the conventional assault of Berlin in the same ballpark as the Japanese losses from the a-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    *
    This same series did a show about the tunnels of Okinawa. The show said that Okinawa’s death toll was over 12,000 Americans, over 77,000 Japanese soldiers, and about 150,000 civilians according to this series. The last voice over narration on the Okinawa episode about its tunnels said that the Battle for Okinawa killed more people than both atomic bombs combined. PBS also has a show titled “The Bomb” about the US a-bomb program. The two a-bombs that were dropped over Japan were the first deliverable a-bombs that the US had. They were untried in combat conditions, there was the risk that they could have been duds. They were also the entire US nuclear arsenal. When they were used the US had no further a-bombs ready for use. Truman didn’t know anything about the a-bomb program until he became president.

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