The Japanese surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur on board an American battleship, Missouri, at Tokyo Bay at 9 am on 2 September 1945 – officially ending WWII.1 Two weeks later, on 12 September 1945 at 11.10 am, local time, another Japanese surrender ceremony was held at the Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as City Hall), which was accepted by Lord Louis Mountbatten.2 It officially ended the Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia.3
Surrender ceremony on board the American battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay
The Japanese representatives comprised Foreign Minister, Mr Mamoru Shigemitsu, General Yoshijiro Umezu of the Imperial General Headquarters, and nine others; three, each from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japanese navy and army. The Instrument of Surrender was signed by Mr Shigemitsu as “by command of, and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Government of Japan”, and General Umezu who signed as "by command of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters”. They had initially made a request that they be allowed to sign as "by command of and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan" in accordance with the Japanese constitution, but this request was denied.4
MacArthur represented and signed on behalf of the Allied Powers – Admiral C. W. Nimitz for the United States, Admiral B. Fraser for Great Britain, General T. A. Blamey for Australia, Colonel L. M. Cosgrove for Canada, Air Vice-Marshall L. M. Isitt for New Zealand, General Hsu Yung-chang for China, General P. Leclerc for France, Admiral C. E. L. Helfrich for the Netherlands, and Lieutenant-General K. N. Derevyanko for Russia.5
In addition, MacArthur was assigned the duty of administering the occupation of Japan, which lasted till 1952. During this administration, many high-ranking Japanese officials were tried, and were either executed or given long sentences.6
Surrender ceremony at Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as City Hall)
On 12 September 1945, Supreme Allied Commander (Southeast Asia), Lord Louis Mountbatten, accompanied by the Deputy Supreme Commander Raymond Wheeler, was driven to the ceremony by a released prisoner-of-war. As the car drove by the streets, sailors and marines from the East Indies Fleet who had lined the streets greeted them. At the Municipal Building, Mountbatten was received by his Commanders-in Chief and high-ranking Allied Officers based in Singapore. Also gathered in front of the Municipal Building were four Guards-of-Honour, from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Indian army, and Australian paratroopers. Mountbatten led an inspection of the officers before proceeding to the chamber where the ceremony was to be held. During the inspection, a fleet band played “Rule Britannia” accompanied by the firing of a seventeen-gun salute by the Royal Artillery.7
The Instrument of Surrender was signed by General Itagaki, who signed on behalf of Hisaichi Terauchi, Field Marshall Count, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Japanese Forces, Southern Region.8 Terauchi was not able to attend the surrender ceremony as he had fallen ill due to a stroke.9 However, he personally surrendered to Mountbatten on 30 November 1945 in Saigon (Ho Chih Minh city). He also surrendered his two swords: a short sword forged in the 16th century and a long sword forged in the 13th century. Mountbatten later presented the short sword to King George VI.10
The Japanese signed a total of 11 copies of the Instrument of Surrender;11 one each for the British, American, Chinese, French, Dutch, Australian, Indian and the Japanese governments; and one each for King George VI, the Supreme Commander, Mountbatten12 and the South East Asia Command’ records.13
The ceremony was also witnessed by 400 spectators made up of commanders and officers from the navy, army and air force, as well as senior officers from the Supreme Headquarters of the South East Asia Command,14 leaders of the Malayan communities, Sultan of Johore, Sir Ibrahim, and released prisoners-of-war, who were all seated behind the Allied representatives. In the chamber, flags of Allied forces were hung and at the bases of its pillars stood one officer representing the different fighting forces; the Gurkhas, Sikhs, Australians, British airmen, Dutch, Americans, French (from the battleship Richelieu) and the 5th Indian Division.15
The surrender ceremony finally ended with the hoisting of the Union Jack and the playing of the national anthems of all the Allied nations. This was the same flag that flew over the Government House before the war, and which was hidden by Malayan civil servant, Mervyn Cecil Frank Sheppard in his pillow during his captivity in the Changi prison during the Japanese Occupation.16
General Seishiro Itagaki (7th Area Army)
Lieutenant-General Hyotaro Kimura (Burma Area Army)
Lieutenant-General Akita Nakamura (18th Area Army)
Lieutenant-General Kinoshita (3rd Air Army)
Vice-Admiral Shigeru Fukudome (1st Southern Expeditionary Fleet)
Vice-Admiral Shibata (2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet)
Lieutenant-General Tokazo Numata (Chief of Staff to Field-Marshall Count H. Terauchi, Commander-in-Chief, Southern Army)
Major-General William Ronald Campbell Penney (Director of Intelligence, South East Asia Command)
Brigadier K.S. Thimayya (representing the Indian Army)
General P. Leclerc (representing France)
Admiral Sir Arthur John Power (Commander-in Chief, East Indies Fleet)
Lieutenant-General Raymond Albert Wheeler (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, representing U.S.A.)
Admiral Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten (Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia)
General Sir William Joseph Slim (Commander-in-Chief, Allied Air Forces, South East Asia Command)
Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park (Commander-in-Chief, Allied Air Forces, South East Asia Command)
Major-General Feng Yee (Head of the Chinese military mission to South East Asia Command)
Air Vice-Marshall A.T. Cole (representing Australia)
Colonel D.C. Boorman van Vreedon (representing the Netherlands)
27 Jul 1945: The Foreign Ministry of Japan received the Potsdam Proclamation from the Allies, which arrived in Tokyo at 6.00 am. It instructed the Japanese to surrender unconditionally or face the consequences.19 The document also contained specific details that guarantee the continuing existence of Japan as a nation, and the Allied forces’ withdrawal from Japan once order had been restored and all Japan war-making capabilities destroyed.20
6 Aug 1945: At 8:15 am, Japanese time, the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy”, struck Hiroshima. It was dropped from an American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay,21 piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets. The bomb destroyed almost all building structures and killed more than 100,000 people.22
8–9 Aug 1945: Russia delivered a declaration of war on Japan to Japanese Ambassador Sato in Moscow at midnight.23
9 Aug 1945: At 11.02 am, Japanese time, the second atomic bomb, code-named “Fat Boy”, was dropped on Nagasaki,24 from another American B-29 bomber named Bock’s Car, piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney. It had the same effect as the first bomb, only this time there were 23,753 people killed and 43,020 wounded.25
15 Aug 1945: Emperor Hirohito made a radio announcement to his people announcing the decision to accept the Potsdam Proclamation, and surrender to the Allies.
25 Aug 1945: Emperor Hirohito issued a decree ordering all Japanese forces to demobilise and cease operation.
27 Aug 1945: The American 3rd fleet accompanied the Duke of York of the British Pacific Fleet anchored at the Sagami Bay, before proceeding to occupying the Yokosuka naval base.
30 Aug 1945: General MacArthur arrived at Atsugi airport.
2 Sep 1945: At 9.00 am (Japanese time), the Instrument of Surrender was signed on board the American battleship, Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, officially ending the WWII.26
4 Sep 1945: General Itagaki and Vice Admiral Fukudome signed surrender terms on board HMS Sussex at Keppel Harbour, handing Singapore to Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia’s naval and military representatives.27
12 Sep 1945: The official surrender ceremony was held at the Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as City Hall), marking the end of Japanese Occupation in Southeast Asia.28
Heirwin Md Nasir
1. Stanley Woodburn Kirby, et al., The War against Japan: The Surrender of Japan, vol 5 (London: H.M.S.O, 1957), 220. (Call no. RCLOS 940.542 KIR)
2. “Japanese in Malaysia Surrender at Singapore,” Straits Times, 13 September 1945, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Tourist Promotion Board Singapore, Historical Research on the Surrender Ceremony at City Hall on 12th September 1945 (Singapore: Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, 1975), 6. (Call no. RSING 940.5425 HIS-[WAR])
4. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 220.
5. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 220.
6. Andrew Wiest and Gregory Louis Mattson, The Pacific War (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2001), 250. (Call no. R q940.5426 WIE-[WAR])
7. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 271; “Japanese in Malaysia.”
8. “Japanese in Malaysia.”
9. “The Instrument of Surrender,” Straits Times, 13 September 1945, 3. (From NewspaperSG); Romen Bose, Singapore at War: Secrets from the Fall, Liberation & Aftermath of WWII (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2012), 248. (Call no. RSING 940.5425 BOS-[WAR])
10. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 272.
11. “Japanese in Malaysia.”
12. Tourist Promotion Board Singapore, Historical Research on the Surrender Ceremony, 6.
13. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 273.
14. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 271–72.
15. “Japanese in Malaysia.”
16. Bose, Singapore at War, 252; “Japanese in Malaysia.”
17. Tourist Promotion Board Singapore, Historical Research on the Surrender Ceremony, 7; Bose, Singapore at War, 244; “Seven Japanese Commanders,” Straits Times, 12 September 1945, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Tourist Promotion Board Singapore, Historical Research on the Surrender Ceremony, 7; Bose, Singapore at War, 298–04.
19. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 205–07.
20. Wiest and Mattson, Pacific War, 244.
21. “Hiroshima Remembered,” Straits Times, 7 August 2005, 17. (From NewspaperSG)
22. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 207; Wiest and Mattson, Pacific War, 242, 248.
23. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 198; Wiest and Mattson, Pacific War, 248.
24. “Nagasaki Urges US to Give Up Nukes,” Straits Times, 10 August 2005, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
25. Wiest and Mattson, Pacific War, 249; Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 209.
26. Kirby, et al., War against Japan, 216, 218, 220.
27. Bose, Singapore at War, 291, 310–21.
28. “Japanese in Malaysia.”
Lee Geok Boi, The Syonan Years: Singapore under Japanese Rule 1942–1945 (Singapore: National Archives of Singapore and Epigram, 2005). (Call no. RSING q940.53957 LEE-[WAR])
“This Is No Negotiated Surrender,” Straits Times, 13 September 1945, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.