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Emperor Hirohito reading out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War.

The Gyokuon-hōsō (玉音放送 ?), lit. "Jewel Voice Broadcast", was the radio broadcast in which Japanese emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War (大東亜戦争終結ノ詔書 Daitōa-sensō-shūketsu-no-shōsho ?), announcing to the Japanese people that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military at the end of World War II. This speech was broadcast at noon Japan standard time on August 15, 1945 after the Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the declaration of war against Japan by the Soviet Union.

Hirohito's speech marked what was probably the first time in history that an Emperor of Japan had spoken (albeit via a phonograph record) to the common people. The speech was delivered in the formal, somewhat archaic Japanese used by the old Imperial Court. Additionally, Hirohito's speech made no direct reference to surrender, instead stating that he had instructed his government to fully accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. This created confusion in the minds of many listeners who were not sure if Japan had surrendered or if Hirohito was exhorting them to resist the enemy invasion. The poor audio quality of the radio broadcast, as well as the excessively formal courtly language in which the speech was composed, only compounded the confusion.

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Broadcast

The speech was not broadcast directly, but was replayed from a phonograph recording made in the Imperial palace on either August 13 or 14 , 1945. Many elements of the Japanese military were extremely angry at the idea that Hirohito was going to end the war, as they believed that this was dishonourable. Consequently, as many as one thousand officers attempted to raid the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14, in order to destroy the recording. The recording was successfully smuggled out of the palace in a laundry basket of women's underwear and broadcast the following day, although another attempt was made to stop it from being played at the radio station.

To ease the anticipated confusion, at the conclusion of the speech a radio announcer clarified that the Emperor's message did mean that Japan was surrendering. According to French journalist Robert Guillain, who was living in Tokyo at the time, upon the announcement's conclusion, most Japanese retreated into their homes or places of business for several hours to quietly absorb and contemplate the significance of the announcement.[1]

Content

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Rescript was translated to English by Tadaichi Hirakawa and was broadcasted to overseas Allies at the same time.

The main subject of the speech was to announce the surrender of Japan, that Hirohito "ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration."

In the speech, Hirohito notes that the war is "Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia […]", but "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage".

He then cites "Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives" (Japanese: 加之敵ハ新ニ殘虐ナル爆彈ヲ使用シテ頻ニ無辜ヲ殺傷シ慘害); the remark is interpreted to refer to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred days before the speech. He, however, never mentioned the Soviet invasion that had begun a few days before the speech. Finally, and most famously, he says: "However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable."

Imperial Rescript on Surrender

TO THE SUBJECTS OF JAPAN

After examining Japan's current situation and condition, I have decided to take extraordinary measures.[1] I have ordered our government to inform the governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Japan will surrender.[2]

It is the role of the Emperor to strive for prosperity and happiness throughout the world, and for the security and well-being of the Japanese people. I declared war on America and Great Britain to protect the Japanese people and to bring peace and stability to the East Asian region. I did not declare war to infringe on the rights of other nations, or to expand Japanese territory.

This war has now lasted four years, and despite the best efforts of the military, the government and the Japanese people, this war has not been successful for Japan. The enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon[3] with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. If we continue to fight this war, this weapon will destroy the Japanese nation and bring about the total extinction of the human race.

As a result, I have no way to save the millions of Japanese citizens other than to surrender.

I express my deepest regret to our allies in East Asia who have worked hard with us to achieve freedom in this region. I am pained by the thought of the officers who died in service to Japan, and their bereaved families. My greatest concern is for the welfare of the wounded and for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

The road ahead for Japan will be very difficult and I am aware that many Japanese will feel dishonoured. However due to the current situation, I have resolved that there is no option but to work to achieve peace for all the generations to come. To do this I must endure the unendurable.[4]

To maintain the structure of the Japanese nation, I am working for you, and I am relying on the sincerity and goodwill of the Japanese people. I ask you to remain calm and to refrain from fighting with your fellow citizens, so that we do not lose the confidence of the world.

Let the Japanese people work together as one family for the future, confident that the Japanese nation will endure, but also aware of the heavy responsibilities and the difficult road ahead. Work together to rebuild the nation for the future, so that we may keep pace with the world.

Notes

[1] The act was extraordinary because, by tradition, surrender was an unbearably shameful act.

[2] The speech did not use the word “surrender” at any time, instead it only referred to “accepting the provisions of the joint declaration” (ie. the Potsdam Declaration) This may have baffled any Japanese citizen who did not know what those provisions actually were.

[3] The atomic bomb

[4] It is presumed that the Emperor was referring to the ignominy of surrendering.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Guillain, Robert, I Saw Tokyo Burning: An Eyewitness Narrative from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima, Jove Publications, 1982.

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Imperial Rescript on Surrender
by Hirohito, translated by Wikisource
The Imperial Rescript of Surrender (玉音放送 gyokuon-hōsō) was the speech delivered by Emperor Hirohito on 15 August 1945, effectively announcing that Japan would surrender, ending World War II. To be precise, Hirohito informed the Japanese people that Japan would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (which, among other things, stipulated the unconditional surrender of Japan). Wikipedia has a full article dealing with this speech.  At the same time, the English translation was also broadcasted to overseas. Original English text can be found at the historical archive of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (http://gaikokiroku.mofa.go.jp/djvu/A0115/index.djvu?djvuopts&page=491).

This interpretation intends to convey the spirit of Hirohito's message without adhering rigidly to his actual words. The numbers refer to footnote references at the conclusion of the passage.

TO THE SUBJECTS OF JAPAN

After examining Japan's current situation and condition, I have decided to take extraordinary measures.[1] I have ordered our government to inform the governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Japan will accept the provisions of the joint declaration.[2]

It is the role of the Emperor to strive for prosperity and happiness throughout the world, and for the security and well-being of the Japanese people. I declared war on America and Great Britain to protect the Japanese people and to bring peace and stability to the East Asian region. I did not declare war to infringe on the rights of other nations, or to expand Japanese territory.

This war has now lasted four years, and despite the best efforts of the military, the government and the Japanese people, this war has not been successful for Japan. The enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon[3] with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. If we continue to fight this war, this weapon will destroy the Japanese nation and bring about the total extinction of the human race.

As a result, I have no way to save the millions of Japanese citizens other than to accept the provisions of the joint declaration.

I express my deepest regret to our allies in East Asia who have worked hard with us to achieve freedom in this region. I am pained by the thought of the officers who died in service to Japan, and their bereaved families. My greatest concern is for the welfare of the wounded and for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

The road ahead for Japan will be very difficult and I am aware that many Japanese will feel dishonoured. However due to the current situation, I have resolved that there is no option but to work to achieve peace for all the generations to come. To do this I must endure the unendurable.[4]

To maintain the structure of the Japanese nation, I am working for you, and I am relying on the sincerity and goodwill of the Japanese people. I ask you to remain calm and to refrain from fighting with your fellow citizens, so that we do not lose the confidence of the world.

Let the Japanese people work together as one family for the future, confident that the Japanese nation will endure, but also aware of the heavy responsibilities and the difficult road ahead. Work together to rebuild the nation for the future, so that we may keep pace with the world.

Notes

  1. The act was extraordinary because, by tradition, surrender was an unbearably shameful act.
  2. The speech did not use the word “surrender” at any time, instead it only referred to “accepting the provisions of the joint declaration” (ie. the Potsdam Declaration) This may have baffled any Japanese citizen who did not know what those provisions actually were.
  3. The atomic bomb
  4. It is presumed that the Emperor was referring to the ignominy of surrendering.
This translation is hosted with different licensing information than from the original text. The translation status applies to this edition.
Original:
Translation:
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.

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