Following the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, the Soviet declaration of war and the Nagasaki bombing on August 9, the Emperor’s speech was broadcast at noon Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, and did reference the atomic bombs as a reason for the surrender.
The broadcast was recorded a day earlier but was broadcast on August 15 at noon. Below is the translated transcript of the broadcast.
“After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.
We have 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.
To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which lies close to our heart.
Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.
But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state, and the devoted service of our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
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. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers. We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.
The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day. The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of our profound solicitude.
The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects. 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 insufferable. Having been able to safeguard and maintain the Kokutai,(basically the emperors position) We are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.
Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world. Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.
Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the imperial state and keep pace with the progress of the world.”
Although the Emperor did not mention the word ‘surrender’ once, there could be no doubt about it, this speech was the surrender of Japan.
Despite this some Japanese officers still felt compelled to execute a British Pilot, even after the surrender.
Sub-Lieutenant Frederick (Fred) Hockley was an English Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot who was shot down over Japan while taking part in the last combat mission flown by British aircraft in the Second World War.
Hockley was born in 1923,in Littleport near Ely in Cambridgeshire. His father was a foreman for the water board and a bell ringer in the parish church. Fred attended Soham Grammar School and was a keen swimmer.
Commissioned in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve he was posted as a Supermarine Seafire pilot to HMS Indefatigable.
On the 15th of August 1945 he took off leading five Seafires of 894 Squadron to escort Firefly and Avenger fighter bombers attacking airfields in Tokyo Bay. They were diverted to a chemicals factory in Odaki Bay.
The 15 aircraft diverted to the alternate target which was a chemicals factory in Odaki Bay. Hockley’s radio was not functioning and he bailed out of his aircraft after it was attacked by Mitsubishi Zero fighters, parachuting to the ground near the village of Higashimura (now Chōnan). The formation, now led by Victor Lowden, bombed the target and completed their mission.
Hockley surrendered to an air raid warden who took him to the local civil defence HQ. The commander there handed him over to the 426th Infantry Regiment, stationed in Ichinomiya.
At regimental headquarters the commanding officer, Colonel Tamura Tei’ichi, having heard Emperor Hirohito announce the Japanese surrender at 12 noon, called divisional headquarters for advice on what to do with the prisoner. The 147th Division’s intelligence officer, Major Hirano Nobou, responded with words to the effect that he was to shochi-se (finish him off) in the mountains that night, despite the fact that Tamura had sought no authority to do so.
Tamura claimed that he was shocked by the order, which he felt was “unkind”, but he could not ignore an order from divisional command. He therefore told his adjutant, Captain Fujino Masazo, that Hockley had to be executed, adding that Fujino should do it so that no one could witness it. Fujino then ordered Sergeant Major Hitomi Tadao to move Hockley to regimental headquarters. There Hitomi was ordered by another officer to take six soldiers into the mountains to dig a grave with pickaxes and shovels. At about nine o’clock at night, nine hours after the Emperor had announced the surrender, Hockley was taken to the grave blindfolded, his hands were tied and he was told to stand with his back to the hole. He was then shot twice and rolled into the hole, where Fujino stabbed him in the back with a sword to ensure that he was dead. His body was later exhumed and cremated after Colonel Tamura began to fear that it might be found.
Hockley’s fate was revealed when Allied Occupation forces investigated and Fujino told the truth about what had happened, though Tamura had implored not to do so. Tamura, Hirano and Fujino were transferred to British custody and put on trial as war criminals in Hong Kong between 30 May and 13 June 1947. Tamura and Fujino cited superior orders in their defence, and Hirano maintained that he had ordered that Hockley be dealt with in accordance with intelligence service regulations and claimed that he had not anticipated that Hockley would be killed. Following differing accounts of the precise wording of the orders, Tamura and Hirano were convicted, sentenced to death and hanged on 16 September 1947, and Fujino was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
I think Takuma’s claim that he was shocked was quite a hollow statement. His supreme superior ,the Emperor, had clearly indicated that all hostilities were to cease on noon that day. Also exhuming the body and then cremating it, is a clear sign he knew that the execution was the wrong thing to do.
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