Japanese Instrument of Surrender, 1945
On September 2, 1945, representatives from the Japanese government and Allied forces assembled aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which effectively ended World War II.
The document was prepared by the U.S. War Department and approved by President Harry S. Truman. Eight short paragraphs formalized the “unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.” The Japanese signatories of the surrender were Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, and acting as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces General Douglas MacArthur accepted their surrender. The formal ceremony was witnessed by delegates from the other Allied nations, including China, the United Kingdom, the USSR, France, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The surrender came after almost two years of continuous defeats for the Imperial Japanese Army, compounded by the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945. Word of the Japanese surrender became public on August 14, when President Truman addressed the nation, and August 15 was marked by victory celebrations across the world.
On September 7, the Japanese Surrender Instruments were presented to President Truman in Washington, DC, and in less than a week later, they were put on public display in the Rotunda of the National Archives, alongside the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
This document was on display in the “Featured Documents” exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC, June 4 through July 29, 2015. Both pages of the original will be on view from August 27 through September 3. From September 4 through October 28, the original first page will be on display with a facsimile version of the signature page.
Past Featured Records
On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, a momentous achievement in the struggle for equal rights.
When President Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing the nation’s slaves on January 31, 1865, it was not the end of... Read more
“A bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark”
–Coca-Cola Company, 1915
Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but a century ago nearly all soda bottles looked the same. To distinguish its product... Read more
On October 20, 1774, the First Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Association in response to the “Intolerable Acts” the British government had imposed on its subjects in the colonies. These punitive laws were passed in response to patriot uprisings in the north, particularly the... Read more
On May 1, 1915, when the RMS Lusitania departed New York, it was carrying a decent amount of passengers, despite the announcement from the German Embassy printed in newspapers on April 23 warning Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so... Read more
On the evening of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln during a performance of ‘Our American Cousin’ at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. Booth chose a moment with loud laughter from the audience, which obscured the sound of the pistol. The... Read more
On May 27, 1943, Army Air Force bombardier Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s B-24 airplane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The former U.S. Olympian survived, only to face months adrift at sea and years as a Japanese POW. His fate unknown in the U.S., Louie was declared dead... Read more
On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered his first annual message to Congress at Federal Hall in New York City. With this speech, Washington established the precedent of delivering a formal address to Congress to report on the state of the Union.
He praised the accomplishments... Read more
In mid-December 1944, Allied forces were surprised by a massive German offensive through the Ardennes Forrest that created a “bulge” in the Allied lines. Caught in what would become known as the “Battle of the Bulge,” the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Armed... Read more
The summer of 1814 saw military actions in Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, with dramatically different outcomes. The British capture of the nation’s capital and the destruction of public buildings stand as one of the lowest points in U.S. history. The American victory at Baltimore,... Read more