Surrender came with great reluctance to the Japanese at the end of World War II. By 14 August 1945, when Emperor Hirohito made the final decision to submit to the stern terms dictated by the Allies, however, Japan’s ability to wage war had been virtually annihilated. Cut off from raw materials by the destruction of the merchant fleet, Japan’s factories could manufacture little in the way of weaponry. The few ships that remained of the once mighty Japanese Imperial Navy were limited in what they could do by lack of fuel. The Supreme War Council could foresee no results from continuing resistance to the Allied assault on the homeland other than further suffering of the Japanese people and further destruction of the country’s cities, ports, and industry.
On 6 and 9 August, a single powerful new weapon dropped on each of the cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki had leveled those places. How many more atomic bombs the United States had in its arsenal the Japanese did not know. On the day Nagasaki was bombed, the Soviet Union, whom the Japanese had hoped would mediate a peace, declared war and launched an invasion of Manchuria. Despite the clear need to end the war, a few military leaders conspired to effect a coup d’état in order to reverse the emperor’s decision, but were foiled in the attempt.
The final words of the emperor’s recorded surrender message, broadcast to the nation by radio the next day, encapsulated the Japanese feelings about the surrender: “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.”