The Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送 Gyokuon-hōsō) was the radio broadcast in which Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa 昭和天皇 Shōwa-tennō) read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the Greater East Asia 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.
The speech was probably the first time that an Emperor of Japan had spoken (albeit via a phonograph record) to the common people. It was delivered in the formal, Classical Japanese that few ordinary people could easily understand. It made no direct reference to a surrender of Japan, instead stating that the government had been instructed to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration fully. This created confusion in the minds of many listeners who were not sure whether Japan had surrendered. The poor audio quality of the radio broadcast, as well as the formal courtly language in which the speech was composed, worsened the confusion. A digitally remastered version of the broadcast was released on 30 June 2015.
|Jewel Voice Broadcast|
The Gyokuon-hōsō record inside the NHK Museum of Broadcasting.
|Other names||Gyokuon-hōsō, 玉音放送|
|Running time||12:00 pm–12:04 pm|
|Country of origin||Empire of Japan|
|Hosted by||Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa 昭和天皇 Shōwa-tennō)|
|Original release||August 15, 1945 – August 15, 1945|
The speech was not broadcast directly, but was replayed from a phonograph recording made in the Tokyo Imperial Palace on either August 13 or 14, 1945. Many elements of the Imperial Japanese Army were extremely opposed to the idea that Hirohito was going to end the war, as they believed that this was dishonourable. Consequently, as many as one thousand officers and soldiers raided the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14 to destroy the recording. The rebels were confused by the layout of the Imperial palace and were unable to find the recording, which had been hidden in a pile of documents. 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.
After the recording was played, the record used for playing it disappeared in the post-surrender chaos, but a radio technician had secretly made a copy, which was given to Occupation authorities and is the source of all recordings available today. The original record was later recovered but is generally believed to have never again been played.
The rescript was translated into English and was broadcast to overseas Allies by Tadaichi Hirakawa at the same time. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recorded the broadcast, and its entire text appeared in The New York Times.
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, Republic of China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration."
In the speech, Hirohito noted that the war arose out of "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 stated, "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", referring to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred days before. He did not, however, mention the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and other Japanese-held territories that had also begun a few days before. He also said, "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."
TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:
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 unsufferable.
Having been able to safeguard and maintain the Kokutai, 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.
Tokyo, August 14, 1945
|Original manuscript of the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War,
written vertically in columns going from top to bottom and ordered from right to left, with the Privy Seal imprinted
The Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan during that Empire's existence from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 through the Second World War until the signing of the Constitution of Japan (1868–1947) included the:
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese NavyAir forces were divided into the Army Air Service and the Navy Air Service.East Asia Development Board
The East Asia Development Board, or Kōain (興亜院), was a cabinet level agency in the Empire of Japan that operated between 1938 and 1942. It was created on 18 November 1938 under the first Konoe administration to coordinate the government's China policy. It was initially designed to sponsor industrial and commercial development in China to boost support for Japanese rule in occupied territories. However, the agency was quickly usurped by the Imperial Japanese Army and became a tool for forced labour and enslavement in mines and war industries. It was absorbed into the Ministry of Greater East Asia in 1942.Fukoku kyōhei
Fukoku kyōhei (富国強兵, "Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces"), originally a phrase from the ancient Chinese historical work on the Warring States period, Zhan Guo Ce, was Japan's national slogan during the Meiji period, replacing the slogan sonnō jōi ("Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians"). It is a yojijukugo phrase.General Election Law
The General Election Law (普通選挙法, Futsu Senkyo Hō) was a law passed in Taishō period Japan, extending suffrage to all males aged 25 and over. It was proposed by the Kenseitō political party and it was passed by the Diet of Japan on 5 May 1925.Gozen Kaigi
Imperial Conference (御前会議, Gozen Kaigi) (literally, a conference before [the emperor]) was an extraconstitutional conference on foreign matters of grave national importance that was convened by the government of the Empire of Japan in the presence of the Emperor.House of Peers (Japan)
The House of Peers (貴族院, Kizoku-in) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947).Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
The Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff (軍令部, Gunreibu) was the highest organ within the Imperial Japanese Navy. In charge of planning and operations, it was headed by an Admiral headquartered in Tokyo.Imperial Rescript on Education
The Imperial Rescript on Education (教育に関する勅語, Kyōiku ni Kansuru Chokugo) was signed by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 30 October 1890 to articulate government policy on the guiding principles of education on the Empire of Japan. The 315 character document was read aloud at all important school events, and students were required to study and memorize the text.Kokutai
Kokutai (国体, "national body/structure of state") is a concept in the Japanese language translatable as "system of government", "sovereignty", "national identity, essence and character", "national polity; body politic; national entity; basis for the Emperor's sovereignty; Japanese constitution". The word is also a short form of the (unrelated) name for the National Sports Festival of Japan.Ministry of Greater East Asia
The Ministry of Greater East Asia (大東亜省, Daitōashō) was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1942 to 1945, established to administer overseas territories obtained by Japan in the Pacific War and to coordinate the establishment and development of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.Ministry of Munitions (Japan)
The Ministry of Munitions (軍需省, Gunjushō) was a cabinet-level ministry in the final days of the Empire of Japan, charged with the procurement and manufacture of armaments, spare parts and munitions to support the Japanese war effort in World War IIMinistry of War (pre-modern Japan)
The Ministry of War (兵部省, Hyōbu-shō), sometimes called Tsuwamono no Tsukasa, was a division of the eighth century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period. The Ministry was replaced in the Meiji period.Ministry of the Treasury
The Ministry of the Treasury (大蔵省, Ōkura-shō) (lit. the department of the great treasury) was a division of the eighth-century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period. The Ministry was replaced in the Meiji period.Shinmin no Michi
The Shinmin no michi (臣民の道, "Way of Subjects") was an ideological manifesto issued by the Ministry of Education of Japan during World War II aimed at Japan's domestic audience to explain in clear terms what was expected of them "as a people, nation and race".Shōwa Modan
Shōwa Modan (昭和モダン), or "Shōwa's modernness," is the culture of the compromise between Japanese and European styles that started at the beginning of the Shōwa period. Shōwa began after the Great Kantō earthquake in Taishō period, and its social condition was the times when the May 15 Incident and February 26 Incident happened and the war seems to be begin.
The term was used for the song title of Masayoshi Yamazaki in the 2007 tribute album of Ryoichi Hattori. Hattori was a famous composer during the period.
In those days, the lifestyle was changing rapidly. Japanese women began to wear Western clothes and hats in contrast with the traditional kimonoa and previous Japanese hairstyles. Female bus conductors were called basu gāru, and wore the latest trends in (Japanese) Western fashion, thus earning the title moga, (from modern girl).
Houses were built along railway lines. People living there did some shopping at the department store of the terminal, and called in at the restaurant or the cafe in the return from it in the holiday.Supreme War Council (Japan)
The Supreme War Council (軍事参議院, Gunji sangiin) was established during the development of representative government in Meiji period Japan to further strengthen the authority of the state. Its first leader was Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Imperial Japanese Army and was the first constitutional Prime Minister of Japan. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the Emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials. The Supreme War Council was the de facto inner cabinet of Japan prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War.Takebashi incident
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The Neighborhood Association (隣組, Tonarigumi) was the smallest unit of the national mobilization program established by the Japanese government in World War II. It consisted of units consisting of 10-15 households organized for fire fighting, civil defense and internal security.Tōseiha
Tōseiha, or Control Faction (統制派, Tōseiha), was a political faction in the Imperial Japanese Army active in the 1920s and the 1930s.
Led by Major General Tetsuzan Nagata, along with Hideki Tōjō, the Tōseiha was a grouping of officers united primarily by their opposition to the Kōdōha faction led by General Sadao Araki and Jinzaburō Masaki. The name "Tōseiha" was pejorative and was coined and used only by Kōdōha members and sympathizers.