Marked both by jubilation and somber reflection, the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay officially concluded the bloodiest war in recorded history. 

In a strong, clear voice General Douglas MacArthur famously ushered in peace by declaring: 

“We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. The issues, involving divergent ideals and ideologies, have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate. Nor is it for us here to meet, representing as we do a majority of the people of the earth, in a spirit of distrust, malice, or hatred. But rather it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to the higher dignity which alone fits the sacred purposes we are about to service, committing all our people unreservedly to faithful compliance with the understanding they are here formally to assume.”

Below, are scenes from that epochal event.

  • Japanese POWs on Guam stand with heads bowed after listening to Emperor Hirohito announce Japan's surrender, August 15, 1945. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
  • The USS Missouri entering Tokyo Bay. (National Archives)
  • Spectators pick vantage spots on the deck of the USS Missouri to witness the Japanese surrender. The flag seen in the image is the actual flag that was hoisted by Commodore Matthew C. Petty on July 14, 1853, in Bay of Yedo (Tokyo), on his expedition to negotiate the first treaty between the United States and Japan. (National Archives)
  • General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz walk to take their places for the surrender ceremonies on board USS Missouri. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
  • Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese government, formally ending World War II. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
  • Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signs the Instrument of Surrender. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
  • General Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander during formal surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Behind General MacArthur are Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright and Lieutenant General A. E. Percival. (National Archives)
  • Japanese envoys depart the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay after the signing of the surrender papers. (National Archives)
  • President Harry S. Truman reviews a Japanese sword offered during the surrender on the USS Missouri. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
  • An exuberant sailor and a woman “celebrating” the announcement of Japan's surrender, in Washington, DC, August 14, 1945. (Naval History and Heritage Command)