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History Revived: Original Audio of Hirohito’s WWII-ending Speech Released

History Revived: Original Audio of Hirohito’s WWII-ending Speech Released

“…by enduring the unendurable, and suffering what is insufferable.”

On August 15, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito ordered Japan’s unconditional surrender, bringing about a formal end to World War II. His speech announcing the ceasing of hostilities was recorded secretly, for fear that violent protests would break out once the army and the people realized that their leader was, indeed, surrendering.

Yesterday, the Imperial Household Agency released a digital version of the original recording of Hirohito’s address ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

More from the Daily Mail:

Speaking in unique intonation that drops at the end of sentences, Hirohito opens his 1945 address with Japan’s decision to accept the condition of surrender. He also expresses ‘the deepest sense of regret’ to Asian countries that co-operated with Japan to gain ’emancipation’ from Western colonisation. Hirohito also laments devastation caused by ‘a new and most cruel bomb’ dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and asks everyone to stay calm while helping to reconstruct the country.

Its significance is that Hirohito, who at the time was considered a living deity, made the address, said Takahisa Furukawa, a historian at Nihon University in Tokyo.
‘What’s most important is the emperor reached out to the people to tell them that they had to surrender and end the war,’ he said.

‘The speech is a reminder of what it took to end the wrong war.’

Every Japanese knows a part of the speech where Hirohito refers to his resolve for peace by ‘enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable’, a phrase repeatedly used in news and dramas about the war.

But the rest is little known, largely because the text he read was deliberately written in arcane language making him sound authoritative and convincing as he sought people’s understanding about Japan’s surrender.

The emperor’s voice sounds slightly higher and more intense than the familiar recording that was heard on TV and elsewhere as a replica of the 1945 broadcast.

‘The language was extremely difficult,’ said Tomie Kondo, 92, who listened to the 1945 broadcast in a monitoring room at NHK where she worked as a newscaster.


The History Channel has provided audio from an NBC News broadcast detailing the timeline of Hirohito’s surrender. It may or may not give you chills, depending on how intensely you nerd out over WWII history:

The Daily Mail has curated an intense collection of photographs from Hirohito’s bunker, and other locations on V-J Day.


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Bitterlyclinging | August 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm

The Japanese fought the war with twelve aircraft carriers total. All were sunk. The United States finished the war with 48 aircraft carriers. The United States Pacific Fleet was larger than the combined navies of all the warring powers.
Japaneses Foreign Minister Shigomitzu’s Assistant, standing on the deck of the USS Missouri during the signing of the Articles of Surrender Ceremony, observing the ships of the US Fleet at anchor in Tokyo Bay, the two thousand plane overflight of US Army Air Corps aircraft at the end of the signing ceremony. the size of the ship he stood on, the number of sailors arrayed on every deck and every available position and perch possible watching the ceremony wondered to himself how Japan could have ever have possibly conceived of defeating such an enemy.

    Right on! Those 48 were US Navy fleet carriers. Additionally, our Navy had built over a hundred smaller, Jeep or Escort, carriers, the kind that made up the Taffy 3 Task Force during the naval battle of Leyte Gulf, which took tremendous losses during that engagement yet stopped the Jap Navy’s third push during that battle.

      While not insignificant, it is a gross exaggeration to say the US Navy suffered “tremendous” losses in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In fact, they lost only six major ships: light carrier Princeton, escort carriers Gambier Bay and St. Lo, destroyer escort Samuel B Roberts, and destroyers Hoel and Johnston.

    “…wondered to himself how Japan could have ever have possibly conceived of defeating such an enemy.”

    The lesson of course, we had damn few at the beginning of the war, and the Japanese thought we would be defeated long before we could rap up our industrial production.

    We are now downsizing while another Asian power is ramping up. This Asian power is as or more racist in their belief of their superiority than the japs were.

    We have little industry left to ramp up production.

    Admiral Yamamoto said before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he could run amok for six months. How right he was. After the Battle of Midway, Japan was on the ropes, but they could not bring themselves to surrender. It took thousands of lives, vast amounts of treasure and years to bring about the defeat of Japan.

    “…wondered to himself how Japan could have ever have possibly conceived of defeating such an enemy.”

    Because very few people had any grasp of the industrial power of the US at that time. Recall that FDR was subject to quite a bit of ridicule when he called for the production of 50,000 planes; most folks thought that was an impossible goal.

    One of the few exceptions was Winston Churchill.

    Japan’s own development had been very nearly a miracle story, going from third-world status to a modern industrial nation with world-class designs in less than a century. I don’t doubt at the time that their decision made sense to them. They were as nearly ignorant of the West as we were at the time.

      Stan25 in reply to Casey. | August 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Because very few people had any grasp of the industrial power of the US at that time. Recall that FDR was subject to quite a bit of ridicule when he called for the production of 50,000 planes; mo. st folks thought that was an impossible goal.

      Admiral Yamamoto did also. That is why he did not want to fight a war against the United States. He was forced to by Tojo and the other hardline militarists.

It causes me to think about the captives of Japan who endured the unendurable, and suffered what is insufferable, unto death.

I saw a bumper sticker today that said “You can bomb a country into pieces, but you can’t bomb a country into peace.”

Both me and my traveling companion blurted out at the same time, “What about Japan?”

    Sanddog in reply to EBL. | August 2, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Ugh.. that was from a Michael Franti song called Bomb the World. Having spoken to him I can confirm he’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Henry Hawkins | August 2, 2015 at 7:38 pm


Captain Keogh | August 2, 2015 at 10:16 pm

For political reasons it was smart to maintain the Emperor and use him and his authority to disarm the Japanese military, but Hirohito was a war criminal.

You can beat a expansionist death cult who lives by a twisted religion.


    If WWII were being fought today, do you think we’d have the will to win it?

      windyfir in reply to Amy in FL. | August 2, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Well said! We didn’t have the will then – until after we were attacked – but we did have time to respond after, when most everyone was on the same page. Today we may be unable to respond even if everyone suddenly feared for their own personal safety and freedom.

There were factions in the Japanese army that did not want to surrender. They went as far as hatching a plot to assassinate the Emperor, immediate his staff and to steal the pre-recorded surrender message. Fortunately, this plot was never carried out and the plotters were jailed by Japanese authorities the day before the plot was supposed to take place.

Even ugly things can be beautiful. Because of those bombs, my father was repatriated from his POW camp in Japan.

Thursday is Hiroshima Day. My dad was to be one of the first group to land on the invasion of Honshu. He was a member of a crack AA unit that had quad 50s. Their job was to protect from the expected kamakaze flights over the beach toward the troop ships. He said the A-bomb probably saved his life. Every year until he died we celebrated Hiroshima Day with a twelve pack of beer. I don’t drink much beer anymore, but I have about 90 bottles of rum left from a sale. I’ll see how far I can get.

    Barry in reply to faboutlaws. | August 4, 2015 at 1:12 am

    My dad was on a troop transport ship on the way to Japan when the bombs dropped. I credit those bombs with my birth.