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Thread: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

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    Default Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Discussion in another thread prompted me to wonder, for the first time, why MacArthur was chosen to accept the Japanese surrender?

    Why not Nimitz, King, or Marshall, each of whom contributed at least as much or more than MacArthur to Japan's defeat?

    Related to MacArthur's impending reign as Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, or something else (possibly the same relentless self-promotion that got him appointed as Supreme Commander and various other posts for which he was questionably qualified and, in the eyes of some, performed inadequately).
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Marshall nor King were on the scene, MacArthur was one day senior to Nimitz as a 5 star . . . senior man gets the cake. So MacArthur appointed as SCAP signs for the allied powers and Nimitz signs for the USA.

    Five stars in order were Leahy, Marshall, King, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Arnold, Halsey and Bradley. Always looked to me as though someone looked real hard at the date the first 6 gents first pinned on a gold bar in deciding who ranked who. Arnold, Halsey, and Bradley came later.
    Last edited by R Leonard; 06-27-2014 at 08:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by R Leonard View Post
    Marshall nor King were on the scene, MacArthur was one day senior to Nimitz as a 5 star . . . senior man gets the cake. So MacArthur appointed as SCAP signs for the allied powers and Nimitz signs for the USA.

    Five stars in order were Leahy, Marshall, King, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Arnold, Halsey and Bradley. Always looked to me as though someone looked real hard at the date the first 6 gents first pinned on a gold bar in deciding who ranked who. Arnold, Halsey, and Bradley came later.
    Thanks for that.

    What now interests me is the difference in the US supreme commanders’ and other nations’ approaches to the Japanese and German Surrenders, because the Americans on the German surrender didn’t follow the seniority which put MacArthur centre stage on the Japanese surrender.

    Here is the subscription, in order, to the instrument of Japan’s surrender.

    DOUGLAS MAC ARTHUR
    Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
    C.W. NIMITZ
    United States Representative
    HSU YUNG-CH'ANG
    Republic of China Representative
    BRUCE FRASER
    United Kingdom Representative
    KUZMA DEREVYANKO
    Union of Soviet Socialist
    Republics Representative
    THOMAS BLAMEY
    Commonwealth of Australia
    Representative
    L. MOORE COSGRAVE
    Dominion of Canada Representative
    JACQUES LE CLERC
    Provisional Government of the French
    Republic Representative
    C.E.L. HELFRICH
    Kingdom of the Netherlands
    Representative
    LEONARD M. ISITT
    Dominion of New Zealand Representative

    Source: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/j4.asp

    As an aside, it beats me why the French were involved in the surrender when the Vichy French, admittedly in a difficult position, allowed the Japanese into French IndoChina which gave the Japanese their base for their assault on Malaya and Singapore, without which Japan’s Pacific war would not have gone as well as it did. I’ll put this on my very long list of things to follow up one day when I have time, assuming I can remember it by then.

    Allowing that Eisenhower was only Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (i.e. Western Allies) where MacArthur was Supreme Commander for all main Allied powers, it might still have been expected that Eisenhower would sign the main (there were several earlier ones) German surrender at Berlin, but in fact it was Tedder who signed on his behalf while Spaatz was the only American to sign, but only as a witness.

    On behalf of the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force
    A. W. TEDDER

    On behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army
    G. ZHUKOV

    At the signing also were present as witnesses:

    F. DE LATTRE-TASSlGNY
    General Commanding in Chief First French Army
    CARL SPAATZ
    General, Commanding United States Strategic Air Forces

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gs11.asp


    I’m inclined to suspect that some of the grand ceremony around the Japanese surrender was due to MacArthur’s theatrical and self-promoting nature, but it could be equally or perhaps considerably more justified on the basis that the American public wanted to see Japan defeated in light of Pearl Harbor, Bataan Death March etc and that the Japanese surrender was more important to them than the German one.

    I’ve linked this once or twice before on topics related to the Japanese surrender, but it’s still worth a read, if only in this context for the Captain of the USS Missouri being anxious to make sure that MacArthur’s and Nimitz’s flags were at exactly the same height and dealing with other minutiae requiring his high level attention. http://www.ussmissouri.com/page.aspx?pid=409
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    My theory has always been that the German surrender was a rather hurried affair considering the time elapsed between their throwing in the towel and the actual signing. Also, the command structure lended itself to a smaller number of participants.

    In the Pacific, now, they had a couple of weeks plus to think about it. There were more players involved who were, essentially, from independent national commands structures who may have cooperated with one another, or not, but maintained their "separateness" throughout whatever their participation . . . including a small number of Free French in the south Pacific. And look at the Soviets, their war with the Japanese lasted, what, 7 -10 days depending how you want to count? And there is the small matter of a perceived need to make whatever they did grandiose so as to, so to speak, impress the natives.
    Last edited by R Leonard; 07-12-2014 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by R Leonard View Post
    My theory has always been that the German surrender was a rather hurried affair considering the time elapsed between their throwing in the towel and the actual signing. Also, the command structure lended itself to a smaller number of participants.
    Complicated by various surrenders in the dying days, which were more localised military than national military surrenders. Even the national military surrender happened twice, first at Rheims and then Berlin, due to various misunderstandings and or mistakes on the Allied side. The German leaders didn't have any choices other than fight on and be obliterated, along with much of Germany, or try to save what they could from the ashes.

    Quote Originally Posted by R Leonard View Post
    In the Pacific, now, they had a couple of weeks plus to think about it. There were more players involved who were, essentially, from independent national commands structures who may have cooperated with one another, or not, but maintained their "separateness" throughout whatever their participation . . . including a small number of Free French in the south Pacific. And look at the Soviets, their war with the Japanese lasted, what, 7 -10 days depending how you want to count? And there is the small matter of a perceived need to make whatever they did grandiose so as to, so to speak, impress the natives.
    Germany was forced to military surrender by being beaten in the field within its own borders. Japan had the luxury of being defeated or held in the field everywhere outside its own borders but still holding its main home islands, despite them being encircled by Allied, primarily American, naval and air forces.

    Where the German surrender was a military necessity by an army beaten on its home ground, Japan was able to negotiate with Allies who weren't too keen to incur expected losses of invading the main home islands, which allowed the Japanese to negotiate to retain the Emperor as their head.

    Which is curious, given the tradition in Japan of suicide when dishonoured, as Hirohito was by the defeat of his nation in the failed war he had approved from the outset and encouraged when it was going in Japan's favour. Yet it was Hitler who committed suicide, thus allowing his successors to surrender when he was committed to not surrendering.

    Which leads to the curious results that Hitler's suicide permitted Germany to surrender, while Hirohito's survival permitted Japan to surrender.

    At least Tojo had the courtesy to attempt suicide, albeit by incompetently shooting himself instead of using the traditional method.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 07-13-2014 at 10:05 AM.
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Can't blame Tojo for opting for the pistol. The "traditional method" is seriously gruesome ... JR.

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    Can't blame Tojo for opting for the pistol. The "traditional method" is seriously gruesome ... JR.
    On the gruesome scale, it's nothing compared with what the bastards commanded by Tojo and Hirohito did at Harbin and their general bestiality in occupied areas in China, the Pacific and South East Asia.

    Regardless, seppuku was part of the corrupted Bushido Code Tojo and his ilk promoted, which Code was the inspiration for Harbin and general bestiality. If he was the grand man of honour he purported to be, he would have performed seppuku.

    However, this grand example of their Bushido Code slunk away after Japan's defeat and hid from the Allies, shooting himself only when faced with imminent capture by the Americans.

    IIRC there is a photo of the seppuku swords on a cabinet in Tojo's quarters after he was captured, which he carefully avoided using in favour of incompetently missing his heart despite careful instruction by his attending doctor.
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    The traditional method, as I recall, involved stabbing onself in the belly with a short sword or large combat knife and drawing the weapon forward and in reverse, horizontally, across the belly so as to disembowel oneself. From about the late-14th century, the custom came to involve a "second" who, immediately after the principal had removed the weapon from his guts, would behead him with a katana. It is true that, a bit later again, the disemboweling bit became symbolic; except where it took place on the battlefield, the victim would just make some action symbolic of the disembowelment (such as raising a hand, or touching a fan), at which the "second" would immediately behead him. Seppuku, in some form, was a constant in Japanese history from about the 11th century (at least). However, it must have been a lot less common in the Tokugawa Shogunate period, simply because the prevailing curse of internal warfare vanished from the country. Seppuku was, furthermore, abolished as a method of execution by the incoming Meiji government in the mid-19th century. Unfortunately, I have to agree that the successors of the original, relatively enlightened Meiji governor/aristocrats promoted a faux-Bushido culture in the early 20th century that included seppuku - presumably the "less painful" version with beheading, but nonetheless.

    It would actually have been difficult for Tojo to stage a full-scale, ceremonial version of this terrible practice (less painful, including beheading) after he had become a prisoner. Many "lesser" Japanese officers and officials actually did perform it to avoid the dishonor of becoming captives of their enemies. As a species, we have a special talent for inflicting horrors on ourselves ... Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    The traditional method, as I recall, involved stabbing onself in the belly with a short sword or large combat knife and drawing the weapon forward and in reverse, horizontally, across the belly so as to disembowel oneself. From about the late-14th century, the custom came to involve a "second" who, immediately after the principal had removed the weapon from his guts, would behead him with a katana. It is true that, a bit later again, the disemboweling bit became symbolic; except where it took place on the battlefield, the victim would just make some action symbolic of the disembowelment (such as raising a hand, or touching a fan), at which the "second" would immediately behead him. Seppuku, in some form, was a constant in Japanese history from about the 11th century (at least). However, it must have been a lot less common in the Tokugawa Shogunate period, simply because the prevailing curse of internal warfare vanished from the country. Seppuku was, furthermore, abolished as a method of execution by the incoming Meiji government in the mid-19th century. Unfortunately, I have to agree that the successors of the original, relatively enlightened Meiji governor/aristocrats promoted a faux-Bushido culture in the early 20th century that included seppuku - presumably the "less painful" version with beheading, but nonetheless.

    It would actually have been difficult for Tojo to stage a full-scale, ceremonial version of this terrible practice (less painful, including beheading) after he had become a prisoner. Many "lesser" Japanese officers and officials actually did perform it to avoid the dishonor of becoming captives of their enemies. As a species, we have a special talent for inflicting horrors on ourselves ... Best regards, JR.
    As you say, the source of the faux Bushido culture was in the militarists and their ilk, gathering pace from about the 1920s. However, they bound it up with a previously unknown rigid duty to the God-Emperor which was their own creation, which allowed them to require the citizenry and military to obey the militarists through the newly created imperial obligations. Given the frequent occasions on which nobles and samurai in previous eras had reduced their emperors to captives or irrelevance, the militarists’ version of rigid, undying obedience to their Emperor was laughable. But less laughable than the creation elsewhere of the Fuhrer as the embodiment of some sort of Aryan oracle and god similarly deserving of absolute obedience. At least the militarists had on their side a long imperial history and cultural belief in their emperor as a god, where the Germans had only the Fuhrer as a modern day self-appointed messiah with no history to justify his presence or power.

    Many moons ago I saw forensic pictures of a successful ritual Japanese suicide, being the disembowelling without the beheading, several decades after the war and unrelated to it. It’s no worse than, say, being eviscerated by countless modern and ancient weapons. Which doesn’t avoid the fact that all of those ways of dying are appalling, but no more so than the appalling ways civilians are routinely killed in modern wars and their aftermaths and, at the individual level, in civilian murders in every nation.

    One form of seppuku was performed to avoid capture, and another to compensate for disgrace. Tojo qualified on both counts (as should have his Emperor), and had ample time to do it in the modern form with an assistant to behead him rather than go into hiding like a skulking rat.

    Tojo’s attempted suicide had no honour according to any Bushido Code, whether the various old true ones or the corrupted, manufactured one he and his militarist cronies invented to support their own militaristic and nationalistic ambitions and grasp for power.

    Tojo just didn't want to be captured and subjected to the Allied justice he knew was coming and which he richly deserved, and which did come because he couldn't even shoot himself successfully. Although his survival did have rather a lot to do with prompt and excellent American medical treatment, which ranks at the top in the paradoxical annals of heroically saving a wounded or sick criminal so he can be executed.

    Tojo was a more successful, in the sense of having much greater power, Japanese version of Himmler, who had no combat experience but went on to run a vile secret police force, as did Tojo with the Kempetai with no real combat experience except briefly at command level in China. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the sort of people who are attracted to such work are often inherently weak characters who compensate for it by being nasty and brutal to other people.

    Modern corporations, the managers of which like to get themselves moist in their nether regions with their delusional belief that running a business is like running a war (witness the popularity of this sort of drivel http://www.amazon.com/Sun-Tzu-Manage.../dp/1605500305) are populated with similar sociopathic or psychopathic ilk at middle to senior management levels. In wartime, they get the opportunity to round up Jews, run concentration camps, Abu Ghraib, etc.

    So far as Tojo’s suicide is concerned, if he and his faux Samurai militarists were purists but denied an attendant, they would have gone back to the original sole seppuku, which involved self-disembowelling and then slitting their own throats or falling on their own swords.

    There is historical, and given the absence of firearms understandable, precedent for the latter in the ancient world, such as Brutus who, on the Shakespearean and some historical versions, did this and the biblical version of Saul and his faithful armourbearer who refused to stab Saul but fell on his own sword after his master had fallen on his. 1 Samuel 31:1-5 Which gives us the modern phrase “fall on his own sword”.

    Which was beyond Tojo because, at heart, I suspect that like Himmler he was a nasty little political rat rather than anything resembling millions of real combat soldiers on both sides of WWII who, at their worst, were mostly very much better than him. At least they fought for their principles, nations, or just lives. Unlike Tojo, none of them had the luxury of running away to hide when the tide of war turned against them. And if they’d tried an unsuccessful gunshot suicide like Tojo to avoid further service they, in armies on both sides, would have been court-martialled or even just summarily executed for self-inflicted wounds or cowardice.

    Tojo, Himmler and their brutal minions were just the tip of the pyramids of monstrous inhumanity populated by people Hannah Arendt described as ‘the banality of evil’. Their successful and unsuccessful attempts at suicide demonstrate a weakness of character which consigns them to history as monstrous cowards who succeeded when things were in their favour, but who lacked the courage to face their futures and perform in accordance with their long espoused principles in adversity.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 07-17-2014 at 07:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    In the original Bushido the seppuku is authorized not for avoiding capture. Especially for high lords, it's not so uncommon to be kept in captive. Only in certain conditions, for example if the samurai will be tortured for sure in order to get vital informations, the seppuku can be done. The samurai always wear a couple of blades, Katana and Wakizashi. Normally the Samurai keep their Wakizashi, a short sword, for the seppuku and fight only with the Katana. It's a matter of honor to don't make any sound while you kill yourself by seppuku, that is an extremely dolorous way to die. Tojo in the strict way can be live in captivity, but must kill themselves or choose to fight every day of his life against superior American according to the medieval Bushido.
    The Bushido of WWII is strongly different from original one. For example, "banzai charges" are against the Japanese medieval Bushido, because Bushido teach that you can retreat if you can fight another day, suicide meaningless defense are only waste of trained soldier.
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Bushido also didn't apply to the peasant soldiers led by the Samurai in medieval Japan, the peasant solders that were akin to the modern IJA soldiers in WWII...

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Bushido also didn't apply to the peasant soldiers led by the Samurai in medieval Japan, the peasant solders that were akin to the modern IJA soldiers in WWII...
    And, even more remarkably, in WWII the bulk of so called samurai swords was probably issued to NCO's who were barely equivalent to peasant soldiers in previous eras. The NCOs may well have been the dominant users of swords to kill their enemies and civilians in the Pacific War, usually in simply brutal circumstances reminiscent of Japanese savagery in China where Japan blooded its troops by bayoneting trussed civilians to death.

    What a magnificently honourable and courageous bunch of noble Samurais!
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 07-19-2014 at 11:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    As usual, RS, your gentle touch and vanilla approach to controversial subjects shines through. My mother, who loathed the Japanese for perfectly good reasons, would have adored you.

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    Default Re: Why did MacArthur accept Japanese surrender?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    As an aside, it beats me why the French were involved in the surrender when the Vichy French, admittedly in a difficult position, allowed the Japanese into French IndoChina which gave the Japanese their base for their assault on Malaya and Singapore, without which Japan’s Pacific war would not have gone as well as it did. I’ll put this on my very long list of things to follow up one day when I have time, assuming I can remember it by then.
    Probably because there were Free French Islands in the Pacific - Noumea, Tahiti, etc. - that were not captured by the Japanese and which fought them throughout the war. American bases were stationed on these islands. If your criteria for excluding them is surrender then probably only New Zealand and Australia (and maybe the Chinese) qualify for attendance at the Japanese capitulation ceremony. The US surrender in the Philippines was the largest surrender of American arms in its history.
    Last edited by royal744; 07-22-2014 at 03:54 PM.

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