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Allies in Pacific theater of WWII mark VJ Day

August 15, 2010 - PACIFIC REGION

Aug 15, Victory over Japan Day, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, is the 65th anniversary of Japan's acceptance of the demands of Allied forces for an unconditional surrender. Though the surrender ended WWII, VJ/VP Day evokes touchy issues and the observance has lost ground to other national salutes to war veterans.

The 65th anniversary will see low-key observances across the region, scattered veterans' parades and a ceremony aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Hawaii.

Some countries in the region believe Japan has not paid dearly enough for its WWII actions. Other countries don't want to offend Japan, an important trading partner, by observing the day. And VJ/VP Day stirs up the countries and groups that regard what the United States did to hurry the surrender -- drop an atom bomb on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki -- as a war crime.

The United States salutes its forces on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Australia and New Zealand pull out all the stops for ANZAC Day on Apr 24 each year, and Canberra has added Battle for Australia Day to its national day calendar. Wartime prime minister John Curtin announced the Battle for Australia when Singapore fell on 15 Feb 1942. The new national day, in September, marks the turning point for Australia, which was under direct threat from the Japanese.

Emperor Hirohito signed the formal surrender on 2 Sep 1945 on the USS Missouri, which was at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The battleship, nicknamed "Mighty Mo," was launched in 1944 and fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It was decommissioned in 1955 but revived in the 1980s for a brief engagement in the 1991 Gulf War. Now the Battleship Missouri Memorial, "Mighty Mo" is moored in Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona, a battleship that sank in the Dec 1941 Japanese attack with over 1100 sailors and Marines on board. (Last updated Jul 2010)

WWII (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Battle for Australia Day in September (SMH 26 Jun 2008)

Atomic bomb (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Date written/update: 2010-07-01