Victory over Japan Day (aka VJ day) is often overshadowed by the more “popular” VE Day that is celebrated on 07 May. Yet we often forget that this day really signalled the end of the bloodiest conflict ever inflicted on our planet. All that was left was the signing of the armistice on 2/10/1945 and the start of rebuilding the war ravaged world. The world however was not a safer place, the rise of Communism and nationalism started a whole new set of problems that would drag through the years and embroil communities in local conflict ever since.
The dropping of two nuclear weapons on Japan was a contentious decision that has been debated ever since. Between 90,000 and 146,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. What is often forgotten is that between 50,000 and 300,000 were massacred by Japan in what was to be known as the “Rape of Nanking” now referred to as “The Nanjing Massacre” . We can never be certain how many would have been killed in a seaborne assault on the Japanese mainland, but the chances are it would have been equally high.
The people who celebrated the end of the war were most certainly the servicemen and women as well as the thousands of starved and brutalised POW’s in Asia. Not to forget the millions of civilians who were eking out a miserable existence as a result of the war. In the Allied countries the jubilation went on for days and there was thanks that the war was won. Today we celebrate VJ Day in commemoration of those who never came home, and those who lived with the effects of that conflict till the end of their days.
The closest I have come to a tangible link with the Asian theatre of World War 2 was when I travelled to Hong Kong in 2010 and visited the Sai Wan Military Cemetery
It was a sobering experience being on an island where so many died in the defence of Hong Kong. In the town of Romsey in Hampshire, was a plinthed Japanese 150mm field gun, which had been presented to the town by Lord Louis Mountbatten in recognition of the townspeople’s service during the Second World War.
The National Memorial Arboretum has a number of Memorials that commemorate events and people involved in the Second World War, and a limited service was to be held this year, although “social distancing” may mean that fewer can be accommodated at the service.
And as we enter a new “cancellation culture” period it will only be a matter of time before VE and VJ Day get cancelled and the history books get expunged of those memories so as not to offend a few. The Corona virus has ensured that celebrations will be muted and that we will not be able to stand at the Cenotaph and remember what this day actually meant for those involved and the human race.
DRW © 2020. Created 15/08/2020