Residents of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, celebrate Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day). The surrender of Nazi Germany (Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day) had occurred in May. V-J Day marked the end of the war.

Photograph by Ed Wescott, courtesy U.S. Army

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  • On August 15, 1945, the Empire of Japan surrendered to Allied forces, ending World War II. The initial news of surrender actually came a day earlier (August 14), and was not made official until documents were signed on September 2. All three dates are considered “Victory over Japan Day”, or V-J Day.
    Two weeks earlier, the United States, United Kingdom, and China had issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding Japan’s immediate, unconditional surrender. “The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction,” the document concludes.
    Japan ignored the Potsdam Declaration. The Soviet Union promptly invaded Japanese-held territory in Manchuria, China, and the United States utterly destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by deploying the first and only nuclear weapons ever used in wartime.
    Japan’s surrender resulted in the country’s occupation by the American military until 1952. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    alternative Noun

    choice or decision.

    conclude Verb

    to end or finish.

    demand Verb

    to ask for in an authoritative way.

    deploy Verb

    to make ready for use or put into use.

    destruction Noun


    empire Noun

    group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.

    ignore Verb

    to not notice or recognize.

    immediate Adjective

    quickly or right away.

    initial Adjective


    invade Verb

    to enter and attack.

    issue Verb

    to distribute, give away, or sell.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    nuclear weapon Noun

    explosive device that draws power from the splitting and combining of atomic nuclei.

    occupy Verb

    to take control of a place, usually by force.

    prompt Adjective

    on time or quickly.

    surrender Verb

    to give up.

    territory Noun

    land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

    unconditional surrender Noun

    total surrender (giving up), in which no terms or guarantees are offered to the surrendering party.

    utter Adjective

    complete or total.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)