On This Day

Japan’s WWII Surrender Ushered in a New Era for Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 15 August 2019

Seventy-four years ago today, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, which ruled Myanmar during World War II, announced his country’s unconditional surrender in a radio broadcast to the world, paving the way for Japan’s withdrawal from Myanmar.

Following the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and an ultimatum from the Allies, the emperor announced his country’s unconditional surrender, ending World War II and bringing relief to Myanmar’s people, who experienced oppression under Japan’s fascist rule.

The announcement by the emperor was first heard in Myanmar by Dr. U Ba Than (later the father-in-law of military dictator General Ne Win) on the radio. He relayed the news to Burmese-language newspaper Myanma Alin, which would later become state-run but at that time was still privately owned. As the newspaper reported Japan’s surrender, Myanmar citizens who had endured the ordeal of Japanese rule flooded the streets, dancing and jumping for joy. Guns were fired into the air to mark the end of the war.

Myanmar scholar Maung Sein Win (later the chief editor of local state-run English-language daily The Guardian), who was in Japan that day, wrote in one of his articles, “On the train, I saw passengers downcast and silent, though they mumbled to each other from time to time in sadness.”

Later that August, less than a month after the emperor’s announcement, Japanese General Ichida Jiro, the acting chief of staff of Japan’s Burma Area Army, formally surrendered to British Brigadier-General E.P.E Armstrong at the Convocation Hall of Yangon University.