Most Influential Wartime Speeches

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No. 4 Emperor Hirohito 1945

The first time Japanese citizens heard their monarch's voice was on Aug. 15, 1945, when Emperor Hirohito, in a pre-recorded radio address, informed the nation his decision to surrender to the Allies. The recording was made in the Imperial Palace, probably 24-48 hours before the actual broadcast at noon, and smuggled out of the palace to evade angry army officers who intended to intercept and destroy the phonographic recording. Hirohito never used the term "surrender" in his speech, instead announcing that Japan has accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, in which the Allies demanded the Japanese's unconditional surrender. He also never mentioned the fact that the Soviet Union had declared war on Japan a week earlier, and had overrun much of the Japanese-occupied Manchuria. With the U.S. blessing that the monarchy would be preserved that he personally would not have to stand trial for war crimes, Hirohito audaciously cited the reason to end the war was the atomic bombs that Japan's enemy had at its disposal and their capacity to inflict great damage on the innocents. He also claimed that Japanese aggression throughout China and Southeast Asia was a war "intended to bring peace and stability to East Asia." The Jewel-Voice Broadcast, or Gyokuon-hoso, concluded with the following: "It is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come, by enduring the unendurable and suffering the unsufferable." With it, the greatest armed conflict known to man, came to an end.

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