August 14 - V-J Day

Posted on August 14, 2018

Is Victory over Japan Day today, August 14?

Or tomorrow, August 15?

Or September 2?


And is it V-J Day or V-P Day?


The day that Japan surrendered, World War II was FINALLY over. We're talking about a war that lasted six years, that involved almost every nation in the world, and that was the deadliest conflict in human history.

So V-J Day was a really, really, really big deal. can it have four different names and three different dates?

It's easy. The peace was just like the war: global. And things that are important worldwide just HAVE to vary, especially given different languages and different timezones.

Only the few countries colored gray were NOT involved
in WWII.

On the afternoon of August 15, 1945, Japan announced its surrender. Because of that fact, some nations such as the United Kingdom celebrate V-J Day on August 15, and many nations celebrate August 15 under some other name. For example, Gwangbokjeol is celebrated on August 15 in South Korea; the name means "the day the light returned." In Japan August 15 is commemorated as (unofficially) Shūsen-kinenbi, or "memorial day for the end of the war," and (officially) Senbotsusha o tsuitōshi heiwa o kinensuru hi, or "the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace."

The afternoon of August 15 in Japan is the night of August 14 in the United States and all over the Americas. Time zone-wise, Japan is 16 hours ahead of the U.S. Because of this some nations and Americans celebrate V-J Day on August 14. The only U.S. state that still officially commemorates the end of World War II, Rhode Island, celebrates "Victory Day" on the second Monday of August.

The name V-J Day is also used to commemorate the date that the formal surrender ceremony occurred. This ceremony occurred in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on September 2, 1945. Right then and there, President Truman declared September 2 to be the official V-J Day for the United States. 

In Australia, which of course lies in the Pacific Ocean, the commemoration of the end of the war is called Victory in the Pacific, and it is shortened to V-P Day. This name is actually much more like the commemoration of the formal surrender of the Nazis, which is celebrated everywhere on May 8 as V-E Day. The "E" in V-E Day is "Europe," so that day is Victory in Europe - not Victory over Germany! 

There have been some efforts in the U.S. and elsewhere to adopt the Victory in the Pacific, or V-P, name, because Japan is now one of the United States' closest allies. Also, war is horrific, and many people are super conflicted about several U.S. actions: the Japanese-American internment and the use of two nuclear bombs.


This headline is terribly racist.
Notice that most newspapers managed
to give the news without being so racist!
However, other people argue that changing the name V-J to V-P is insulting to those soldiers who died at the hands of the Japanese and to soldiers who were prisoners of the Japanese and were badly mistreated.

It's all very complicated. But one thing I know for sure:

Peace is better than war. Global peace is a lot better than global war. This is a good day to remember that, and to work toward more peace and less war!

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