On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered in a formal ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, ending World War II.
The Associated Press article published by The New York Times about the surrender reported that it “ended just as the sun burst through low-hanging clouds as a shining symbol to a ravaged world now done with war.”
During the ceremony, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who accepted the surrender on behalf of the United Nations, said, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.”
General MacArthur spoke also as supreme commander of the allied powers in Japan; he would head the occupation forces in Japan through 1952. Speaking of the challenge, and opportunity, ahead, he said: “Nor is it for us here to meet, representing as we do the majority of the peoples of the earth, in a spirit of distrust, malice or hatred. But rather it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve.”
In the 40 years after the end of its occupation, Japan experienced huge economic growth, becoming the second-largest economy in the world, only recently surpassed by China.
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At a March 2011 press conference after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said: “I think that the earthquake, tsunami and the situation at our nuclear reactors make up the worst crisis in the 65 years since the war. If the nation works together, we will overcome.”
In a March 15, 2011, New York Times Op-Ed article, Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland outlined the many challenges facing Japan. Reflecting the optimistic title, “History Is on Japan’s Side,” the authors concluded that “the aging Japanese population may become a strength in the current crisis; the older citizens have the most experience in facing the challenges. Japan should emerge in a few years as a stronger and even more competitive world power.”
What are the similarities and differences between the aftermath of war and that of natural disasters? Do you think that those who have survived the ravages of war have an advantage when it comes to facing the challenges of rebuilding in the aftermath of a destructive force? Why or why not?
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