The Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945

Early Sunday morning on September 2, 1945, aboard the new 45,000-ton battleship U.S.S. Missouri and before representatives of nine Allied nations, the Japanese signed their surrender. At the ceremonies, General MacArthur stated that the Japanese and their conquerors did not meet "in a spirit of mistrust, 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."
Despite these words, none of the Japanese delegates were saluted by any of the high-ranking officers. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz later revealed that U.S. planes had been ready with bombs to halt any last-minute treacherous act on the part of the Japanese. Seeing a deckful of high Allied officers on the U.S.S. Missouri might have presented a tempting target for a final suicide attack.
In this image, Mydans captured Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signing the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters. Watching from across the table are Lt. Gen. Richard K. Sutherland and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied Powers stand behind General MacArthur.
When asked how he attained such a good shooting position at the surrender, Mydans answered that "being in combat, knowing the generals, covering the war over a long time helped a lot." The first outfit to head out of Okinawa was the 11th Airborne, commanded by Gen. Joe Swing. Since Mydans had been alongside Swing during some of the fighting, he was lucky enough to be chosen by the general to get on that first plane.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Nihon: Kanto, Tokyo Bay
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 20 in x 27 5/16 in; 50.8 cm x 69.4436 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History