World War II: The Fall of Imperial Japan


After Germany surrendered in May of 1945, Allied attention focused on Japan. The island-hopping strategy adopted by the U.S. Navy successfully brought B-29 bombers within range of Japan's Home Islands, and they carried out massive attacks involving high explosives, incendiary bombs, and finally the two most powerful weapons ever used in war: the newly-invented atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In June, after more than 80 days of fighting, Allied forces captured the Japanese island of Okinawa, but at a horrible cost, with more than 150,000 casualties on both sides, and tens of thousands of civilians dead (many by their own hand). Okinawa was seen as a painful preview of a planned full invasion of Japan, and Allied generals predicted massive casualties if it took place. As the U.S. carried out the atomic bombings, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, invading occupied Manchuria with a force of more than one million soldiers and, quickly defeating Japan's Kwantung Army. Six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, and after much internal struggle, Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. World War II was over. Next week, in the final entry in this series, we'll take a look at what came next in the new post-war era. (This entry is Part 19 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Transport Mishaps, Epiphany Blessings, Sheep Riding

    The pope’s visit to South America, big surf in Portugal, bull wrestling in India, a false alarm in Hawaii, a massive oil spill in the East China Sea, and much more.

  • Franck Fife / AFP / Getty

    Photos From the 2018 Dakar Rally

    Leaving Lima, Peru, on January 6, 335 competitors started the 40th annual Dakar Rally, which arrives in Córdoba, Argentina, on January 20.

  • Carl Court / Getty, Francisco Seco / AP

    A Pair of Fiery Festivals

    In the past couple of days, festivals were held in two villages separated by language, culture, religion, and great distance, but both centered on the use of fire as a method of purification and blessing.

  • NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

    Gorgeous Images of the Planet Jupiter

    In its 10th orbit around Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is returning amazing images of the gas giant that are being made even more incredible by citizen scientists here on Earth.

Join the Discussion