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Japan's ignorance of Potsdam Proclamation

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

07-31-2015 17:39 BJT

By Zhou Yongsheng, professor & PhD supervisor, deputy director, center for Japanese studies, Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University

July 26th, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the Potsdam Proclamation by the United States, China and Great Britain. Japanese media all kept silent about the proclamation, and there are very few mentions of it in the Japanese history syllabus.

In the congressional defense on May 20, Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Communist Party of Japan, asked Abe for a comment on the Potsdam Proclamation and Cairo Declaration, which accelerated the end of the World War II and established that the war waged by Japan over 70 years ago was a war of aggression. Prime Minister Abe rejected to make comments and claimed he did not notice this part in the proclamation, which directly reflects Abe's ignorance of the Potsdam Proclamation.

In fact, the content of the document has been largely unmentioned in Japan, where Shinzo Abe and die-hard rightists are colluding to rewrite their country's pacifist Constitution and unfetter the country's long-suppressed military potential.
So what did the Potsdam Proclamation say and makes Japan too afraid to face?

The Potsdam Proclamation demands that the Japanese government  declare the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces. Otherwise, the whole of Japan would be destroyed immediately.

In essence, the proclamation served as  an ultimatum to urge Japan to unconditionally surrender and it defined the war as war of aggression by Japan.

Article six of the proclamation stipulates that "There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world." 

Article eight of the proclamation stipulates that "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine."

The Soviet Union joined in the proclamation on August 8, 1945, which stated that Japanese sovereignty shall be determined by four countries: the United States, China, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. In article eight of the proclamation, the words "we determine" were used to mean a plural concept. So considering the issue of the Potsdam Proclamation without the Soviet Union, it needed four or at least three countries (United States, China, Great Britain) to commonly stipulate that can lend it the force of law. 

Any change of Japanese sovereignty signed by the United States and Japan after World War II without China's agreement goes  against the Potsdam Proclamation and is illegal and invalid. Japanese Emperor Hirohito declared acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation on August 14, 1945, and representatives of the Japanese government and military signed the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945. All show that Japan totally accepted the Potsdam Proclamation. The United States was not only a sponsor but also a signatory. The Potsdam Proclamation had legal effects for both the United States and Japan.

Therefore when the United States applied the residual sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands as part of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, that violated the Potsdam Proclamation and was illegal. The Potsdam Proclamation constitutes the source and foundation of a series of international laws after World War II, enjoying the lofty status of international law.

The maintenance of the authority and international law status of the Potsdam Proclamation is of great significance to the establishment of the international order after World War II. It can legally contain Japan's territorial expansion by virtue of various excuses. Without the agreement of all signatory countries to the Potsdam Proclamation, Japan was unqualified to expand its territory.  

Even if Japan passes the new security bills and obtains rights to declare war in the name of self-defense, it cannot break the legal limitations on its territory. That is why right-wing Japanese forces are afraid of the Potsdam Proclamation.

As described in the sixth article of the proclamation, " There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest." This means that the fascist forces  and the right-wing forces in Japan, which might launch any invasion should be eradicated.   

In addition, right-wing Japanese forces always like to fudge about the unconditional surrender of Japan. They are reluctant to admit an unconditional surrender. However, as clearly stipulated in the Potsdam Proclamation, this argument is meaningless.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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