Backgrounder: Why Potsdam Proclamation still indelible?
Updated: 2015-07-26 18:19
BEIJING - The coming Sunday marks the 70th anniversary of the signing on July 26, 1945 of the Potsdam Proclamation demanding Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies at the end of World War II, shortly before Japan's total defeat in the war.
Although seven decades have elapsed, the proclamation is still indelible and profound, and of practical significance to the establishment and maintenance of the current world order.
The proclamation, signed by China, the United States and Britain in the German city of Potsdam, stated that their military power was "poised to strike the final blows upon Japan" and would "prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to exist."
The proclamation is one of the important legal documents signed at the end of WWII and played a key role in safeguarding peace and stability and preventing resurrection of militarism in the Asia Pacific region over the past seven decades.
The proclamation outlined the terms for Japan's unconditional surrender, which includes the following points:
Firstly, "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."
Secondly, "points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies should be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives" set forth by then top U.S., Chinese and Britain leaders, until the establishment of a new order and destruction of Japan's war-making power.
Thirdly, the terms of the 1943 Cairo Declaration setting goals for the post-war order "shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the Islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we (the Allied leaders) determine."
And fourthly, "stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners."
On the other hand, the Potsdam Proclamation also offered Japan the permission to "maintain such industries as to sustain her economy," and "exaction of just reparations in kind."
The document, in the end, demanded that the then Japanese government immediately proclaim the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, adding that the alternative for Japan then would be "prompt and utter destruction."
Although the statement stipulates Japan's political and economic tracks, the ultra-right wingers in the country have attempted to defy the proclamation and the fruit of WWII.
Just 10 days before the anniversary, Japan's ruling coalition forced the passage of controversial security bills amid strong public opposition, which enables Japan to engage in wars overseas, posing a threat to the existing world order.
The move could be seen as the most rock-ribbed overturn of Japan's promise of a "purely defensive" military posture, a pledge that the country made at its surrender.
The Potsdam Proclamation constituted the cornerstone of the post-war peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, it is advisable for Japan to abide by the terms of the document, keep its promise and stop undermining the post-WWII world order.
Japan declared its acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation on August 14, 1945 before signing the Instrument of Surrender on Sept. 2 the same year.