Why Potsdam Proclamation matters

Sunday marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the 1945 Potsdam Proclamation, which demanded Japan’s unconditional surrender at the end of World War II.

Seven decades on, and Japan’s ultra-right wingers are attempting to defy the proclamation.


The Potsdam Proclamation was signed by China, the United States and Britain in the German city of Potsdam on July 26, 1945.

It 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 outlined the terms for Japan’s unconditional surrender, including first, eliminating the Japanese authority who had misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest; second, Japanese territory should be occupied until a new order is established; third, Japanese sovereignty shall be limited in accordance with the 1943 Cairo Declaration; and fourth, justice shall be meted out to all war criminals.

Less than a month later, 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.

As one of the important legal documents signed at the end of WWII, the Potsdam Proclamation played a key role in safeguarding peace and stability and preventing resurrection of militarism in the Asia Pacific region over the past seven decades.

But now the ultra-right wingers in Japan have attempted to defy the proclamation.

Just 10 days before the anniversary, Japan’s ruling coalition forced the passage of controversial security bills amid strong public opposition. The bills enable 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.

Experts say 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.

Leave a Comment