Whilst VE Day (Victory in Europe) marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, many thousands of Armed Forces personnel were still engaged in bitter fighting in the Far East. Victory over Japan came later and at a heavy price, after atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) marks the day Japan surrendered on the 15 August 1945, which in effect ended the Second World War.
Fighting in the Asia-Pacific took place from Hawaii to North East India. Britain and the Commonwealth’s principle fighting force, the Fourteenth Army, was one of the most diverse in history – more than 40 languages were spoken, and all the world’s major religions represented.
On this 75th anniversary since the end of the Second World War, a message of trust and hope — and determination not to repeat the mistakes of the past — has come from the Anglican Church in Japan, Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK)*. In a recent Church Times article**, provincial secretary, Jesse Yahag explained that the anniversary was an important one for Japanese Christians.
“Although Japan has not yet ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, through its Statement on War Responsibility the NSKK confesses that each of us bears responsibility for the war, and states that we will continue to share our experiences regarding the war, and swear that we will never make such a mistake again.
As Christians living in search of peace in the only nation ever to have suffered atomic bombing, we want to fulfil that responsibility.
The World Council of Churches have also released a statement on the 75th anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
“As a wide coalition of faith-based communities from around the world, we have committed to speaking with one voice that rejects the existential threat to humanity that nuclear weapons pose. We reaffirm that the presence of even one nuclear weapon violates the core principles of our different faith traditions and threatens the unimaginable destruction of everything we hold dear.”
You can click here to read the statement in full, as published on the World Council of Churches website.
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke of Cambridge will lead the UK commemorations of the anniversary of the end of the second world war, including a Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum this morning, with a two-minute silence, which will be broadcast on BBC1 between 10:30 – 12:30 Swiss time.
*Click here, to read the full Church Times Article, “Japanese Christians remember the end of the second world war with peace trust and hope”, published on the 7th August 2020
**Some of you may remember meeting the Primate of NSKK, The Most Rev. Nathaniel M. Uematsu, Bishop of Hokkaido, when he and his family joined us for a Sunday service at St Andrew’s last summer. To find out more about NSKK, click here to go the the English version of their website.
Click here to visit the VJ Day 75 website to learn more about VJ Day and read the stories of veterans who served during the second world war.
Click here to visit the UK Government press release regarding the commemoration of VJ day.
Click here for more information about the BBC coverage of the anniversary of the end of the second world war.