Jewel Voice Broadcast

Last updated

Jewel Voice Broadcast
The Gyokuon-hōsō record inside the NHK Museum of Broadcasting.
Other names
  • Gyokuon-hōsō
  • 玉音放送
Running time4 minutes, 36 seconds
Country of originMerchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Language(s) Classical Japanese
Home station NHK
Narrated by Japanese Emperor Shōwa (Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇, Shōwa-tennō))
Recording studio
Original release
  • August 15, 1945 (1945-08-15)
  • 12:00 pm
– 12:04 pm

The Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送, Gyokuon-hōsō) (or less literally, "broadcast in the emperor's own voice") was a radio broadcast of surrender given by Japanese Emperor Hirohito (昭和天皇, Shōwa-tennō) on August 15, 1945. It announced to the Japanese people that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese military at the end of World War II. Following the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, the Soviet declaration of war and the Nagasaki bombing on August 9, the Emperor's speech was broadcast at noon Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, and did reference the atomic bombs as a reason for the surrender.


The speech was probably the first time that an Emperor of Japan had spoken (albeit via a phonograph record) to the common people. It was delivered in formal Classical Japanese, which contained many Chinese-origin characters and pronunciation that were unfamiliar to ordinary Japanese. The speech made no direct reference to a surrender of Japan, instead stating that the government had been instructed to communicate to the United States, the United Kingdom, China and the USSR to accept "their joint declaration" (though the USSR was not, in fact, part of the declaration). This created confusion in the minds of many listeners who were not familiar with the declaration and were not sure whether Japan had surrendered. Both the poor audio quality of the radio broadcast and the formal courtly language in which the speech was composed worsened the confusion. A digitally-remastered version of the broadcast was released on June 30, 2015. [1]


The speech was not broadcast directly, but replayed from a phonograph recording. On August 14, 1945, the NHK dispatched sound technicians to the Imperial Palace to record the broadcast. Microphones were set up in an office bunker under the Imperial Household Ministry, and Emperor Hirohito proceeded in between 11:25pm and 11:30pm. [2] During the first recording he spoke too softly, and upon the advice of the technicians, offered to rerecord it. On the second attempt, his voice was considered too high pitched, with occasional characters being skipped. Nevertheless, the second version was deemed the official one, with the first serving as a backup. [3]


Many elements of the Imperial Japanese Army were extremely opposed to the idea that the emperor was going to end the war, as they believed that it was dishonourable. Consequently, as many as 1,000 officers and soldiers raided the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14 to destroy the recording. The rebels were confused by the layout of the Imperial palace and were unable to find the recordings, which had been hidden in a pile of documents. The two phonographs were labelled 'ORIGINAL' and 'COPY' and successfully smuggled out of the palace, the original in a lacquer box and the copy in a lunch bag. Major Kenji Hatanaka attempted to halt the broadcast at the NHK station but was ordered to desist by the Eastern District Army. [3] [4]

On August 15, 1945, at precisely noon, the national anthem, Kimigayo , was played, followed by the Emperor's speech. [3]

To ease the anticipated confusion, after the conclusion of the speech, a radio announcer clarified that the Emperor's message had meant that Japan was surrendering. According to French journalist Robert Guillain, who then lived in Tokyo, upon the announcement's conclusion, most Japanese retreated into their homes or places of business for several hours to quietly absorb and contemplate the significance of the announcement. [5]

The recording disappeared in the post-surrender chaos, but a radio technician had secretly made a copy, which was given to Occupation authorities and is the source of all recordings available today. The original record was later recovered but is generally believed to have never again been played.[ citation needed ]


Though the word "surrender" was not explicitly stated, the emperor instructed his government to communicate to the Allies that the "empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration", which amounted to an acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. [4] He justified Japan's decision to go to war as an act of "self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia" and referenced the setbacks and defeats of recent years, saying "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage". He mentioned the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that had occurred days earlier, calling the atomic bomb a "new and most cruel bomb". The emperor ended with a call on the Japanese people "to be devoted to construction for the future".

The broadcast was translated into English and broadcast internationally by radio presenter Tadaichi Hirakawa at the same time. [6] In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recorded the broadcast, and its entire text appeared in The New York Times . [7]

Full text


After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our government to communicate to the governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration. [8]

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which lies close to our heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state, and the devoted service of our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of our profound solicitude.

The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.

Having been able to safeguard and maintain the Kokutai , We are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.

Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the imperial state and keep pace with the progress of the world.

Showa shomei.svg Gyoji.svg

Tokyo, August 14, 1945 (Shōwa 20)

Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War1.jpg Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War2.jpg Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War3.jpg Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War4.jpg
Original manuscript of the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War, written vertically in columns going from top to bottom and ordered from right to left, with the Privy Seal imprinted
Single page print of the Rescript, again with the Privy Seal ImperialSurrenderRescript.jpg
Single page print of the Rescript, again with the Privy Seal

Media releases

See also

Related Research Articles

Hirohito Emperor of Japan from 1926 to 1989

EmperorShōwa, better known in English by his personal name Hirohito (裕仁), was the 124th emperor of Japan, ruling over the Empire of Japan from 1926 until 1947, after which he was Emperor of the state of Japan until his death in 1989. He was succeeded by his fifth child and eldest son, Akihito. Hirohito and his wife, Empress Kōjun, had seven children, two sons and five daughters. By 1979, Hirohito was the only monarch in the world with the title "emperor". Hirohito was the longest-lived and longest-reigning historical Japanese emperor and one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world.

Potsdam Declaration Allies call for the Japanese surrender during World War II

The Potsdam Declaration, or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender, was a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and President of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan, as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. The ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction."

The Humanity Declaration, also known as the Imperial Rescript on the Construction of a New Japan, Imperial Rescript on National Revitalization, and Imperial Rescript Denying His Divinity, is an imperial rescript issued by the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) as part of a New Year's statement on 1 January 1946 at the request of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. In the rescript, which started with his citation of the Five Charter Oath of 1868, the Emperor denied the concept of him being divine, which would eventually lead to the promulgation of the new Constitution, under which the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people".

Empress Kōjun 20th-century Empress of Japan

Empress Kōjun, born Princess Nagako, was a member of the Imperial House of Japan, the wife of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and the mother of Shigeko Higashikuni, Princess Sachiko Hisa-nomiya, Kazuko Takatsukasa, Atsuko Ikeda, the Emperor Emeritus Akihito, Prince Masahito Hitachi-nomiya and Takako Shimazu.

Tokyo Imperial Palace Usual residence of the Emperor of Japan

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda district of the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains several buildings including the main palace, some residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums and administrative offices.

Korechika Anami Japanese general

Korechika Anami was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II who was War Minister during the surrender of Japan.

Empress Teimei Empress consort of Japan

Empress Teimei, born Sadako Kujō, was the wife of Emperor Taishō and the mother of Emperor Shōwa of Japan. Her posthumous name, Teimei, means "enlightened constancy".

Kenji Hatanaka Japanese military officer and conspirator

Major Kenji Hatanaka was a Japanese military officer and one of the chief conspirators in the Kyūjō incident, a plot to seize the Imperial Palace and to prevent the broadcast of Emperor Hirohito's surrender speech to mark the end of World War II.

End of World War II in Asia ww2

The end of World War II in Asia occurred on 2 September 1945, when armed forces of the Empire of Japan surrendered to the forces of the Allies. The surrender came almost four months after the surrender of the Axis forces in Europe and brought an end to World War II there.

Surrender of Japan End of World War II, September 2, 1945

The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced by Japanese Emperor Hirohito on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan's leaders were privately making entreaties to the publicly neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. While maintaining a sufficient level of diplomatic engagement with the Japanese to give them the impression they might be willing to mediate, the Soviets were covertly preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.

Controversies regarding the role of the Emperor of Japan

There have been several controversies regarding the role and the status of the Emperor of Japan. This is due in part to the variety of roles the Emperor has historically filled, as well as the competition for power with other parts of Japanese society at several points in history.

Debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Controversies surrounding nuclear attacks

Substantial debate exists over the ethical, legal, and military aspects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August 1945 at the close of World War II (1939–45).

Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire

The declaration of war by the Empire of Japan on the United States and the British Empire (米國及英國ニ對スル宣戰ノ詔書) was published on December 8, 1941, 7.5 hours after Japanese forces started an attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor and attacks on British forces in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The declaration of war was printed on the front page of all Japanese newspapers' evening editions on December 8. The document was subsequently printed again on the eighth day of each month throughout the war, to re-affirm the resolve for the war.

Kyūjō incident Failed Japanese coup détat in August 1945

The Kyūjō incident was an attempted military coup d'état in the Empire of Japan at the end of the Second World War. It happened on the night of 14–15 August 1945, just before the announcement of Japan's surrender to the Allies. The coup was attempted by the Staff Office of the Ministry of War of Japan and many from the Imperial Guard to stop the move to surrender.

The chrysanthemum taboo is the Japanese social taboo against discussion or criticism of the Emperor of Japan and his family, especially the late Emperor Shōwa. The taboo also extended to discussion of the Emperor's declining health.

<i>Emperor</i> (2012 film) 2012 American film

Emperor is a 2012 American-Japanese historical drama film directed by Peter Webber, marking his first film in five years. Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox star in lead roles as General Douglas MacArthur and Brigadier General Bonner Fellers respectively.

National Memorial Service for War Dead

The National Memorial Service for War Dead is an official, secular ceremony conducted annually on August 15, by the Japanese government at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. The ceremony is held to commemorate the victims of World War II. The first memorial ceremony was held on May 2, 1952.

The following events occurred in August 1945:

<i>The Emperor in August</i> 2015 Japanese film

The Emperor in August is a 2015 Japanese historical drama film directed by Masato Harada. It was released on August 8, 2015.

Tokuzō Akiyama

Tokuzō Akiyama was a Japanese chef who served as Emperor Taishō's and later Emperor Shōwa's imperial chef. He is regarded as an influential figure in spreading French cuisine in Japan. His life was adapted into a novel and several television series. He is regarded as the "Japanese Escoffier".


  1. "当庁が管理する先の大戦関係の資料について - 宮内庁". (in Japanese). Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  2. "The coup against the Emperor's broadcast that never was". Kyodo. The Japan Times. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 Toland, John (2003). The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1939-1945. The Modern Library. pp. 838, 849. ISBN   9780812968583.
  4. 1 2 "Hirohito's "Jewel Voice Broadcast"". The Air Force Association. August 2012. Archived from the original on September 10, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  5. Guillain, Robert (1982). I Saw Tokyo Burning: An Eyewitness Narrative from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima. Jove Publications. ISBN   978-0-86721-223-5.
  6. Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan. The Asahi Shimbun Company. February 26, 2015. p. 284. ISBN   9781472512260 . Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  7. "Text of Hirohito's Radio Rescript", The New York Times , p. 3, August 15, 1945, retrieved August 8, 2015
  8. "Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender". 1945.