Definitions

unsufferable

Gyokuon-hōsō

The , lit. "Jewel Voice Broadcast", was the radio broadcast in which Japanese emperor Hirohito read out the , announcing 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. This speech was broadcast at noon Japan standard time on August 15, 1945 after the Battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the declaration of war against Japan by the Soviet Union.

Hirohito's speech marked what was probably the first time in history that an Emperor of Japan had spoken (albeit via a phonograph record) to the common people. The speech was delivered in the formal, somewhat archaic Japanese used by the old Imperial Court. Additionally, Hirohito's speech made no direct reference to surrender, instead stating that he had instructed his government to fully accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. This created confusion in the minds of many listeners who were not sure if Japan had surrendered or if Hirohito was exhorting them to resist the enemy invasion. The poor audio quality of the radio broadcast, as well as the excessively formal courtly language in which the speech was composed, only compounded the confusion.

The speech was not broadcast directly, but was replayed from a phonograph recording made in the Imperial palace on either August 13 or 14, 1945. Many elements of the Japanese military were extremely angry at the idea that Hirohito was going to end the war, as they believed that this was dishonourable. Consequently, as many as one thousand officers attempted to raid the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14, in order to destroy the recording. The recording was successfully smuggled out of the palace in a laundry basket of women's underwear and broadcast the following day, although another attempt was made to stop it from being played at the radio station.

Content

Most English translations of the speech attempt to be faithful to the original complexity of his language. In the speech, Hirohito notes that the war that is "to protect the Japanese people and to bring peace and stability to the East Asian region […] has not been successful for Japan" and "the war has not progressed entirely as we would have wished". He then cites "The enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage." (Japanese: 加之敵ハ新ニ殘虐ナル爆彈ヲ使用シテ頻ニ無辜ヲ殺傷シ慘害); the remark is interpreted to refer to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred days before the speech. He, however, never mentioned the Soviet invasion that had begun few days before the speech. Finally, and most famously, he says: "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 unsufferable." This is the line that the Japanese people have remembered ever since.

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