Potsdam Declaration of July 26,
Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese
Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945
Churchill, Truman, and Stalin at the
Potsdam Conference, 1945
In the German city of Potsdam, the leaders of the Allied
powers; President Truman, Prime Minister Churchill, and Joseph
Stalin, met to decide the fate of the post-war world. This
declaration (including China, but not the Soviet Union), was issued
to call on Japan, the lone remaining Axis power, to surrender. At
this point, the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan, but had
pledged to enter the Japanese War three months after the fall of
Germany (in other words, by early August, 1945). At the time of the
Potsdam Declaration, Truman and Churchill knew that the atomic
bomb project (the Manhattan Project), had produced working
atomic bombs. Japan did not have this knowledge.
Below is the text of the Potsdam Declaration. Note that the
last line promises that, if Japan does not surrender, then
"The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter
destruction." This is a clear allusion to the use the
1. We-the President of the United States, the President of the
National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister
of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our
countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an
opportunity to end this war.
2. The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States,
the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their
armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final
blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by
the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war
against Japan until she ceases to resist.
3. The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the
might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful
clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now
converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when
applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands,
the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The
full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will
mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed
forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese
4. The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue
to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose
unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the
threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of
5. Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There
are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.
6. 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, for we insist that a new order of
peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible
militarism is driven from the world.
7. Until such a new order is established and until there is
convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points
in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be
occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are
here setting forth.
8. The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and
Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu,
Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.
9. The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed,
shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to
lead peaceful and productive lives.
10. We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race
or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all
war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our
prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the
revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese
people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as
respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.
11. Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will
sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in
kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this
end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall
be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade
relations shall be permitted.
12. The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from
Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there
has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of
the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible
13. We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the
unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide
proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action.
The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.