70 years ago: Japan surrendered, bringing an end to WWII

Japanese surrendering marking the end of WWII. Photo: CBS News

It has been seven decades since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan by the United States killing tens of thousands of people and prompting the end of WWII.

And it is exactly 70 years ago Wednesday, on Sept. 2, 1945, that 11 men representing Japan arrived aboard the battleship Missouri to surrender their country.

American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped the first bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The U.S. bomb, “Little Boy,” the first nuclear weapon used in war, killed 140,000 people.

A second bomb, “Fat Man,” dropped over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70,000.

The U.S. dropped the bombs to avoid what would have been a bloody ground assault on the Japanese mainland, following the fierce battle for Japan’s southernmost Okinawan islands, which took 12,520 American lives and an estimated 200,000 Japanese, about half civilians.

The two nuclear attacks by the U.S. were designed to bring World War II to a quick end. But the intensive bombings of Japanese cities still left the country and its economy devastated.

To see the actual footage of the Japanese surrendering, watch the CBS News video from the archives above.

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