How the war ended.
Through the recognition that Russia had a different agenda than that agreed to at Yalta. The U.S. Navy was satisfied that Japan was beaten and the only decision was wither to siege the home islands or to storm them at an early date. Nobody questioned the need to invade Kyushu, the south-most island. The Army desired an early entry of Russia in a massive intervention in Manchuria before the U.S. had done all the dirty work. Russia had been granted concessions in Asia in anticipation of such an attack. The only concern was that a Soviet army in China would back the communists against Chiang Kai-shek.
The U.S. press tended to support the peoples republic view of the world and kept the war-time view of Russia as a valiant ally and criticized any American diplomatic effort to control Soviet expansion. Whereas the American attitude that free election and democratic government were natural, the communists had a dielectric doctrine to infiltrate open societies and gain control for their central government.
The American government's issues in the final months of the war were Russian dominance in Eastern Europe and in settling the Army vs. Navy differences in the Pacific. The Navy had pushed across the central pacific and wanted to take Formosa to isolate Japan and as the base for invasion. The Army felt compelled to return to the Philippines. This war within a war -- MacArthur from Australia to the Philippines and Nimitz from Hawaii across the central Pacific -- had been fought for the limited supplies assigned to the Pacific from the very beginning and had taken much political effort away from the combat effort.
A third thing occupying the American government was transition. FDR died April 12, raising a vice president who had not been in the inner circle of war policy. Harry Truman had to learn and reconfirm all that a Commander in Chief needed to know. This caused an interruption in policy development about the end of the war.
A continual discussion was : what was meant by unconditional surrender.
The destruction of the military was known. To not enslave the
people was known. All the middle grounds were undermined.
Threats to the religion and Emperor would lead to total resistance
to the last; the Navy was experiencing suicidal resistance of the
enemy armed services as it moved into Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Stalin, although not promised at Yalta, expected a zone of occupation in Japan and was willing to delete "unconditional surrender" to more easily obtain a surrender and then "put it to them" during the subsequent occupation.
From coded radio intercepts, the American knew that the Emperor's government made peace overtures to Russia before the Potsdam conference in a futile attempt to keep Russia out the Asian war. The 3rd fleet began 1,000 plane raids over Japan, July 10, while USAAF continued 500 plane heavy bombing. The Japanese minister in Russia pointed out facts to those in Japan that they could not accept : that Japan was defeated and must salvage her very existence by making immediate peace. This was a month before dropping the first atomic bomb. The Imperial government could not accept surrender and expanded preparation for defense of the home island. The minister in Russia was told to try again, that Japan had to fight to the end if unconditional surrender was demanded.
Once the U.S. knew the Japanese were considering an end to the war, the principle goal of the Potsdam Conference, to get Russian troops into the war, was put into ambiguity ; it was no longer an urgent need and with recognition that getting Russia out of Asia would be with some difficulty. HST was advised by Eisenhower that Japan was defeated, that Russia wanted to get into Asia and for Truman to not make concessions to get them to join in.
Concerning the Emperor, the Americans were wondering if that position was an instrument to control the Japanese people after the war. Recall that destruction of the office of Kaiser after WWI gave an opening for a Furher to fill the gap.
Clarification of surrender terms were published at Potsdam, July 26, calling for "unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces" without reference to the Emperor. Truman was advised that the bomb test was successful and Churchill was retired from office while sitting at the conference table at Potsdam. Truman found Stalin not difficult to do business with. He was later de-illuminated to this notion. Japan was invited to surrender before being destroyed. She did not respond. The bomb was dropped Aug 6. Russia entered the war on Aug 8 as promised. The U.S. ended war Aug 14. The Soviets continue to occupy land until the signing.
The American public knew they had won the war and felt it was time to get back to normal. They had the bomb and the San Francisco Conference to establish a United Nations to regulate the world and no longer needed its powerful military as exemplified by the draft and wanted to get the boys home as soon as possible. Demobilization proceeded so quickly that power politics, the only kind the Russians recognized, was sacrificed. Observations that the only way to convince the world the U.S. was serious about preventing another war was to show that they took their responsibilities with seriousness.
[All innovations invite countermeasures. The nature of the counter measures to the atomic bomb was unexpected as the hoards of Chinese infantry poured into Korea in 1950 and guerilla warfare in Vietnam and elsewhere make the bomb valueless. U.S. policy was to administer the bomb as a trust for the world until the Russians copied it and the atomic powers adopted a policy of MAD - mutual assured destruction. The Navy was reduced to less than 260 warships in the fleet of 2004.]
"The means to wage war must be in the hands of those that hate war."Conflicting desire for immediate demobilization and to continue to occupy lands until democratic elections could result in responsible self-government in Poland, Korea, Balkans, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Japan led to manpower shortages and premature withdrawal. Wage strikes were initiated at home as low wartime wages became inadequate when wartime working hours were curtailed. The world, particularly England, France, Italy, after the war had a desire to provide for the welfare of the people by the government, just as the governments had provided the materials for war.
The cycle that repeats is : unexpected war, hurried peace, and an aftermath that leads to renewed war.
The U.S. was the only economic power that the whole world had to look to for salvation. This could only lead to disillusionment. Russia retained her armies with a plan for expansion. The U.S. was paralyzed by demobilization and other pressing concerns. Faced with the demands of Russia and an alternative of re-mobilizing, an understanding of the attractiveness of appeasement was shown, and a belated appreciation that it just as predictably leads to war : cold and sometimes hot.
Germany became a showcase for democratic capitalism in the West and a socialist welfare state in the East. That test lasted for forty years.
Concerning Japan, MacArthur was named Supreme Commander with the government, including the Emperor, reporting to him and he took it as his job to convert the feudal country to a modern democracy to participate in world commerce and not as a punitive expedition.
Japan approached becoming a democracy with free enterprise to an amazing degree and, with American aid and unburdened by repatriations, becoming a world economic power. Residual financial feudalism caused a collapse by the end of the century ; we shall see what the future holds. Concerns continue in that the government has never acknowledged any fault in starting a war, a continued desire to lead Asia, and a poll that said that those too young to have know B-san consider conflict with the U.S. more likely than with Russia or China.