Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I take it all back.

So recall what I said about the Tokyo-Edo Museum that I went and saw in Tokyo last weekend? That it’s a complete waste of time, time better spent going up (and down!) escalators or watching grown nearly-naked men slap themselves on the ass in front of a live audience. Well guys, in my haste, I forgot an interesting anecdote from my lengthy tour of the famous museum.

In a small section near the end of the main exhibit, the museum has memorabilia and information about Tokyo during and slightly after the turmoil of the second world war. Included in its collection is the Japanese copy of the official declaration of surrender, signed by representatives of the Empire of Japan, along with the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces (Douglas MacArthur) and other Allied representatives. Among these Allied representatives included fatefully, the highest ranking Canadian officer in the vicinity, a Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave.

I was aimlessly wandering the WWII exhibit when I came across this rather largish contract with the words “INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER” written in large friendly letters near the top. Near the end were a series of signature lines underwritten by the powers that be at this time: “The Supreme Commander of Allied Forces” signed dutifully by the General, “United States Representative” and “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Representative” signed by some high ranking Yank and Red, the lines continued with “The Republic of China”, “The United Kingdom” and “The Dominion of Australia”. Then came the line for “The Dominion of Canada” (we were still a dominion at that time, not yet freed by Trudeau). This line was empty. “That’s odd,” I thought and kept reading.

It appeared that the good Colonel Cosgreve, likely a trifle nervous in the company of great men, had signed BELOW his appointed line, instead of above it. The representative of the provisional government of France followed suit, signing under the line, as did the representative from the Netherlands. But now the lines were all used up, and the “Dominion of New Zealand Representative” had no line to sign on. So he just signed in the blank space at the bottom of the page, and got the hell out of there.

After all the ceremonies (and I imagine there were a lot) the Japanese representative was handed his copy to return to the (now quite powerless) Emperor of Japan. He glanced at it, and noted the oddities in signatures on the bottom. He was quite miffed by this. It would be no good at all if the surrender document was rendered void by some mishap such as this. He’d have to suppuku himself to a quick death. So he tried to bring up the matter with General MacArthur. Apparently MacArthur agreed that something must be done.

So he did what anyone does when they foul up filling out a form. He added a whole bunch of corrections and initialed them. He roughly stroked out “Provisional Government of France”, replacing it with “Dominion of Canada”, “Netherlands” with “France, etc, etc, down the line. Then drew a line under the representative from New Zealand’s signature and wrote his country below it. Then went down the side of the page, filling it with little “D.M.” initials to show to all concerned that the Terms of Surrender Document which ended the Second World War, was indeed completely legit.

This amusing little play zoomed through my head when I looked at the screwed up terms of surrender document. Turns out its completely historically correct. It should be noted though, that when it came time for Col. Congreve to sign the American copy of the surrender document, the one that you find on Google and in most history books, he signed on the right line.

1 comment:

  1. So the moral of the story is Canadians can fcuk up even the simplest of tasks...good to know for future reference