The "I Cease Resistance"
Safe Conduct Passes of WWII

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) 

Some material and leaflet images from this article were depicted in the YouTube film called Playing Mind Games, Tactical PSYOP in WWII by Dr. Joseph Fischer, part of the Ft. Leavenworth Series: "Selected Topics on WWII."

JapSurrender.jpg (14249 bytes)  japsurrender2.jpg (16672 bytes)

In this article we will illustrate and discuss the surrender and safe conduct leaflets prepared by the United States of America for the military forces of the Empire of Japan during WWII. Perhaps a hundred such leaflets in varying styles and formats were prepared during the course of the war. In this article we shall only discuss the more formal leaflets that were prepared and approved at higher headquarters after significant research, study, interrogation, feedback, and analysis. We will show how the most famous and successful, the "I Cease Resistance" leaflet, evolved from trial and error to become the ultimate American PSYOP weapon against a well-motivated Japanese enemy.

According to numerous sources, the Japanese did not have a word for "surrender" in their vocabulary. Worse, under their rules of Bushido, if they did surrender they were disgraced and lost from their family and ancestors forever. Regardless, the United States did produce early leaflets that said "I Surrender." The Japanese apparently did have several words for "surrender," including "kosan" and "kofuku." Whatever the word, the leaflet failed miserably. Japanese surrenders were rare.

Robin Wagner-Pacifici gives us a more technical explanation in The Art of Surrender, University of Chicago Press, IL, 2005. She says:

…Even at the start of the war there was extreme reluctance to make use of surrender passes bearing the word “Surrender” in either Japanese (kosan, kofuku) or English. “I Cease Resistance” was the preferred euphemism. According to the linguist Kennosuke Ezawa, both kofuku and kosan have the component ko, which indicate descent, or going down from high to low. Kofuku, used exclusively to describe military surrender, actually is rarely articulated, since the literal and figurative lowering it entails often led in the past to suicide or to being killed by the enemy…

There is an interesting theory that the "I surrender" term was more for the American soldiers than for the Japanese. Because of early Japanese treachery when pretending to surrender, the G.I.s and Marines tended to shoot the Japanese when they came out of their caves and bunkers. There is reason to believe that Sixth Army H.Q. wanted the "I surrender" text in large type so that the American soldiers would see the words and hold their fire. The words, so hateful to the Japanese, might save their lives.

John W. Dower says in War without Mercy – Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon Books, NYC, 1986:

The Japanese themselves bore no little responsibility for the reluctance of Allied soldiers to take prisoners for early in the war they used fake surrenders to ambush their unwary foes. It would have been a rare Marine who did not know the enemy through the story of the Guadalcanal “Goettge patrol” of 12 August 1942. Twenty Marines responded to what appeared to be a Japanese attempt to surrender, and were ambushed, shot, and bayoneted to death. “Kill or be killed” ruled the battlefield thereafter…The Marine battle cry on Tarawa was, “Kill the Jap bastards! Take no prisoners.” The 41st Division under MacArthur was nicknamed “the Butchers” by Tokyo Rose. They bragged that “The 41st didn’t take prisoners.”

Barak Kushner says in The Thought War – Japanese Imperial Propaganda, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2006:

One reason behind the small numbers of Japanese soldiers captured by U.S. forces may have been the fact that U.S. soldiers slaughtered wounded or surrendering Japanese soldiers...Rampant rage failed to be extinguished even by orders from above. In a desperate effort to obtain prisoners for intelligence purposes, one American division had to encourage soldiers with the award of a case of beer or a bottle of whiskey for each Japanese captured alive. In the southwest Pacific, internal military memos reveal that the ante had to be upped to “three days leave and some ice cream” to coax soldiers to bring in the Japanese prisoners.

The WWII U.S. Military Intelligence Service SOLDIER'S GUIDE TO THE JAPANESE ARMY, Special Series No. 27, dated 15 November 1944 says:

Surrender is considered a great disgrace not only to the soldier but to his family, and his religion teaches the Japanese soldier that it is the highest honor to die for his emperor. There have been several instances where Japanese troops in hopeless positions have fought to the last, and the wounded begged to be killed to avoid the ignominy of capture:

Fight hard. If you are afraid of dying, you will die in battle; if you are not afraid, you will not die. Under no circumstances become a straggler or a prisoner of war. In case you become helpless, commit suicide nobly.

Propaganda emanating from Tokyo emphasizes the contention that Americans are individualistic, whereas the Japanese have the advantage of selflessness.

Yet in recent operations there have been pronounced indications that Japanese soldiers are not too eager to die, especially when the odds are against them. Heavy casualties, on occasion, have had a weakening effect on the morale of survivors; a Japanese order points out:

Too many graves with markers are not good for security or morale. Also, it is unfair to erect grave markers for some per­sons and not for others. Since a grave will be erected at the home of a deceased man, it is not necessary to erect one for him on a battlefield.

I have also seen a letter from an American commanding general entitled “Notice to the Troops” It says in part:

This command wants prisoners. For this reason it has ordered the air-dropping of leaflets urging Japanese soldiers to surrender. We know from experience that these leaflets will work under the right conditions. Leaflet similar to those being dropped for us caused Japanese to surrender at Kamaing, Myitkyina and Imphal.

Whenever a Japanese soldier attempts to surrender…hold your fire and take him prisoner. If one Japanese were to be shot while attempting to surrender in good faith, others behind him will decide the pass is of no value.

But we do not want live Japs at the cost of dead Americans. Be alert. Don’t go after the Jap. Make him come to you. Don’t expose yourself. Common sense precautions will take the risk out of getting prisoners.

The American "I Cease Resistance" leaflets were much larger than the usual airdropped leaflets, almost 8 x 11-inches in size, and apparently this was so they would be easily recognized by American soldiers.

Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) was created 18 April 1942 in Melbourne , Australia. General Douglas MacArthur was appointed supreme commander. In July 1942, SWPA created the Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO). It was made up mostly of Australians from their Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB). FELO produced and dropped 58,000,000 leaflets in six languages during the war. In June 1944, SWPA created the  Psychological Warfare Branch, Southwest Pacific Area (PWB SWPA). It was made up mostly of Americans, including members of the Office of War Information (OWI) and a number of Australian FELO members. PWB now had the responsibility for PSYOP in the Southwest Pacific Area.

AustralianSCP001F.jpg (168143 bytes)

An Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet

One of the Australian “Cease Resistance” leaflets has red and blue diagonal stripes at the left, Japanese text in the center and English language text at the bottom. These leaflets were printed with the area above the English-language text message on the front blank. That area was to be used only for specific instructions as to where and when and how the Japanese soldier should surrender. In this case notice that the information has been added. In other cases, there will be no Japanese text on the front, just the English-language message:

The bearer has ceased resistance. Treat him well in accordance with international law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer. C-in-C Allied Forces.

The back of the leaflet is all Japanese text. The leaflet bears no code.

Although the leaflet bears no code we have seen the official translation sheet for this leaflet and that shows that the code is J.258. The text is:

Officers and Men of the Japanese Forces

You are aware that to remain in your present position is hopeless. You have fought valiantly and your predicament is not of your own making. It is Heaven’s gift that your life has been spared. True loyalty now demands that you preserve your life for the reconstruction of Japan after the return of peace.

Avoid a useless death. Come over to us. You are assured of just treatment in accordance with international law. Needless to say, those who are in need of medical attention will be immediately attended to and food will be provided.


Australian "I Cease Resistance" Leaflet - J.269

This is a standard Australian "I Cease Resistance" leaflet with a message at the front left addressed to "Officers and men of the Japanese forces." It tells the Japanese that a brave man does not think of himself, but of his country. It tells him he may cease resistance with honor and will be well treated and should have no fear. The back of the leaflet depicts Japanese prisoners of war at a staging camp about to leave for Australia. The long text explains the Geneva Convention and all the rights the Japanese will have as POWs. It says that after three years of Pacific War over 7,000 Japanese are presently in Australia, and ends by telling the men that the Japanese government has sent money to Australia to pay for the troops “extra comforts.” This gets around their belief that they will be hated and despised for surrendering. It implies that Japan understands.

 J270VNAustralianF.jpg (462353 bytes)  J270VNAustraianB.jpg (426963 bytes) 

AussieICR2RedCross.jpg (568761 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet - J.270

A second Australian leaflet is very similar in appearance and bears the same English-language message on the front. It has a long propaganda text inside that includes a Message to Japanese officers and men. On the back are four letters allegedly written by Japanese prisoners of war to their Australian captors and medical people. I quote one of them:

Dear doctors and soldiers,

How are you? I am getting better every day after your kind treatment. I owe you a great deal for your kindness, which has made me as healthy as I am now. I sincerely thank you. I never expected such good treatment as a prisoner of war. I thank you very, very much.

The final statement is a message from the Australians:

There is no national border in human feelings. The humanitarian treatment of prisoners-of-war by the Red Cross is proof of it. Their actions and the feelings of Japanese soldiers who sent these letters of thanks are both beautiful.

AusJapSCP02F.jpg (30278 bytes)  ICeaseResistanceAltBack.jpg (167019 bytes)

Un-coded Australian "I Cease Resistance" Leaflet

The exact same front appears on a second version that is a bi-fold and has text on the back and photographs inside.

AusJapSCP1Fa.jpg (51521 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet Front - J186

AussieICeaseResistanceBack1b.jpg (53728 bytes)AussieICeaseResistanceBack1a.jpg (67822 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet Back

A third Australian “Cease resistance” leaflet is similar in appearance with the same text on the front. The back has Japanese text and two photographs depicting Australian soldiers and Japanese POWs in friendly interaction. The text is:


Behind the fierce ordeal of war you find aspects such as these. Man is human after all.

An Australian Sergeant offers a drink of water to a Japanese soldier at a first aid post.

Japanese prisoners-of-war, healthy, and with their minds at ease, in the Australian camp.

Officers and men of the Japanese Army! We need not explain the situation. Any further bloodshed is useless. You had better make a wise decision. We wish to treat you kindly. There is no shame in coming to our lines and receiving emergency medical treatment under the Geneva Convention. and you can be quite sure that we will cause you no humiliation.You will be taken to join the several hundred Japanese soldiers already accommodated in Australia.

Commander in Chief, Allied Forces

Attention! Display this leaflet prominently as you approach Australian lines. Keep this side with the English writing on it facing towards us. Come over unarmed.

A second version of this same leaflet just has a long text message and no photographs.

AustralianCease208.jpg (248525 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet Front - J.208

This leaflet is a bit different since the Japanese text comes right into the English language part of the safe conduct pass. The text of the front is:


Your situation is definitely hopeless. This is not your fault, just your fate.

It is Heaven's gift that your life has been spared. You will still be able to serve your country for a long time if you accept the inevitable today.

I order to avoid misunderstanding, come over to us unarmed with your hands up today.

The text on the back is:

You may come over individually, in small groups, or in large numbers. You will not be humiliated and it will not be long before you are taken to an interpreter who can speak your language.

The meaning of the English-language sentence is as follows:

The bearer of this leaflet is coming over to us. He should be treated well in accordance with International Law. Take him to the nearest Commanding Officer.

Commander in Chief - Allied Forces

AussieICR2RedCross.jpg (568761 bytes)

The Safe Conduct Pass as a Bi-fold, the inside Pictures and Letters

A third version is a bi-fold that opens up to show a front, back text, and photographs of Japanese prisoners on the inside along with letters in their handwriting forwarded by the Australian Red Cross.

AusJapSCP3F.jpg (34727 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet

A fourth Australian version of the “Cease resistance” leaflet has Japanese text on the front and the back.

AussieICeaseJapFa.jpg (51497 bytes)

Australian “I Cease Resistance” Leaflet - J.256

A fifth Australian surrender leaflet has the same general look with the red, white and blue stripes and text, but in this case the photographs of Japanese prisoners were added to give credence to the text. The prisoner’s faces have been hidden and this was to protect them, since being identified as a prisoner-of-war would bring great disgrace on them and their family. Of course, it also allowed the Japanese to claim that the leaflets were lies, and that the men depicted were not truly Japanese soldiers, but individuals of some other Asian country pretending to be Japanese. The text on the back is long but well written:


After things have got to their very worst, there is bound to be a change. That is only natural. You have fought valiantly but further resistance, as yourselves know, can only end in futile death of no benefit to your country.

Come over to us and join more than 9,000 of your comrades who have decided they should live to serve Japan after the war, rather than die a useless death. They are now being restored to health and leading a quiet life with good care. In order to avoid a misunderstanding come over to us unarmed during daylight hours, with your hands up. You may come over individually or in groups.

The meaning of the English sentence is: “The bearer of this leaflet has ceased resistance. He should be treated well in accordance with International Law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer. Commander in Chief Allied Forces.”

A sixth Australian surrender leaflet coded J.219 is also a large leaflet, but without the photograph on the front. The back has a very long text broken up into various boxes. Some of the text is:

Officers and men of the Japanese Forces!

A brave man does not think of himself, but devotes everything to the service of his country. But the proper course of a man whose death can bring no advantage for his country is to live on for his country. Make the brave but hard decision and come over to us. You need have no fear. Come over!

The leaflet then goes on to tell the Japanese of the Geneva Convention and what it promises to prisoners of War. Some of the text is:

The following extracts are taken from the Geneva Convention, signed by 29 nations in 1929. Among the signatories are all the Allied Nations.

Article 2: Prisoners of war are under the control of the Government, but not of the individuals or formations of those which captured them. They shall at all time be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence, from insults and public curiosity. Measures of reprisal against them are forbidden…

The leaflet quotes nine articles in all. It then ends with the text:

After more than three years of the Pacific War, over 7,000 of your officers and men are living with us. They had, of course, done their utmost, until even their death became of no use.

The Japanese government recently sent a certain sum of money through the International Red Cross for these men, for the purpose of extra comforts. This fact shows that the Japanese government itself has realized that circumstances made the surrender of these men inevitable.

A seventh leaflet allegedly used in New Guinea is certainly one of the “J.” leaflets, although at this time we have not identified it. There are 337 leaflets in the “J.” series alone so without a code printed on the leaflet it is difficult to identify a single leaflet. This one features what appear to be troops in the field, and the usual message in Japanese. Someone has done a partial translation on the text:


Come to us from your battlelines without arms. Those men that come forward will be treated kindly according to International Law and will be taken immediately to the nearest commanding officer or authority.

The Australian use of the leaflets is documented in War by Stealth: Australians and the Allied Intelligence Bureau, Alan Powell, Melbourne University Press, 1996:

The Japanese were advised to “Cease resistance” in order that they would be able to take part in the “re-awakening of the New Japan.” He could not only save face, but also could take action that would get him out of a nasty and uncomfortable hole. He had begun to realize from his own personal experience in the jungle that Japan must be in a pretty bad state if it could not supply him with sufficient food and ammunition to carry on the fight.

A modified form of the surrender leaflet used in New Guinea combined the usual message in Japanese with another in Pidgin asking the natives to report the location of any sick or wounded Japanese in their area, with promise of reward.

The British in the Far East also attempted some early surrender leaflets. Charles Cruickshank mentions some of the attempts in SOE in the Far East, Oxford University Press, 1983:

The main stumbling block the Allies had to overcome was the Japanese soldier’s attitude to death and surrender, inculcated from childhood. Death in battle was glorious. His family would rejoice to hear of it. That there was no greater disgrace than to be captured was enshrined in the Japanese battle manual.

BeardedJapaneseSoldierSurrenders.jpg (108394 bytes)

A bearded Japanese soldier holds a leaflet as he surrenders to U.S. soldiers

A 24-page manual told the Japanese soldiers that even if they were captured because they were starving, out of ammunition, wounded or unconscious, that was no excuse. Their duty was to fight, escape, or commit suicide. The British produced a document that they hoped, along with safe conduct passes, would allow the Japanese to surrender with honor. It met little success. It said in part:

Since the dawn of chivalry it has been understood that when a soldier had fought bravely to the end there comes a time when he can achieve nothing more…He can flee the field, he can die or he can lay down his arms. The first is shameful to any warrior and cannot be contemplated. The second offers release from all problems and responsibilities…The soldiers are the flower of manhood of any nation and it is to avoid the vain destruction of this flower that the civilized code of chivalry enjoins the last-named as the only honorable alternative for the soldier.

Sergeant Albert B. Gerger was interviewed about persuading Japanese soldiers to give up by the Manila Chronicle, 19 October 1945. The story was later distributed worldwide by the Associated Press. Gerger mentions that the early leaflets were unsuccessful. The Americans were not sure why leaflets that seemed to be so well written and illustrated had such poor results. Filipino scouts were sent into the field to study the problem.

A Japanese soldier was seen to examine one of the leaflets and then throw it on the ground, grinding it under his heel as he muttered 'Mujokan Kofuku,' the most despised term a Japanese soldier can utter, 'surrender.' From the time a Japanese can understand the meaning of simple words it is driven into his mind that the worse crime he can commit is to surrender. For this there is no forgiveness and one who surrenders sacrifices everything; his property, honor, rights, rights in life and after-life, and the respect of his fellow man.

Our experts in psychological warfare held a huddle and came up with a new one, replacing the 'I surrender' on the leaflet with 'I cease resistance.' It worked.

The Japanese indoctrination was not based on logic or intelligent thought. The Japanese knows that he must not 'mujoken kofuku' and that is all. There is nothing in his learning that prohibits the cessation of resistance. There is even a good Japanese expression used in normal daily living that expresses the same idea, 'Shikata-ga Mai,' freely translated, 'The Hell with it.' The combination of the new leaflet and re-trained troops produced results. The trickle of surrenders became a stream.

Curiously, the Australian Far Eastern Liaison Office also takes credit for the “I Cease Resistance” change. Hamish McDonald, in the book A War of Words – The man who Talked 4000 Japanese into Surrender, University of Queensland Press, Australia, 2014, says that FELO was interviewing a Japanese POW who told them:

Inagaki pointed out that the term “Surrender” was itself a barrier for the Japanese soldiers. It was agreed that the words “cease resistance” should replace it. They started producing leaflets that doubled as a propaganda tool and an aide to surrender, with a message in Japanese about the war on one side and a largely white other side with an English notice under the name of “Commander in Chief Allied Forces” stating simply: “The bearer has ceased resistance. Treat him well in accordance with international law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer.

Alice Gilmore says in You can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets that the Japanese did not even like the word “surrender” when it was in English:

Harold Nishimura, a Nisei serving with the US 7th Division Language Team, for example, wrote a lengthy memo in January 1945 assessing the merits of the propaganda disseminated during the Leyte campaign…Nishimura reported that in the late stages of the operation “nearly all prisoners either surrendered using a leaflet or stated they had read and been influenced by them.” He also noted, however, that of the 127 prisoners taken by the 7th Division, nearly all of them objected to the fact that Allied leaflets contained the word “surrender.” Indeed, the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) interrogations revealed that virtually all Japanese objected to surrender leaflets that had the words “I Surrender” emblazoned on them. Even though the words were in English, ATIS reports showed that Japanese troops understood their meaning and found them offensive. As a result, the standard surrender leaflet was changed to read “I Cease Resistance.”

In December 1944, the OWI discussed this very subject in the classified confidential Psychological Warfare, Part One, a handbook for its own agents that discussed the psychological and technical aspects of propaganda. Some of the comments are:

It must be emphasized again that the words surrender (kosan or kofuku) and prisoner of war (horyo or furyo) never be employed in propaganda. This is in conformance with the general concept that everything must be done to help the Japanese “save face.” If pictures of captured Japanese are used in leaflets, it is imperative that their features be obscured. The Japanese, it must be remembered, would rather die than have it be known that they surrendered. Even the most voluble prisoners, although perfectly willing to give intimate details concerning their army and navy, plaintively request that absolutely no word of their capture be relayed either to their family or to their government. Thus, only if the Japanese is made to feel that his surrender will be regarded as a personal matter and will not be publicized will he give serious attention to laying down his arms.

Note: Just an aside here. At the end of the war, Emperor Hirohito was called upon to announce the official surrender of Japan to the Allied forces. His message was carefully crafted and once again does not mention the word “surrender.” Susanna Fessler, Professor of Japanese Studies, State University of New York, Albany, says in “The Emperor’s Broadcast”:

The language of the speech was formal, as was befitting the Emperor, but consequently not the everyday Japanese that was familiar to the populace. Moreover, the choice of words was vague: the word ‘surrender’ does not appear. Rather, the Emperor informed his subjects that Japan must ‘pave the way for a grand peace … by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.’

isurrender.jpg (49838 bytes)

The early leaflets have no photographs on front, just text in English and Japanese. The text is, "I Surrender. Attention American soldiers. This leaflet guarantees humane treatment to any Japanese desiring to surrender. Take him to your nearest Commissioned Officer. By order C.G. U.S. Forces" The text on the back is:

To all the men and officers of the Japanese force.

We are saddened by your participation in the war but we applaud and salute your bravery shown thus far. However, with our unity and the advantage of our superior scientific weaponry, you must understand that final victory truly belongs to the United States.

You were convinced and trusted that Japan will prevail and therefore left your hometown thousands of miles behind to arrive at a strange place. However, it made your heart bleed to find out that the Japanese aircraft and weaponry are inferior to that of the Allies.

Furthermore, our navy and air force have gained control over southern Formosa as well as the Pacific region. Now, who shall bear the responsibility?

There are other developments too. Japan herself has begun to face a shortage in resources and those she acquired from the Southern Regions. The world's 'treasure house' is now useless as it is already impossible to transport the much-needed commodities to the battle zone. In your present situation, do you honestly still believe that you have a chance at victory? However, take heart; this is no fault of yours. The responsibility lies solely on the inexpediency of your head of military department in Tokyo.

Without an iota of a chance of victory, what else can you do? For the sake of the liberty and the posterity of postwar Japan, don't you think we should join hands and work at rebuilding Japan?

Already, a segment of your enlightened Japanese comrades-in-arms in New Guinea has come to their senses, laid down their arms and quit fighting such a futile and bloody war. Come on! Conserve yourself so that you will be able to work hard at rebuilding postwar Japan!

As far as possible, hang this leaflet on a wooden stick or hold it in your hand and approach our U.S. forces in truce.

The same front was used on leaflet 7-J-6. The code indicates that the leaflet was produced by General Walter Krueger’s United States 6th Army in the Philippines. The leaflet was prepared on 20 September 1944. The Philippine invasion occurred the following month. The back is all text. The leaflet data sheet says:


Target: SMALL Japanese units, defeated and cut off and from escape.


The long message is 400 words. It is the similar to the message found on 8-J-6 below. The message is:

Brave Soldiers of Nippon:

The force to which you are attached has fought with great bravery. Rarely in the present war have we encountered such fighting spirit among Yamato warriors. We have gained deep respect for your courage.

But the war cannot be won by courage alone.

Our troops were able to attack you in overwhelming force because American factories have supplied us with superior weapons. You have felt their quality and power. Our planes dominate the field of battle. You are waiting for the Japanese Air Force but your expectation is in vain.

Your Force Commander ordered you into a hopeless attack. Then he delayed retreat too long, hoping in vain to retrieve his error. As the old saying goes:

“The General reaps the glory, while ten thousand sacrifice themselves.”

Now there is no escape. Your line of communication is cut off from the main Japanese force, and your escape route is now cut. Reinforcements cannot reach you. Every other Japanese unit is also cut off now. Some seek only to save themselves. Many others have honorably ceased resistance and are now in our care.

Your fate is like a flickering candle in the wind.

It is for you to decide whether you want to die a useless death or seek peace with honor.

This leaflet is your ticket to start a new life after the war.

isurrender.jpg (49838 bytes)

Tactical Leaflet without Code to the Japanese 20th and 43rd Divisions

We mention above that the U.S. Army 41st Division under MacArthur was nicknamed "the Butchers" by Tokyo Rose. They bragged that "The 41st didn’t take prisoners." Curiously, the same“I Surrender” pass was used by the 41st Division in an un-coded version (no "J" code is printed on the leaflet). The leaflet measures 9.5 inches x 12.5 inches and 10,000 copies were requested by the Commanding General of the 43rd Division on 16 September 1944, delivered on 25 September 1944, and directed specifically at the 41st & 20th Japanese Division remnants in the Danmap River vicinity of the Philippines. The leaflet was printed by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the U.S. 6th Army. The text is:

Palau – 23 September. American forces have seized the main airdrome on Pelellu Island and are mopping up the few remaining forces in the Palau Group. The capture of Palau removes the last barrier to the American capture of the Philippine Islands and the attack on Japan proper. Great fleets of American bombers have already destroyed many installations and supplies at Davao and Manila in the Philippines. The great steel factory at Yamato and the Japanese naval base at Sasebo have been destroyed, so you can expect even less help.

The last hope of evacuation of Japanese troops in the Wowak area of New Guinea has been lost. American planes rule the sky; Allied ships control all the area around New Guinea, and no Japanese ships or planes have been seen in many months.

The Japanese XVIII Army, one a glorious part of the Imperial Japanese forces, has been reduced to less than 10 percent of its original strength, living like animals in the jungle along the Danmap River and between Marujippo and But. These men who fought so courageously at the Driniumor River and at Afua have been living on sac-sac, coconuts and jungle animals, while their comrades have died by the hundreds all around them. Their clothes and shoes have been worn out and lost along the trail, their weapons are covered with rust and dirt, and there is no way to clean them, or to continue to fight.

How can the Japanese forces exist without food, medicine, clothing and ammunition? Without hope of reinforcements, without hope of evacuation by sea or air, they will slowly but certainly die. To the west, the U.S. forces have an abundance of food, clothing and medical supplies.

You, who are the few survivors, endure these hardships no longer. Place this paper on a stick and advance westward toward Ataipe with the paper over your heads. American patrols and doctors will find you and treat you well. As there is the Bushido spirit among the Japanese, so there is chivalry among Americans. Your names will not be sent to japan and no disgrace will befall you or your families.

By order of the Commanding General
U.S. Forces

IJ24CeaseReasistance.jpg (88865 bytes)


The same front was used on another leaflet coded 1-J-24. The leaflet, dated 17 March 1945 was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the U.S. Army 24th Division for Japanese troops cut-off on the Island of Mindanao. It informs the Japanese that they are cut-off from re-supply and reinforcements. The back of the leaflet is all text and continues to say that more than 70 of their comrades have surrendered. Some of the text is:

Officers and Soldiers of Japan

Luzon and manila have fallen. Your escape routes have been blocked…Already more than 70 of your comrades have laid down their arms and are now in the hands of American forces. They are receiving good treatment such as food, clothing, sleeping quarters and medical treatment.

If you do not cease resistance and come over to our lines we have decided to destroy your position completely. Throw your weapons and helmets away and raise both hands high over your head. Bring this leaflet with you and come to our lines. We will not harm you and guarantee your safety….

The whole Japanese concept of never surrendering was difficult for Americans and Europeans to understand. They believed that the Japanese desire to die or commit suicide before surrender or capture was some kind of fanaticism bred into them by the military, perhaps with the addition of sake or drugs. In fact, it was part of their modern militaristic culture.

They were constantly told that to surrender or be captured meant they were cowards, incompetents and traitors to the Emperor. To be captured alive meant that you were dead to all Japan and to your family. As a result, many captured prisoners begged to be killed on the spot, and continued to plead for honorable death even after arriving at a prisoner of war camp. The prisoners were terrified that their family in Japan would be notified that they were still alive. The American, Nisei and Australian translators of the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) who served in the Southwest Pacific constantly worked to convince the Japanese that they were not traitors or cowards, and that their capture was an understandable result of poor leadership, injury, illness, or lack or food or ammunition. They regularly reinforced the message that to die for the Emperor would be worthless; to live for him and to help rebuild Japan after the inevitable defeat would be both honorable and worthwhile. The ATIS staff also helped to write leaflets on occasion, translated Japanese documents and maps, made radio broadcasts, prepared charts of the japanese order of battle, and went to the front lines with some combat units.

Colonel Arthur Page points out that the Japanese loved American cigarettes and the translators went through cases of them. The Japanese also had a sweet tooth and if one was especially helpful it was common to give him a piece of chocolate. Most important, since the Japanese general staff could not imagine a Japanese soldier being taken alive on the battlefield, no instruction had been permitted on how to act when captured. The POWs were on their own without guidance and with a little psychological urging could be broken.

Page was less than excited about the use of PSYOP. He says in part:

The PSYOP patrols targeted the retreating enemy moving into the hinterland, often in small rag-tag bands. These broadcasts were accompanied by saturation air-dropping of surrender leaflets at selected points….PSYOP was relatively costly in terms of manpower and resources committed for the minimal returns obtained and, despite its potential I considered it an expensive waste of time and effort.

I devoted considerable time and thought compiling the text for the surrender leaflets and was heartedly disappointed not to be greeted by legions of bedraggled Japanese soldiers persuaded to turn themselves in by my deft turn of phrase. In fact, I recall hearing of only sixty enemy soldiers who surrendered to broadcast points in the jungle…My most successful foray saw three Japanese surrender to us, one of them a Formosan. This was a paltry return for our considerable investment, but a far better result than our previous trips to date.

Readers who want to know more about the men who interrogated the Japanese in their own language and convinced them to live on and to tell all they knew to the Allies should read Arthur Page’s Between Victor and Vanquished, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus, Australia, 2008.

8J6CeaseResistanceWWII.jpg (261153 bytes)  8J6CeaseResistanceb.jpg (67566 bytes)

Leaflet 8-J-6

The very first leaflet is uncoded. The later leaflets are all coded with a "J" for "Japan." Among them are 1(a)J1 (large leaflet with blank back), 1(b)J1 (Large leaflet with message on back), 1(c)J1 (small leaflet with blank back), 8J6 (large leaflet with text on the back) - 500,000 of these leaflets were printed in September 1944 at the request of the Sixth Army. 25-J-6 dated 23 December 1944, 29-J-6 dated 20 January 1945 and 30-J-6, dated 19 January 1945, 37-J-6 dated 17 February 1945, 11-J-8 dated 23 February 1945 and 1-J-11 dated 21 February 1945.

1(b)J1 is identical to 8J6 on the front above. It is a large 9.5 x 13-inch leaflet with all text on the back. Some of the message is:

Officers and Soldiers of Japan

The battle you have put up has our sincere respect. We are quite confident, however, that victory will be ours, as in past operations. We have this confidence because of our officers and men, our superior scientific equipment, our artillery and our bombing.

When you left home, many thousands of miles away, you thought the Japanese would win. You have since learned that your planes and equipment are no match for those of the Allied forces.

Through the operations of our Air Force and navy, air and sea supremacy on the Pacific south of Taiwan belongs to us.

Because of this, it is impossible to move raw materials of military importance from the South Seas to Japan. Therefore, what is needed on the front line is lacking. For the same reason, the very moving of supplies to the front line is difficult.

We take it for granted, therefore, that you know you have no hope of winning. It is clear that your plight is not your fault but the fault of the army and navy staffs.

With the battle hopeless, what can you do? You can come to an understanding with our forces and preserve yourself for the rebuilding of Japan.

That was what Japanese officers and men on Guadalcanal and New Guinea did. They realized the futility of bloodshed and came to an understanding with us for the sake of their country after the war.

To reach an understanding with us, attach this leaflet to a stick and hold it high with both hands as you approach our men. Then follow their signals.

This leaflet guarantees you humane treatment, good food, clean quarters, and considerate medical care. To receive them, present this leaflet to an American soldier.

It is interesting to note that the text does not mention surrender, but instead says "come to an understanding."

8J6 is a large 8.5 x 13-inch leaflet produce 20 September 1944 for any defeated Japanese unit, where Japanese soldiers have an opportunity to surrender, if they wish. Some of the text is:

Brave Soldiers of Nippon:

The force to which you are attached has fought with great bravery. We have gained deep respect for your courage. But the war cannot be won by courage alone.

Our troops were able to attack you in overwhelming force because American factories have supplies us with superior weapons. You have felt their quality and power. Our planes dominate the field of battle.

Your Force Commander ordered you into a hopeless battle. As the old saying goes"

The General reaps the glory, while ten thousand sacrifice themselves."

Your fate is like a flickering candle in the wind.

What can be achieved by further resistance?

In other sectors, Japanese soldiers, ordered by their officers to continue a hopeless battle, have suffered great misery needlessly. They have run out of food and supplies. A few of them, weakened by a diet of jungle roots and leaves have resorted to cannibalism. Others have perished needlessly from wounds and the painful diseases of the tropics.

But many others have ceased resistance and are now in our care….

CeaseResistanceTeamPh.jpg (91298 bytes)

Members of the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Branch in the Philippines with a freshly printed “I Surrender” Leaflet

The April 1945 issue of the WWII classified magazine Outpost News; U.S. Office of War Information Outpost Service Bureau depicts the above surrender leaflet on the cover. Inside is a well illustrated story entitled “The Leaflet: A powerful weapon of modern warfare. Some of the text is:

It is still popularly believed that the fanatically indoctrinated Japanese will fight to the last cartridge, no matter how badly they are suffering at the hands of American troops…All popular opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, Japanese soldiers have a number of what are known as human qualities. They are subject to the common human emotions: hate, love, fear and hope. Surprising numbers have been influenced by our leaflets, which work on these emotions, to the extent of choosing honorable surrender instead of “glorious death.”

The first leaflet surrenders in the Pacific were to U.S. Marines of Guadalcanal. The campaign on Dutch New Guinea produced several hundred Jap prisoners whose surrender, interrogations proved, were due directly to leaflets…

25-J-6 was an Ormoc surrender appeal requested by XXIV Corps. It targeted the remnants of Japanese troops on Western Leyte. Some of the text is:

To the officers and Men of the Japanese Army: The American forces, after landing, and up to the present date, have occurred the land, air and naval superiority...Don't you think that the utmost service for your Emperor is to work for the reconstruction of Japan after the war?....  

29-J-6 is identical to 30-J-6 below on the front, but in a smaller 8.75 x 11.5-inch size. It is all text on the back. The text was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch at the request of the U.S. Sixth Army for Japanese troops on the Island of Luzon. The leaflet was prepared 20 January 1945. The text is:

Soldiers Of Nippon

You have fought with great bravery and we have gained deep respect for your courage.  But the war cannot be won by courage alone. Our troops have overwhelming superiority on the sea and land and in the air. Your fate is like a flickering candle in the wind. What can be gained by further resistance?

In other sectors, Japanese soldiers, ordered by their officers to continue a hopeless battle, have needlessly suffered great misery. They have run out of food and supplies. Some have starved, others have died of wounds or painful tropical diseases.

But many others have ceased resistance and are now in our care. These men receive the same food as American troops. In our hospitals American doctors are treating Japanese soldiers side by side with American troops.

Soldiers, think this over. .Throw away your weapons and Helmets, and come out waving this paper. Any number of you may surrender with this one piece of paper. You will not be disgraced. Your names or pictures will not be sent home.

Bring your wounded with you and we will care for them. Japanese soldiers already with us understand that we follow the famous Samurai saying, "Between victor and vanquished there are enemies no more."

30j6CeaseResistF.jpg (223086 bytes)

Leaflet 30-J-6

30-J-6 is identical to 8J6 on the front, but in a smaller 8 x 11-inch size. It was a special request by the Western Visayan Task Force and the text was prepared by that Task Force on what they called "the standard surrender pass" on 19 January 1945. It is all text on the back. It targeted the Japanese troops on the island of Lubang and told them:


Our soldiers have overrun the island of Mindoro.

My troops have landed on Lubang Island in large numbers, supported by powerful air and naval bombardment.

I respect your bravery which has been evident by the way you have fought in the past. You have done all that could be expected of you as brave soldiers of Japan. This time you stand against overwhelming odds. Our forces are gaining control of Luzon to your north. You are cut off from your homeland. There can be no reinforcement or escape for you.

Keep this paper with you. If you approach our soldiers in small groups of not more than five, each holding this paper on the end of a stick, you will be taken as honorable soldiers and treated as such. You will be well fed and clothed, and will receive the same medical treatment as is provided for our own soldiers.

Commanding General, U.S. Forces.  

An obvious error in the text of this leaflet is the implication that each Japanese soldier must have a copy of the leaflet. An enemy soldier who wished to defect but did not have such a leaflet might feel that he needed to fight on. Later leaflets usually stated that the enemy soldier could surrender with or without a leaflet and if one person in a group had a leaflet that was acceptable.

Leaflet 37-J-6

37-J-6 is identical to 8J6 on the front, but in a smaller 8 x 11.5-inch size. It was called a "Luzon Special" and was requested by a Major Anderson on 17 February 1945 to target desperate Japanese when their positions were discovered. The data sheet says it was to be used against troops in Argo, Pongpong, and Pugo areas. The data sheet adds that the text is the same as standard safe Conduct Pass 1(c)-J-1. The data sheet suggests that leaflet 38-J-6 be used before this one. "These will be used when the position of the Nips becomes desperate--not before. Suggest use of leaflet 38-J-6 before using this one." The tactical leaflet is all text on the back. It says in part:

To the Gallant Japanese Soldiers of Luzon:

You have been under heavy artillery fire and air attack. Your food is not sufficient for Japanese soldiers and your ammunition is limited. You have no naval or air support whatsoever. Despite all this you have fought bravely.

We admire your gallantry against great odds. We bow to your courage and determination. Nevertheless, your position will be hopeless when a full scale attack is launched. So, we again tell you the truth about ourselves.

We do not wish to kill you. We promise you again that Americans obey international law and treat those of you who come to an agreement with us with the dignity befitting a brave soldier.

This paper is your safe-conduct pass to the American lines. Throw away your arms; put this paper on a white rag at the end of a stick and walk to the south…

11-J-8 is identical to 8J6 on the front, but in a smaller 7.75 x 11.5-inch size. It is called "Straggler Surrender" and produced by the U.S. Eighth Army on 23 February 1945 for use against Japanese troops on Leyte, north of Palompom. It was to be distributed by ground patrol, guerrillas and American troops. It is all text on the back and says in part:

To Members of the Imperial Japanese Forces

The battle of Leyte is finished. The result is well known even to the most ignorant.

The valor and unprecedented sacrifices made by members of the Imperial Japanese forces is equally well known.

The few surviving Japanese soldiers have nothing to be ashamed of. It is for them to decide when to forget the painful past and plan for the future. When you have had enough useless wandering in the jungle and begin to plan for a new future, remember that the United States forces are generous to the helpless and admire valor. Come to us with your head held high…

1-J-11 is identical to 8J6 on the front, but in a smaller 8.5 x 11.5-inch size. It was a special request by the G-2 (Intelligence Section) of the XI Corps. It was prepared on 21 February 1945 for Japanese troops on Corregidor Island. The back is all text and says in part:

Japanese Officers and Soldiers on Corregidor

The valor and bravery of the Japanese soldier is well known and respected. We admire your honorable defense of the island.

It is needless to say that the situation of your forces on Corregidor is hopeless. Your air force and navy can give you no aid and all your means of escape have been cut off. As soldiers you realize that there is no way you can hold this island.

Our forces have landed from the air and sea and you were unable to stop them. You have already felt the power of our Air Force. Now you must choose between dying needlessly or living courageously in peace…

In your hands rests the future of your homeland. It is no disgrace to cease resistance when there is no hope. Only be coming over to our lines can you live to be the father of sons and work together for the new Japan…

The world is a wide place and a happy life is preferable to a wretched death. All this is true as many of your comrades already know. This is an appeal you must think about. Think and act!

        ISURRENDERFront0001.jpg (94165 bytes)     ISURRENDERback0001.jpg (115138 bytes)

Unknown “I Surrender” Leaflet

Usually I will not show a leaflet without a translation. This mysterious leaflet seems to be a standard “I Surrender” safe conduct pass, but the text on the front is slightly different. It bears no code so it is impossible to say when or where it was used and who it was addressed to. It is my hope that some Japanese-speaking reader will see this leaflet, translate it and send the text to me at the address at the end of the article. It would be nice to know what this leaflet was used for.

Note: Many years after I wrote the above statement I got a short note from a collector who said in part:

My Japanese is shaky but I can tell you that it references "Solomon Guinea." The Message goes into the usual about their fight being futile, and assures the soldiers that they can use the leaflet without concern to appeal to "us" (the US Military). It is addressed to the officers and men of the Japanese army in the usual very respectful manner. The text on the recto appears to be identical to that of 1-J-24 on your page.

Perhaps the message was similar to 6-J-1 that says:

Your comrades-in-arms, who were left behind in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, died hoping that friendly ships and airplanes might come to their rescue.

The failure of the surrender leaflets led the American PSYOP specialists to carefully construct a leaflet with the words "I cease resistance." The change was minor, but to the Japanese the new wording meant a world of difference. One could cease resistance and allow himself to be taken while never surrendering. A curious use of the Asian concept of "face."

The leaflet was used a number of times in slightly different versions. In some, Japanese prisoners were shown. In others, just a hand holding a leaflet reading "I cease resistance" on a stick. They were apparently much more successful than the earlier leaflets and did result in Japanese soldiers allowing themselves to be taken prisoner. The message in each version of the leaflet is very respectful toward the Japanese soldier. It always complements him on his bravery and loyalty. Each message attacks his leadership and blames his ills on poor decisions by his Generals and the government.

ICeaseResistJap04.jpg (54633 bytes)


An example of the series is leaflet 17-J-1. It is a large leaflet, 7 5/8 x 10 5/8 inches. It is brightly colored in red, white and blue. The text is in English and Japanese. There are six vertical lines of Japanese text. The English-language text is:



This leaflet guarantees humane treatment to any Japanese desiring to cease resistance. Take him immediately to your nearest Commissioned Officer.

By Direction of the Commander in Chief.

There is a photo of three smiling Japanese "guests" at the lower left. Their eyes have been blanked out to protect their identity. This was probably appreciated by the prisoners. In Cease Resistance, It's Good for You: A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 2nd edition, 1999, author Stanley Sandler says, "This policy, which was evident in the blanking out of the eyes of any POWs photographed close-up, convinced more than one enemy soldier that the Americans could not be quite as barbarous as depicted by Japanese propaganda." On the other hand, some written reports state that Japanese officers used the blanked-out faces to argue to their soldiers that the men pictured were not Japanese at all. They claimed it was a typical devious American deception. A brief description of the known leaflets follows:

17-J-1. "I cease resistance." Probably produced by the Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO) of General MacArthur's South West Pacific Area (SWPA) with the assistance of MacArthur’s new Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB). However, the official data sheet says the leaflet was produced solely by the Psychological Warfare Branch, U.S. Armed Forces, Pacific Area, APO 500. The message entitled "Decision" promises that prisoners of war will be treated with all the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Convention. This leaflet was printed about March 1945. The official data sheet that was prepared with the English translation of this leaflet is undated).

POWs informed the Americans during interrogation that Japanese officers and soldiers had little or no knowledge of the Geneva Convention. As a result of the comments, the pertinent chapters of the Geneva Convention in regard to prisoners of war were printed on the back of the leaflet. The Japanese text on front is:

The purpose of the English message written above is:

This man is no longer an enemy, According to International Law, he is guaranteed personal safety, clothes, food, quarters and medical attention. 

The picture at the left shows some of your comrades who came over to our side.

Eyes are covered to protect their families in Japan.

Japan17J1V2a.jpg (345579 bytes)

Leaflet 17-J-1 (Version Two)

17-J-1. There is a second PWB version of this “I Cease Resistance” leaflet with the same code number. The Japanese text on the front is the same although it is darker, and the photographer has moved back a bit so now there are four Japanese POWs with their eyes blanked out. A long propaganda text has been added to the back of the leaflet. The size of this leaflet is 198mm x 290mm. The text on the front is:

The text of the English message written above is:

This man is no longer an enemy, According to International Law, he is guaranteed personal safety, clothes, food, quarters and medical attention, etc. 

The picture at the left shows some of your comrades who came over to our side.

Eyes are covered to protect their families in Japan.

Text on the back is:


You have fought bravely without the aid of your Navy and Air Force while suffering from a shortage of food. Fate was against you, however, and you have come to the final stage.

Is a meaningless death the only thing left to you? Why don’t you seek the road to a new life and live for the future of Japan?

Your comrades, already under American protection, have recovered their health and are already enjoying a communal life.

This leaflet is a safe conduct pass to the American lines. Throw away you weapons and approach the American positions or sentry lines, carrying this message (or a piece of white cloth) on a stick. If you see an American soldier raise both arms and obey his signs.

One leaflet may be used by a group.

Note: Because this leaflet bears the text message 141-J-1 on the back it is also listed with that code number. This image is also used on the front of leaflet 3-J-10 from X Corps with a message on the back to Japanese civilians that were newly inducted into the Japanese Army on Mindanao that says in part:


As you know, the war is progressing at a rapid pace. U.S. Forces have occupied three-fourths of Okinawa. Our air force from Saipan and Iwo Jima is constantly attacking war industries in the large cities of Japan. The Japanese Navy has lost even the large battleship Yamato. In Europe, the Allies are in Berlin, the capital of Germany.

The battle of the Philippines will come to an end with the completion of the mopping-up operations on Mindanao. You are already aware that the U.S. ground forces on Mindanao, with strong air support, are pressing upon your positions.

Japanese residents! You have been enjoying peace in a land far from home, but unfortunately you have been flung into the whirlpool of war caused by the Japanese militarists. When the Battle of the Philippines entered its final stage, the Japanese Army became flustered and inducted you civilians who were working on the production front. You have been put into a private’s uniform and are the victim of arrogance on the part of the local officials who have violated the Emperor’s ordinance that induction must be in the Emperor’s name.

Think this over! Why must you now fight for the militarists who have turned your peaceful life into chaos – the militarists who have endangered the Japanese homeland? Why must you die a meaningless death, knowing that the war is already lost? Why not follow the example of the Japanese residents of Saipan and Okinawa? Why throw away your lives? Put yourselves under the protection of the Americans until the war ends, so that you will be able to return to a life of peace.

When you have made your decision, come to either the American or Filipino side. In order to avoid mistakes, throw away your arms and approach the lines with this leaflet held high on a stick. You may use one leaflet for a small group. Americans are treating Japanese civilians on Saipan and Okinawa kindly. You may be sure of food, clothing, and medical care.

Further research indicated that the front of 17-J-1 was also printed with all-text backs coded 4-J-11 and 7-J-11.

50,000 copies of leaflet 4-J-11 were printed for a Major Beard of the 11th Corps. Another 150,000 copies were printed for the 308th Bomb Wing to be dropped on the Japanese. The leaflet was called “Army Protects Navy” and targeted Japanese Army troops in the Philippines. The text of 4-J-11 is:


Your situation, as you must realize, is extremely grave and unfortunate. The Japanese fleet has withdrawn to home waters and you can be sure that it will not venture into Philippine waters again. That leaves you with no hope of reinforcements, of receiving additional supplies, or of evacuating to more favorable positions.

Although some of the Navy personnel were left in the fighting lines, they were poorly equipped as soldiers and have been left to carry on against an overwhelmingly powerful force. The Navy men are accustomed to good food, wine, and comfortable living conditions, while the Army men have been trained to bear the brunt of American firepower, to forage for food, and to sacrifice their lives for their leaders. Is this situation fair? Do you wish to throw away your lives uselessly in the hills of Luzon?

If you decide to follow the example of thousands of your comrades who have come over to us to live for a new Japan, follow the instructions below:

Cease resistance now.
Strip to the waist.
Attach this leaflet or a white flag to a stick.
Come over to the American troops.

Your comrades have all fully recovered their health and are enjoying each other’s companionship while awaiting the end of the war.

The text of 7-J-11 is:


The headquarters of the Japanese Army’s 58th Independent Mixed Brigade issued the following order to all lower units and field hospitals:

“In a situation where the company headquarters are in danger of being penetrated by the enemy, you will dispose of all sick and wounded soldiers.” [The Japanese troops would clearly understand that “Dispose of” meant “kill”].

Have you considered the fact that this order is your death sentence? If you continue to fight you will only die a useless death. Even if you don’t continue to fight, you are to be killed on the order of your direct superiors. When necessary, the U.S. Army fights with determination, but if its adversary is wounded or gives up a hopeless struggle, he receives protection.

Your situation on Luzon is hopeless. You have fought with great bravery. The U.S. Army praises your courage, but if you continue to resist, you fate will be death. If you want to cease resistance and come over to the side of the U.S. Army, strip to the waist, put this leaflet or something white on a stick, and come to an American unit. The U.S. Army will positively not hurt you or humiliate you.

Carl Berger says in An Introduction to Wartime Leaflets, Special Operations Research Office, The American University, 1959:

In the Pacific fighting of World War II, Safe Conducts also went through an evolutionary process before becoming standardized. The leaflets were made larger to be easily recognized by American soldiers; they were also rewritten to meet the special Japanese attitude towards surrender. Allied propagandists discovered the Japanese disliked every connotation surrounding the idea of surrender. From captured Japanese soldiers who volunteered to write leaflets, Allied propagandists learned to avoid using the word "surrender." Leaflet writers adopted the slogan; "I Cease Resistance," in their Safe Conducts.

The Japanese antipathy to surrender was complicated by the fact that the American frontline troops refused to take prisoners, even when the opportunity presented itself. Through bitter experience the Americans had come to distrust the "wily" Japanese; and as late as May 1944 reports were received from the Hollandia area, New Guinea, that Japanese carrying surrender passes had been killed attempting to surrender. Recognizing that corrective action had to be taken if propaganda for surrender was to be successful, General MacArthur's headquarters issued instructions to subordinate commands, emphasizing the importance of taking prisoners as "potent sources of information." Commanders were urged to explain the problem to their troops.

An immediate improvement in the situation followed these troop orientation efforts. on 18 August 1944 G-2 reported: "within the past week approximately 20 prisoners of war have been taken by our troops. Most of these prisoners of war had surrender leaflets in their possession and walked into our lines for the purpose of surrendering. The fact that our frontline troops did take these Japanese prisoners instead of killing them seems to indicate that our troops have become very prisoner-conscious since the informal talks given to them. The surrender of Japs during the week in relatively large numbers also indicates the effectiveness of dropping surrender leaflets over enemy lines."

Another special problem that arose when dealing with the Japanese was the fact that their cultural backgrounds produced unusual reactions from the western viewpoint. For example, although Allied leaflet writers promised 'kind treatment, good food, medical care, etc.,' the following reaction was reported by the 96th Division. 'Their greatest anxiety is that their families might be notified. The prisoners were unanimous in this concern, and stated that we would have many more surrenders if they were sure that messages would not be sent to their homes saying that they are prisoners of war. These latter points can be stressed in leaflets that are dropped before the direct appeal.' Allied propagandists took a step toward meeting this special situation, by altering photos of captured Japanese soldiers reproduced in "I Cease Resistance" leaflets and reporting, 'Eyes are covered to protect the families in Japan.' However, the 96th Division reported that the Japanese still needed more assurance on this point.

17aJ1FrontJapan.jpg (82105 bytes)


The front shows a photograph of three happy Japanese POWs in an Allied camp with their eyes blocked out for their protection and six vertical lines of Japanese text. The front is identical to 17-J-1 except that there is no code number on the front. When turned over, the code 17(a)-J-1 is at the lower left. The Japanese text on front is:

This man is no longer an enemy, According to International Law, he is guaranteed personal safety, clothes, food, quarters and medical attention.

The text on back is:


We respect the way you have fought under difficult circumstances up to now. However, our troops are determined to win the war.

However, our troops are equipped with the most modern, death-dealing equipment. Our devastating artillery and bombing attacks are increasing in intensity. Behind this is the united purpose of all our officers and men. Victory for us is a certainty.

You left your home convinced that Japan would win this war. But when you arrived in a strange land, many hundreds of miles from home, you discovered that the airplanes and other military equipment of the Japanese Army could not compare with those of the Allies.

Our fleet and air force dominate the sea and air in the Pacific (south of Formosa). Present conditions of the war make it clear, as you know, that you have no hope of victory in the coming battle. These conditions are not your fault. They are due to the failure of the overall strategy of your military leaders.

Do you help your country by losing your life in this hopeless struggle?

It is easy to die but hard to live. Is it not your duty to preserve your life and help rebuild the future Japan?

Your comrades in New Guinea and the Solomons realized this. They did not squander their lives. They were determined to do their utmost for the reconstruction of Japan.

We hope you will also make this correct decision.

If possible, put this paper on a stick, hold it in your hand and raise both arms as you come toward our lines. When you meet our troops do not be afraid. You may follow their hand signals without anxiety.

The leaflet code appears on the back at the lower left below the long propaganda text.

ICeaseResistJap02.jpg (61764 bytes)


 25J1BackJapan.jpg (67569 bytes)


25-J-1. I cease resistance. This flyer was considered to be a combination Surrender leaflet and Good Treatment leaflet. It was a general leaflet to be used wherever the Japanese soldiers were found. There is no photograph of prisoners on the front. Instead, a hand holds a safe conduct pass on a stick. Japanese text on the front is:

The Meaning of the English message written above is:

This man is no longer an enemy, According to international law he is guaranteed personal safety, clothes, food, quarters and medical attention.

If possible place this paper on a stick, hold it in your hand and raise both your arms as you approach our lines. When you meet our troops do not be afraid. You may follow their hand signals without anxiety.

The back of the leaflet depicts five photographs of happy Japanese prisoners of war in allied camps. Numerous photographs show them getting haircuts, wrestling, buying food in a commissary, etc. Text on the back is:

Your comrades in arms who are on the road to rebirth

The pictures show the life of your comrades in arms who have come over to our side.

They cannot expect to live in luxury, but they are all together and living a pleasant life.

The leaflet was dropped over Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. The photographs were a direct result of Japanese POWs telling their American captors that one of their main worries was the question of how they would spend their time in custody. Would there be meaningful work for them to do? The American leaflet answers the question by depicting regular activities and the availability of training and jobs if the prisoners so desire.

Cease108J1F.jpg (11681 bytes)  Cease108J1B.jpg (22456 bytes)


108-J-1. I cease resistance. This leaflet has no illustration on the front. It is all text with the standard message at top and a small boxed Japanese-language message at the bottom front. It was prepared on 11 April 1945 for use in Luzon, the Philippine Islands. It was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch, U.S. Army Forces, Pacific Area, APO 500, at the request of Headquarters, Sixth Army. Text on the back of the leaflet is:


The military operations in the island of Luzon are drawing to a close. As you all know, the Japanese forces have unfortunately been put in a position where they have no chance at all to win.

In central Luzon, they have been completely crushed. All the seacoasts as well as Manila are now back in American hands. The American Navy has complete control of Philippine waters, and the American Air Force has complete control of the air. Not one Japanese plane can be seen in the Philippines. Furthermore, now both the American and Philippine Armies are fully supplied with arms, ammunition, and military supplies of every description.

Japanese forces have fought bravely, but American mechanical strength is overwhelming. If you take into consideration both this fact, and the present condition of the Japanese battle lines, you will come to realize that further resistance by the Japanese Army is wholly meaningless and that it would not be of any service either to yourselves or to Japan.

Why not make you decision now to cease resistance and come under the protection of the American Army until the day when a peaceful Japan will reappear? American forces will not submit you to humiliation for being defeated.

Do not feel that there is any need for shame. Rather, forget the painful past. Seize the opportunity to plan for the future, and come over to the American lines. We will treat you as brave and gallant soldiers who are worthy of honor.

However, your officers, who know all about the present situation, may think of their own prestige and not tell the truth to you. They may try to hinder you, but do not be afraid. Slip away during the darkness by two or three and come down the mountain.

On the back of this leaflet it is ordered that both American and Philippine Army soldiers take care that you be treated with respect as Japanese soldiers who have fought hard and bravely. However, in order to avoid mistakes, be careful not to approach American lines at night. Come only between sunrise and sunset.

Then, when you approach sentries of the American or Philippine Army give a signal by waving this leaflet. We have given strict orders to our soldiers in the front lines not to harm you or treat you violently.

Remember that the sooner you make your decision the sooner radiant peace will come.

Our best wishes to you.

The same leaflet was released with the code number 101-J-6 targeting Japanese troops on the east side of the Cagayan River. This tactical leaflet was requested by a Colonel Murphy. The text is:

To Japanese who wish to cease resistance:

We saw your white flags displayed on the east bank of the river, but no one crossed to our side.

We are sincere in our desire to give you food, tobacco and medical care.

Unless you carry out our instructions completely, however, we will be forced to consider the white flags a ruse and to take active measures.


  1. Raise a white flag and come to the river bank.
  2. On arriving at the river bank, drop your rifles.
  3. Then immediately cross the river and with both hands raised, approach our position.

Commanding Officer,
Philippines Army Forces in Cagayan

Cease109J1F.jpg (13382 bytes)   Cease109J1B.jpg (33470 bytes)


109-J-1. I cease resistance. This leaflet has no illustration on the front. It is all text with the standard message at top and a small boxed Japanese-language message at the bottom front. It was prepared on 20 January 1945 for use in Luzon, the Philippine Islands. It was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch at the request of Headquarters, Sixth Army. Text on the back of the leaflet is:


You have fought with bravery, and we have gained deep respect for your courage. However, the war cannot be won by courage alone. Our troops have overwhelming superiority on the sea, the land and in the air. Your fate is like a flickering candle in the wind. What can be gained by further resistance?

In other sectors, Japanese soldiers ordered by the officers to continue a hopeless battle have suffered great misery needlessly. They have run out of food and supplies. Some have starved; others have died of wounds or painful tropical disease.

However, many others have ceased resistance and are now in our care. These men receive the same food as American troops. In our hospitals, American doctors are treating Japanese soldiers side by side with American troops.

Soldiers, think this over. Throw away your weapons and helmets, and come out waving this paper. Any number of you may surrender with this one leaflet.

Bring your wounded with you and we will care for them. Japanese soldiers already with us understand that we follow the famous Samurai saying: "between victor and vanquished there are enemies no more."

SCPCeaseResist01.jpg (66595 bytes)


121-J-1. I cease resistance. Dropped over Cagayan in the Philippine Islands on 27 April 1945. This leaflet shows the code number 17-J-1 on the front and is almost identical to the second version of 17-J-1 above, except that it has seven lines of Japanese text and a fourth Japanese prisoner now appears at the far right of the three prisoners shown in 17-J-1 (like 141-J-1). The back is a long propaganda text with the code 121-J-1 at the lower left. The leaflet targeted Japanese troops in the Abha River sector of Northern Luzon. The text is:


Your comrades who have either been captured by, or have surrendered to, my men, observing how nice they have been treated by the Americans, have revealed that many of you, seeing the hopelessness of your situation, wish to do so but can not surrender. First, because you do not know how to proceed, and second, because you are afraid of the Filipinos. The procedure is very simple. Raise a white piece of cloth on the east bank of the Cagayan River, and proceed to the bank, dropping your rifles upon arrival there. After that, you may cross to our side and, with your hands up, surrender to my representatives who will be there to meet you. To all my men, I am giving strict instructions not to fire a single shot at anyone crossing the river with the intention to surrender. If they violate this, they will be executed. I am instructing my men further that they shall not inflict any harm to any Japanese who surrenders, and to deliver to me without delay those of who wish to come. You are warned, however, that if on appearing at the east bank of the river you make attempts to cross to our side without dropping your arms, you will all perish under our fire, just like those who, committing the mistake of attempting to invade our territory, have gone down to their graves at the bottom of the river.

There is no reason for you to doubt the sincerity of this statement that you will not be maltreated. The Americans are known all over the world for their kindly treatments of their prisoners of war. Some Japanese soldiers may have committed untold atrocities against the Filipinos and the Americans, who had the misfortune of falling within your clutches, but this does not make any difference; you will be treated with the utmost consideration just the same. Your comrades here are now recovering from the effects of famine, sickness, and all the rigors of war. They have been issued clothes, they are well fed, and above this, they are given a daily ration of American cigarettes to smoke.

WWII141J101.jpg (223757 bytes)


141-J-1. I cease resistance. The front is almost identical to 17-J-1 (the same picture of the Japanese POWs, but now four can be seen instead of just three) and actually bears that code. When turned over, the back is all text and coded 141-J-1. The fact sheet states that this text is to be used on the back of “I Cease Resistance” leaflets and specifically mentions that the leaflet is the same as 6-J-2 except it says “omits the words “Island of Luzon.” I have not seen this leaflet but checking my own files I see a note that it was “a general surrender leaflet aimed at Japanese troops on Luzon.” I also note that my files claim that 5-J-2 was a surrender leaflet whose text is on the back of 17-J-1. So, it appears that the two “J” leaflets known that end in “2” are both general surrender leaflets that contain the same text as two other “J” leaflets that end in “1.” The 141-J-1 text is:


You have fought bravely without the aid of your Navy and Air Force while suffering from a shortage of food. Fate was against you, however, and you have come to the final stage.

Is a meaningless death the only thing left to you? Why don’t you seek the road to a new life and live for the future of Japan?

Your comrades, already under American protection, have recovered their health and are already enjoying a communal life.

This leaflet is a safe conduct pass to the American lines. Throw away you weapons and approach the American positions or sentry lines, carrying this message (or a piece of white cloth) on a stick. If you see an American soldier raise both arms and obey his signs.

One leaflet may be used by a group.

Leaflet 4-J-11 has the front of leaflet 17-J-1 with the four Japanese POWs. When turned over, the back is all text and coded 4-J-11. It is 8 x 10.5-inches in size and was requested by Major Beard of the XI Corps who received 50,000 copies, with another 150,000 copies sent to the 308th Bomber Wing for dissemination. Some of the message is:

Officers and Men of the Japanese Army

You situation as you must realize is extremely grave and unfortunate.

The Japanese fleet has withdrawn to home waters and you can be sure that it will not venture into the Philippine waters again. That leaves you with no hope of reinforcements, or receiving additional supplies, or of evacuation to a more favorable position.

Although some of the Navy personnel were left in the fighting lines, they were poorly equipped as soldiers and you have been left to carry on against an overwhelmingly powerful force.

The Navy men are accustomed to good food, wine and comfortable living conditions, while the Army men have been trained to bear the brunt of American firepower, to forage for food and to sacrifice their lives for their leaders.

Is this situation fair? Do you wish to throw away your lives uselessly in the hills of Luzon?

If you decide to follow the example of thousands of your comrades who have decided to come over to us and live for a new Japan, follow the instructions below…

27J1BackJap.jpg (217847 bytes)

A back of a Four Prisoner Version of 17-J-1 coded 27-J-8

Another variation of this same leaflet coded 17-J-1 on the front has a back coded 27-J-8. The “8” indicates either the 8th Army or the 8th Corps.

27-J-3. I cease resistance. This leaflet depicts Japanese soldiers and officers.

JapLeafSurrender001.jpg (28541 bytes)   JapLeafSurrender002.jpg (34541 bytes)

Japanese soldiers holding "I Cease Resistance" leaflets

Friendly Japanese prisoners of war had much input into the messages on these safe conduct pass leaflets. Since surrender was never mentioned or even hinted at during their indoctrination, they had no guidelines of how to act in captivity. They considered themselves dead in the eyes of Japan and were ready for rebirth under the control of their captors. They were more than willing to help their new American "friends."  

Allison B. Gilmore mentions their contributions in her book You Can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1998:

They (the Japanese prisoners who worked with the Americans) replaced the standard surrender leaflet entitled ‘I Cease Resistance,’ initiated a widespread distribution of leaflets containing the terms of the Geneva Convention's provisions relative to the treatment of prisoners, wrote leaflets clearly defining the steps one must take to surrender safely, and described what life was like for Japanese prisoners already in captivity.

There is reason to believe that the safe conduct passes were effective. We cannot say if the Japanese in the Philippine Islands who surrendered did so because of the leaflets, the military situation, or simply because they were tired of the war and realized that they could not win. Whatever the reason, statistics show that in November 1944, One hundred Japanese soldiers died in battle for every one that surrendered. Two months later, the ratio fell to 60:1. Three months after that the ratio dropped to 30:1. By July 1945, one Japanese soldier surrendered for every seven of his comrades killed. In early 1945, interrogations proved that 46% of the Japanese taken prisoners in the Philippine campaign were "influenced" by the Allied propaganda leaflets. Whatever the reason, the myth of the Samurai warrior, the code of Bushido, and that Japanese soldiers never surrender was effectively destroyed.

JapanCease001F2.jpg (83772 bytes)

JapanCease001B2.jpg (81748 bytes)


The one interesting fact that we run into over and over again is the difficulty that military intelligence had in getting American servicemen to take prisoners. Because of the desire for revenge for the Sunday morning sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, knowledge of the Bataan Death March and other Japanese wartime atrocities, many American soldiers and Marines preferred to kill the enemy rather than take him prisoner. This was a constant struggle and numerous lectures, publications, leaflets and even short films were used in an attempt to get the American troops to comply with the wishes of their superiors. The troops were constantly reminded that Japanese soldiers provided valuable intelligence about troop movements, enemy concentrations, weapons and morale.

A good example of such a leaflet is entitled “Can you take a Jap Prisoner?” The front depicts a Japanese beauty at the left and a Japanese soldier in loincloth holding an “I Cease Resistance” leaflet at the right. The text is:

Would you take this Japanese prisoner?

You probably would.

But - in the fighting end of the business ---

This prisoner PAYS OFF.

The back of the leaflet is all text and explains why the soldier should be taken alive. The text is:

Take it easy, the guy is dangerous. Still, to unnecessarily kill the man is to unintentionally admit his cunning and your inability to handle him.

Having taken him, disarm him.

Give him medical aid if necessary; Do not feed him: treat him as a man: preserve the shock he is naturally under.

As quickly as possible get him back to your section leader, platoon leader or company commander. They in turn will get him back to division where trained interrogators will extract information of immediate value which will save many of your buddies’ lives and gain a quick victory. Get him back quick! A watermelon cracks easy when it is ripe!

He is then passed back to higher headquarters. There strategic information is secured which aids in present bombings in Formosa, Manchuria and Japan. When you land on beaches there on some future date, talking to your prisoner will pay off in big stakes.

You may cut out the pictures but destroy this leaflet! Security is of importance to us!

Niall Ferguson says in his lecture Prisoner Taking and Prisoner Killing in the Age of Total War:

In June 1945, the U.S. Office of War Information reported that 84% of interrogated Japanese prisoners had expected to be killed by their captors. This fear was clearly far from unwarranted. Two years before, a secret intelligence report noted that only the promise of ice cream and three days’ leave would suffice to induce American troops not to kill surrendering Japanese…

Surrender passes and translations of the Geneva Convention were dropped on Japanese positions, and concerted efforts were made to stamp out the practice of taking no prisoners. On 14 May 1944 General MacArthur sent a telegram to the commander of the Alamo Force demanding an “investigation . . . of numerous reports reaching this headquarters that Japanese carrying surrender passes and attempting to surrender in Hollandia area have been killed by our troops.”

The Psychological Warfare Branch representative at X Corps, Captain William R. Beard, complained that his efforts were being negated “by the front-line troops shooting [Japanese] when they made an attempt to surrender.” By the time the Americans took Luzon in the Philippines, 70 percent of all prisoners surrendering made use of surrender passes or followed exactly the instructions contained in them’. The Philippines had been deluged with over 55 million such leaflets, and it seems plausible to attribute to this propaganda effort the fall in the ratio of prisoners to Japanese dead from 1:100 in late 1944 to 1:7 by July 1945. Still, the Japanese soldier who emerged with six surrender leaflets – one in each hand, one in each ear, one in his mouth, and one tucked in a grass band tied around his waist – was wise to take no chances.

At the end of WWII the numbers of POWs from the Axis forces are as follows:

Germany (and Austria): 11,094,000 taken prisoner, or 62% of their total force, Italy: 430,000 or 9.6%, and Japan 42,543 or 0.5%.

WWIINativeLSSurrenderAppeal.JPG (39053 bytes)

Japanese soldier uses loudspeaker to urge compatriots to come out of hiding and surrender themselves to Americans

James J. Weingartner agrees in his article “Trophies of War: U.S. Troops and the Mutilation of Japanese War Dead, 1941-1945,” in The Pacific Historical Review, February 1992. Some of his comments are:

The widespread conviction that the Japanese were “animals” or “subhuman” had its battlefield consequences. American troops were notoriously reluctant to take prisoners which, along with the equally notorious reluctance of Japanese troops to surrender, accounts for the fact that the maximum number of Japanese prisoners in U.S. operated POW compounds was a mere 5,424. As late as October 1944, no more than 604 Japanese had been captured by all of the Allied powers. In the minds of many American soldiers, combat against Japanese troops assumed the character of a hunt, the object of which was the killing of cunning, but distinctly inhuman creatures.

Two days after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, president Truman remarked: “The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.”

There is some argument about the number of Japanese prisoners in Allied hands. While James J. Weingartner claims just 604 POWs in Allied hand in October 1944, the International Red Cross says:

By the end of October 1944, the Allied forces were holding 6,400 Japanese, while the number of Allied prisoners of war in Japanese hands came to around 103,000 (mainly Americans, English, Australians, Dutch and New Zealanders).

The Japanese expected to die in battle for their Emperor and had never been instructed on how to act when captured or surrendering. They had no code of conduct. They felt that there was no chance of them ever returning to Japan so they were willing to tell interrogators everything that they knew. The trick was just to take them alive. After one massacre, General MacArthur ordered an investigation to find out who shot surrendering Japanese troops in the Hollandia area. He stated in cable to the Commanding General of the Alamo Force:

This situation must be corrected if propaganda for surrender is to be successful.

Douglas Macarthur's staff was not the only group producing PSYOP leaflets in the Pacific. The U.S. Navy had its own organization that some might say was in direct competition with the Army. In reality, the Navy worked with a government organization, the Office of War Information. The OWI had offices in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Honolulu, and Saipan. At the highest echelon, the Navy and Army squabbled over which service would exercise supreme command in the Pacific. The Joint Chiefs divided the Pacific into two strategic entities, one in which the Navy would be dominant, the Central Pacific Ocean Area (POA), and the other in which the Army would be the dominant, the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). This did not end the problem, as the two theater headquarters fought for the remainder of the war over strategy, resources, and control of operations.

The Navy/OWI produced millions of leaflets in the Japanese language for use in the areas that it was authorized to control. The leaflets were produced by the Psychological Warfare Section of the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) and Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPOA). CINCPOA was located on Guam in the Mariana Islands and was the home of the Advanced Intelligence Center (AIC). AIC was responsible for Psychological Warfare. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, was Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas.

The Navy printed a number of leaflets that were similar to the "I Cease Resistance" safe conduct passes. The main difference is that instead of "I," they often said "The bearer." They are similar otherwise, and bear the same red, white, and blue stripes as the Army leaflet.

810WWII.jpg (155231 bytes)


Navy leaflets bore numerical codes. Two such leaflets are 810 and 811. Both leaflets have the text on front, "The bearer has ceased resistance. Treat him in accordance with international law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer. C-in-C Allied Forces." They have the English language message (slightly changed on each leaflet) below:

1. The American forces will aid all who use this card.

2. Using this, you will receive good treatment.

The above text appears both in English and in Japanese. The text below is in English on the front and repeated in Japanese on the back.

Life Saving Guarantee.

1. Come slowly toward the American lines with your hands raised high above your head carrying only this card.

2. Come one by one. Do not come in groups.

3. Men must wear only loin cloths. We will provide clothing.

4. You must not approach American positions at night.

5. This card may be used by anyone - Japanese or Koreans, soldiers or civilians.

6. Those who do not have cards may come to us if they follow instructions as if they had a leaflet.

The official Navy document that was prepared with this leaflet states that its purpose was:

To affect a rapid surrender of Japanese troops."  It further states that "The text is written in very simple Japanese, and should be readily understood by all Japanese troops. The red, white, and blue color design is intended for American troops who might not otherwise realize that the Japanese soldier is surrendering.

811OWI.jpg (740399 bytes)

OWI Leaflet 811

The Falling Leaf of Winter 1968 mentions that Leaflet 811 was used extensively by the Americans during the Okinawa campaign. Its distribution was withheld until a concentrated effort was made to effect mass surrenders during the last ten days of organized resistance. About 600,000 copies of the red, white and blue sheet, size 5 x 8 inches were showered on the enemy. The necessity of having all American front-line troops schooled in the recognition of the surrender leaflet saw 10,000 copies, 15 per company, issued to the men a day or two before large scale use of it was begun. As in all surrender leaflets, the use of the word "surrender" and the term "prisoner of war" were studiously avoided."

I am sure that there are many more "I cease resistance" leaflets. Unlike Europe where the climate was such that leaflets could be collected and saved, the heat and humidity of the Pacific Theater worked against the collecting and cataloging of PSYOP leaflets. Data and specimens are scarce.

American propagandists constantly worked on their propaganda leaflets and improved the illustrations and text in an effort to convince the Japanese to surrender. Nisei were deployed from the United States to work on the Japanese-language messages and a number of Japanese prisoners-of-war also helped in the writing and evaluation of the leaflets. It appears that the effort was unsuccessful. The number of prisoners who came over to the American lines was miniscule. As the Americans slowly advanced and the battered Japanese took worse beatings and more horrendous defeats, the number of surrenders gradually rose, but this was probably caused more by their desperation and realization of the futility of continuing the fight than a belief that their cause was wrong.

Eleanor Sparagana records some death and surrender totals for the last six months of the war in her doctoral thesis entitled, The Conduct and Consequences of Psychological Warfare: American Psychological Warfare Operations in the War against Japan, 1941-1945. From October 1944 to April 1945 only about 1% of Japanese troops surrendered compared to the number that were killed. In May 1945 the number rose to 3.3%, In June it rose to 5.2%. The final totals are for June 1945 when the numbers rise to 12.5%.

The classified military report booklet 1945 Progress of the War in the Middle Pacific is more optimistic:

Experience gained during 1944 in leaflet warfare led to several significant developments in propaganda techniques employed in 1945. For instance, it was found advisable to minimize U.S. victories and treat Jap defeats as due to overwhelming superiority of U.S. manpower, equipment and supplies rather than to any deficiency of Jap fighting spirit. It became apparent that Nips on isolated islands seemed to be influenced most by promises of good food and medical attention, and should be urged, not to “surrender” or “give up,” but to come to an “honorable understanding” with us.

At the end of the fourth day of the OKINAWA operation, official communiques listed 9.000 civilians as having surrendered to our forces, and a week later this number had increased to 30,000. Perhaps this was mere coincidence, but the obvious assumption is otherwise. A few days after the Initial landings on OKINAWA it was reported that many civilians were following precisely the directions given them on the leaflets.

Life magazine of 9 July 1945, mentioned American psychological operations in a pictorial story entitled “Jap Surrenders are increasing – Psychological war proves effective.” The story depicted 12 Japanese soldiers on Okinawa stripping off their clothes and then surrendering to U.S. troops. Some of the story said:

Bushido, the code of the Jap warrior, does not permit surrender. A Jap soldier must fight to the death. Americans who have fought the suicidal Jap in the Pacific know that Bushido is not empty talk. But in the past few weeks the verbal bombardments of the U.S. Psychological Warfare units have begun to take effect. On Guam, ten months after the U.S. recapture of that island, 35 Jap infantrymen emerged from their mountain holes and surrendered. In the last days of the bloody fighting for Okinawa Japs were giving themselves up in large groups for the first time in this war. Even taking into account the greater number of enemy engaged, the capture of 9,498 Japs on Okinawa shows a marked increase in prisoners over previous campaigns at Iwo Jima (1,038), Saipan (2,161), Guam (524) and Tarawa (150).

On the following page is further text entitled “Leaflets on home islands attack Japan’s militarist caste.” The text is in part:

Last week Japanese civilians were told that they must help defend the Jap home islands when the Americans invade and were warned that they must “not allow themselves to be taken prisoner or die dishonorable deaths.” If obeyed, the order to commit suicide rather than surrender would produce a terrible holocaust. The Americans are trying to crack the core of this credo by deluging Japan with propaganda leaflets and broadcasts…Every B-29 raid on Japan now drops about 750,000 pieces of propaganda on Japan.

Black Operations

The American Office of Strategic Services took part in numerous operations attempting to convince the Japanese that surrender was authorized. Some are mentioned by Dr. Troy J. Sacquety in his article “Setting the Rising Sun - The WWII service of Psywarrior Elizabeth McIntosh” published in VERITAS, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2016:

The Morale Operations (MO) support to Detachment 101 is illustrated by this example from February 1945 in central Burma. The Detachment 303 MO section forged an order supposedly from the Japanese high command, reversing a no-surrender policy by declaring that soldiers could surrender if they were cut off, without ammunition, or incapacitated. They placed the fake document in a genuine Japanese dispatch case. A native agent then turned the case over to a Japanese military police headquarters at Maymyo, claiming to have found it beside a wrecked vehicle on the Mandalay-Maymyo road. Other Detachment 101 agents slipped another copy of the same false orders into the headquarters of a Japanese infantry regiment. The MO Section followed these plants with a rumor campaign and then arranged an airdrop of leaflets near the Allied lines that purposefully fell on Japanese positions. Although meant for the Japanese, this leaflet directed Allied troops to treat Japanese prisoners well. The hope was that this would provide further proof to the Japanese about the authenticity of the fake order.


Edgar L. Jones wrote about the psychological warfare battle on Okinawa in an article titled "FIGHTING WITH WORDS: Psychological Warfare in the Pacific," in The Atlantic, August 1945. He ended that article talking about talking the Japanese into surrendering and the article was so good I thought I would add a small part of it here:

The most difficult problem American propagandists confronted was the creation of weapons to erase the stigma of surrender. Even if the Japanese soldier’s morale had been weakened to the point where he wanted to stop fighting, he continued to feel that surrender was a dishonorable way out. American propagandists therefore had to find "face-savers" which the Japanese soldier could use to convince himself that his desire to save his life was justifiable. Several good "face-savers" have been presented in leaflets to the Japanese, including an argument which played on the traditional Japanese admiration for the German military to prove that surrender could be met without loss of honor. One leaflet, for example, compared the accomplishments of Hanneke, a Germ an admiral who surrendered in World War I and lived to serve his country well in a second war, with Admiral Nagumo, a Japanese naval officer who committed seppuku (literally, “slit belly”) on Saipan. The leaflet asked: "What good is seppuku when it leaves a man without sons to bear his name and carry on his family line? Do you want to be the last of your line, or do you want a family too?"

The face-saving suggestion that a truly patriotic Japanese soldier would save his life, so that he could help rebuild Japan after the war, was put forward constantly by Psychological Warfare men. Possibly the most effective example of this type of leaflet, its message heightened by pictures of American bombers blackening the sky over Japan, explained that “the courageous soldier will fight until the battle is won or as long as there is hope of victory…It is foolish and cowardly to throw away your life in a futile fight when you can serve your country and carry out your obligations to your family by saving your life and helping to rebuild Japan when the war is ended.” The necessity for convincing the Japanese of the wisdom of surrender, regardless of how emotionally unconcerned Americans may be about sparing their lives, was proved at Iwo Jima, the last of the Pacific islands taken without full benefit of psychological warfare. The number of American casualties on that island unquestionably would have been reduced by 50 per cent if the beleaguered Japanese soldiers had not been convinced that they had no alternative except to continue fighting until they were dead. After a bitter struggle the Marines on Iwo Jima a entered one cave over the dead bodies of the Japanese defenders and found a note signed by four Japanese soldiers. A translation of the note, addressed to "The Enemy," read: "We have fortified this island for a year, but we cannot win this war with just the Yamato spirit. We cannot match your quantity. There is no other road for us to follow but to die." The four Japanese soldiers in that cave died, but not before they had taken their toll of American lives and continued their resistance until, as they put it, there was no other road for them but to die.

To shorten the war, American propagandists must show the Japanese soldiers that there is "another road"; that when they are surrounded, cut off from all outside help, and beaten to the point where further resistance is useless, they may surrender without disgrace. Unsympathetic as we may be toward the Japanese, we must either furnish them with a substitute for their desire to "die in honor" (Gyoku Sai) or be prepared to continue the Pacific war until most of the vast numbers of remaining Japanese troops have been killed.

Readers with more information on any aspect of this article are encouraged to write the author at