On Aug. 8, 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria.
Earlier in the spring, Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies, bringing an end to the conflict on the European front of World War II. But even after the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan refused to surrender.
The Japanese did not expect to engage the Soviets. The two Asian powers had a neutrality pact for much of the war. But as part of the Yalta Conference, Stalin agreed to enter the Pacific War within months after the surrender of Nazi Germany.
Finally, the Soviet Union invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria with a force of more than one million soldiers against Japan’s seven hundred thousand. The Japanese were defeated quickly, which would strongly influence Japan’s decision to surrender.
Following the war, the two countries failed to sign a peace treaty, although the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of October 1956 formally ended hostilities and opened diplomatic relations between the two sides. The declaration also annulled previous Soviet claims of war reparations against Japan and provided for two disputed territories — Habomai and Shikotan — to be returned to Japan following the conclusion of a formal peace treaty.
To date, the two countries are technically still at war.
Featured Image: U.S. and Soviet sailors in Alaska celebrate VJ day. (U.S. Navy image)