Next Saturday (15 August) marks 75 years since Victory in Japan (VJ) Day when the Second World War finally came to an end in Japan. Whilst VE Day (Victory in Europe) marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Japan fought on with both sides suffering thousands of losses across Asia and the Pacific.
Unfortunately due to the current coronavirus pandemic, many VJ Day events across the UK will not be going ahead in line with government guidance. Residents across the city are therefore encouraged to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day in the same way as VE Day, from the comfort of their own homes.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have created a digital toolkit which includes lots of ways you can still get involved. The full toolkit is available here: https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk/get-involved/.
There are a number of programmes, debates and virtual tours to watch in the run up to VJ Day, find out more here https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk/vj-day-what-to-watch/. On 15 August, The Royal British Legion will be holding a commemoration at the National Memorial Arboretum to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day. It will be broadcast on BBC One at 11am and will include veteran testimonies and music from military musicians as well as wreath-laying at several memorials.
The council’s libraries team have also created a short film of photographic material from end of war celebrations in Leeds similar to the one that they produced for VE Day. You can view this video here: www.facebook.com/leedslibraries and www.twitter.com/leedslibraries
Children in Leeds can get involved in a number of ways including colouring in pictures to put in their windows. Children can also make origami birds (paper cranes) to mark VJ Day 75 and then send them to Big Ideas. For more information on how to make a paper crane and where to send them to go to https://www.big-ideas.org/vjday/. These cranes will be assembled into a paper wreath for the Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park to remember those who died as a result of the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To mark VJ Day, next Saturday, Leeds Civic Hall, Town Hall and City Museum will all be lighting up red, white and blue to pay tribute to all those who served and made so many sacrifices during the Second World War, both at home and abroad.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor, said:
“Fighting in the Far East involved British and the Commonwealth forces joining together to become the Fourteenth Army and they were one of the most diverse in history with more than 40 languages spoken and all of the world’s major religions represented.
The descendants of many of the Commonwealth veterans of that army are today part of multicultural communities around the world, including Leeds, and they are a lasting legacy to the success and comradeship of those who fought in the Asia-Pacific.
As a city, we are immensely proud of our long and distinguished military history. I hope you can all join me in remembering those who sacrificed so much during the Second World War.”
Councillor Jane Dowson, Armed Forces Champion, said:
“As with VE Day, VJ Day is a significant and important moment in history and it is important that we do take the time to commemorate its 75th anniversary this year. We will be remembering the contribution of all the British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces who fought to end the Second World War.
Because of Covid 19 we cannot commemorate VJ Day as we would want, so the city is remembering the day in a very different way. Lighting up our civic buildings and encouraging everyone to take part using the resources available on line.’