SEPTEMBER 2, 1945: General Douglas MacArthur presides over the formal surrender of Japan aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, a ceremony which brought an end to nearly four years of war. After a steady drumbeat of costly victories in the Pacific campaign, by the summer of 1945 the Japanese empire’s military might was largely smashed on sea and in the air, and American forces had captured Okinawa, from which a massive invasion of the Japanese home islands was to be launched. But the Japanese high command held fast, determined to preserve the power of the monarchy and defend the home islands at all costs. It was only with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Emperor Hirohito assented to the term of the Potsdam Declaration to end the war. MacArthur would serve as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers during the occupation of Japan.