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There is lately some interest to the question of the Japanese surrender in august 1945 and the motivations of the Japanese government for doing so and doing it in the way they did. E.g. it is voiced sometimes that the Japanese post-war narrative that "Especially the A-bombs did push Japan to surrender" is fabricated by the Japanese elite in order to deflect blame from their own "misconduct" of the war.

To find the truth in this regard, we ideally need access to meeting minutes reports of the Japanese war council in the course of 1945. Do these exist? If so, are they publicly available or can these be requested somewhere under a kind of freedom-of-information principle?

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These records have been commercially available in print since 1967, when it was published under the title Haisen no Kiroku (敗戦の記録, lit. Records of Defeat) by Hara Shobo. This included materials spanning from March 1944 to late 1945. Here is an Amazon.jp link to a 2005 edition.

A related publication is the Sugiyama Memos (杉山メモ), written by General Sugiyama Hajime, published also by Hara Shobo in 1967. This is detailed record of meetings at the highest level of Japanese leadership between 1940 and 1944, when Sugiyama was Chief of the General Staff.

More usefully for most people, this is a subject that has been examined in great detail by numerous scholars. Serious academic treatment of the subject generally would cite from materials published in the aforementioned sources. The "truth", however, is a complex matter of interpreting such materials and as such debate continues.

  • Do there exist english translations of the Haisen no Kiroku? Is it a full account, or a collection of excerpts joined with commentary? I understand that Hara Shobo is the publisher? Who might be the author then? In your opinion, can either of the two publication deflect suspicion, criticism of "having a stake in favor of the ruling narrative regarding the Japanese surrender" (after all, both are published 2 decades after the events. In the second case, the author is clearly not "independent") – Thibaut Demaerel Aug 22 '18 at 12:35
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    @ThibautDemaerel Not that I am aware of. And there's no author - it's a collection of source materials. There is no way to get a truly unbiased record of any secret meeting; it's part of the job description for historians to analyse critically & account for biases. I also would suggest you have misinterpreted the discourse if you think the idea that Japan surrendered due to the atomic bomb is "fabricated by Japanese elites to deflect blame" (your link only suggests it was convenient for them, which is also true for the US), but this is not a subject suitable for debating in comments. – Semaphore Aug 22 '18 at 12:44
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    @ThibautDemaerel In fact on further thought, most materials like this are usually never translated in whole because most of it is so mundane. The most you'll get is excerpts from the writings of historians studying the topic. And when you're trying to guess at long dead people's inner thoughts like this, it is usually better to rely on the original text rather than translations anyway. – Semaphore Aug 22 '18 at 13:17

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