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Almost half of Brits do not know what VJ Day is

Almost half of Brits do not know what VJ Day is


01 Sep, 2020

As Victory in Japan Day is commemorated 75 years on, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is calling on the public to learn about the true end to the Second World War …

This year, 15 August marked the 75th anniversary of VJ (Victory in Japan) Day. However, despite the significance of this event, SSAFA has revealed that 46% of those surveyed do not know what the acronym ‘VJ’ stands for. In addition, more than half (52%) of those that previously did not know what VJ Day is admitted they would not do/feel anything to remember VJ Day, even after discovering what the day marked.

VJ Day, short for Victory in Japan, is marked on 15 August to remember the day when Japan’s surrender in the Second World War was announced, effectively ending the war completely in 1945. Many people wrongly assume that VE Day was the conclusion, leading to those who carried on fighting in the East to refer to themselves as the ‘forgotten Army’.

Of the 46% who said they did not know what VJ Day is, just 5% said they would celebrate it every year after discovering what the day marked, while more than half (52%) said they were likely not to do or feel anything towards the anniversary after finding out what it stood for. It seems that this key date is slowly being erased from British history.

Also of concern, when asked which countries took part in the Second World War, just over a quarter (26%) could name China, even though the country played a role in supporting America and the Soviet Union against Japan. What’s more, only 60% of those surveyed knew that Japan participated in the Second World War and of those who were aware that Japan had participated, just under half (49%) did not know when Japan ended their involvement in the war. 

Says Sir Gary Coward, chairman of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, ‘We should all be aware of our national history, especially when associated with an unrelenting campaign and huge sacrifice. VJ Day marks such an event. This year, we remember 75 years since the day Japan surrendered, in effect bringing the Second World War to a conclusion.

‘Many people celebrate Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), but very few acknowledge or know about Victory in Japan Day. Thousands of allied soldiers, sailors and airmen remained incarcerated in horrendous conditions and their many colleagues continued to fight bitter battles for freedom in the Far East well after VE Day. Without their supreme sacrifice, life would be very different to what it is now. On this 75th Anniversary, we ought to take a moment to reflect on this and try to learn the lessons of this key moment in history. The huge losses on all sides must not be forgotten.

‘At SSAFA, our forebears dealt with the aftermath of that conflagration and to this day, we continue to support the dwindling number of survivors and their families. We were there then and will remain so while the need is there.’

SSAFA is calling on the British public to celebrate those who served during the Second World War, particularly those who continued the fight after VE Day. The charity supports serving personnel, veterans and their families during times of hardship, providing practical, financial and emotional support when needed.

To help SSAFA continue its vital support of the Forces community, click here

About SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity 

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2019, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 85,000 people in need, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts, and their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.

About the survey

The survey was carried out between 27 and 29 July 2020 by Censuswide, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,020 members of the British public aged 16 and over.


Main image: VJ veteran, James Wren

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