The Weekly Pedant Report

In which our hero battles the forces of political correctness and defends the individual’s right to insist on pointlessly detailed historical accuracy.

(I really should have blogged about this yesterday, but I forgot 🙂

Yesterday – as all should know – was the 60th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that marked the end of World War Two. An important date to be sure (particularly here in Australia, since the Japanese were quite keen on invading at one point and bombed various bits of the country up quite badly), and worthy of rememberence. But there’s one thing about it all that’s been driving me nuts – the insistance on calling it “VP” day.

“VP” stands for Victory in the Pacific – a clear analogue for Europe’s “VE” day. But that’s not what it was called. If you jumped in your handy time machine and took a jaunt back to August 20th 1945 and asked people what they got up to on “VP” day, they wouldn’t know what you were on about. Because in 1945 it wasn’t “Victory in the Pacific” – it was “Victory over Japan”, or “VJ” day.

Now, before anyone accuses me of raking over old wounds (sounds painful) or cultural insensitivity or other such negatives please let me make the point that I don’t object to refering to the commemoration/anniversary as VP Day. Japan after all is our friend (not to mention trading partner) these days, and constantly reminding them of what their forbearers got up to is not only counterproductive but downright rude. But by the same token let’s not pretend that people in 1945 were running around celebrating “VP” day either – because they damn well weren’t. To make believe that they were is nothing but historical revisionism of the highest order.

So, yesterday wasn’t the 60th anniversery of VP Day – it was VP Day – which is the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, which just happened to be called VJ Day at the time. And anyone who says any different is a liar.


(Well done to ABC News by the way who neither bought into the revisionist “VP Day” or the potentially upsetting “VJ Day” and just referred to “the End of World War Two”. Eminently sensible and responsible journalism there.)

(And before anyone starts going on about how we should call it VJ Day and the feelings of the Japanese be damned and I’m too young to remember how evil they all are yada yada yada I’d like to point out that my Great Uncle was beheaded in a Japanese run POW camp – so I reckon I do have a personal stake in the issue, and a right to express an opinion about it. It was 60 years ago – we shouldn’t forget, but we should damn well move on.)

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