The Philippines on Tuesday marked its first national holiday to commemorate the surrender of Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita and his army during World War II, ending the difficult three-year-long Japanese occupation in the Philippines.
The holiday, on which work and classes will not be interrupted, stems from a bill passed by the Philippine Congress that was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on Feb. 14.
Republic Act No. 11216 declares Sept. 3 of every year "a special working public holiday throughout the country, in commemoration of the surrender of the Japanese military forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita at the American High Commissioner's Residence in Camp John Hay, Baguio City."
That surrender came a day after U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's unconditional surrender on the deck of the Missouri in Tokyo Bay, thus formally bringing World War II hostilities to a close.
Following the signing of that instrument of surrender, many further surrender ceremonies took place across Japan's remaining holdings in the Pacific.
The war commenced in the Philippines when Camp John Hay was bombed by Japanese war planes on Dec. 8, 1941, 10 hours after they attacked and crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, principal author of the measure in the House of Representatives, was quoted by local media as saying he hopes the public holiday would give more meaning to Yamashita's surrender, marking the event as a victory for the numerous Filipino soldiers who bravely fought and sacrificed their lives for the country.
Yamashita's fabled loot of gold supposedly plundered from Japan's occupied territories is believed by many local treasure hunters to be buried in the country.