Japanese peace feelers had been sent out as early as September 1944 (and [China’s] Chiang Kai-shek had been approached regarding surrender possibilities in December 1944), the real effort to end the war began in the spring of 1945. This effort stressed the role of the Soviet Union ...
In mid-April 1945 the US Joint Intelligence Committee reported that Japanese leaders were looking for a way to modify the surrender terms to end the war. The State Department was convinced the Emperor was actively seeking a way to stop the fighting.
It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan’s efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war. It was finally published on the Sunday following the VJ-Day August 19, 1945, on the front pages of both the Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald.
Trohan’s article revealed that two days prior to Roosevelt’s departure for Yalta, the president received a crucial, forty page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from highly placed Japanese officials offering surrender terms which were identical to the ones dictated by the Allies to the Japanese in August.
The MacArthur communication was leaked to Trohan in early 1945 by Admiral William D. Leahy, FDR’s chief of staff, who feared it would be classified as top secret for decades or even destroyed. It was never challenged by the White House. Former President Herbert Hoover personally queried General MacArthur on the Tribune’s story and the general acknowledge its accuracy in every detail.
Truman was aware of the January surrender offer by the Japanese and privately confessed that both atomic warfare as well as conventional military operations were unnecessary for concluding the war in the Pacific.