1 September. Responding to King Sisavangvong’s declaration of fealty to France, Prince Phetsarath reiterates his rejection of a continued French protectorate and invites the UN to acknowledge Laos’ status as a newly independent state.
3 September. A small Franco–Lao force peacefully enters the Laotian capital, releasing French internees and seeking to force the submission of the viceroy, but Prince Phetsarath refuses to recognize the authority of the newly released French résident supérieur . The standoff between Vientiane and Luang Prabang continues.
7 September. Faced with hyperinflation in Malaya as a result of massive printing by the Japanese of their wartime currency, the British Military Administration (BMA) demonetizes the currency; only pre-war and a new post-war currency are legal tender. The widespread economic pain this causes is alleviated by government handouts. However, due to the financial and economic upheaval caused by the demonetization policy, the BMA would come to be derogatorily known as the ‘Black Market Administration’ owing to the widespread corruption of its staff.
11 September. Occupation authorities in Japan designate 39 former Japanese leaders as war criminals and order their arrests. Among their number is General Tōjō Hideki, who as prime minister presided over Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Tōjō has already attempted suicide before being taken to prison. He is later found guilty at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and hanged in December 1948. Eventually 5,700 Japanese military personnel will be tried in war crimes tribunals throughout Asia.
13 September. Preceded by small advance parties a week earlier, Major-General Douglas Gracey lands at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut airport and immediately orders the Administrative Committee ejected from the former governor-general’s palace. A contingent of Indian and Gurkha troops accompany Gracey, while the main body of 20th British Indian Division troops under his command follow by sea. They are tasked to oversee the Japanese surrender below the 16th Parallel, locate and evacuate Allied POWs, and maintain law and order. It is unclear whether the latter remit includes the restoration of French control, especially as Gracey’s brief is limited to a few areas outside of Saigon and Phnom Penh. Next day, Gracey talks at length with French commissioner Jean Cédile but refuses to meet V i e t n a m e s e of any political persuasion. Viet Minh plans based on a special relationship with the Allies are suddenly in doubt.
2 September. In the wake of the Lao king’s declaration of fealty to France, Prince Phetsarat proposes that King Sisavangvong endorse the unification of the Lao territories. In the eyes of the Lao monarch this move lacks legitimacy because the southern noble house of Na Champasak seeks autonomy rather than integration and Prince Phetsarat’s proposal is above and beyond his station.
5 September. Prince Phetsarath is contacted by his half-brother, Prince Souphanouvong, who for the last 16 years has been working as a civil engineer in Vietnam. Souphanouvong explains he is in Hanoi negotiating Vietnamese support for the Lao independence struggle. The viceroy rejects the overture; he has long held anti-Vietnamese views and is already concerned about Viet Kieu involvement in the nationalist movement. Indeed, only days earlier Viet Minh-allied forces in Thakhek organized local youth into armed units to oppose the French. These Lao–Viet units will become the model for future joint Lao Issara and Viet Minh collaboration.
9 September. Finally, after a long delay, the main body of Chinese troops enters northern Indochina to disarm the Japanese and maintain order. It also proceeds to plunder the local populace or pay for supplies with Chinese currency at a highly inflated exchange rate. The commander of Chinese forces, General Lu Han, arrives in Hanoi by air on the 14th and establishes himself in the former governor-general’s palace. Ho Chi Minh is swiftly summoned here. However, unlike the British, the Chinese are amenable to an accommodation with the Viet Minh.