Dutch influence had been present in the Indonesian archipelago since the early 17th century, when the Dutch East India Company (VOC) began to trade and to establish forts in settlements at key strategic locations. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Company’s interests in the region were taken over by … (click below to continue reading Cribb and Li’s Prelude)
9 August. As rumours mount of a Japanese surrender, Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta and Dr Radjiman Wediodiningrat fly to Saigon and on to Dalat in the Vietnamese highlands. Here, Field Marshal Terauchi Hisaichi, commander of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia, personally assures them that independence will be granted on 24 August. Sukarno is appointed chairman of the PPKI, whose first meeting is planned for the 18th.
15 August. Just four hours after Emperor Hirohito’s broadcast ending the war, Japanese Ambassador Yamamoto Kuma’ichi explains and reassures Thai Prime Minister Khuang Aphaiwong about the surrender. He also raises no objections to news that Thailand’s Regent is planning to renounce the Thai–Japanese alliance.
14 August. On returning to Jakarta from Dalat, Sukarno and Hatta first hear about the bombing of Nagasaki and that Japan is on the point of surrender. Days of intense discussions follow about the transition to independence. With news arriving of the Emperor’s surrender speech, leftist youth leaders (pemuda) try to persuade Sukarno and Hatta to bypass the Japanese administration and make a ‘revolutionary’ declaration of independence.
15 August. The operational boundaries of the British-led South East Asia Command (SEAC), based in Kandy and headed by Lord Louis Mountbatten, are extended to include southern Indochina and Thailand. Java, Borneo and Eastern Indonesia are also transferred from the American-led South-West Pacific Area, Australia made responsible for the latter two. With the war ended, SEAC’s primary tasks are to accept the Japanese surrender, disarm and repatriate Japanese troops, rescue and repatriate Allied POWs and internees, and eventually hand over the administration to civilian authorities. Except for Thailand, the restoration of colonial rule is assumed.
16 August. Upon hearing of the Japanese surrender, forced labourers in North Borneo begin slowly working their way back home to Java. Elsewhere across the vast extent of Japanese-occupied Asia, tens of thousands of people drafted into supporting Japan’s war effort take their futures into their own hands and slip away from their masters. Many more must await repatriation after Allied troops arrive; they are stranded too far away from home. The fate of the many ‘comfort women’ forced into military brothels is also uncertain.
7 August. After months of work by an investigatory body planning for Indonesian independence, the Japanese announce a new preparatory committee (PPKI) to implement the transition. This committee includes representatives from the outer islands as well as Java.
10 August. Uncertainty about who will do what, and when, characterizes the entire region in mid-August. While the Philippines, for example, is beginning to rebuild after years of war and Japanese occupation, the country seethes with preparations for the invasion of Japan. U.S. military supplies pour in. Hospitals and other facilities are established in anticipation of the invasion efforts. Elements of the Philippine Army are also involved. Early but unconfirmed news of Japan’s surrender on the 10th results in premature celebrations in Manila, including the firing of weapons. Similar early celebrations erupt four days later when the U.S. Office of War Information newspaper Free Philippines prematurely announces the end of the war.
16 August. Humiliated by their failure to achieve an immediate declaration of independence, radical pemuda seize Sukarno and Hatta in the small hours, taking them to a garrison of Indonesian military trainees (Peta) at Rengasdengklok, east of Jakarta. The stalemate is only broken when Japanese Admiral Maeda Tadashi promises the youth leaders that he will support and protect an independence proclamation as soon as Sukarno and Hatta are returned.