19 August. Early in the day, tens of thousands of villagers march towards the city to the sound of drums, cymbals and horns. A Viet Minh armed unit moves into the Opera House square to disarm or disperse the few police in the vicinity. The Japanese take no counter-measures. By 11:00 the square and adjacent streets are filled with some 200,000 people. Following a minute of silence for those who have fallen in the independence struggle, brief speeches and mass repetition of patriotic slogans, members of the Hanoi Revolutionary Military Committee give instructions over the microphone for the armed, but hopefully bloodless, seizure of a number of pre-selected installations. Two hundred royal civil guardsmen behind locked gates at the Viceroy’s Palace offer no resistance when youths scale the fence; they dump their rifles and walk away. Tran Tu Binh, the most senior Indochinese Communist Party member present in Hanoi, uses the Viceroy’s switchboard to tell mandarins in the provinces that the Viet Minh has taken over and they must surrender. At the Civil Guard barracks some blocks away, Japanese tanks and troops arrive, negotiations ensue and the Japanese withdraw. Revolutionary change is symbolized that evening by people removing the blackout screens on street lamps, giving a bright glow to the city for the first time in years.
22 August. Four days after receiving and mulling over a blunt rejection by President Truman of his suggestion that Soviet forces occupy northern Hokkaido and accept the surrender of Japanese troops there, Stalin signals his acquiescence and scraps his plans.
20 August. Japanese propaganda papers, including Syonan Shimbun, announce publically that Japan has surrendered, printing the imperial rescript on surrender in its entirety. Representatives from the military and the newly formed civilian ‘Japanese Association’ select a site where Japanese civilians in Syonan can be interned while awaiting repatriation.
22 August. As Japanese forces in Malaya officially begin withdrawing to larger towns, they leave a power vacuum in the countryside. This is one reason for recent communal violence. Some units in outlying areas are reported to have withdrawn as early as 16 August.
22 August. On the same day that the Japanese surrender is publicly announced in Indonesia, the Preparatory Committee for the Independence of Indonesia (PPKI) meets again and sets up the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) as a proto-legislature to advise the government. The beginnings of a national army are made as well with formation of a People’s Security Agency (BKR), which recruits among disbanded troops from Peta and similar units. The Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI) is also established as a state party, with Sukarno as ‘Great Leader’, Hatta as ‘Deputy Great Leader’ and Sartono as ‘Head’ (see p. 122). At the end of the month, however, the party is dissolved after being considered ‘unnecessary’. (A new PNI is launched in January 1946.)
25 August. The Japanese military announces it will cease all operations in Malaya at midnight. Having clashed with MPAJA guerrillas over the previous weeks, Japanese commanders broadcast an appeal to the officers of Force 136, the Allied liaison group working with the guerrillas, to cooperate in keeping the peace.
27 August. Concerned about the power vacuum and growing disorder across Southeast Asia, Lord Mountbatten first protests against the restrictions imposed on SEAC by General Order No. 1 then evades them. He instructs Field Marshal Terauchi to send a delegation to Rangoon, where a preliminary surrender agreement is signed. Next day, Mountbatten names General Douglas Gracey as commander of the Allied forces (including French troops) to be despatched to Saigon.
19 August. A Japanese delegation arrives in Manila for a meeting with General Douglas MacArthur and U.S. officials to finalize surrender details. While travelling to and from the airport, the Japanese have to be protected from angry Filipinos threatening to attack them. At the same time, the Philippine Army begins demobilizing. Its units are no longer needed to invade Japan.
20 August. Representatives from the military and the newly formed civilian ‘Japanese Association’ select a site for an internment camp where Japanese civilians in Syonan can await repatriation. Japanese propaganda papers announce publically that Japan has surrendered, printing the imperial rescript on surrender in its entirety. Similar internment camps were constructed throughout Asia.