17 August. Fearing a power vacuum in northern Korea, the Japanese governor of Pyongyang turns to the Protestant church, the largest organized community in the north. He convinces the prominent nationalist activist and Presbyterian elder, Cho Mansik, to organize a committee to assume control and maintain stability. This committee affiliates with Yŏ Unhyŏng’s Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence and helps with the formation of people’s committees in the region.
26 August. After meeting almost no resistance in Korea since the end of the Manchurian campaign, the Soviet 25th Army arrives in Pyongyang. By the end of the month it will reach and stop at the 38th Parallel as agreed with the Americans. In Pyongyang, the Soviets are met by Cho Mansik and other northern leaders. Recognizing the strength of the local councils, the Soviets appoint Cho as head of their interim administration for the five northern provinces.
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.
28 August. With 145 people’s committees now functioning around the country, the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence asserts that it now functions as the temporary national government of Korea. Some rightist nationalists disagree, however, insisting in the legitimacy of the Korean Provisional Government in Chungking.
30 August. Two days after an advance party of U.S. Army airborne forces secures Atsugi aerodrome near Tokyo, General MacArthur arrives by plane. Meanwhile U.S. marines come ashore in Tokyo Bay in full combat gear and clearly prepared for Japanese treachery. The next day MacArthur assumes command of the Japanese government in Tokyo. This is the first time in its history that Japan is occupied by a foreign power.
8 September. Finally, after completion of initial U.S. troop movements to Japan and China, troops of the U.S. Army Forces in Korea land at Incheon. Their commander, Lt.-Gen. John Hodge, is faced with a delegation from the Committee for the Preparation for Korean Independence. Poorly briefed, not expecting the reception and having been specifically warned not to recognize any group claiming to represent the Koreans, Hodge declines to meet the delegation.
9 September. In a formal ceremony at the Government Building in Seoul, General Hodge accepts the surrender of the Governor-General of Korea and Japanese military commanders. Ignorant of the earlier transfer of administrative power in the country, Hodge causes a popular outcry by instructing Japanese officials to remain in their posts for the meantime. The order is swiftly amended but does not recognize the status of the People’s Republic, CPKI or people’s councils; instead, an American military administration is initiated earlier than planned.
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.
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.
6 September. Hearing that Korea is to be divided between Soviet and American occupation forces, CPKI leaders are faced with the impending arrival of U.S. troops in the south. They thus seek to strengthen their position by calling a national convention in Seoul. Here, in front of thousands of delegates, Yŏ Unhyŏng proclaims the Korean People’s Republic as the de facto government of the country. Although the cabinet that is appointed is dominated by leftists, it also includes rightists like Cho Mansik. Moreover, delegates elect the veteran nationalist Syngman Rhee, a rightist, as president without his knowledge or consent. Rhee later rejects the honour.