22 August. The Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army central headquarters orders its soldiers to occupy small and large towns across the country. Guerrillas emerge from the jungle, seizing Japanese weapons, recruiting new fighters and punishing collaborators. Often these collaborators are summarily executed. Some Malays begin to feel that the Chinese-dominated MPAJA is targeting their community.
27 August. Malayan Communist Party Secretary-General Lai Tek, who had been a double agent for the British before 1942 and for the Japanese during the war, persuades other members of the Central Executive Committee to adopt a policy of cooperation with the returning British, rather than pursue armed resistance against the reimposition of colonial rule. In return for its cooperation the MCP demands that the British introduce sweeping democratic reforms.
3 September. Learning of the cooperative attitude of the Malayan Communist Party, Lord Mountbatten’s Chief Political Advisor urges the British Colonial Office to quickly publicize British plans for a Malayan Union. This would replace the diffuse pre-war organization of Malaya and offer citizenship to long-term inhabitants of the territory regardless of their ethnic background.
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.
30 August. The Japanese Association completes construction of the Jurong Internment Camp and Syonan’s (Singapore’s) 6,000 Japanese civilians begin moving into their temporary home and await repatriation to Japan. The situation of surrendered Japanese soldiers is different. Designated ‘Japanese Surrendered Personnel’ rather than POWs, they will be set to work as unpaid labourers in the rebuilding of Singapore.
4 September. A day after SEAC forces land on the island, the formal surrender ceremony for Japanese forces in Malaya takes place on HMSNelsonoff Penang. With its troops now pushing their way south to Singapore, SEAC tells the Japanese to treat MPAJA guerrillas as Allied forces.
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.
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.