1 October. A range of Karen groups begin a three-day mass meeting in Rangoon to discuss a ‘humble memorial’ that proposes a separate Karen state within the British Commonwealth, to be federated with Burma at a later date. Fears are also aired that the culture and identity of Burma’s ethnic minorities are threatened. Mindful of the savage repression that Karen suffered during wartime resistance to the Japanese occupation and its puppet Burman regime, Karen want to retain their licensed weapons. While prepared to work with the returning British governor, they feel neglected by the British despite their longterm loyalty. This gathering foreshadows the unproductive London meeting in 1946 and the Karen uprising in 1949.
11 September. Around this time, the SEAC finally gives the MPAJA formal permission to occupy and maintain order in areas no longer under Japanese control. The guerrillas have already been doing so of their own volition since receiving word of the Japanese surrender.
12 September. The remnants of the once-vast Japanese forces in Burma formally surrender to the Allies; about 70,000 troops are taken prisoner. Since the disastrous failure of the main Japanese army in July to break out of Burma, its few survivors together with other detachments (including units of the Indian National Army) have struggled to retreat east into Thailand or south into Malaya. Many have been killed by Karen irregulars.
10 September. Now that Singapore has been secured, British forces begin advancing up the Malay Peninsula toward Kuala Lumpur. Crowds there are already celebrating their imminent liberation. Japanese forces in the city will formally surrender on the 13th.
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.
12 September. While its troops may remain intact and under British command until disarmament terms are negotiated, SEAC declares that the MPAJA is no longer operational after 12 September. Reprisals and executions of collaborators before this date are seen as ‘military exigencies’ but they will not be tolerated after this date. Henceforth, a number of guerrillas are arrested for extra-judicial killings.
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. A day after the official surrender on Labuan of Japanese troops in British North Borneo, Australian troops enter Kuching, capital of Sarawak. Later that day they liberate Batu Lintang, a large camp for POWs and civilian internees on the edge of Kuching. The Australian 9th Division now takes effective control of North Borneo and Sarawak and establishes a military administration.
12 September. The formal surrender of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia to Lord Mountbatten, head of the Allied South East Asia Command, takes place at Singapore’s City Hall. With their commander, Field Marshal Terauchi Hisaichi, unable to attend for health reasons, the Japanese are represented by General Itagaki Seishirō, commander of the 7th Area Army based in Singapore.