The Philippines had been a Spanish colony from the 16th century until 1898, when the archipelago was seized by the United States following the Spanish–American War. In taking control of the former colony, the U.S. also had to fight Filipino nationalists who were fighting their own revolution against Spain and might well have secured independence but for the American intervention. The U.S. quickly decided that … (click below to continue reading Cribb and Li’s Prelude)
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.
17 August. In a disturbing reminder of events leading up to the mass famine earlier in the year, flood waters breach dikes on the Red River upstream from Hanoi. Within days, 150 breaches are reported around the delta, about one third of Tonkin’s summer rice crop being inundated as a result. Its inability to deal with the situation dispels any remaining credibility that the royal government may have had. The floods also inhibit vehicle movement by both Japanese and Chinese troops, offering a temporary benefit to local insurgents.
17 August. President José P. Laurel, head of the Second Philippine Republic since its establishment in 1943 during the Japanese occupation, had been evacuated to Japan with his family when U.S. forces closed in on Baguio in April 1945. With the surrender of Japan, Laurel issues an executive proclamation from his new home in Nara, near Kyoto, declaring the dissolution of his government.
18 August. U.S. President Harry S. Truman states that, as the British forces in Hong Kong could help Chinese and American forces to use the port to reoccupy northern China, he supports the British return. This does not halt Nationalist Chinese ambitions to recover the crown colony. Aiming to pre-empt such a move, Chinese Communist guerrillas attack the Japanese garrison in Hong Kong but are repulsed. Meanwhile, the British fleet heading for Hong Kong reaches the Philippines.
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.
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. 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.
17 August. General Order No. 1, prescribing when, where and to whom Japanese forces may surrender, is approved by President Truman after having been hastily negotiated between the Allies. The formal surrender of Japan to the Americans takes priority, even though elsewhere this will leave a power vacuum until local surrenders can be accepted.