17 August 1945. 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.
17 August 1945. With little inkling of the nationalist fervour gripping his country’s lost Asian territories, Charles de Gaulle announces two key appointments for the recovery of Indochina: Admiral Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu as high commissioner and General Philippe Leclerc as commander of French armed forces in the Far East. Plans are also afoot to land French agents in the territory. At this stage, however, authority for the reoccupation of Indochina lies with China and Britain, not France. Moreover, fewer than 1,000 French troops are immediately available in Ceylon to be included in the SEAC contingent being sent to Saigon. More troops can soon be sent but there is a serious shortage of transport and equipment available to French forces.
17 August 1945. With Japanese permission, the Vietnam General Association of Government Employees convenes a meeting in front of the Hanoi Opera House, attracting at least 20,000 people. Different groups take part and there is some tension when Viet Minh supporters take over the meeting. Afterwards, the crowd marches peacefully through the city centre. The atmosphere is festive, not confrontational, with no attempt to enter government buildings and no threats being directed at Japanese and French nationals encountered along the way.
17 August 1945. After a night of bargaining between Sukarno and Hatta, the radical pemuda, Admiral Maeda and the Japanese Army, a very short proclamation of independence is drafted at Admiral Maeda’s house in Jakarta. Sukarno later reads out this proclamation, signed by himself and Hatta, in the presence of PPKI delegates at his private residence.
17 August 1945. Several MPAJA units begin to take over smaller towns abandoned by the Japanese forces. In towns such as Pusing in Perak, guerrillas from the 13th Squad of the 5th Regiment are welcomed as liberators and heroes as they march in.
17 August 1945. 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.
17 August 1945. At a gathering of Japanese and Malay representatives, young activists commit themselves to a declaration of independence while older representatives urge caution. As for the Japanese, they announce they will have no further involvement in the independence movement.
17 August 1945. 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 1945. Chen Kungpo, who had taken over as president of the Reorganized National Government of China in Nanjing after the death of Wang Ching-wei, flees to Japan, thus ending the Japanese puppet government in China. However, Japanese troops continue to maintain order in the city. Over time, officials serving the wartime puppet administration will be arrested and charged for collaboration or treason. Chen himself will be repatriated to China on October 3 and later sentenced to death.
17 August 1945. 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.