Proclamation of Indonesian Independence

The Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Indonesia, or simply Proklamasi) was read at 10:00 in the morning of Friday, 17 August 1945.[1] The declaration marked the start of the diplomatic and armed resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands and pro-Dutch civilians, until the latter officially acknowledged Indonesia's independence in 1949.[2] The document was signed by Sukarno (who signed his name "Soekarno" using the Van Ophuijsen orthography) and Mohammad Hatta, who were appointed president and vice-president respectively the following day.[3][4]

Sukarno, accompanied by Mohammad Hatta (right), proclaiming the independence of Indonesia

The date of the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was made a public holiday by a government decree issued on 18 June 1946.[5]


In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power for almost 200 years. The VOC was dissolved in 1800 following bankruptcy, and the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalised colony.[6] The Dutch colonial government was a centralist hierarchical system,[7] where Indonesian representation was limited in the government.[8] Resistance to Dutch rule was met with imprisonment and exile.[9]

The fight for independence from the Netherlands included numerous people, and internal conflicts.[10] It involved an Indonesian youth movement, where the youth were from varying class and educational backgrounds.[11] It included figures such as Chaerul Saleh who was part of Menteng 31, which contained a diverse membership with different educational backgrounds.[12] It also included Kaigun (Wikana) another figure part of the youth movement, who was a student of Sukarno.[13] The fight for independence included a figure in the nationalist movement called Mohammad Hatta who worked to promote Indonesian interests.[14] Another figure in the nationalist movement in Indonesian history was Sukarno, who established the Indonesian National Party in 1927, which advocated for independence from the Dutch.[15] Hatta was educated at a Dutch university[16] and Sukarno studied at the Bandung Institute of Technology where the study group he formed became the Indonesian National Party.[17] Sukarno is known for many famous speeches and advocated for political independence. A speech given in June 1945 by Sukarno ‘Pancasila’ sets out the five principles of the foundation of the nation of Indonesia.[18] In this speech he discusses the importance for political independence, with the first principle being nationalism and also the importance of religion to Indonesia in the principle of a belief in God.[19]

The invasion by the Japanese in Indonesia added a new dynamic for the fight for independence. The Japanese defeated the Dutch in 1942 and moved into Indonesia, and this helped push the Dutch out and assisted towards the proclamation of independence.[8] There were uprisings against the Japanese rule like the Dutch,[20] where farmers and other workers were being exploited by the Japanese. Furthermore, the Japanese had also tried to control Islam.[21] Sukarno discusses in his speeches during the war that he believed independence could be achieved with the assistance of Japan.[22] Hatta also worked with the Japanese, as he wanted to free Indonesian people from the Dutch. Hatta and Sjahrir another figure in the nationalist movement worked together towards independence for Indonesia. Where Hatta worked with the Japanese, Sjahrir focused on establishing an underground support network.[23] Many educated youths influenced by Sjahrir in Jakarta and Bandung started establishing underground support networks for plans of Indonesian independence following Japan's defeat.[24]

The end of the war on August 15 further expedited the process for independence.[15] Youth leaders supported by Sjahrir hoped for a declaration of independence separate from the Japanese, which initially was not supported by Hatta and Sukarno. However, with the assistance of a high ranking Japanese military officer Tadashi Maeda, the declaration of independence was drafted.[25] Sukarno and Hatta on August 17, 1945 proclaimed independence, along with the youth leaders.[26]


Sukarno praying before proclaiming the independence of Indonesia

The draft was prepared only a few hours earlier on the night of 16 August 1945,[1] by Sukarno, Hatta, and Soebardjo, at the house of Rear-Admiral Tadashi Maeda, 1 Miyako-dōri (都通り). The house which is located in Jakarta is now the Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum situated at Jl. Imam Bonjol No. 1. Aside from the three Indonesian leaders and Admiral Maeda, three Japanese agents were also present at the drafting: Tomegoro Yoshizumi (of the Navy Communications Office Kaigun Bukanfu (海軍武官府)); Shigetada Nishijima and Shunkichiro Miyoshi (of the Imperial Japanese Army).[27][28] The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik.[29][30] Maeda himself was sleeping in his room upstairs. He was agreeable to the idea of Indonesia's independence,[31] and had lent his house for the drafting of the declaration. Marshal Terauchi, the highest-ranking Japanese leader in South East Asia and son of former Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, was however against Indonesia's independence, scheduled for 24 August 1945.[32]

While the formal preparation of the declaration, and the official independence itself for that matter, had been carefully planned a few months earlier, the actual declaration date was brought forward almost inadvertently as a consequence of the Japanese unconditional surrender to the Allies on 15 August 1945.[33] The wording of the proclamation had been discussed at length to balance both conflicting internal Indonesian and Japanese interests, so that it was not worded as formally transferring authority, and would not provoke Indonesian youths into violence. The term ‘TRANSFER OF POWER’ was used in Indonesian to satisfy Japanese interests to appear that it was an administrative transfer of power, although the term used ‘pemindahan kekuasaan’ could be perceived to mean political power. The wording ‘BY CAREFUL MEANS’ related to preventing conflict with members of the youth movement. The wording ‘IN THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME’ was used to meet the needs of all Indonesians for independence.[25][28]

The historic event was triggered by internal conflict between the youth movement and other individuals working towards independence, where Adam Malik suggests a meeting had taken place which discussed proclaiming independence outside of Japan's framework due to Japan's surrender.[34] It included figures from the youth movement such as Chaerul and Wikana, where Wikana in Sukarno's house had encouraged Sukarno to proclaim independence immediately.[35] The declaration was to be signed by the 27 members of the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) symbolically representing the new nation's diversity.[4] The particular act was apparently inspired by the similar spirit of the United States Declaration of Independence.[36] However, the idea was strongly opposed down by the youth movement, who argued that the committee was too closely associated with the then soon to be defunct Japanese occupation rule, thus creating a potential credibility issue. Instead, members of the youth movement demanded that the signatures of six of them were to be put on the document. All parties involved in the historical moment finally agreed on a compromise solution which only included Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta as the co-signers, 'in the name of the people of Indonesia'.[4]

Initially the proclamation was to be announced at Djakarta central square, but the military had been sent to monitor the area, so the venue was changed to Sukarno's house at Pegangsaan Timur 56. The declaration of independence passed without a hitch.The proclamation was prevented from being broadcast on the radio to the outside world by Yamamoto and Nishimura from the Japanese military, and was also initially prevented from being reported in the newspapers. However Shigetada Nishijima and Tadashi Maeda enabled the proclamation to be dispersed via telephone and telegraph.[4] The proclamation at 56, Jalan Pegangsaan Timur, Jakarta, was heard throughout the country because the text was secretly broadcast by Indonesian radio personnel using the transmitters of the Jakarta Broadcasting Station (ジャカルタ放送局, Jakaruta Hōsōkyoku).The Domei news agency was used to send the text of the proclamation to reach Bandung and Jogjakarta. Members of the youth movement in Bandung facilitated broadcasts of the proclamation in Indonesian and English from radio Bandung. Furthermore, the local radio system was connected with the Central Telegraph Office and it broadcast the proclamation overseas.[37] Moreover, Sukarno's speech that he gave on the day of the proclamation was not fully published.[38] During his speech he discusses the perseverance for the independence of Indonesia under Dutch and Japanese rule, and he states Indonesia being free from any other country.[39]


Draft of the proclamation



Kami, bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menjatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Hal2 jang mengenai pemindahan kekoeasaan d.l.l., diselenggarakan dengan tjara saksama dan dalam tempoh jang sesingkat-singkatnja

Djakarta, 17-8-'05

Wakil2 Bangsa Indonesia

Initial draftsEdit

Numerous figures who had been involved in the fight for independence had been working on a draft for the proclamation. Hatta had been working on a draft for the proclamation.[40] Furthermore, the youth movement had worked on and prepared a draft, however it was the final draft prepared by Sukarno that was used which balanced the interests of both the Indonesian and Japanese individuals that had been involved.[28]

Final textEdit

The original Indonesian proclamation of Independence
Sukarno reading the proclamation. This recording was made in 1950 or 1951, not 1945.[41]
The monument commemorating the Indonesian proclamation of Independence

Kami, bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menjatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Hal-hal jang mengenai pemindahan kekoeasaan d.l.l., diselenggarakan dengan tjara saksama dan dalam tempo jang sesingkat-singkatnja.

Djakarta, hari 17 boelan 8 tahoen 05

Atas nama bangsa Indonesia,




The date of the declaration, "05" refers to "Japanese imperial year (皇紀, kōki) 2605".[42]

English translationEdit

An English translation published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of October 1948 included the entire speech as read by Sukarno. It incorporated remarks made immediately prior to and after the actual proclamation. George McTurnan Kahin, a historian on Indonesia, believed that they were omitted from publication in Indonesia either due to Japanese control of media outlets or fear of provoking a harsh Japanese response.[43]





A 100,000 Rupiah banknote, containing the Proclamation of Independence

This proclamation is printed on the front of the Rp.100,000 Indonesian banknote of the year 1999 and 2004 series.

Aftermath of the Proclamation of Indonesian IndependenceEdit

The day after the proclamation, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence met and elected Sukarno as president and Hatta as vice-president. it also ratified the Constitution of Indonesia.[44] The Dutch, as the former colonial power, viewed the republicans as collaborators with the Japanese, and desired to restore their colonial rule, as they still had political and economic interests in the former Dutch East Indies. The result was a four-year war for Indonesian independence.[45][3] Indonesian youths had played an important role in the proclamation, and they played a central role in the Indonesian National Revolution.[46] One of the other changes that had also taken place during the Japanese occupation included the population in Indonesia undertaking military training. Conflict occurred not only with the Dutch, but also when the Japanese tried to re-establish control in October 1945 in Bandung,[47] and furthermore when the British tried to establish control.[48] After a long struggle for independence, the freedom of Indonesia from the Dutch in 1949 was part of a period of time of decolonization in Asia.[49]

Debate over Dutch recognition of independence dateEdit

In 2005, the Netherlands declared that it had decided to accept de facto 17 August 1945 as Indonesia's independence date, which has been interpreted by Indonesian media as an official acceptance of the independence date.[50] However, on 14 September 2011, a Dutch court ruled in the Rawagede massacre case that the Dutch state was responsible because it had the duty to defend its inhabitants, which also indicated that the area was part of the Dutch East Indies, in contradiction of the Indonesian claim of 17 August 1945 as its date of independence.[51] In a 2013 interview the Indonesian historian Sukotjo, among others, asked the Dutch government to formally acknowledge the date of independence as 17 August 1945. [52][53] Before the state visit of King Willem-Alexander (and Queen Máxima) of the Netherlands to Indonesia in 2020, a small group represented by Abdul Halik wrote to him with a few other relatives. As far as they were concerned, the king was not welcome as long as the Netherlands does not legally recognize the Indonesian independence date, 17 August 1945. "We ask for recognition of that date and for apologies. Those who have made mistakes should apologise to those who have suffered."[54] The United Nations recognizes the date of 27 December 1949.[55]


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