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Proclamation of Indonesian Independence

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

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 wording and declaration of the proclamation had to balance the interests of conflicting internal Indonesian and Japanese interests at the time.[2] 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.[3] In 2005, the Netherlands declared that it had decided to accept de facto 17 August 1945 as Indonesia's independence date.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] The United Nations recognizes the date of 27 December 1949.[7]

The document was signed by Sukarno (who signed his name "Soekarno" using the Dutch orthography) and Mohammad Hatta,[8] who were appointed president and vice-president respectively the following day.[9][10]

Independence Day was made a public holiday by a government decree issued on 18 June 1946.[11]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Indonesia was under colonial rule by the Dutch in some parts for 300 years.[12] The Netherlands were invested in Indonesia where they obtained wealth from Indonesia through investments and also had a population of individuals there.[13] The Dutch colonial government was a centralist hierarchical system,[14] where Indonesian representation was limited in the government.[15] Resistance to Dutch rule was met with imprisonment and exile.[16]

The fight for independence from the Dutch included numerous people, and internal conflicts.[17] It involved an Indonesian youth movement, where the youth were from varying class and educational backgrounds.[18] It included figures such as Chaerul Saleh who was part of Menteng 31, which contained a diverse membership with different educational backgrounds.[19] It also included Kaigun (Wikana) another figure part of the youth movement, who was a student of Sukarno.[20] The fight for independence included a figure in the nationalist movement called Mohammad Hatta who worked to promote Indonesian interests.[21] 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.[22] Hatta was educated at a Ditch university[23] and Sukarno studied at the Bandung Institute of Technology where the study group he formed became the Indonesian National Party.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] There were uprisings against the Japanese rule like the Dutch,[28] where farmers and other workers were being exploited by the Japanese. Furthermore the Japanese had also tried to control Islam.[29] Sukarno discusses in his speeches during the war that he believed independence could be achieved with the assistance of Japan.[30] 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.[31] Many educated youths influenced by Sjahrir in Jakarta and Bandung started establishing underground support networks for plans of Indonesian independence following Japan's defeat.[32]

The end of the war on August 15th further expedited the process for independence.[33] 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.[34] Sukarno and Hatta on August 17th 1945 proclaimed independence, along with the youth leaders.[35]

DeclarationEdit

 
Sukarno praying before proclaiming the independence of Indonesia

The draft was prepared only a few hours earlier on the night of 16 August 1945,[36] 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).[37][38] The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik.[39][40] Maeda himself was sleeping in his room upstairs. He was agreeable to the idea of Indonesia's independence,[41] 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.[42]

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.[43] The wording of the proclamation had been discussed at length and had to balance both conflicting internal Indonesian and Japanese interests. Sukarno drafted the final proclamation which balanced the interests of both the members of the youth movement and the Japanese. 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.[44][45]

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.[46] It included figures from the youth movement such as Chaerul and Wikana,[47] where Wikana in Sukarno’s house had encouraged Sukarno to proclaim independence immediately.[48] 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.[49] The particular act was apparently inspired by the similar spirit of the United States Declaration of Independence.[50] 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'.[51]

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.[52] 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.[53] Moreover Sukarno’s speech that he gave on the day of the proclamation was not fully published.[54] 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.[55]

DraftEdit

 
Draft of the proclamation

IndonesianEdit

Proklamasi

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.[56] 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.[57]

Final textEdit

 
The original Indonesian proclamation of Independence
Sukarno reading the proclamation. According to Rushdy Hussein, Indonesian historian, this record was made in 1951, not 1945.[58]
 
The monument commemorating the Indonesian proclamation of Independence
P R O K L A M A S I

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,

Soekarno/Hatta.

 

 

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.[59]

PROCLAMATION

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA HEREBY DECLARE THE INDEPENDENCE OF
INDONESIA. MATTERS WHICH CONCERN THE TRANSFER OF POWER AND
OTHER THINGS WILL BE EXECUTED BY CAREFUL MEANS AND IN THE
SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME.

DJAKARTA, 17 AUGUST 1945

IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA

SOEKARNO/HATTA

BanknoteEdit

 
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.

Ramifications of the Proclamation of Indonesian IndependenceEdit

The ramifications of the proclamation included moving ahead with the constitution.The Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia was approved on the 18th August 1945 which had been drafted earlier by the Investigating Committee.[60][61] Due to the change in the political situation with Japan they removed segments related to Japan’s ideology. Furthermore the constitution promoted national unity due to Indonesia being a culturally diverse country. Islam was a popular religion and it also had a history that included numerous other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.[62] There were also individuals who also practiced Christianity. The constitution emphasized religious tolerance of religious minorities to prevent conflict.[63] However this would lead to conflict with individuals including Sekar Madji Kartosuwiryo from Darul Islam located in West Java who believed it did not comply with Islam.[64] Transitional regulations were added which permitted the PPKI to elect a president and vice president. A regulation also gave the president control and power over the constitution after the war for 6 months. Sukarno was elected as president and Hatta as vice-president.[65] The constitution has since been substantially amended.[66]

After the proclamation there was internal conflict with social revolutions with individuals challenging the social structure initially established by the Dutch.[67] There was also a fight for independence against the Dutch until 1949, known as the Indonesian National Revolution.[68] Support for the proclamation was observed internationally by different countries, with the boycotting of Dutch shipping in Australian waters from September 1945.[69]

Indonesian youth played an important role in the proclamation, and the youth played a central role in the Indonesian National Revolution.[70] One of the other changes that had also taken place during the Japanese occupation included the population in Indonesia undertaking military training, where the majority of the population supported independence.[71] Conflict occurred not only with the Dutch, but also when the Japanese tried to re-establish control in October 1945 in Bandung,[72] and furthermore when the British tried to establish control.[73] The Dutch wanted to obtain some control again as it still had political and economic interests in Indonesia.[74] 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.[75]

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Further readingEdit

  • Anderson, Ben (1972). Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944–1946. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0687-0.
  • Raliby, Osman (1953). Documenta Historica: Sedjarah Dokumenter Dari Pertumbuhan dan Perdjuangan Negara Republik Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Bulain-Bintag.
  • Ricklefs, M.C. (2008) [1981]. A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300 (4th ed.). London: MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-230-54685-1.
  • Lembaga Soekarno-Hatta, 1984 Sejarah Lahirnya Undang Undang Dasar 1945 dan Pancasila, Inti Idayu Press, Jakarta, p19
  • Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan,1991:52–53.