I) THE INDEPENDENCE PROCLAMATION IN JAKARTA (Indonesia Dokuritsu Kakumei, pp. 186-221)
Unforgettable People

Nishijima Shigetada



The impression of my first meeting with Tan Malaka, one day immediately after the declaration of independence, is still deeply inscribed on my memory. Merah putih flags were flying in the town and the exultation of people was growing day by day. The Japanese, in contrast, were left anxious and uneasy because of the defeat of their fatherland and the uncertainty about their future. I myself was in the same mood, seeking desperately for some psychological security. For this reason, I often visited Subardjo. Among the Japanese in Indonesia I may have been rather fortunate to have had many Indonesian friends. Once I was introduced to an Indonesian by Subardjo. I remember that the Indonesian looked tough, and his gold teeth glittered. Subardjo asked me whether I knew who the man was, but I could not hazard a guess. Anyway, we began to talk. I was immediately surprised by the man’s abundant knowledge and consistency of thought. It was apparent from his comments on revolution and the political structure after revolution that he was well acquainted with Marxism. Moreover, he talked about the strategy of mass movement, of propaganda, and of warfare. I was deeply impressed by his arguments because they were firmly based on an analysis of the international situation. I thought, ‘How could a man who looks like a peasant analyse things so sharply?’ This was no simple man. After we had talked for more than two hours, Subardjo said, ‘Mr Nishijima! This is the real Tan Malaka!’ Needless to say I was first very astonished and then enormously excited. I shook his hand again warmly.

* * *

With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war, Tan Malaka had moved to Singapore, taking a job as teacher in a Chinese school. When the Greater East Asia War broke out and Singapore fell into the hands of the Japanese, he smuggled himself to Medan, in North Sumatra, with the help of a Chinese friend. Later, he sneaked into the slums of Jakarta, where he lived for about a year, indulging his taste for reading and writing, without disclosing his name. Suffering from financial difficulties, he found a job at the Bayu coal mine as a clerk.

( While working there he travelled around Java, including Jakarta, under the alias of Husein. He visited Jakarta as representative of a group in the Bayu area, in order to attend a youth conference to be held there in August 1945, but the conference was banned by the Japanese.

At the Japanese surrender, Tan Malaka appeared at Subardjo’s residence. He also visited Chaerul Saleh (later Vice-Premier), one of the leaders of the youth group at that time, but he did not disclose his name. It is quite understandable in view of his long experience as a refugee that Tan Malaka did not trust people. He also visited Sukarni, * another youth leader, and even stayed at his house at the same time that members of the youth group took Sukarno and Hatta into custody at Rengasdengklok. Tan Malaka neither revealed his name to Sukarni nor participated in the abduction of the two leaders. He revealed himself for the first time when he called on Subardjo. Although Subardjo had met Tan Malaka in the Netherlands in 1922, he did not realize that this was the Tan Malaka and for a time took him to be Iskaq Tjokroadisoerjo (who later became a leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, and rose to be Minister of the Interior and Minister of the Economy), since the two looked alike. Even when Tan Malaka revealed himself, Subardjo could not at first believe it.

Tan Malaka was evidently sought after by the Japanese Army during the occupation, and it was rumoured several times that he had been arrested. However, there was no substance to such rumours. On each occasion, the Japanese arrested a man as Tan Malaka, only to find that he was not. It was also rumoured that Tan Malaka had been arrested by the Beppan [the Special Task Team] of the 16th Army, and that he escaped from jail by breaking the roof.

During the occupation I discussed Marxist ideas with Indonesians acquainted with them, and we exchanged views. Indonesians were generally reluctant to talk of Marxism and socialism for fear of being accused by the Kempeitai, but they

*     Sukarni ( 1916-71) was born in Blitar, East Java, and while still a schoolboy became involved in the nationalist party Partindo and in Indonesia Muda, whose national president he became for a time in 1934. After a period of arrest he went underground in the late thirties, and appears to have become a contact for Tan Malaka’s PARI party. He was arrested again by the Dutch in 1940, released by the Japanese, and worked during the occupation in Japanese propaganda agencies. He and Chaerul Saleh became the pemuda (youth) proteges of the Japanese propaganda chief Shimizu, and were well placed at the end of the occupation as national youth leaders. After independence Sukarni became the leader of the Tan Malakainspired Murba party, and later an ambassador to Peking. )

reated me as an exception. Some Indonesians close to me broke the taboo rather boldly. One of these was Iwa Kusuma Sumantri (later Minister of Defence). * Although Iwa was not a Marxist, he was well versed in Marxism because he had lived in Moscow as a student and had a Russian wife. He once told me, ‘After World War I, the terms “workers” and “peasants” were in constant use. Since then, office workers have come to constitute a large proportion of the working class. In other words, the substance of the working class has been changing considerably. This trend will be accelerated after this war. Even in Russia, a young generation is emerging which criticizes capitalism without having experienced it’.

I felt that what Iwa said was quite true. When I had been involved in the socialist movement in Japan, the unions of manual labourers were the major force in the movement, and the unions of office workers were rather ancillary. Now, however, the unions of office workers are the major force in the movement. Even in Russia, the centre of the socialist movement, a younger generation had grown up who knew of capitalism only in theoretical terms, and they were expected to guide the communist leaders of Japan, a capitalist country, and of Italy, where the leaders had a long experience of the movement. As a natural result, rifts appeared between the younger generation of Russians and the [communist] leaders of Japan and Italy. I had been vaguely aware of this, but Iwa’s logical explanation helped clarify my thoughts.

When I discussed Iwa’s views with Tan Malaka, he listened to me closely, and kindly answered my questions, giving his own views. Although I did not usually reveal my weakness, I was unable to conceal the great shock caused me by the Japanese surrender. I explained my feelings frankly to Tan Malaka: ‘We are defeated. Nothing can be done now. I do not want to go back to Japan. In short, I am completely confused’.

Tan Malaka listened to me, then answered slightly reprovingly, ‘I met Sano Manabu through my activities in the Comintern. I also know Ho Chi Minh and have argued with Stalin. Thus I believe I understand the position of other countries and the international situation. As far as the independence of Indonesia is concerned, I don’t think it will be achieved before I die. Independence cannot be achieved merely by a declaration, but must be substantiated by an

*     Iwa Kusuma Sumantri ( 1899-1972), a Sundanese, was born in Tjiamis and obtained a Leiden law degree in 1925. He was active in left-wing politics while in Europe and published in Moscow a Marxist tract, The Peasant’s Movement in Indonesia ( 1926) under the pseudonym S. Dingley. Highly suspect by the Dutch from the time of his return to a Medan law practice, he was imprisoned in 1929 and released only in 1941. )

reated me as an exception. Some Indonesians close to me broke the taboo rather boldly. One of these was Iwa Kusuma Sumantri (later Minister of Defence). * Although Iwa was not a Marxist, he was well versed in Marxism because he had lived in Moscow as a student and had a Russian wife. He once told me, ‘After World War I, the terms “workers” and “peasants” were in constant use. Since then, office workers have come to constitute a large proportion of the working class. In other words, the substance of the working class has been changing considerably. This trend will be accelerated after this war. Even in Russia, a young generation is emerging which criticizes capitalism without having experienced it’.

I felt that what Iwa said was quite true. When I had been involved in the socialist movement in Japan, the unions of manual labourers were the major force in the movement, and the unions of office workers were rather ancillary. Now, however, the unions of office workers are the major force in the movement. Even in Russia, the centre of the socialist movement, a younger generation had grown up who knew of capitalism only in theoretical terms, and they were expected to guide the communist leaders of Japan, a capitalist country, and of Italy, where the leaders had a long experience of the movement. As a natural result, rifts appeared between the younger generation of Russians and the [communist] leaders of Japan and Italy. I had been vaguely aware of this, but Iwa’s logical explanation helped clarify my thoughts.

When I discussed Iwa’s views with Tan Malaka, he listened to me closely, and kindly answered my questions, giving his own views. Although I did not usually reveal my weakness, I was unable to conceal the great shock caused me by the Japanese surrender. I explained my feelings frankly to Tan Malaka: ‘We are defeated. Nothing can be done now. I do not want to go back to Japan. In short, I am completely confused’.

Tan Malaka listened to me, then answered slightly reprovingly, ‘I met Sano Manabu through my activities in the Comintern. I also know Ho Chi Minh and have argued with Stalin. Thus I believe I understand the position of other countries and the international situation. As far as the independence of Indonesia is concerned, I don’t think it will be achieved before I die. Independence cannot be achieved merely by a declaration, but must be substantiated by an

*     Iwa Kusuma Sumantri ( 1899-1972), a Sundanese, was born in Tjiamis and obtained a Leiden law degree in 1925. He was active in left-wing politics while in Europe and published in Moscow a Marxist tract, The Peasant’s Movement in Indonesia ( 1926) under the pseudonym S. Dingley. Highly suspect by the Dutch from the time of his return to a Medan law practice, he was imprisoned in 1929 and released only in 1941.


independent state. Judging from my experience in underground movements and as a refugee, it is no easy thing to attain a complete independence.

‘You said Japan is defeated. That is certainly true. But have you thought how many people now belong to defeated countries? There are more than 200 million in Japan, Germany and Italy alone. Can you imagine how great a number of oppressed people are living in Asia? The earth is revolving and history never ceases to move on. In ten or twenty years, Japan will be changed. This can be said for sure from my experience.’

I understod well what Tan Malaka meant and felt thankful for his encouragement. After this meeting, he went to Central Java where he broadcast messages similar to what he had told me, through a secret radio station. Apart from the activity of Tan Malaka, I was deeply impressed by his words of encouragement. I felt, ‘How splendid to be a revolutionary!’ At the same time I realized that goals could be achieved only when one had a long-range perspective that would not be distracted by present circumstances. Tan Malaka gave me an Indonesian name, Hakim, meaning a man of justice or a judge, perhaps regarding me as a righteous man. To Yoshizumi he gave the name Arif, a wise or erudite man.

I frequently visited Tan Malaka while he was staying at Subardjo’s house. However, I did not visit him openly, because the Japanese Army, even though defeated, was still there and the Kempeitai was functioning. In addition, there were Indonesian leaders who were arrested by the Japanese Army even after the surrender. Accordingly, we could not be too cautious about the safety of Tan Malaka. We asked him to move to the former residence of a senior Japanese civil administrator of the Navy. In the meantime, Tan Malaka began to talk of a plan to initiate guerilla warfare around Banten in West Java, probably through fear of the danger of remaining in Jakarta. Since he had lived in West Java before, he knew the area well. We decided to do our best for him, and we presented him with a car, arms, radio facilities and food. An Indonesian called Chairuddin, and Yoshizumi joined this venture. This was the last time I saw Tan Malaka face to face.

* * *

The Name is Dokuritsu Indoneshia Juku [School for Independent Indonesia] / SEKOLAH SOSIALIS JEPANG

Immediately before the Japanese surrender, there were several groups striving for Indonesian independence. Adam Malik , in his History and Struggle Concerning the IndonesianIndependence Declaration of 17 August 1945

Independence Declaration of 17 August 1945, * calls these groups ‘revolutionary forces’. Among the groups historically acknowledged were the Sukarni group based on the Sendembu [Propaganda Section] of the 16th Army, the Sutan Sjahrir group, the student group represented by Chaerul Saleh, and the Navy group. The ‘Navy’ in the last case means the Japanese Navy, and in particular the Bukanfu where we were working. The Navy group therefore consisted of Indonesians who were working in the Bukanfu. Its core members were graduates of the Dokuritsu Juku. In other words, the Dokuritsu Juku was the origin of the Navy group. Its members played an important role in the promulgation of independence and in the subsequent struggle for independence.The Dokuritsu Juku was instituted at a time of crisis. As the Japanese war position deteriorated, the Japanese increasingly needed Indonesian cooperation. At the same time they were no longer able to ignore the issue of independence. Japan had up to then maintained a grand design that such sparsely populated regions as Sulawesi and Sumatra be permanently occupied and the population converted into komin [lit., Emperor’s subjects], while the densely populated regions of Java and Madura were given a high degree of autonomy. In short, independence was not officially considered. Indonesians might talk about independence among themselves but they could not do so openly. The ever-deteriorating war position forced Japan to change its attitude towards independence, as reflected in the Koiso statement [of 7 September 1944].The Koiso statement gave rise to a wide range of reactions. Generally speaking, however, Indonesians appreciated it as representing some advance, since the Japanese at least officially promised Indonesian independence at some future time. After the statement not only such outstanding figures as Sukarno and Hatta, but even young people began to discuss the issue of independence openly. Naturally this heightened their enthusiasm for independence. The Koiso statement had established the following five guidelines:
1.     The timing of independence is not to be discussed.
2.     Although the Japanese government permits informal preparation for the study of independence among the population, it does not allow formal activities for independence.
3.     Political participation should be promoted in the Indies.

1.     Enthusiasm for independence should be encouraged among the population, and propaganda conducted for independence.
2.     The use of the national flag and anthem of the Indies should be recognized.
Despite these guidelines from the Central Authorities, actual implementation differed according to the characteristics and ideas of the military authorities in each area – the 25th Army in Sumatra, the 16th Army in Java and Madura, and the Navy in the rest of Indonesia. In addition the Army and Navy were in conflict in Tokyo, which further influenced the way the guidelines were implemented in Indonesia. There was, moreover, the general tendency among Japanese, both in Indonesia and Tokyo, to look down upon Indonesians, particularly the people of Borneo (Kalimantan), the Celebes (Sulawesi) and the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara). Some military authorities in Indonesia wanted to concentrate on the war without being drawn into political complications, so they tended to keep out of the independence issue as far as possible.

Nevertheless, the Japanese in Indonesia felt obliged to do something for independence, in view of the Koiso statement and the ever-increasing enthusiasm of the population for independence. In Java, the expansion of political participation was implemented. It was to be expected that Indonesians viewed this as a deliberate Japanese substitute for the recognition of independence. The promotion of political participation was easy for the Japanese, because it had already been the policy since the Tojo statement and therefore the new policy merely meant increasing the number of Indonesians participating in the administration – for instance, by increasing the number of Indonesian Residents and Advisory Councils and by appointing Indonesians to assist the director of every department of the Gunseikambu. The policy of expanding the Chuo Sangi-in [ Central Advisory Council] and the Chiho Sangi-in [ Local Advisory Council] * was in conformity with the new policy. It was also not difficult to stimulate aspirations for independence, and to propagate such aspirations through the radio and publications. The enlargement of the Giyugun [Volunteer Corps] was expected to be effective not only for Japanese propaganda purposes but also to be useful as war potential, directly or indirectly, if the Allied forces should land. The Islamic Volunteer Corps called Hizbullah resulted from these Japanese guidelines, and actually fought courageously against the Dutch during the struggle for independence.

In addition, the Japanese devised such measures as the establishment of supporters’ associations for the Giyugun and Heiho [Auxiliary Corps], and the aid system for romusha

among other measures. In truth, however, this was all that the Japanese could do. Naturally, dissatisfaction was expressed by Indonesians in various ways, for instance in such complaints as: ‘ Japan has been claiming that it is going to recognize Indonesian independence. When will it do so?’ As mentioned above, Japan had no intention of clarifying the time [for independence]. Dissatisfaction of this sort came to be openly expressed by Indonesians. We thought: ‘Something must be done’.

At the time the Indonesian suspicion about Japan’s ambiguous attitude towards independence was becoming critical, Maeda told us, ‘ Japan promised to recognize Indonesian independence in the future. This will take place in the not too distant future. Consequently we must make haste to groom Indonesian leaders who can become the core of the nation after independence’. Maeda was of the opinion that we should establish a school to educate young people in preparation for Indonesian independence. Maeda had expressed similar views to Sato, Yoshizumi and myself before. The time had at last come to implement the plan. Maeda as usual did not mention details of the way this was to be carried out. We immediately started making preparations. First we consulted Subardjo, the person closest to us, who agreed with the plan, saying, ‘It is a very good idea. We will look for able young men’. Soon Subardjo found some youths through his connections and brought them to us. The Kaigun Bukanfu, unlike the Gunseikambu of the Army, did not have administrative authority in Java, and accordingly was unable to recruit people through its administrative apparatus. Since Subardjo asked the Indonesian leaders on whom he could rely for recruits, relatives and friends of these leaders were among the youths selected. I remember that the total number of youths was slightly more than thirty.

Maeda named the school Y?sei Juku. When asked the origin of the name, he explained that ‘y?sei’ was the first word of the instructions of Emperor Jimmu. According to the K?jien [dictionary], published by Iwanami Shoten, ‘y?sei’ means ‘to cultivate justice’. it is also possible that Maeda chose the name because the pronunciation of the word is the same as ‘yosei’ meaning ‘to train’. Whatever the case, it was unreasonable to demand that Indonesians use such a Japanese word. At that time the Japanese were forcing on the Indonesians the use of Japanese language and the practice of saluting in the direction of the royal palace in Tokyo, thereby causing much resentment. Indonesians wanted to absorb what was good in the Japanese way of life and were willing to ask for Japanese help, but they showed a strong antipathy towards Japanization. The same can be said of the school. Even though the Japanese had built it as a favour to the Indonesians, it would never appeal to the population if it carried a Japanese name.

Yoshizumi, an active and courageous person, proposed, ‘If

Maeda likes the name Yosei Juku then let it be. But as far as we are concerned let us use an Indonesian name’. I agree with his idea. Again we consulted Subardjo, who eventually suggested ‘School for Independent Indonesia’ or Asrama Indonesia Merdeka. This could be abbreviated as Dokuritsu Juku in Japanese. Before the Koiso statement was issued, the Japanese did not use the term dokuritsu [independence] or the Indonesian merdeka and there was an official taboo on the use of the word ‘Indonesia’. It might appear unimportant to foreigners whether the word ‘Indonesia’ was used or not, but it was important to the Indonesians. Although the Japanese used the [official] title, ‘the East Indies’, Indonesian leaders often asked to have it replaced by ‘Indonesia’. When Putera and Jawa Hokokai were instituted, the leaders demanded that ‘Indonesia’ be added to the names of these organizations. The Japanese rigidly refused. As expected, the name Asrama Indonesia Merdeka appealed to the population, and the institution was able to recruit many able youths.

The next problem was how to manage the Asrama. As the matter was entrusted to Yoshizumi and myself, we discussed it together and agreed to leave the management to Indonesians, with Subardjo in charge. When we put this to Subardjo, he suggested we choose somebody who was younger and less close to the Japanese than himself, and who could contact students directly. He excused himself on the grounds that he worked in a branch office of the Bukanfu Research Department, and was rather too old for the position. Eventually we appointed Wikana, who had once worked in the branch office, as president of the school. Wikana, under the assumed name of Sunoto, had once been arrested by the Dutch before the war on the charge of leading a youth movement.

George S. Kanahele claims in his doctoral thesis, ‘The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia: Prelude to Independence’, * that Subardjo did not know Wikana’s background. This is not true. Subardjo told me about Wikana’s background, and while Subardjo was working in the branch office of the Research Department of the Bukanfu, I asked him to write an article on youth movements [making reference to Wikana]. I might have felt sympathetic towards Wikana because his experience had been similar to mine in being arrested by the police. Anyway, Wikana played a role in organizing youth groups, taking over public facilities and founding the basis of the Republic immediately after the independence declaration. In later times he became a senior member of the Communist Party. It is not

yet known whether he is still alive, has been murdered, or has gone underground following the ‘September 30 affair’. With hindsight I suppose it was rash to have used Wikana, in view of his previous career. At the time, however, I only thought: ‘Our seniors will not know of Wikana’s career unless we deliberately inform them of it. We shall just have to see how things go if we are discovered’. It was proved later that Maeda knew nothing of Wikana’s background.

There were problems to be settled concerning the school, namely lecturers and curriculum. We started by selecting lecturers. We planned to invite Sukarno, Hatta, Maramis, Subardjo and Iwa. Subardjo asked us to add Sutan Sjahrir. * Sjahrir was a college of Hatta. The 16th Army had once considered utilizing him, but the idea had been rejected. There was no objection to Subardjo’s request on our part, since we had already included Hatta among the lecturers of the school. Then I had to persuade Sjahrir. Sjahrir describes the situation as follows in his bok, Out of Exile ( New York, John Day, 1949) [p. 251]:

The political policy now altered slightly. Nationalism was no longer so vigorously opposed. . . It was just about this time that I first came into direct contact with the Japanese. The Japanese information service sent a Japanese to find out my views on the general situation. . . Thereafter I had at least one visitor a week from the information service: first a Japanese and then an Indonesian. I realized that my movements were being watched. They had evidently found out that I travelled considerably and had many visitors. In fact, toward the end they tried to restrict my movements. They requested me to give courses dealing with nationalism and the Indonesian popular movement in a so-called nationalist institution that had been set up, called the Ashrama Indonesia Merdeka ( Association for a Free Indonesia). As the situation then stood, I could not refuse. I realized that it was an indirect means of making my travel difficult, and at the same time of keeping an eye on my movements and my ideas.

Sjahrir’s reference to ‘a Japanese’ obviously meant me. However, I had no thought of restricting his activities. This seems to be pure speculation arising from his own bias. On the other hand he admits the usefulness of the Dokuritsu Juku in another part of the book, which I will mention later. At any rate, Sjahrir eventually agreed to give lectures.

The content of the lectures and the way of organizing them we entrusted to the Indonesian staff. I believe I stressed this point in trying to obtain Subardjo’s agreement. Thus Sukarno came to give lectures on the history of the nationalist movement, Hatta on the cooperative movement, Subardjo on international law, Sjahrir on the principles of nationalism and democracy, Iwa on labour problems, and Wikana on the youth movement. In addition, Yoshizumi and I were in charge of lectures on guerilla warfare and on agricultural problems respectively. The school was initiated in October that year [ 1944] at 50 Defencielinie van den Bosch street, i.e., the present Jalan Bungur Besar near Kemayoran airport. The students all stayed at a dormitory nearby, the management of which was left in their own hands. The Head of the Juku, Wikana, lived close by the school. All costs were met by the Bukanfu.

At the time we initiated the school we had abundant financial resources. Furthermore, Yoshizumi was good at collecting money. Thus we were able at least to ensure the students did not suffer from hunger, even if life there was not necessarily luxurious. In fact we gave no thought at all to financial problems, for we had in mind obtaining money by smuggling in opium from Singapore in the event of serious financial difficulties.

Once the school was open, Yoshizumi and I devoted ourselves enthusiastically to lecturing. The preparation of lectures took quite a lot of time because of the Indonesian language. Although Yoshizumi and I were in charge of the school, we could not be there all the time since we were obliged to work for the Research Department as well. Nevertheless the lectures went on smoothly, thanks to the ability of the Indonesians to manage their own affairs. As I have said, we made a point of avoiding coercion as far as possible, and consequently we were cautious not to introduce things Japanese in lectures. On the other hand the curriculum was required to cover as wide a range of subjects as possible, since the major aim of the Juku was to groom leaders for a future republic. In view of this we invited an instructor from the Fifth Guard Troop of the Navy to teach bujutsu [one of the Japanese martial arts]. I myself occasionally led the students in a training run. I could run as I was still just a little over 30 at the time and had done my military training in the army.

The Dokuritsu Juku automatically ceased to function on the Japanese surrender. The only students were those who had

entered in October 1944. Some articles on the Dokuritsu Juku use such expressions as ‘graduates of the first year’ or ‘graduates of the second year’, but this is inaccurate. Most students joined the independence struggle without completing the course, and some played a role in founding the Republic.

* * *


In a section omitted, Nishijima describes the role of Major A.K. Jusuf in kidnapping Prime Minister Sjahrir on 3 July 1946, although Jusuf had been regarded as ‘one of my best students’ at the Dokuritsu Juku by Sjahrir ( Out of Exile, p. 252). These events are more fully described in Benedict Anderson, Java, pp. 370-403.

* * *

Among the students of the Dokuritsu Juku were the subsequent Secretary-General of the Indonesian Communist Party, Aidit; the ‘number two’ of the Party, Mohammad Lukman; and Sidik Kertapati, who wrote a book on independence and was a member of the Party. * Lukman became acquainted with Aidit only after he entered the Dokuritsu Juku, but was later to support Aidit in his bid for leadership of the Party. Lukman lost his life, together with comrades such as Aidit, in the ‘September 30 affair’. Had he not entered the Dokuritsu Juku, the course of his life might have differed.

<b>* *

Several articles on Indonesia published after the war refer to the Dokuritsu Juku, and many claim that the substance of the curriculum was communist. I grant that it was socialist, but not communist. During the war some people thought that Indonesia should develop in the direction of national socialism. </b>

b>We had the same idea. In the event Indonesia did appear to move in that direction, which was only natural since the management of the school was in the hands of the Indonesians concerned. Many Indonesian leaders were more or less influenced by Marxism while studying in Europe after World War I. Since nationalist movements in colonies like the East Indies aimed to cast off the yoke of the colonial power,


in this case the Netherlands, nationalism had common ground with anti-imperialism.

The keynote of anti-imperialism is socialism – whether in terms of the First, Second or Third International. As a result there is no denying that the substance of the curriculum tended to be socialist. Accusations that the curriculum was communist came particularly from the Dutch, not without reason. After Indonesia achieved independence, the Dutch wanted to annihilate it under one pretext or another. For this reason, I believe, they labelled independence ‘made in Japan’ or ‘a communist fake’. If we look at Indonesian history it is obvious that such criticisms of independence were beside the point.

Looking back on those days, one thing I am proud of is that we did not force anything upon the population. The Army set up its Kenkoku Gakuin [ Institute for the Founding of the Nation] in March 1945 with the same goals as the Dokuritsu Juku. Despite the mushrooming enthusiasm for independence at that time, the Army gave its training centre a Japanese name and insisted that the Japanese language be used there. The head was also a Japanese. We used the Japanese name of Dokuritsu Juku because we understood the thoughts and sentiments of the Indonesians through associating with them. I wondered why [the Army] did not choose a more effective course, since it had set up the institute at no small effort.

There was certainly criticism in some Japanese quarters, particularly the Army, that the policy we adopted was too close and sympathetic to the Indonesians. I believe that the 16th Army in Java had a more progressive administration than the Army in any other occupied region, and yet it gave the new institution a Japanese name. This seems to reflect an incurable defect in the Japanese. Japanese leaders publicized that the Greater East Asia War was the war for the liberation of colonized peoples. Why then did Japan not allow the independence of occupied countries? The Japanese interpreted the liberation of Asia as liberation from the West – liberation of the Indonesians from the Dutch. Liberation should have been of the Indonesians, the Asian peoples, themselves.

After the Russo-Japanese War, Japan intensified the nature of its imperialism. However, Asian peoples did not view Japan as a purely imperialist country. On the contrary they believed that Japan, having defeated Russia, could liberate them from the yoke of Western domination. Without appreciating these expectations Japan insisted upon ‘under Japanese supervision’ and ‘Japanization’. As a result Japanese policies towards Indonesia inevitably tended to be based on expediency. We, on the other hand, were convinced that Japan would be able to maintain close ties with Indonesia only if she achieved independence in the true sense. Although we were certainly idealistic, I still firmly believe we were not wrong.


The Longest Day: The Eve or the Independence Declaration


Indonesians were increasingly suspicious about their future after Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces in May 1945. Moreover, in August various reports reached Indonesia, including the Russian invasion of Manchuria and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With each report unfavourable to Japan, Japanese in Indonesia felt more acutely their isolation. They wondered how Japan would be able to carry on the war against the whole world, given that its allies had already surrendered.

It was on 8 August that we received the news of the Russian invasion of Manchuria, and four Indonesians visited me at my home at Kebon Sirih 80 without any prior warning. They were Subardjo, Buntaran, Iwa Kusuma Sumantri and Soerachman. * My residence was open to anybody and visitors often came unexpectedly. The four leaders caught me as I came into the reception room, and asked gravely: ‘What course will the war take?’ I fully understood what they were trying to say. Japan had been taking the position of recognizing Indonesian independence and the population had been preparing for it. What would become of independence if the Japanese surrendered? When Germany invaded the Netherlands, the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina II had broadcast a message that ‘the government of the Indies will be modified after the war’, but she had said nothing about granting independence. The Dutch had no intention of allowing the Indies to be independent. On the contrary, they would begin to suppress the Indonesian demand for independence even though it was ever more intense. What sort of fate awaited these Indonesian leaders, who had been cooperating with the Japanese solely in the hope of achieving independence? General Pétain or France, a hero of World War I, was arrested by the Allied Forces because of his cooperation with Germany. There was no guarantee that these Indonesian leaders would not share the same fate as Petain. I realized

[ ___________________
*     For Subardjo and Iwa see above. Dr Buntaran Martoatmodjo (b. 1896) was a prominent member of the ‘Navy group’ around Subardjo, Deputy Vice-Chairman of the Chuo Sangi-in, a member of both the 1945 committees to prepare Indonesian independence (BPKI and PPPKI), and Indonesian Adviser to the Health Bureau of the Internal Affairs Department. The last position led naturally to the post of Health Minister in the first independent Indonesian Cabinet ( September-November 1945).
Ir. Raden Mas Pandji Soerachman Tjokroadisoerjo (b. 1894) was not politically active until he was appointed Chief of the Economic Affairs Department by the Japanese in July 1945. He was also Minister of Finance in two of Sjahrir’s 1946 Cabinets.


<b> that the four leaders were worrying not only about the future of Indonesia but also about their own fate.

I recalled my own feelings on my return to Java from a camp in Australia. Guadalcanal had already fallen to the Americans. At that stage I held strong doubts about the Japanese war position, and these grew when Karasawa * gave me his very pessimistic perspective on the war when I stopped over in Japan for a while. Under these circumstances it would not have been unreasonable for me to weigh up whether it would be safer to be in Japan or Indonesia if Japan was defeated. In reality I returned to Java without the slightest hesitation, even though I might never return to Japan alive. My desire to see the development of the Indonesian independence movement with my own eyes was very strong, and I renewed my resolution to cooperate as much as possible with the Indonesians to achieve independence.

There were quite a number of Japanese who were deeply involved in Indonesia and shared its hopes for independence. However, we were outsiders after all. True independence could not be achieved unless the Indonesians, the people concerned, were to acquire it by themselves. To this end the people had to arm themselves and be prepared for real sacrifices. This was my theory, and I reiterated it many times to the four Indonesians that night: ‘Whatever may befall you, such as a Japanese surrender, you must achieve independence by yourselves. Never react passively to external circumstances’. I had for a long time taken the view of the war that those who had died in it would be justified as long as Indonesia attained independence. For that reason I wanted all the more to see Indonesia independent. However, it seemed undeniable to me that there was a degree of passivity among the Indonesians.

I often heard complaints from Indonesians such as: ‘Even though we asked for help, the Japanese did not provide it’. Of course there were things which could be done only by Japanese, but there must also have been things that Indonesians could do. Every time I heard such complaints I condemned the passive attitude which lay behind them. I had occasion to talk with Trimurti,† a nationalist activist and the wife of Sayuti Melik, who is now a member of parliament and was a minister after the

[ Karasawa was the ‘supervisor’ responsible for Nishijima’s good behaviour after he had been released from political detention in 1933.
†S     K. Trimurti (b. 1914) and her husband Sayuti Melik (b. 1909) were both on the left wing of nationalist politics, and were imprisoned by the Japanese until rescued by Sukarno in 1945. Before the war Trimurti had been associated with Gerindo, while Sayuti had spent a period of exile in Boven Digul. ]

war. On that occasion I told her, ‘A door will never be opened if you stop knocking at it simply for fear of hurting your hand. As long as you are involved in the nationalist liberation movement, you must possess a will strong enough to open the door even though you injure your hand, your bones are bared, and the knocking gives you pain. In other words you must be prepared to sacrifice yourself for liberation and independence’.

I had associated with Indonesians who shared the view described above. The four Indonesian leaders listened earnestly to me and returned home nodding agreement.

I felt the three days from 15 to 17 August 1945 to be enormously long. These three days constitute an unforgettable period of my life. It was on the 15th that the rumour of a Japanese surrender spread, causing great upheaval for both Japanese and Indonesian leaders. The Japanese were on tenterhooks for different psychological reasons – some were reluctant to acknowledge the Japanese surrender, while others believed it and feared the grim situation which might develop as a result. How did the Indonesian leaders react to the rumour of a Japanese surrender? I quote from Subardjo book, Indonesian Independence and Revolution:


On that unforgettable day, 15 August, a rumour spread in Jakarta that Japan had surrendered to the Allied Forces. But we were unable to obtain any official information from reliable Japanese authorities. Sukarno and Hatta tried to get solid information from the military administration authorities but they could not because the Gunseikan [Chief of Military Administration] was not in his office.

Sukarno and Hatta tried to enquire about the Japanese surrender directly from the Gunseikan, Maj.-Gen. Yamamoto Moichiro, but they were refused permission to meet Yamamoto to on the pretext that he was attending a meeting. I do not know whether Yamamoto was really in his office or was attending a meeting elsewhere. Since they were refused by the Army authorities, they next tried to obtain information from the Navy. Thus they visited Subardjo at the branch office of the Research Department, which eventually led to a meeting of Sukarno, Hatta, Subardjo and Maeda. This meeting was a factor which connected the Indonesian declaration of independence with the [Japanese] Navy. Hence this meeting should be given a prominent place in the history of Japanese-Indonesian relations.

In the afternoon (perhaps 4 or 5 p.m.) of that 15 August, Sukarno, Hatta and Subardjo called on Maeda at the office of the Bukanfu in front of Gambir Square. I was at the office of the Research Department on Postweg, and was summoned by Maeda to act as interpreter. First Sukarno explained the purpose of

the visit. He asked Maeda, ‘Hearing that Japan had surrendered, I visited an Army office to confirm the news, but I could not meet anybody. So we came here to find out whether the report was true or not’. Maeda replied, ‘I cannot answer with certainty, since no official report has reached here. In any case I cannot believe that the Japanese would surrender. Please be cautious about believing messages, because many of them seem to be subversive. When we obtain official information we will certainly let you know’.

Maeda did not waste words, and his reply was very short. Probably that was all he could say. However, his attitude and the prevailing atmosphere clearly implied a Japanese surrender. The tone of my translation may also have given a hint of confirmation of the Japanese surrender. As they were leaving the office one of them, perhaps Subardjo, said, ‘It is not important whether Japan has surrendered or not. We must continue to fight for independence’. Sukarno and Hatta must have had the same determination. The Japanese surrender was certainly a sad event, but independence had to be achieved since it was the earnest wish of the people. Even if it was to come as ‘independence as a gift’, independence was near at hand, and in their own hands.

The Allied Forces had not expressed their position on Indonesian independence, and the Dutch had promised only a high degree of autonomy. Consequently, independence seemed likely to be shelved as a result of the Japanese surrender. Nevertheless we must fight for independence. This may have been the resolve shared by the three Indonesians as they left the Bukanfu. Hatta claimed after the war in Suara Partai ( July-August 1951), ‘It was confirmed on 15 August that Japan had surrendered’. However, the Army authorities had not met Sukarno and Hatta, nor had the Navy subsequently given them official information of the Japanese surrender. Hatta may have sensed it instinctively.

After their meeting with Maeda, Sukarno, Hatta and Subardjo discussed the policy to be followed, and agreed to carry out the objectives of the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence. They decided to convene the Committee at 10 a.m. on the 16th. This Committee had been preliminarily instituted on 11 August as an organization to take over political power from Japan, and it was to commence its activities officially from the 18th of that month. However, Japan surrendered before the Committee officially started. The predecessor of this Committee, the Body for the Investigation of Independence, had been established on 28 May 1945 to implement the Koiso statement. The Body had as its aim the investigation and study of all subjects related to independence and the preparation of reports and materials necessary for independence. Naturally such a project required a lot of time. Thus we can assume that the real purpose of the

Japanese in the establishment of the Body was to gain time on the one hand and to acquire the cooperation of the Indonesians on the other. Contrary to Japanese expectations, however, the Body pursued its tasks at full speed and even began to discuss a draft Constitution after only two sessions. Hence it is obvious that Sukarno and Hatta thought independence just around the corner when they were confronted with the news of the Japanese surrender.

Late in the afternoon of 15 August, Subardjo visited us at Kebon Sirih 80 in order to confirm the news of the Japanese surrender. As Subardjo often said, our residence functioned as a meeting place for Indonesians associated with the Navy. On that day, too, several Indonesians had already gathered at the house before Subardjo arrived. Being unable to accomplish his aim, he went off to Sukarno’s residence at Pegangsaan Timur 56, together with Hatta, intending to decide the subjects to be discussed at the meeting of the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence the following day. They arrived at Sukarno’s place at about 11 pm, and found Sukarno arguing with some youths, including the president of the Dokuritsu Juku, Wikana, and Darwis.

* * *

In the passage omitted, Nishijima uses published Indonesian and Dutch accounts to describe the confrontation between the youth leaders on the one hand and Sukarno and Hatta on the other. Wikana and Darwis pressed hard for an immediate independence declaration in defiance of the Japanese, while the older leaders wanted to await official confirmation of the surrender.

* * *

Subardjo heard at 8 a.m. on the 16th that Sukarno and Hatta had disappeared. Sudiro, Subardjo’s secretary, brought him the news. Sudiro had visited Sukarno’s residence along with Subardjo the night before, and witnessed the heated argument between Sukarno and the youths. Although Sudiro immediately guessed that the youth group had abducted Sukarno and Hatta, he could not find out from them where Sukarno and Hatta were located. Subardjo also suspected the youth group, but sought to obtain the Navy’s support in rescuing them, since if it had been the Army which had seized the two leaders there was no other way than to ask for the intervention of the Navy. Subardjo telephoned me at the Bukanfu to notify me that Sukarno and Hatta had disappeared, adding, ‘They may fall into the hands of the Army’. Then he hurried to Maeda’s place by car to report the incident directly. I, too, immediately reported to

Maeda. To tell the truth, neither Maeda nor I thought the youth group had the courage to carry out such an abduction, and we therefore suspected that the Army had masterminded it.
Maeda went to the Gunseikambu by himself to enquire after the two men. I do not remember precisely which of the two, the Gunseikan Yamamoto or the Chief of General Affairs Nishimura, met Maeda on that occasion. Whichever of them it was, he was taken aback by Maeda’s enquiry and replied, ‘Although we have been looking for them both, unfortunately we do not yet know where they are’. He added quite unnecessarily, ‘As a matter of fact, if they have disappeared it is rather convenient for us, because it will mean less trouble in the future’. I thought the Army was underestimating the seriousness of the matter. Nevertheless, the Army also had to ascertain the whereabouts of the two leaders. Apparently the Army had been looking for them through the Kempeitai and the Beppan, which was in charge of intelligence. Maeda gave me an order: ‘It would create a serious situation if communications between the highest Indonesian leaders and the Japanese Army were to be broken at this critical stage. We absolutely must maintain communications. Find the two immediately!’

Maeda’s instruction made me realize what a thoughtful man he was. As I was about to leave, his voice behind me said, ‘I have nurtured you till now so that I could use you on just such an occasion as this’. I was not angry at his words for he often used such expressions. However, I felt somewhat lost without Yoshizumi, who was in the middle of a meeting with members of an underground organization set up by the Third Section of the Research Department. I calculated that the youth group must have carried out the abduction if the Army was not involved.

We had a close relationship with the youth group, which occasionally asked us to rescue its members when they were arrested by the Kempeitai. We also talked together, held meetings, and argued over the issue of independence – whether it should be ‘independence on a platter’, or something achieved through struggle. Wikana was the leader of the group. I intuitively thought Wikana would be the only member of the group related to the Navy who could also be connected with the kidnapping. I therefore approached Wikana at the Dokuritsu Juku at Bungur Besar. I remember that I tried very hard to persuade him to talk, but he would not open his mouth. I wondered if an Indonesian might simply close up in such a situation. Wikana sat on the floor as silent as a clam. Despite this attitude I had to find out about the abduction, so I continued to urge him: ‘You know very well how much I have worked for the good of Indonesia. I have tried, as you know, to be a bridge between Japan and Indonesia. It is not possible that you cast me aside at this stage and do things on your own, considering what I have done for Indonesia. How could we

betray you? I suggest that you hand Sukarno and Hatta over to us.’

I do not remember how long I cajoled Wikana, but undoubtedly I repeated these arguments. Finally Wikana opened his mouth. His face was rather pale, and he was obviously taking the matter hard, ‘No, we cannot, because we comrades have made a promise. We want to declare our independence to the world. Even if it is crushed in a moment we will not care, so long as the declaration remains as an historical event. We are ready to be killed’.

Hearing this reply I knew something serious was about to happen. Subardjo also tried to persuade Wikana. Guessing from Wikana’s words that they had decided at a meeting the previous night to take Sukarno and Hatta safely out of Jakarta, I concluded that Sukarno and Hatta were detained not far from the city.

After our discussion Wikana seemed to bend a little. He began to move between the youth group and us, perhaps to consult his colleagues. Two messengers from the youth group were apparently dispatched to the secret place where Sukarno and Hatta were held. It must have been conveyed to the members of the group there that we had no intention of stopping their plan to declare independence and indeed were willing to support it. Since a member of the Kyodo Boeigun [Home Guard], Jusuf Kunto, * was among the messengers, the [former] Giyugun was evidently involved in the case. In the end Kunto took Subardjo to Sukarno and Hatta at the hiding place. Prior to this, Maeda was asked to promise not to arrest any youths connected with the plot, and to guarantee the safety of Sukarno and Hatta. On the spot Maeda answered, ‘Yes’. When Subardjo was about to leave for the hiding place I offered to go with him, but he refused.

* * *

I would like to quote from Daisan no Shins?:

Because of this (kidnapping of Sukarno and Hatta), independence was proclaimed outside the orbit of the Japanese Army. Historians will judge it in the future, but as far as I am concerned it was right.

There was certainly a degree of excess and menace in the activity of the youth group. However, without their action the enthusiasm for independence could not have blazed so fiercely and independence itself would not have been accomplished. In that event the population would have suffered in anguish for a long time. If independence had been pursued mainly through consulting Japanese authorities, as planned by Sukarno and Hatta, it might have been attained in a purely formal sense, but on the other hand Indonesia might not have been able to combat the movement of the Dutch and Allied Forces to return there.

It was about 4 p.m. when Subardjo left for Rengasdengklok, but he did not arrive till 6 p.m., due to various accidents including a puncture along the way. He was not readily accepted by the youths, partly because they were in an extraordinary state of excitement, and partly because Subardjo was suspect to them because of his closeness to the Navy. Adam Malik claims, in the book quoted above, that since Subardjo was said to have come as the representative of the Japanese Navy, he and his secretary Sudiro were almost detained. On the other hand Subardjo tells a different story in his book, Indonesian Independence and Revolution. He says that when he was asked whether he was sent by the Navy he replied: ‘No! Bung Sudiro and I came here after discussing with Wikana and other members of the Navy group’. Thus any suspicion towards Subardjo was removed. Then Subardjo and his secretary began to negotiate with Supeno, a Shodan-cho [platoon leader] of the Giyugun and a son of R.P. Singgih. While negotiating, the Shodan-cho asked whether an independence declaration could be issued by midnight. Subardjo replied that this was impossible because it would take time, first to call a meeting of the Committee and next to prepare the declaration, all of which was expected to require at least the whole night. After arguing for a while, Subardjo promised to complete the preparations by 6 o’clock the following morning, to make it possible to declare independence by the following noon. In response to this, Supeno asked what would happen in the event of the failure of this programme. Subardjo answered, ‘If everything fails to materialize, I will take full responsibility for that failure. You may even shoot me if that happens’. Only after Subardjo had said this, was he allowed to meet Sukarno and Hatta. Subardjo hurried Sukarno and Hatta to the car and they drove off to Jakarta.

I had been waiting eagerly at Maeda’s residence for Subardjo’s arrival. It was already 11 p.m. and very dark. A

Japanese officer was slashing at sesame plants with his sword, in despair because of the surrender. As the Japanese had encouraged the cultivation of sesame for its oil, the plant was found everywhere in Java. A kempei was standing under a tree keeping watch on the residence, perhaps in anticipation of some incident. I heard later that Nakatani Yoshio, an Army interpreter, was also watching the residence from next door. It was into this atmosphere that Subardjo and his party arrived. Sukarni had already changed from his Giyugun uniform into ordinary clothes on the way.

First I let Sukarno and Hatta come in and sit down. Subardjo took me out of the room saying, ‘Just a moment, Mr Nishijima’. He gave me a brief account of what had happened. Only after I heard his account did I realize that Subardjo had risked his life for the independence declaration. Given the increasingly tense situation, there was a real possibility that Subardjo might be killed if his programme failed to materialize. I sensed that the situation had at last come to a crisis point. In the meantime Yoshizumi, as well as members of the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence, had arrived. Members of the youth group were gathering in a waiting room. Maeda came down from upstairs and gave a lengthy warning that independence should not be won through bloodshed. Naturally, however, the excited Indonesians would not listen to such pious advice. Then we all began to argue strenuously.

While we were arguing, Sukarno suddenly asked Sukarni, ‘Will it really be all right?’ Sukarni stood up in surprise and replied, ‘It will be dangerous!’ He knew of a planned uprising by the youth group, and explained that its timing was imminent. The plan had been adopted on the morning of the 16th, for an uprising to be launched mainly by former members of the Giyugun and Heiho and by students at 1 a.m. on the 17th. Sayuti Melik and I stood up and followed Sukarni out. The three of us stopped at Hatta’s house first, whence Sukarni emerged dressed once more in military uniform, and bearing a pistol and sword. The car finally stopped in front of a dormitory for students of the Medical School in Parapatan, after passing along Jalan Menteng. The dormitory was the headquarters of the youth group. Sukarni and Melik went in alone while I stayed in the car.

I could see soldiers of the former Giyugun on trucks, all armed and looking tense. Sukarni and Melik soon came back. They must have announced, ‘The uprising is called off for tonight!’ Our car then moved in the direction of Koningsplein and eventually arrived at the broadcasting station, which was strongly guarded by military police. Since the youths had been expressing their desire to proclaim the independence of Indonesia to the world, I could well imagine that their plan of rebellion included the seizure of the broadcasting station. Even Maeda had once asked the Army to guard the station, so it

was not surprising that the Kempeitai knew some, if not all, of the plan. There seems to have been a mutual understanding between the Indonesians inside the station and Sukarni that the former would commence activities in response to a sign from Sukarni outside. Sukarni suddenly shouted, ‘The plan is called off for tonight!’ Hearing his voice, kempei rushed towards us. They seemed surprised to find the two of us – Sukarni, who had been arrested by the Kempeitai several times, and myself, who had once been under its surveillance. We were immediately placed in custody by the kempei. I demanded that one of them contact Maeda, explaining that we were on an urgent mission. The kempei immediately telephoned Maeda, who ordered, ‘Release them at once. This is an emergency’. In this way we were released.

Indoneshia ni Okeru Nihon Gansei no Kenky? * makes it clear that Maeda asked Gunseikan Yamamoto of the Army to come to his house while we were out, but that the request was refused. Maeda asked Yamamoto because he wanted to have somebody representing the Army, as he did not want to give the impression that the Navy had handled the independence issue unilaterally, and he therefore wanted to invite an Army authority to join him in investigating the subject. Moreover he thought it might facilitate finding a solution to the problem if both Army and Navy authorities talked directly with the Indonesian leaders.


Since Maeda’a request had been turned down by Yamamoto, Maeda visited the Chief of General Affairs of the Gunseikambu, Maj.-Gen. Nishimura. Sukarno, Hatta, Maeda, Yoshizumi and I went together to Nishimura’s house. It was past 1 a.m. in the morning of the 17th. Nakatani had been called to the house as an interpreter. Although Nishimura did not refuse us an interview, his attitude was cool. Sukarno and Hatta demanded that Nishimura allow immediate independence, and call a meeting of the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence one day earlier than had been scheduled. Maeda supported these demands, but Nishimura would not give his consent, and tried to pursue a policy of maintaining the status quo.

Yoshizumi, Saito Shizuo (the present Ambassador to the United Nations) and I were in a waiting room. I was becoming irritated by the stalemate. Saito said accusingly to me, ‘What you are doing is clearly disloyal to the Emperor. The Emperor

has said that everything is over. If you take any action [like supporting Indonesian independence] the result may affect the status of the Emperor’.

Although my memory is rather vague, I think Saito even used the word kokuzoku [traitor] of Maeda. Anyway I was infuriated by what he said. I said to myself, ‘What an absurd thing to say. Did not the Greater East Asia War aim at the liberation of Asia? Was not the initial aim of the war to bring Japan closer to Asia? We have striven towards that very end! We must bring the issue to its conclusion in a responsible way. Why else have we propagated the slogan, “To live with [ Asia] and to die with [ Asia]”?’

I unconsciously put my hand in the pocket where I kept my pistol. As everything was in chaos at that time we carried arms with us. I glared at him, my hand on the pistol. Daisan no Shins? shows how I felt about Nishimura’s stubbornness:

We took our decision. There was no way left but to pursue our policy at our own discretion. The only things we had to be cautious about were that the measures taken should not appear to be associated with Japan in any way, that they would not affect Japan (in this case innocent Japanese living in Java), and that they would not incur reprisals from the Army.

It was past 2 a.m. when the meeting was re-opened at Maeda’s residence. Sukarno, Hatta, Subardjo, Maeda, Yoshizumi and I sat down around a round table in the dining room. Members of the youth group and the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence occupied a reception room and a waiting room. Just before the meeting began, Maeda said, ‘We must request the presence of somebody from the Army’. He called Saito by telephone, but Saito refused to come on the pretext of being busy with his work. Next he called Miyoshi and said, ‘Please come over, since we have some people gathered here’. Kiyoshi was a sociable person and a Shiseikan [Civil Administrator] with a good reputation among the Indonesians. He willingly agreed to come there, perhaps encouraged by being a little tipsy. He arrived at the residence shortly afterwards, but seemed to find himself out of place in the highly charged atmosphere of the room. ‘Please take a seats’, I said. Since the Army was in charge of Java and the Navy had only a secondary position, we needed somebody from the Army to avoid the criticism that the Navy had dealt with the matter unilaterally. Miyoshi was to serve as an Army witness.

The youths in Maeda’s house were exerting pressure upon the meeting from the adjacent room. They were unwilling to make the draft declaration at the same table that the Japanese were using. Moreover they opposed every point. For instance, when Sukarno and Hatta proposed to sign a document and read it

the members of the Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence at noon on the 17th, Sukarni and Saleh strongly opposed the proposal. They insisted that there was no need to use the Committee, which was closely identified with Japan, and that the participation in the declaration of the members of the Committee was anathema since they had done nothing for independence. On another occasion, when Sukarno suggested consulting the highest Japanese authorities before making the declaration, the youths bitterly criticized this on the grounds that independence was purely the concern of the Indonesians, and had nothing to do with the Japanese. It was finally decided that independence was to be declared regardless of Japanese approval. The draft declaration was put in order by Sukarno after a heated argument between the leaders’ group [centring on Sukarno], which included Hatta, and the youth group.

The first draft read: ‘The Indonesian people hereby declare their independence. The existing administrative organs must be seized by the people from the foreigners who now hold them’. In this text the greatest problem was the use of the term ‘seized’. If the Indonesians were to ‘seize’ power from the Japanese Army by force this might exasperate the Japanese and lead to a tragic collision between the two. The surrender notwithstanding, the Japanese Army still remained intact. Here again I will quote from Daisan no Shins?:

We were not necessarily unable to understand what the youth were thinking, nor the leaders. However, as the latter group admits, the present Japanese Army now, or at least immediately before the surrender, promoted Indonesian independence and approved it. Sukarno’s group wanted to avoid a situation where the Indonesians, by issuing a declaration which would immediately cause a Japanese reaction, would compel the Japanese Army to play a role as effective agent to the Allied Forces. As Hatta correctly says, revolution can only be achieved by force, but Indonesian power is still inadequate. Moreover, the enemy – the real enemy the Indonesians have to face is not the Japanese Army, which is deprived of its authority to exercise power, but the Dutch, who are preparing to suppress the Indonesian people again. It is brave but not wise for the Indonesians to fight the Japanese Army with such inadequate power.

The discussion continued for a long time. Finally the term ‘seize’ in the text was replaced by ‘transfer’. In the expression, ‘the transfer of power and so forth should be attempted in a careful manner and as quickly as possible’

the word ‘attempted’ was changed to simply ‘carried out’. This text was written by Sukarno himself on paper brought from upstairs in Maeda’s residence, and still exists. One can clearly observe the corrections on the document. Thus the draft of the famous independence declaration was completed. It read: ‘We, the Indonesian people, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters concerning the transfer of power and so forth should be carried out in a careful manner and as quickly as possible’.

Miyoshi was requested to convey to the Army that the term ‘power’ (pemerintahan) † in the declaration meant ‘administrative authority’. The transfer of administrative authority had already been pursued as a basic policy and should therefore not provoke any opposition from the Army. Although it took only two or three hours to complete the draft, I felt that never in my life had I concentrated my mental powers more intensely. Everybody there seemed to feel the same and to be exhausted by the great strain of the moment, whether they were conscious of it at the time or not. This exhaustion might have been responsible for compromises on both sides. All of the participants did what they could, which the youths also must have appreciated. The final draft was typed out by Sayuti Melik.

At last the time had come for Sukarno to read the text to the members of the Committee who had been waiting in the next room. I heard Radjiman # asking, ‘Is this approved by the Gunseikan?’

I was irritated: ‘How stupid to say such a thing at this stage!’ I could also hear voices asking, ‘Who is going to sign?’ and ‘Who is to read it?’

According to Subardjo, Sukarni again opposed the contents


*     Footnote from previous page: Nishijima has compressed things here. This phrase had been substituted, at Hatta’s suggestion, for the second sentence in the draft proposed by the youth group.
#     Dr Radjiman Wediodiningrat ( 1879-1952) had been a stalwart of Budi Utomo since its foundation in 1908. He was one of the first Indonesians to obtain a Dutch medical degree ( Amsterdam, 1910), and thereafter became official doctor of the Surakarta kraton (palace). As an elder statesman he was named chairman of the Committee to Investigate Indonesian Independence (BPKI) in June 1945, and had travelled to Saigon with Sukarno and Hatta in August to receive the promise of early independence.
†     The word used in the proclamation was in fact kekuasaan (power) not pemerintahan (government).


of the draft on the grounds that it lacked revolutionary spirit and was too weak in the way it was expressed. As Sukarni’s criticisms were supported by the youths, arguments over the draft broke out again. However, the members of the Committee overrode the opposition and decided in favour of the draft.

It was really an extraordinary declaration. It is often said that ‘ Sukarno and Hatta represented the people’, but there are no signs of the two on the document. * Such an independence document is probably rare anywhere in the world. Also we noticed only afterwards that the document was dated ’17-8-’05’, i.e. 17 August 2605. The year 2605 was based on the Japanese calendar system. The fact that nobody, myself included, realized this may reflect the atmosphere of the meeting. Finally, I should like to raise the question of whether there were any Japanese present. It is true that there were Japanese, including myself, at the place where the draft was written, and that we even expressed our opinions. However, we did not attend the actual reading of the declaration, which was to the members of the Committee. Hatta has recorded his denial of our involvement. † However, Hatta and the others who support his claim confuse the place where the draft was written with the place where independence was declared.

Thus one act in the drama of independence had ended. It had indeed been a critical task. I myself was unable to indulge in the relaxed mood which would be normal after accomplishing such a difficult task, but I did notice that the youth group, the leaders’ group, and the Japanese looked relieved of tension, having reached a mutual agreement through compromise. I could not think of the future, perhaps because I was too exhausted by the prolonged strain. All those who had attended went their way with their own thoughts.