The Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Indonesia, or simply Proklamasi) was read at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, 17 August 1945. 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. In 2005, the Netherlands declared that they had decided to accept de facto 17 August 1945 as Indonesia‘s independence date. In a 2013 interview the Indonesian historian Sukotjo, amongst others, asked the Dutch government to formally acknowledge the date of independence as 17 August 1945.
The document was signed by Sukarno (who signed his name “Soekarno” using the older Dutch orthography) and Mohammad Hatta, who were appointed president and vice-president respectively the following day.
The draft was prepared only a few hours earlier, on the night of 16 August, by Sukarno, Hatta, and Soebardjo, at the house of Rear-Admiral Tadashi Maeda, Miyako-Doori 1, Jakarta (now the Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum, Jl. Imam Bonjol No. 1, Jakarta). The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik. Maeda himself was sleeping in his room upstairs. He was agreeable to the idea of Indonesia‘s independence, 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 Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, was however against Indonesia’s independence, scheduled for 24 August.
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 following the Nagasaki atomic bombing. The historic event was triggered by a plot, led by a few more radical youth activists such as Adam Malik and Chairul Saleh, that put pressure on Sukarno and Hatta to proclaim independence immediately. 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. The particular act was apparently inspired by a similar spirit of the United States Declaration of Independence. However, the idea was heavily turned down by the radical activists mentioned earlier, arguing that the committee was too closely associated with then soon to be defunct Japanese occupation rule, thus creating a potential credibility issue. Instead, the radical activists 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 nation of Indonesia’.
Sukarno had initially wanted the declaration to be read at Ikada Plain, the large open field in the centre of Jakarta, but due to unfounded widespread apprehension over the possibility of Japanese sabotage, the venue was changed to Sukarno’s house at Pegangsaan Timur 56. There was no concrete evidence for the growing suspicions, as the Japanese had already surrendered to the Allies, The declaration of independence passed without a hitch.
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 Hoso Kyoku radio station. An English translation of the proclamation was broadcast overseas.
ProklamasiKami, bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menjatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia.
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