Posts made in February, 2016

Sukarno, Pancasila and the Independence Proclamation

Posted by on Feb 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Sukarno, Pancasila and the Independence Proclamation

Throughout the occupation, Japanese leaders held out promises for self-government and eventual independence. Japan Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo visited Jakarta on July 7, 1943 and promised “the natives of Java” greater participation in their government. But during a meeting with Sukarno the Japanese leader made it clear Tokyo viewed Indonesia as a colony and had no immediate plans to grant independence to the territory. Four months later, on November 8, Sukarno, Mohammed Hatta and Si Bagus Hadikusumo, as representatives of Poetera (Poesat Tenaga Rakjat, Center for People’s Power) – an umbrella headquarters for all local organizations in support of the war effort (particularly romusha recruitment) with an auxiliary goal to build a foundation for self-government – left Jakarta for a two-week tour of Japan. They were feted as the Emperor’s honored guests, given tours of religious shrines, cultural sites and factories. Sukarno was decorated with the Order of the Holy Treasury and the other two with lesser medals. It was a great boost to Sukarno’s ego, who, unlike Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir, had never traveled or studied abroad. During four meetings with Prime Minister Tojo, the Indonesians pressed the case for Indonesian independence. Tojo made no promises. [1] General Tojo was sacked after Saipan fell in July 1944. On September 7, without giving a specific timeline, new Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso announced Indonesia would be granted independence. Sukarno received the news with palpable emotion – although Koiso’s concession should be seen more as a sign of Tokyo’s growing desperation in the face of mounting military setbacks than an indication of genuine sympathy for the Indonesian nationalist cause. Before military defeat had appeared inevitable, Japanese leaders intended to retain the sparsely populated, resource-rich, politically immature areas under navy jurisdiction in the eastern archipelago for the benefit of the Rising Sun. It is revealing that, after Prime Minister Koiso’s September 1944 announcement, the Japanese only permitted the red and white Indonesian flag to be displayed and the Indonesia Raya anthem to be played on Java, Sumatra and Bali, but not the other islands. [2] On October 29, American forces landed on Leyte in the Philippines, posing a direct threat to the Indies. Some nationalists, like Sutan Sjahrir, anxiously awaited the American arrival and an end to despotic Japanese rule. Tokyo had already laid the groundwork for an indigenous government administration on Java by creating the Djawa Hokokai (the Java Service Association) in March 1944 under Sukarno and Hatta. Representatives from the traditional Javanese aristocracy, the priyayi, filled many leadership positions in local Hokokai organizations. Japanese occupation authorities relaxed controls over Djawa Hokokai and allowed Sukarno and Hatta greater freedom to address the masses. In March 1945, after considerable agitation and delay, Japanese leaders allowed the nationalists to organize a sixty-four-member Investigatory Body for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, BPUPKI) under elder scholar Dr. Radjiman Wedyodiningrat. In late-May, the Japanese belatedly authorized BPUPKI to convene a Constitutional Congress. During a speech before the body on June 1, Sukarno outlined his Pancasila concept. He believed the five Pancasila principles would provide the basis to unify the...

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