Indonesian Declaration of Independence

The Indonesian Declaration of Independence was officially proclaimed at 10.00 a.m. sharp on Friday, August 17, 1945. The declaration marked the start of the five year diplomatic and armed-resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands until the latter officially acknowledged Indonesia’s independence in 1949. In 2005, the Netherlands declared that they recognised Indonesian independence is in 1945, not 1949. [1]

The draft was prepared only a few hours earlier, on the night of August 16, by Soekarno, Hatta, and Soebardjo, at Rear-Admiral Maeda (Minoru) Tadashi’s house, Miyako-Doori 1, Jakarta (now the “Museum of the Declaration of Independence“, JL. Imam Bonjol I, Jakarta). The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik.[2][3] 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 August 24.

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 August 15 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 Soekarno 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 dysfunctional 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 party involved in the historical moment finally agreed on a compromise solution which only included Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta as the co-signers ‘in the name of the nation of Indonesia’

Soekarno 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 Soekarno’s house at Pegangsaan Timur 56. In fact there was no concrete evidence for the growing suspicions, as the Japanese had already surrendered to the Allies, and the Japanese high command in Indonesia had given their permission for the nation’s independence. The declaration of independence passed without a hitch.

The Aftermath

The event also triggered several insurgencies and atrocities in some local areas such as Westerling‘s Celebes Massacre in 1946, East Sumatra Social Revolution in 1946, and Laskar Hitam. They were carried out by both Dutch-loyalists and anti Dutch-loyalists fighting against each other, as well as by other local militias that simply took advantage of the seemingly uncertain situation following the proclamation.

Text of the Declaration


Kami, bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menjatakan (menyatakan) kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Hal-hal jang (yang) mengenai pemindahan kekoeasaan (kekuasaan), d.l.l., diselenggarakan dengan tjara (cara) saksama dan dalam tempoh jang (yang) sesingkat-singkatnja (sesingkat-singkatnya).

Djakarta (Jakarta), 17-8-0’5

Wakil-Wakil Bangsa Indonesia

[edit] Draft amendments:

Three amendments were made to the draft, as follows:

  • tempoh“: changed to “tempo“, both meaning “time period”.
  • 17-8-45: changed to “hari 17, boelan 8, tahoen 05″ (“day 17, month 8, year 05” of the Japanese sumera calendar); the number “05” is the short form for 2605.
  • Wakil-Wakil Bangsa Indonesia” (Representatives of the people of Indonesian nation): changed to “Atas nama bangsa Indonesia” (“in the name of the nation of Indonesia”).

Final text

The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence

The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence

In Indonesian:


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 translation:


We, the Indonesian people, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia.

Matters concerning the transfer of power, etc., will be carried out in a conscientious manner and as speedily as possible.

Jakarta, 17th day of 8th month, year 05 (note: Japanese calendar year)

In the name of the nation of Indonesia

Soekarno – Hatta


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