The Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (Indonesian: Badan Penyelidik Usaha-usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan, BPUPK) (Japanese: 独立準備調査会, Hepburn: Dokuritsu Junbi Chōsakai, Nihon-shiki/Kunrei-shiki: Dokuritu Zyunbi Tyoosa-kai), sometimes referred to as the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Badan Penyelidik Usaha-usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPUPKI)),[note 1] was an organization set up in March 1945 by the Japanese military authority in Java during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia as the initial stage of the establishment of independence for the area under the control of the Japanese 16th Army. The BPUPK held two plenary meetings; the first was from 29 May to 1 June 1945 and the second was between 10 and 17 July 1945.


Realising Japan was losing the war, on 7 September 1944, in a session of the Japanese parliament, Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso promised independence for the [Dutch] 'East Indies' "in the near future".[1] The Japanese navy was not supportive of the idea, but the 25th Army in Sumatra established a Central Advisory Board, headed by Mohammad Sjafei, which met only once. Despite navy opposition, army-navy liaison vice-admiral Maeda Tadashi began to fund speaking tours by Indonesian nationalists Sukarno and Hatta. Other groups were set up, both civilian and military, and Indonesians began to be appointed to administrative posts. After the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the liberation of the Philippines, the Japanese abandoned hope of turning Indonesia into a puppet state, and now began to try and win goodwill. However, a rebellion by PETA militias in Blitar in February 1945 showed the Japanese they were losing control.[2][3]

Formation and composition

In February 1945, partly in response to the Koiso declaration, the 16th Army decided to establish a committee to investigate Indonesian independence. According to Benedict Anderson, this was intended as a concession to Indonesian nationalists, and the Japanese hoped it would redirect nationalist enthusiasm towards harmless arguments between factions. The BPUPK was announced by the Japanese administration on 1 March 1945 to work on "preparations for independence in the region of the government of this island of Java".[4][5] In the three months before the committee was established, a 19-member advisory board, or Sanyo Kaigi chaired by Sartono discussed the organization, agenda and membership of it. The membership was to comprise 30 Indonesians, 3 Japanese and one representative each of the Chinese, Arab and Dutch ethnic groups. The board agreed to the two-stage Japanese plan of an investigating committee for Java, followed by a preparation committee for all of Indonesia. It also agreed that the territory of the independent state would not be discussed[6] The BPUPK eventually met in the building formerly used by the Volksraad (People's Council), which had been set up by the Dutch. The Japanese appointed 59 members, representing the major groups in Java and Madura. The membership, which was announced on April 29, the emperor's birthday, included eight Japanese, including one of the vice-chairmen. Among the members were:[2][7]

The other co-secretary was a Japanese, Ichibangase Yoshio (一番ヶ背 芳雄), who was unable to understand Indonesian, the language used in the meetings.[3]

Plenary meetings

First (29 May – 1 June 1945)

The first session consisted mostly of speeches by members and discussions about the ideology of an independent state, in particular whether there would be a role for Islam. It opened with a speech by the commander of the Japanese 16th Army, who said that independence was being granted to Indonesia to ensure good relations with Japan in the long term.[8] On 31 May, Professor Soepomo called for an authoritarian integralistic state based on a combination of the systems in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, with a strong executive. He claimed that as each individual would be a part of the state, there would be no need for guarantees of human rights because the interests of the state and its citizens would be exactly the same.[9] On the final day, 1 June, Sukarno made his famous speech in which he outlined the Pancasila - the five principles that would form the ideological basis of the new state. Although the speech was well-received, Islamic leaders were worried that their interests would not be protected under Pancasila.[10] At the end of the BPUPK session, members were encouraged to discuss their views and hear opinions from the people at meetings held in their hometowns. A sub-committee of eight members, the panitia kecil (small committee), was set up with Sukarno as chairman to discuss the issues that had emerged.[8][11]


During the recess, 38 members of the BPUPK met and, prompted by Sukarno, established a nine-member committee, the panitia sembilan, to work on a draft constitution. This group included nationalists as well as Islamic figures, and on 22 June produced a draft preamble to the constitution including the wording of Pancasila, albeit in a different order from that in Sukarno's 1 June speech, with the religious obligation for Muslims. This was mostly the work of Muhammad Yamin, who named the resultant document the Jakarta Charter.[10][12]

Second (10–17 July 1945)

This session debated and reached agreement on fundamental issues relating to the new nation, including its form, territory and constitution.[8] A large majority of members voted for independent Indonesia being a republic, rather than a monarchy or other type of state. By a vote of approximately two-thirds, it was decided that the territory of Indonesia would include not only the Dutch East Indies, but also Malaya, North Borneo, Portuguese Timor and West Papua, a concept known as Indonesia Raya (Great Indonesia), which was strongly supported by Mohammad Yamin.[13]

The debate about the nature of the state continued. The main opposition to Soepomo's integralistic concept came from Muhammad Yamin, who favoured a liberal democracy similar to the United States, with separation of powers and a bill of rights. Other delegates called for an Islamic state, or at the very least, a constitutional obligation for Muslims to abide by Shariah law.[14]

The constitution sub-committee held meetings on 11, 13 and 15 July to discuss details. All 27 members agreed to the final format on 15 July.[15] As Soepomo played a dominant role in the drafting of the document, his views were manifested in its provision for a strong state.[16]

Contemporary independence organizations

On 25 July, a BPUPK was established by the Japanese 25th Army, in Sumatra, with Mohammad Sjafei as chairman. It never met, but issued a statement of its resolve to strive for the Japanese Empire. In the eastern islands, the Japanese Navy, the occupying authority, did not believe the inhabitants of the region were ready for independence. It allowed the establishment of a short-lived and impotent National Party chaired by the Sultan of Bone, but this was banned six weeks later. The stance by the Navy prompted Sukarno to send two pro-independence figures from the east, Sam Ratulangi and Tadjuddin Noor, who were in Java, back home to mobilize pro-independence forces.[17][18]

See also


  1. ^ "Indonesia" was not part of the name as the 16th Army only had authority over Java (Kusuma & Elson (2011), p. 196)


  1. ^ Anderson 1961, p. 2.
  2. ^ a b Ricklefs 2008, p. 339.
  3. ^ a b Kahin 1952, p. 121.
  4. ^ Kusuma & Elson 2011, p. 196.
  5. ^ Anderson 1961, pp. 16–17.
  6. ^ Inomata 1952, p. 102-104.
  7. ^ Anderson 1961, p. 18.
  8. ^ a b c Inomata 1952, p. 106.
  9. ^ Butt & Lindsey 2012, p. 40-41.
  10. ^ a b Nasution 1995, p. 11.
  11. ^ Elson 2009, p. 112.
  12. ^ Elson 2009, p. 112-113.
  13. ^ Inomata 1952, p. 107.
  14. ^ Butt & Lindsey 2012, p. 42.
  15. ^ Soeripto 1962, p. 80-131.
  16. ^ Butt & Lindsey 2012, p. 41.
  17. ^ Kahin 1952, p. 121-122.
  18. ^ Kusuma 2004, p. 1.

Works cited