On This Day

When Myanmar Threw Off the Yoke of Japanese Empire

By Wei Yan Aung 27 March 2019

Seventy-four years ago today, people from all walks of life rose up against Japanese overlords who had failed to keep their promise to grant Myanmar full independence after three years of occupation.

Orchestrated by Gen. Aung San, the resistance movement was carried out in seven military divisions across Myanmar with the help of the Allied Forces of World War II.

Though they planned to launch the resistance on March 27, as Allied soldiers had already reached Upper Myanmar, Col. Ba Htoo had already started his own resistance campaign some three weeks prior, having declared war against Japanese forces on March 8.

More than 1,000 battles were fought in the following few months and at least 20,000 Japanese soldiers were killed.

March 27 marked the beginning of the final bout of fighting to end more than 100 years of colonial rule over Myanmar. Newspapers from England, France, the United States, India and China praised the resistance movement. World War II came to an end when Japan’s leaders signed an unconditional surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.

At first, March 27 was celebrated nationwide as Antifascist Resistance Day. But at the 10th anniversary, in 1955, Myanmar military chief Gen. Ne Win asked to organize an Armed Forces Day together with Antifascist Resistance Day.

Armed Forces Day gradually became the more prominent of the two. But the National League for Democracy party, led by Gen. Aung San’s daughter, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, still marks the occasion by its original name.