Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies

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Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies

Ranryō Higashi Indo
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg
Motto:  Hakkō ichiu
Anthem:  Kimigayo
Indonesia Raya (Unofficial)
Japanese Indies.svg
The former Dutch East Indies (dark red) within the Empire of Japan (light red) at its furthest extent.
StatusMilitary occupation
by the Empire of Japan
Capital Djakarta
Common languages Japanese, Indonesian
Government Military occupation
Historical era World War II
8 March 1942
27 February 1942
1 March 1942
14 February 1945
2 September 1945
17 August 1945
Currency Netherlands Indian roepiah
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Dutch East Indies
Indonesia Flag of Indonesia.svg
Dutch East Indies Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Today part ofFlag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia
Part of a series on the
History of Indonesia
Surya Majapahit Gold.svg VOC gold.svg National emblem of Indonesia Garuda Pancasila.svg
Flag of Indonesia.svg Indonesiaportal

The Japanese Empire occupied the Dutch East Indies , now Indonesia, during World War II from March 1942 until after the end of the war in September 1945. The period was one of the most critical in Indonesian history. The Dutch East Indies had been a colony of the Netherlands (the Dutch) since 1819. However, the Netherlands itself had been occupied by Germany, and thus had little ability to defend its colony against the Imperial Japanese Army, and less than three months after the first attacks on Borneo, [1] the Japanese navy and army overran Dutch and allied forces. Initially, most Indonesians joyfully welcomed the Japanese as liberators from their Dutch colonial masters. The sentiment changed, however, as Indonesians realized that they were expected to endure more hardship for the Japanese war effort. In 1944–1945, Allied troops largely bypassed Indonesia and did not fight their way into the most populous parts such as Java and Sumatra. As such, most of Indonesia was still under Japanese occupation at the time of its surrender in August 1945.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Dutch East Indies Dutch possession in Southeast Asia between 1810-1945

The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony consisting of what is now Indonesia. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800.

Indonesia Republic in Southeast Asia

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres, the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, is home to more than half of the country's population.


The occupation was the first serious challenge to the Dutch in Indonesia and ended the Dutch colonial rule, and, by its end, changes were so numerous and extraordinary that the subsequent watershed, the Indonesian National Revolution, was possible in a manner unfeasible just three years earlier. [2] Unlike the Dutch, the Japanese facilitated the politicisation of Indonesians down to the village level. Particularly in Java and, to a lesser extent, Sumatra, the Japanese educated, trained and armed many young Indonesians and gave their nationalist leaders a political voice. Thus, through both the destruction of the Dutch colonial regime and the facilitation of Indonesian nationalism, the Japanese occupation created the conditions for the proclamation of Indonesian independence within days of the Japanese surrender in the Pacific. However, the Netherlands sought to reclaim the Indies, and a bitter five-year diplomatic, military and social struggle ensued, resulting in the Netherlands recognising Indonesian sovereignty in December 1949.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Indonesian National Revolution armed conflict and diplomatic struggle between Indonesia and the Dutch Empire

The Indonesian National Revolution, or Indonesian War of Independence, was an armed conflict and diplomatic struggle between the Republic of Indonesia and the Dutch Empire and an internal social revolution during postwar and postcolonial Indonesia. It took place between Indonesia's declaration of independence in 1945 and the Netherlands' recognition of Indonesia's independence at the end of 1949.


Map prepared by the Japanese during World War II, depicting Java, the most populous island in the Dutch East Indies. 1943 World War II Japanese Aeronautical Map of Java - Geographicus - Java11-wwii-1943.jpg
Map prepared by the Japanese during World War II, depicting Java, the most populous island in the Dutch East Indies.

Until 1942, Indonesia was colonised by the Netherlands and was known as the Dutch East Indies. In 1929, during the Indonesian National Awakening, Indonesian nationalist leaders Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta (later founding President and Vice-President), foresaw a Pacific War and that a Japanese advance on Indonesia might be advantageous for the independence cause. [3]

The Indonesian National Awakening is a term for the period in the first half of the 20th century, during which people from many parts of the archipelago of Indonesia first began to develop a national consciousness as "Indonesians".

Sukarno First President of the Republic of Indonesia

Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia, serving from 1945 to 1967.

Mohammad Hatta first Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia

Mohammad Hatta was Indonesia's first vice president, later also serving as the country's prime minister. Known as "The Proclamator", he and a number of Indonesians, including the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, fought for the independence of Indonesia from the Dutch. Hatta was born in Fort De Kock, West Sumatra, Dutch East Indies. After his early education, he studied in Dutch schools in the Dutch East Indies and studied in the Netherlands from 1921 until 1932.

The Japanese spread the word that they were the 'Light of Asia'. Japan was the only Asian nation that had successfully transformed itself into a modern technological society at the end of the 19th century and it remained independent when most Asian countries had been under European or American power, and had beaten a European power, Russia, in war. [4] Following its military campaign in China, Japan turned its attention to Southeast Asia, advocating to other Asians a 'Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere', which they described as a type of trade zone under Japanese leadership. The Japanese had gradually spread their influence through Asia in the first half of the 20th century and during the 1920s and 1930s had established business links in the Indies. These ranged from small town barbers, photographic studios and salesmen, to large department stores and firms such as Suzuki and Mitsubishi becoming involved in the sugar trade. [5]

Second Sino-Japanese War military conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1945

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle. Some sources in the modern People's Republic of China date the beginning of the war to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

Suzuki Japanese multinational corporation

Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Minami-ku, Hamamatsu. Suzuki manufactures automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. In 2016, Suzuki was the eleventh biggest automaker by production worldwide. Suzuki has over 45,000 employees and has 35 production facilities in 23 countries, and 133 distributors in 192 countries. The worldwide sales volume of automobiles is the world's tenth largest, while domestic sales volume is the third largest in the country.

Mitsubishi group of autonomous, Japanese multinational companies

The Mitsubishi Group is a group of autonomous Japanese multinational companies in a variety of industries.

The Japanese population peaked in 1931 with 6,949 residents before starting a gradual decrease, largely due to economic tensions between Japan and the Netherlands Indies government. [6] A number of Japanese had been sent by their government to establish links with Indonesian nationalists, particularly with Muslim parties, while Indonesian nationalists were sponsored to visit Japan. Such encouragement of Indonesian nationalism was part of a broader Japanese plan for an 'Asia for the Asians'. [5] While most Indonesians were hopeful for the Japanese promise of an end to the Dutch racially based system, Chinese Indonesians, who enjoyed a privileged position under Dutch rule, were less optimistic. Also concerned were members of the Indonesian communist underground who followed the Soviet Union's popular united front against fascism. [7] Japanese aggression in Manchuria and China in the late 1930s caused anxiety amongst the Chinese in Indonesia who set up funds to support the anti-Japanese effort. Dutch intelligence services also monitored Japanese living in Indonesia. [8]

Manchuria geographic region in Northeast Asia

Manchuria is a name first used in the 17th century by Japanese people to refer to a large geographic region in Northeast Asia. Depending on the context, Manchuria can either refer to a region that falls entirely within the People's Republic of China or a larger region divided between China and Russia. "Manchuria" is widely used outside China to denote the geographical and historical region. This region is the traditional homeland of the Xianbei, Khitan, and Jurchen peoples, who built several states within the area historically.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Large-scale Japanese migration to Indonesia dates back to the late 19th century, though there was limited trade contact between Japan and Indonesia as early as the 17th century. There is a large population of Japanese expatriates in Indonesia, estimated at 11,263 people as of October 2009. At the same time, there are also identifiable populations of descendants of early migrants, who may be referred to as Nikkei Indonesians or Indonesian Nikkei.

In November 1941, Madjlis Rakjat Indonesia, an Indonesian organisation of religious, political and trade union groups, submitted a memorandum to the Dutch East Indies Government requesting the mobilisation of the Indonesian people in the face of the war threat. [9] The memorandum was refused because the Government did not consider the Madjlis Rakyat Indonesia to be representative of the people. Within only four months, the Japanese had occupied the archipelago.

A trade union, also called a labour union or labor union (US), is an association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or company created for the purpose of securing improvement in pay, benefits, working conditions or social and political status through collective bargaining and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

The Invasion

Japanese advance through Indonesia, 1942 JapanAdvanceIndonesia1942.png
Japanese advance through Indonesia, 1942

On 8 December 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile declared war on Japan. [10] In January the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) was formed to co-ordinate Allied forces in South East Asia, under the command of General Archibald Wavell. [11] In the weeks leading up to the invasion, senior Dutch government officials went into exile, taking political prisoners, family, and personal staff to Australia. Before the arrival of Japanese troops, there were conflicts between rival Indonesian groups where people were killed, vanished or went into hiding. Chinese- and Dutch-owned properties were ransacked and destroyed. [12]

The invasion in early 1942 was swift and complete. By January 1942, parts of Sulawesi and Kalimantan were under Japanese control. By February, the Japanese had landed on Sumatra where they had encouraged the Acehnese to rebel against the Dutch. [13] On 19 February, having already taken Ambon, the Japanese Eastern Task Force landed in Timor, dropping a special parachute unit into West Timor near Kupang, and landing in the Dili area of Portuguese Timor to drive out the Allied forces which had invaded in December. [14] On 27 February, the Allied navy's last effort to contain Japan was swept aside by their defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea. [15] From 28 February to 1 March 1942, Japanese troops landed on four places along the northern coast of Java almost undisturbed. [16] The fiercest fighting had been in invasion points in Ambon, Timor, Kalimantan, and on the Java Sea. In places where there were no Dutch troops, such as Bali, there was no fighting. [17] On 9 March, the Dutch commander surrendered along with Governor General Jonkheer A.W.L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer. [13]

Outline of the Japanese entry in Batavia, as depicted by the Japanese COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Schets van de Japanse intocht in Batavia zoals de Japanners het zich voorstelden TMnr 10001766.jpg
Outline of the Japanese entry in Batavia, as depicted by the Japanese

The Japanese occupation was initially greeted with optimistic enthusiasm by Indonesians who came to meet the Japanese army waving flags and shouting support such as "Japan is our older brother" and "banzai Dai Nippon". As the Japanese advanced, rebellious Indonesians in virtually every part of the archipelago killed groups of Europeans (particularly the Dutch) and informed the Japanese reliably on the whereabouts of larger groups. [18] As famed Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer noted: "With the arrival of the Japanese just about everyone was full of hope, except for those who had worked in the service of the Dutch. [19] "

The occupation

Japanese identity card issued to Louis Victor Wijnhamer, Jr., a local Indo-European man, during the occupation. Pah Wongso's Japanese occupation registration card.jpg
Japanese identity card issued to Louis Victor Wijnhamer, Jr., a local Indo-European man, during the occupation.

The colonial army was consigned to detention camps and Indonesian soldiers were released.[ citation needed ] Expecting that Dutch administrators would be kept by the Japanese to run the colony, most Dutch had refused to leave. Instead, they were sent to concentration camps and Japanese or Indonesian replacements were installed in senior and technical positions. [20] Japanese troops took control of government infrastructure and services such as ports and postal services. [17] In addition to the 100,000 European (and some Chinese) civilians interned, 80,000 Dutch, British, Australia, and US Allied troops went to prisoner-of-war camps where the death rates were between 13 and 30 percent. [13]

The Indonesian ruling class (composed of local officials and politicians who had formerly worked for the Dutch colonial government) co-operated with the Japanese military authorities, who in turn helped to keep the local political elites in power and employ them to supply newly arrived Japanese industrial concerns and businesses and the armed forces (chiefly auxiliary military and police units run by the Japanese military in the Dutch East Indies). Indonesian co-operation allowed the Japanese military government to focus on securing the large archipelago's waterways and skies and using its islands as defence posts against any Allied attacks (which were assumed to most likely come from Australia). [21] The Japanese colonial rulers divided Indonesia into three separate regions; Sumatra was placed under the 25th Army, Java and Madura were under the 16th Army, while Borneo and eastern Indonesia were controlled by the 2nd South Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy (the IJN). The 16th Army and the 25th Army were headquartered in Singapore [2] and also controlled Malaya until April 1943, when its command was narrowed to just Sumatra and the headquarters moved to Bukittinggi. The 16th Army was headquartered in Jakarta, while the IJN's 2nd South Fleet was headquartered in Makassar.

Internment camp in Jakarta, c. 1945 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Interneringskamp in Batavia tijdens de Japanse bezetting TMnr 10001986.jpg
Internment camp in Jakarta, c. 1945

Experience of the occupation varied considerably, depending upon where one lived and one's social position. Many who lived in areas considered important to the war effort experienced torture, sex slavery, arbitrary arrest and execution, and other war crimes. Many thousands of people were taken away from Indonesia as forced labourers ( romusha ) for Japanese military projects, including the Burma-Siam and Saketi-Bayah railways, and suffered or died as a result of ill-treatment and starvation. Between four and 10 million romusha in Java were forced to work by the Japanese military. [22] About 270,000 of these Javanese labourers were sent to other Japanese-held areas in South East Asia, Only 52,000 were repatriated to Java, meaning that there was a death rate of 80%.[ clarification needed ]

Tens of thousands of Indonesians were to starve, work as slave labourers, or be forced from their homes. In the National Revolution that followed, tens, even hundreds, of thousands, would die in fighting against the Japanese, Allied forces, and other Indonesians, before Independence was achieved. [23] [24] A later United Nations report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of famine and forced labour during the Japanese occupation, including 30,000 European civilian internee deaths. [25] A Dutch government study described how the Japanese military recruited women as prostitutes by force in Indonesia. [26] It concluded that among the 200 to 300 European women working in the Japanese military brothels, "some sixty five were most certainly forced into prostitution." [27] Other young women (and their families), faced with various pressures in the internment camps or in wartime society, agreed to offers of work, the nature of which was frequently not explicitly stated. [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

Netherlands Indian Gulden  - the Japanese occupation currency NI-123-Netherlands Indies-Japanese Occupation-1 Gulden (1942).jpg
Netherlands Indian Gulden  – the Japanese occupation currency

Materially, whole railway lines, railway rolling stock, and industrial plants in Java were appropriated and shipped back to Japan and Manchuria. British intelligence reports during the occupation noted significant removals of any materials that could be used in the war effort.

Next to Sutan Sjahrir who led the student (Pemuda) underground, the only prominent opposition politician was leftist Amir Sjarifuddin who was given 25,000 guilders by the Dutch in early 1942 to organise an underground resistance through his Marxist and nationalist connections. The Japanese arrested Amir in 1943, and he only escaped execution following intervention from Sukarno, whose popularity in Indonesia and hence importance to the war effort was recognised by the Japanese. Apart from Amir's Surabaya-based group, the most active pro-Allied activities were among the Chinese, Ambonese, and Manadonese. [36]

In South Kalimantan, a scheme by Indonesian nationalists and Dutch against the Japanese was uncovered before the Pontianak incident occurred. [37] According to some sources this happened in September 1943 at Amuntai in South Kalimantan and involved establishing up an Islamic State and expelling the Japanese but the plan was defeated. [38] [39]

In 1943 the Japanese beheaded Tengku Rachmadu'llah, a member of the royal family of the Sultanate of Serdang. [40] In the 1943–1944 Pontianak incidents (also known as the Mandor Affair), the Japanese orchestrated a mass arrest of Malay elites and Arabs, Chinese, Javanese, Manadonese, Dayaks, Bugis, Bataks, Minangkabau, Dutch, Indians, and Eurasians in Kalimantan, including all of the Malay Sultans, accused them of plotting to overthrow Japanese rule, and then massacred them. [41] [42] The Japanese falsely claimed that all of those ethnic groups and organisations such as the Islamic Pemuda Muhammadijah were involved in a plot to overthrow the Japanese and create a "People's Republic of West Borneo" (Negara Rakyat Borneo Barat). [43] The Japanese claimed that- "Sultans, Chinese, Indonesian government officials, Indians and Arabs, who had been antagonistic to each other, joined together to massacre Japanese.", naming the Sultan of the Pontianak Sultanate as one of the "ringleaders" in the planned rebellion. [44] Up to 25 aristocrats, relatives of the Sultan of Pontianak, and many other prominent individuals were named as participants in the plot by the Japanese and then executed at Mandor. [45] [46] The Sultans of Pontianak, Sambas, Ketapang, Soekadana, Simbang, Koeboe, Ngabang, Sanggau, Sekadau, Tajan, Singtan, and Mempawa were all executed by the Japanese, respectively, their names were Sjarif Mohamed Alkadri, Mohamad Ibrahim Tsafidedin, Goesti Saoenan, Tengkoe Idris, Goesti Mesir, Sjarif Saleh, Goesti Abdoel Hamid, Ade Mohamad Arif, Goesti Mohamad Kelip, Goesti Djapar, Raden Abdul Bahri Danoe Perdana, and Mohammed Ahoufiek. [47] They are known as the "12 Dokoh". [48] In Java, the Japanese jailed Syarif Abdul Hamid Alqadrie, the son of Sultan Syarif Mohamad Alkadrie (Sjarif Mohamed Alkadri). [49] Since he was in Java during the executions Hamid II was the only male in his family not killed, while the Japanese beheaded all 28 other male relatives of Pontianak Sultan Mohammed Alkadri. [50] Among the 29 people of the Sultan of Pontianak's family who were beheaded by the Japanese was the heir to the Pontianak throne. [51] Later in 1944, the Dayaks assassinated a Japanese man named Nakatani, who was involved in the incident and who was known for his cruelty. Sultan of Pontianak Mohamed Alkadri's fourth son, Pengeran Agoen (Pangeran Agung), and another son, Pengeran Adipati (Pangeran Adipati), were both killed by the Japanese in the incident. [52] The Japanese had beheaded both Pangeran Adipati and Pangeran Agung, [53] in a public execution. [54] The Japanese extermination of the Malay elite of Pontianak paved the way for a new Dayak elite to arise in its place. [55] According to Mary F. Somers Heidhues, during May and June 1945, some Japanese were killed in a rebellion by the Dayaks in Sanggau. [56] According to Jamie S. Davidson, this rebellion, during which many Dayaks and Japanese were killed, occurred from April through August 1945, and was called the "Majang Desa War". [57] The Pontianak Incidents, or Affairs, are divided into two Pontianak incidents by scholars, variously categorised according to mass killings and arrests, which occurred in several stages on different dates. The Pontianak incident negatively impacted the Chinese community in Kalimantan. [58] [59] [60] [61] [62]

The Acehnese Ulama (Islamic clerics) fought against both the Dutch and the Japanese, revolting against the Dutch in February 1942 and against Japan in November 1942. The revolt was led by the All-Aceh Religious Scholars' Association ( PUSA). The Japanese suffered 18 dead in the uprising while they slaughtered up to 100 or over 120 Acehnese. [38] [63] The revolt happened in Bayu and was centred around Tjot Plieng village's religious school. [64] [65] [66] [67] During the revolt, the Japanese troops armed with mortars and machine guns were charged by sword wielding Acehnese under Teungku Abduldjalil (Tengku Abdul Djalil) in Buloh Gampong Teungah and Tjot Plieng on 10 and 13 November. [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] In May 1945 the Acehnese rebelled again. [75]

Indonesian nationalism

Young Indonesian boys being trained by the Imperial Japanese Army COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Indonesische jongens tijdens hun soldatentraining door de Japanners TMnr 10001989.jpg
Young Indonesian boys being trained by the Imperial Japanese Army

In the decades before the war, the Dutch had been overwhelmingly successful in suppressing the small nationalist movement in Indonesia such that the Japanese proved fundamental for coming Indonesian independence. During the occupation, the Japanese encouraged and backed Indonesian nationalistic sentiments, created new Indonesian institutions, and promoted nationalist leaders such as Sukarno. The openness now provided to Indonesian nationalism, combined with the Japanese destruction of much of the Dutch colonial state, were fundamental to the Indonesian National Revolution that followed World War Two. [23]

Nonetheless, within two months of the occupation, the Japanese did not allow the political use of the word Indonesia as the name for a nation, neither did they allow the use of the nationalistic (red and white) Indonesian flag. In fact "any discussion, organisation, speculation or propaganda concerning the political organisation or government of the country" (also in the media) was strictly forbidden. They split up the Dutch East Indies into three separate regions and referred to it as the 'Southern Territories'. While Tokyo prepared the Philippines for independence in 1943, they simultaneously decided to annex the Indonesian islands into the greater Japanese Empire. Until late 1944 when the Pacific war was at a turning point the Japanese never seriously supported Indonesian independence. [76]

The Japanese regime perceived Java as the most politically sophisticated but economically the least important area; its people were Japan's main resource. As such—and in contrast to Dutch suppression—the Japanese encouraged Indonesian nationalism in Java and thus increased its political sophistication (similar encouragement of nationalism in strategic resource-rich Sumatra came later, but only after it was clear the Japanese would lose the war). The outer islands under naval control, however, were regarded as politically backward but economically vital for the Japanese war effort, and these regions were governed the most oppressively of all. These experiences and subsequent differences in nationalistic politicisation would have profound impacts on the course of the Indonesian Revolution in the years immediately following independence (1945–1950).

1966 ABC report examining Sukarno's alliance between imperial Japan and the Indonesian nationalist movement

To gain support and mobilise Indonesian people in their war effort against the Western Allied force, Japanese occupation forces encouraged Indonesian nationalistic movements and recruited Indonesian nationalist leaders; Sukarno, Hatta, Ki Hajar Dewantara and Kyai Haji Mas Mansyur to rally the people's support for mobilisation centre Putera (Indonesian : Pusat Tenaga Rakyat) on 16 April 1943, replaced with Jawa Hokokai on 1 March 1944. Some of these mobilised populations were sent to forced labour as romusha.

Japanese military also provided Indonesian youth with military training and weapons, including the formation of a volunteer army called PETA (Pembela Tanah Air – Defenders of the Homeland). The Japanese military training for Indonesian youth originally was meant to rally local support for the collapsing power of the Japanese Empire, but later became the significant resource for the Republic of Indonesia during the Indonesian National Revolution, and also led to the formation of Indonesian National Armed Forces in 1945.

On 29 April 1945, Lt. Gen. Kumakichi Harada, the commander of 16th Army in Java established the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (Indonesian : Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan (BPUPK)) (Japanese : 独立準備調査会, Dokuritsu Junbi Chōsakai), as the initial stage of the establishment of independence for the area under the control of the 16th Army. [77]

In addition to new-found Indonesian nationalism, equally important for the coming independence struggle and internal revolution was the Japanese-orchestrated economic, political and social dismantling and destruction of the Dutch colonial state. [23]

End of the occupation

Japanese commanders listening to the terms of surrender COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM In de haven van Kupang (Timor) luisteren de Japanse bevelhebber kolonel Kaida Tatuichi en zijn stafcommandant majoor Muiosu Slioji aan dek van H TMnr 10001519.jpg
Japanese commanders listening to the terms of surrender

General MacArthur wanted to fight his way with Allied troops to liberate Java in 1944–45 but was ordered not to by the joint chiefs and President Roosevelt. The Japanese occupation thus officially ended with Japanese surrender in the Pacific and two days later Sukarno declared Indonesian Independence. However Indonesian forces would spend the next four years fighting the Dutch for independence. American restraint from fighting their way into Java certainly saved many Japanese, Javanese, Dutch and American lives. However, Indonesian independence would have likely been achieved more swiftly and smoothly had MacArthur had his way and American troops occupied Java. [78] A later UN report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of the Japanese occupation. [79] About 2.4 million people died in Java from famine during 1944–45. [80]

Liberation of the internment camps holding western prisoners was not swift. Conditions were better during post-war internment than under previous internment, for, this time, Red Cross supplies were made available and the Allies made the Japanese order the most heinous and cruel occupiers home. After four months of post-war internment, Western internees were released on the condition they left Indonesia.[ citation needed ]

Most of the Japanese military personnel and civilian colonial administrators were repatriated to Japan following the war, although the process took nearly a year for most individuals, and often two years or more. Following screening for war crimes, physical labor or security duty for thousands more, and war crimes trials for approximately 1,038 individuals, they were sent back to Japan aboard remaining Japanese vessels. Approximately 1,000 Japanese soldiers deserted from their units (then under allied command) and assimilated themselves into local communities. Many of these soldiers joined the TNI or other Indonesian military organizations, and a number of these former Japanese soldiers died during the Indonesian National Revolution, including Abdul Rachman (Ichiki Tatsuo). [81] [82] [83] [84]

Japanese soldiers on trial. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Japanse oorlogsmisdadigers voor de krijgsraad te Makassar TMnr 10001539.jpg
Japanese soldiers on trial.

The final stages of warfare were initiated in October 1945 when, in accordance with the terms of their surrender, the Japanese tried to re-establish the authority they relinquished to Indonesians in the towns and cities. Japanese military police killed Republican pemuda in Pekalongan (Central Java) on 3 October, and Japanese troops drove Republican pemuda out of Bandung in West Java and handed the city to the British, but the fiercest fighting involving the Japanese was in Semarang. On 14 October, British forces began to occupy the city. Retreating Republican forces retaliated by killing between 130 and 300 Japanese prisoners they were holding. Five hundred Japanese and 2000 Indonesians had been killed and the Japanese had almost captured the city six days later when British forces arrived. [85]

I, of course, knew that we had been forced to keep Japanese troops under arms to protect our lines of communication and vital areas ... but it was nevertheless a great shock to me to find over a thousand Japanese troops guarding the nine miles of road from the airport to the town. [86]

Lord Mountbatten of Burma in April 1946 after visiting Sumatra, referring to the use of Japanese Surrendered Personnel.

Until 1949, the returning Dutch authorities held 448 war crimes trials against 1038 suspects. 969 of those were condemned (93.4%) with 236 (24.4%) receiving a death sentence. [87]

See also


  1. Klemen, L. (1999–2000). "The conquer of Borneo Island, 1941–1942". Dutch East Indies Campaign website.
  2. 1 2 Ricklefs 1991, p. 199.
  3. Friend, p. 29.
  4. Vickers, pp. 86-87.
  5. 1 2 Vickers, pp. 83–84.
  6. Mayumi Yamamoto, "Spell of the Rebel, Monumental Apprehensions: Japanese Discourses On Pieter Erberveld," Indonesia 77 (April 2004):124–127.
  7. Vickers, p. 86.
  8. Vickers, p. 83.
  9. Bidien, Charles (5 December 1945). "Independence the Issue". Far Eastern Survey. 14 (24): 345–348. doi:10.1525/as.1945.14.24.01p17062. ISSN   0362-8949. JSTOR   3023219.
  10. "The Kingdom of the Netherlands Declares War with Japan". ibiblio. 15 December 1941. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  11. Klemen, L. (1999–2000). "General Sir Archibald Percival Wavell". Dutch East Indies Campaign website.
  12. Taylor (2003), pp. 310–311
  13. 1 2 3 Vickers, p. 87.
  14. Horton, William Bradley (2007). "Ethnic Cleavage in Timorese Society: The Black Columns in Occupied Portuguese Timor (1942)". 国際開発学研究. 6 (2).
  15. Klemen, L. (1999–2000). "The Java Sea Battle". Dutch East Indies Campaign website. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
  16. Klemen, L. (1999–2000). "The conquest of Java Island, March 1942". Dutch East Indies Campaign website. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
  17. 1 2 Taylor (2003), p 310
  18. Womack, Tom; The Dutch Naval Air Force against Japan: the defense of the Netherlands East Indies, 1941–1942, McFarland: 2006, ISBN   978-0-7864-2365-1, 207 pages: pp. 194–196 google books reference:
  19. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, The Mute's Soliloquy, trans. Willem Samuels (New York: Penguin, 1998), pp. 74–106 (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1975). Cited in Vickers, p. 85.
  20. Cribb & Brown, p. 13.
  21. Taylor (2003), p. 311
  22. Library of Congress, 1992, "Indonesia: World War II and the Struggle For Independence, 1942–50; The Japanese Occupation, 1942–45" Access date: 9 February 2007.
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Further reading