Rōmusha(労務者) is a Japanese language word for "laborer", but has come to specifically denote forced laborers during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II. The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that in Java, between 4 and 10 million rōmusha were forced to work by the Japanese military, many of whom toiled under harsh conditions and either died or were stranded far from home. However, the term was not closely defined by either the Japanese or the Allies and the numbers stated sometimes encompass both the kinrōhōshi unpaid laborers, as well as native auxiliary forces, such as troops of the PETA and voluntary transmigrants to other islands in Indonesia.
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with several language families, such as Ainu or the now-discredited Altaic family, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
The rōmusha were paid conscripted laborers, mobilized in Sumatra and eastern Indonesia as well as Java. Some ten percent were women.Their tenures of service ranged from one day to the time required to complete a specific project. The types of work required were very diverse, ranging from light housekeeping work to heavy construction. As a general rule, the rōmusha were mobilized within each regency and were able to walk to work from home. However, for very large construction projects, the rōmusha could be sent to other regencies. When their specified period was up, they were returned home and replaced with new workers. However, some were sent away from Indonesia to other parts other Japanese-held areas in South East Asia. There included some 270,000 Javanese laborers, of whom only 52,000 were repatriated to Java, suggesting a high death rate or post-war migration.
Sumatra is a large island in western Indonesia that is part of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island that is located entirely in Indonesia and the sixth-largest island in the world at 473,481 km2.
The State of East Indonesia was a post-World War II federal state (negara bagian) formed in eastern Netherlands East Indies by the Netherlands. It was established in 1946, became part of the United States of Indonesia in 1949, and was dissolved in 1950 with the end of the USI. It comprised all the islands to the east of Borneo and of Java.
The Javanese are an ethnic group native to the Indonesian island of Java. With approximately 100 million people, they form the largest ethnic group in Indonesia. They are predominantly located in the central to eastern parts of the island. There are also significant numbers of people of Javanese descent in most provinces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Suriname, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands.
The practice of unpaid Corvée labor had been common during colonial period Netherlands East Indies. Although the fact that rōmusha were paid was an improvement, their wages failed to keep pace with inflation, and they were often forced to work under hazardous conditions with inadequate food, shelter or medical care. The general Japanese treatment of laborers was very bad. The rōmusha were supplemented by true unpaid laborers, the kinrōhōshi, who performed mostly menial labor. The kinrōhōshi were recruited for a shorter duration than the rōmusha via tonarigumi neighborhood associations and were theoretically voluntary, although considerable social coercion was applied to "volunteer" as a show of loyalty to the Japanese cause. In 1944, the number of kinrōhōshi in Java was around 200,000 people.The brutality of the Romusha and other forced labor systems was a key reason for the mass death rates among Indonesians under the Japanese occupation. A later UN report stated that 4 million people died in Indonesia as a result of the Japanese occupation. About 2.4 million people died in Java from famine during 1944–45.
Corvée is a form of unpaid, unfree labour, which is intermittent in nature and which lasts limited periods of time: typically only a certain number of days' work each year.
The Neighborhood Association was the smallest unit of the national mobilization program established by the Japanese government in World War II. It consisted of units consisting of 10-15 households organized for fire fighting, civil defense and internal security.
From 1944, PETA also made use of thousands of rōmusha for the construction of military facilities, and in economic projects to help make Java more self-supporting in face of Allied blockades.
The Japanese military made very extensive use of such forced labor during the construction of the Burma-Thailand Railway during 1942–43 and the Pakan Baroe Railway on Sumatra in 1943–45.The death rate among rōmusha, from atrocities, starvation diet, and disease far outstripped the death rate among Allied prisoners of war.
The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, the Siam–Burma Railway, the Thai–Burma Railway and similar names, was a 415-kilometre (258 mi) railway between Ban Pong, Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat, Burma, built by the Empire of Japan in 1943 to support its forces in the Burma campaign of World War II. This railway completed the rail link between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma. The name used by the Japanese Government is Thai–Men-Rensetsu-Tetsudou (泰緬連接鉄道), which means Thailand-Myanmar-Link-Railway.
Pekanbaru is the capital of Indonesian province of Riau, and a major economic center on the eastern part of Sumatra Island. It has an area of 632.26 km² with a population of 1,093,416. Located on the banks of the Siak River, which drains into the Strait of Malacca, Pekanbaru has direct access to the busy strait and was long known as a trading port. Pekanbaru was originally built as a market by Minangkabau merchants during the 18th century. Its name is derived from the Malay words for 'new market'.
Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia, serving from 1945 to 1967.
South Sumatra is a province of Indonesia. It is located in the southeast of the island of Sumatra, The province spans 91,592.43 km2 (35,364 sq mi) and had a population of 7,450,394 at the 2010 Census; the latest official estimate is 10,675,862. The capital of the province is Palembang.
The Java class was a class of light cruisers of the Royal Netherlands Navy, named after the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies. Originally, three ships were planned: Java, Sumatra, and Celebes. Celebes was intended to be the flagship of the naval commander in the Dutch East Indies, and therefore she was slightly bigger than the other two ships. However, the contract was cancelled with 30 tons of material already prepared.
Jun'yō Maru (順陽丸) was a Japanese cargo ship that was attacked and sunk in 1944 by the British submarine HMS Tradewind, resulting in the loss of over 5,000 lives.
Japan had an official slave system from the Yamato period until Toyotomi Hideyoshi abolished it in 1590.
The Netherlands Indies gulden, later the Netherlands Indies roepiah, was the currency issued by the Japanese occupiers in the Dutch East Indies between 1942 and 1945. It was subdivided into 100 sen and replaced the gulden at par.
Extermination through labour is a term used to describe some concentration camps in Nazi Germany killing prisoners by means of forced labour.
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 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, 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.
Mohammad Yamin was an Indonesian poet, politician and national hero who played a key role in the writing of the country's 1945 constitution.
Tarakan is the largest city of the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan. The island of Tarakan is located in northern Borneo, just across the border from Sabah, Malaysia. Once a major oil-producing region during the colonial period, Tarakan had great strategic importance during the Pacific War and was among the first Japanese targets early in the war. It is the sole city within the newly established Indonesian province of North Kalimantan.
Supriyadi, older spelling Soeprijadi, was an Indonesian national hero who rebelled against the occupying Japanese in 1945.
Indonesia–Japan relations are foreign bilateral relations between Indonesia and Japan. Both are two Asian nations which share historical, economic, and political ties. Both nations went through a difficult period in World War II when the then Dutch East Indies was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army for three-and-a-half years. Japan is a major trading partner for Indonesia. Japan is Indonesia's largest export partner and also a major donor of development aid to Indonesia through Japan International Cooperation Agency. Indonesia is a vital supplier of natural resources such as liquefied natural gas to Japan. Both countries are members of the G20 and APEC. Today in Indonesia, there are about 11,000 Japanese expatriates whereas in Japan, there are approximately 24,000 Indonesian nationals working and training.
Asia Raya was a newspaper published in the Dutch East Indies during the Japanese occupation.
Kami, Perempoean is a 1943 stage play in one act by Armijn Pane. The six-character drama revolves around a conflict between two couples, with the women considering the men cowards for not wanting to join the Defenders of the Homeland and the men afraid of how the women will react to them having secretly joined. Despite warnings from the women's mother and father, the men prepare to leave for their training, with their partner's blessings.
The Sumatra Railway, also referred to as the Pekanbaru Death Railway, was a railway project of the Imperial Japanese army in Sumatra during the Second World War. It was designed to connect Pekanbaru to Muaro in an effort to strengthen the military and logistical infrastructure for coal and troop shipments. The 220 km long railway would connect the Malacca Straits, via the Siak River to Pekanbaru, to Padang via an existing railway from Muaro.
The Saketi-Bayah railway was a single track and 1,067 mm gauge railway, located in the west of Java, Indonesia. It branched off the Rangkasbitung-Labuan railway, going from Saketi in central Banten to Bayah on the southern Bantenese coast. The railway was constructed during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies in World War II, primarily for transporting brown coal from the Bayah mines.
The PETA revolt in Blitar was an anti-occupation revolt in present-day Indonesia, which took place on 14 February 1945 by the PETA daidan (battalion) in Blitar. This revolt was widely known as the first major uprising of local armies in Indonesia during the Japanese occupation. The revolt ended unsuccessfully, where most of the rebels left the attack, or were captured or killed by the Japanese. Nevertheless, the government of Indonesia acknowledged the revolt as a meaningful revolution. Since his fate is unknown, in 1975 President Suharto issued Presidential Decree no.63 of 1975 officially acknowledged Supriyadi, the leader of rebels, as a national hero of Indonesia.
Muhammad Mangundiprojo was a 20th-century Indonesian soldier, revolutionary, and civil servant. Born in Sragen Regency on the island of Java, Mangundiprojo joined a nationalist group during the Second World War. He later fought against the return of Dutch colonial authority to Indonesia, and later went on to become a politician. He died in Bandar Lampung in 1988.
Lobang Jepang or Lubang Jepang, which means Japanese tunnel is an underground military complex, which is now one of the historical tourist attraction in the city of Bukittinggi, West Sumatra in Indonesia. The Japanese tunnel is a protection tunnel built by the Japanese occupying army around 1942 for defense purposes, which was fully completed in June, 1944. It was first discovered in the early 1950s and opened to the tourists in 1994. As is known, during World War II in 1942 Japanese occupied force had begun to be pressured by Allied forces, and started to construct many hiding tunnels across the archipelago of then Dutch East Indies, not only in Bukittinggi, but also in cities of Bandung and Biak, as well as other places in Indonesia.