Reverberations of an Occupation: Indonesian Wartime Connections Between Postwar Societies
Time & LocationSession 1
Wed 09:00–10:30 Room 1.504
- William Bradley Horton Akita University
- Peter Post NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
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- Military Personnel and Japanese Occupation Period Networks Kaoru Kochi Kanda University of International Studies
During the Japanese Occupation of the Netherlands East Indies, the Japanese Army and Navy created several military organizations for native peoples, including the Seinen D?j? (Barisan Pemuda, or Youth Column), established in Tangerang in 1942, the auxiliary army/navy force Heiho which began recruiting in 1943, the volunteer self-defense force PET? (Pembela Tanah Ai?) established in 1943, and Laskar Hizbullah (a Muslim version of PETA). Certainly the primary motivation for Japanese to give military training to Indonesians in (quasi-)military organizations was make up for the shortage of Japanese soldiers caused by transfers to various fronts. For local peoples, however, it was a first and foremost a very precious opportunity for substantial military training.
This presentation will explore the network of military personnel trained by the Japanese, the roles they played, their carrier development, and the domestic/international connections they developed.
After the declaration of Indonesian independence in August 1945, personnel trained in those wartime organizations formed the core of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) and its predecessors during the Independence War. Among the many Indonesians trained by the Japanese were the future president, General Suharto, the future minister and Army Commander General Achmad Yani, and Lt. Gen. Sarwo Edhie Wibowo. The myth that the TNI was the only group of Indonesians ready to defend Indonesian independence to the death reinforced their authoritative position in post-war Indonesia. Along with the development of TNI and their dwifungsi (dual-function) ideology, those officers also deepened their involvement in social/political spheres and took more and more important roles.
Although soldiers trained during the war maintained a kind of fraternity, they did not always share political inclinations. Zulkifli Lubis, who built the Indonesian intelligence system and thus left a lot of mystery about himself, was accused of being the mastermind of a plot to murder President Sukarno and then joined the revolt against Sukarno. Military officers close to Zulkifli were dropped out of the main stream.
Officers trained during the Japanese occupation were not locked into the domestic environment, but also had opportunities to engage with the outside world. Military business links resulted in foreign contact. Additionally, some officers including Sukarno’s favorite, Achmad Yani had opportunities to study at Fort Leavenworth. Zulkifli, as an intelligence official could get in touch with the CI?. Former seinen kunrensh? assistant instructor Rukminto Hendraningrat was entrusted with the critical position of ambassador in Japan in the pivotal years after 1965.
Tracing the careers and interactions of a limited number of officers helps us to understand the extent to which wartime networks influenced the military and political development of Indonesia in the postwar era, not only under the Sukarno regime but also under Suharto’s New Order Regime. In that sense, those personnel show continuity from the Pacific War, the Independence War to the postwar era.
- The Man Behind a Defeated General’s Wining Life Mayumi Yamamoto Miyagi University
The third president of the Batavia BC class war tribunal, L. F. de Groot, left Indonesia for the Netherlands before announcement of the “not-guilty” verdict for General Imamura Hitoshi. Although proceeding had started much earlier, this was one of the final court cases handled by the court, and the not-guilty verdict was said to be the reason for President de Groot’s unexpectedly sudden departure.
Imamura Hitoshi, the first commander during the Japanese occupation of Java by the 16th Army, is well-known figure. It can be said that Imamura was admired and had a good reputation in Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Japan. His smooth and relatively gentle management of the shift from Dutch colonial rule to Japanese rule resulted in less tension, including with the Dutch population, than during the tenure of any other commanders in Java. Despite his “liberal” administration in that period, as a military commander overseeing both the invasion force and the initial occupation government in Indonesia, it is no surprise that he was accused of negligence with respect to his troops’ misbehavior. However, thanks to the professionalism of de Groot, Imamura was able to return to Japan alive, and could live quietly in a suburb of Tokyo, writing and rewriting his memoirs in a three tatami mat hut located next to his house.
General Imamura is still remembered by a large part of the Japanese public, and a smaller number of Indonesians and Dutch, but not so de Groot. The two men respected each other and occasionally exchanged letters, a custom followed even by Imamura’s eldest son after Imamura passed away. The two were wartime enemies and had very different views, but with reverence. In this presentation, I would like to examine the characters of both Imamura and de Groot and their relationship through examination of court documents for the Batavia BC Class Court, including the interrogation records and courts verdicts, as well as memoirs and correspondence. What did make them keep corresponding with each other? Are there any keys to understand how even Imamura’s family felt a relationship with de Groot? While other cases are not known, it is not impossible that similar relationships could have existed between other individuals, making this case even more interesting.
In history, it is not necessary to be a winner to become legendary—sometimes even in defeat legendary status perseveres, as in memorable military leaders like Caesar, Napoleon, and Imamura Hitoshi. Despite Japan’s defeat in the war, admiration of Imamura’s leadership has never ceased. Even today, the Japanese business world sees his military management and strategies as a role model for business leadership. Ironically, the victorious man who gave justice to Imamura in the years before Imamura wrote his memoirs is nearly forgotten, however, their relationship may be important for understanding Imamura after the war.
- Wartime Experiences, Colossal Blunders and Renewed Friendships: Putting Faces and Historical Context into the Reestablishment of Japanese-Indonesian Relations in the 1950s William Bradley Horton Akita University
Following the end of the war, diplomatic ties between Indonesia and Japan first had to pass through Dutch hands, and it was only in the 1950s that Japan and Indonesia had formal contact through negotiations over reestablishment of diplomatic relations, war reparations, trade, and educational affairs. Individuals involved in these negotiations, including the San Francisco treaty negotiations where Foreign Minister Achmad Subardjo had to make a quick decision to sign the peace treaty, contingent on payment of reparations, albeit with an oral agreement of the Prime Minister—a colossal blunder seen through the looking glass of Indonesian politics. The Indonesian ambassador to Japan, Raden Sudjono, also participated in the conference, as did a number of other Indonesian nationalist functionaries. Seen conventionally, the San Francisco Peace Treaty delegation was a unit without any background, with the face of Foreign Minister Subardjo. Similarly, subsequent negotiations with Japan were done primarily by faceless functionaries, with top politicians taking responsibility for the results.
This paper seeks to examine the backgrounds of some of the key Indonesians involved in the San Francisco Peace Treaty Conference as well as some of the many individuals more generally involved with the reestablishment of normal relations between Japan and Indonesia as a step towards understanding how the experiences and networks of the Japanese period, or even in the 1930s, could have influenced events in the critical 1950s. Raden Sudjono and his wife were prominent figures during the Japanese occupation of Java, and his appointment as ambassador to Japan was both surprising and natural, as he would bring both linguistic ability and a wide range of contacts from both his student days and years in Gunseikanbu. Foreign Minister Subardjo was not without contacts in Japan, both from a visit in the 1930s when Sudjono had introduced him to key cultural figures in Japan, but also from his close association to the Navy representatives in Jakarta—Maeda and his aides. Could these contacts have been a significant factor in making difficult decisions like that in San Francisco?
While each case is certainly unique, most individuals of significance in the 1950s had significant experiences and contacts with Japan or Japanese in the 1940s. Examination of these prewar and wartime contacts helps us understand professional interactions and decisions in various areas such as foreign affairs, politics, military policy, and business.
War in general is a site of encounter between nations, ethnic groups and cultures. World War II— including the early postwar period—was certainly a dynamic period of change and contact in Indonesia. These wartime experiences and interactions certainly affected the lives and activities of many of these individuals after the war. In some cases, this could have been a purely personal influence, but in other cases knowledge, acquaintances and networks from the wartime and early postwar would have been available for professional use. In the case of elites, it is likely to have affected professional interactions and decisions in various areas such as foreign affairs, politics, military policy, and business.
Whether an ethnic Chinese translator for Sukarno in his postwar engagements with Japan, former Peta officers negotiating the cold war international and domestic environments like Col. Zulkifli Lubis, Japanese officers who underwent lengthy postwar trials by Allied courts before returning to Japan like General Hitoshi Imamura, or Indonesian nationalists engaged in postwar negotiations related to reestablishment of relations like Subagio Reksodipuro or Subardjo, the possibility of important wartime influence on a personal or profession level needs to be considered for this new postwar, independent period. This panel seeks to explore the histories of a range of individuals connected by experiences in Indonesia during the 1940s which potentially affected their personal and professional interactions.