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The Indonesian Nationalists and the Japanese “Liberation” of Indonesia: Visions and Reactions

  • Elly Touwen-Bouwsma (a1)

Abstract

During the Japanese invasion of Java, local nationalists came to the fore and set up Merdeka Committees to welcome their “liberators”. The high hopes they entertained that the Japanese would give them a say in the local administration and economy, or even grant them independence, turned out to be an illusion.

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1 An overview of anti-Dutch activities in the Netherlands East Indies before the invasion of Japan is given in E. Touwen-Bouwsma, “De Indonesische nationalisten en de oorlog met Japan: houding en reacties”, in Nederlands-Indië 1942. Illusie en ontgoocheling, ed. P. Groen and E. Touwen-Bouwsma (Den Haag, SDU Uitgeverij, 1992), pp. 57–75.

2 Benda, H.J., “The Beginning of the Japanese Occupation of Java”, The Far Eastern Quarterly 15 (1956): 544; B. Bouman, “Een veelzijdige waarneming. Japan in Indonesische ogen in het tijdvak 1930–1942”, in Beelden van Japan in het vooroorlogse Nederlands-Indië, ed. E. Locher-Scholten (Leiden: Werkgroep Europese Expansie, State University of Leiden, 1987), p. 230.

3 See for anti-Dutch activities in Aceh, Piekaar, A.J., Atjeh en de oorlog met Japan (Den Haag: Van Hoeve, 1949). For an detailed account of the role the Japanese played in the so-called F-organization in Aceh see Fujiwara Iwaichi, “Fifth Column Work in Sumatra”, in The Japanese Experience in Indonesia: Selected Memoirs of 1942–1945, ed. Anthony Reid and Oki Akira (Athens: Ohio University Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series No. 72, 1986), pp. 9–31. Benda states that among the Minangkabau there were two groups who fought against the Dutch: Indonesia Bergerak and Islam Raja. See “The Beginning of the Japanese Occupation of Java”, p. 544.

4 Zed, M., Kepialangan Politik dan Revolusi: Palembang 1900–1950 (Amsterdam: Centrale Huisdrukkery VU, 1991).

5 For more information on the Republik Gorontalo, see Republik Indonesia, Propinsi Sulawesi (Jakarta: Kementerian Penerangan, 1953), pp. 202–207.

6 Kanahele, G.S., “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia: Prelude to Independence” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1967), pp. 1718, 35.

7 Jusuf Hasan was a Sumatran who went to Japan in 1930 to study economics at the Meiji University, where he joined the ultra-nationalist Black Dragon Society. He was probably the most active Indonesian propagandist in Tokyo, taking part in establishing the Kainan Ryo Centre for overseas students. In 1941 he returned to Indonesia as a secret Japanese agent. See Nisjihima, “The Nationalists in Java, 1943–1945”, in The Japanese Experience in Indonesia, ed. Reid and Oki, p. 262. At the end of November 1941, just before the outbreak of the war with Japan, he returned to Tokyo, where he worked with the shortwave radio transmitter of the Japanese navy to broadcast appeals to his people back home. See Goto, K., “Life and death of ‘Abdul Rachman’ (1906–49): One Aspect of Japanese-Indonesian Relationships”, Indonesia 22 (1976): 66.

8 Nishijima had lived in Java before the war and was sympathetic to the nationalists cause. He was close friends with outstanding nationalists and spoke Malay fluently. He was one of the Japanese who had been interned by the Dutch at the outbreak of the war with Japan and was transported to Australia. In August 1942, he returned to Java where he remained in close contact with his nationalist friends.

9 Achmad Subardjo had studied at the Universities of Utrecht and Leiden. In the Netherlands, he had been an active member of the Indonesian Student Association/Perhimpunan Indonesia. He returned to Java in 1934, and earned his living as a self-employed lawyer, as he did not want to work for the Dutch government. He went to Japan in September 1935 as a correspondent for the Indonesian journal Matahari, issued in Semarang. After returning to Java in 1936, he earned a living in Bandung. In 1939 he moved to Jakarta where he arranged programmes for Radio Ketimuran, a branch of the Netherlands Indies Radio Network Company/NIROM. He also worked with Sam Ratulangi writing a newspaper column called “National Comments”. He was a non-co-operative nationalist and apparently not a member of one of the nationalists parties. See Djoyoadisuryo, A. Subardjo, Kesadaran Nasional, Sebuah Otobiografi (Jakarta, 1978), and Orang Indonesia yang Terkemuka di Jawa (Jogjakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press, 1986), p. 290.

10 Sudjono had been in Japan teaching Indonesian. He returned to Java with the Japanese army of invasion in Bantam. Sudjono was married to a niece of Subardjo, the daughter of one of his sisters. It was Sudjono who invited Subardjo to come to Japan in 1935. Subardjo, Kesadaran Nasional, p. 191.

11 Nishijima claims there were committees set up by Indonesians who hoped to achieve independence for Indonesia by cooperating with the Japanese. See Nishijima, “The Nationalists in Java, 1943–1945”, in The Japanese Experience in Indonesia, ed. Reid and Oki, p. 262.

12 Sukarto Report, Journey through East Java, 4 May 1942. Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogs-documentatie [henceforth RIOD] IC: 031605–031630. See also BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2407. Strangely enough, Subardjo does not mention this organization in his autobiography, Kesadaran Nasional.

13 For a detailed overview of the attempts of the nationalists to co-operate with the Dutch government in the last year before the outbreak of the Pacific War, see Abeyasekere, S., One Hand Clapping: Indonesian Nationalists and the Dutch, 1939–1942 (Clayton, Vic: Monash Papers on Southeast Asia Number Five, 1976).

14 Report on the activities before and during the Japanese invasion in Java. BUZA.NEFTS/CML2717.

15 The Madjalis Rakyat Indonesia (M.R.I.) included the Federation of Political Parties, Gabungan Politik Indonesia (GAPI); the Federation of Islamic Unions, Madjlisoel Islamil A'laa Indonesia (M.I.A.I.); and the Trade Union for civil servants, Persatoean Vakbonden Pegawai Negeri (P.V.P.N.).

16 Sjahrir, S., Out of Exile (New York: John Day, 1949), pp. 219, 233.

17 According to a Dutch publication the effect of these broadcasts was negligible. See A Decade of Japanese Underground Activities in the Netherlands East Indies (London: HMSO, 1942), p. 15.

18 For the impact of the transmissions from Radio Tokyo, see B. Bouman, “Een veelzijdige waarneming. Japan in Indonesische ogen in het tijdvak 1930–1942”, in Beelden van Japan in net vooroorlogse Nederlands-Indië, ed. E. Locher-Scholten and G.S. Kanahele, “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”.

19 Two of them, Maramis and Tadjuddin Noor, were also mentioned by Kanahele as belonging to the fifth column in Java (“The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, pp. 17–18). It is known that Hindromartono, a prominent member of the Persatuan Vakbonden Pegawai Negeri (P.V.P.N.), the trade union for civil servants, made a tour through Central Java in April 1942 with Sukarto, who reported to Subardjo about how the Committees Indonesia Merdeka established by then were doing (RIOD. IC: 031605–30).

20 Dr Samsi is also named by Kanahele as a member of the fifth column in Java. See “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, pp. 17–18.

21 Report on activities before and during the Japanese invasion of Java. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2717.

22 Subardjo, Kesadaran Nasional, p. 189.

23 See the following reports on Subardjo's organization. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2775 (Jogyakarta), 2727 (Kertosono), 2739 (Semarang).

24 Report on Subardjo's organization. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2729.

25 Report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2739.

26 See the reports of Subardjo's organization. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2773 (Toeban), 2762 and 2769 (Djember), 2726 (Demak).

27 Report of Subardjo's organization about activities in Feb./Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2769.

28 Nishijima, “The Nationalists in Java”, p. 259.

29 Thamrin's funeral was attended by more than 20,000 people and became a great mass manifestation of Indonesian nationalism, which bore a clearly anti-Dutch character. See Abeyasekere, One Hand Clapping, pp. 77–78.

30 Report of Subardjo's organization in Magelang, Feb./Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2775.

31 A Decade of Japanese Underground Activities, p. 30. The interned Japanese were transported to Australia before the capitulation of the Royal Netherlands Indies Army, the KNIL, on 9 Mar. 1942.

32 One of Subardjo's sisters was married to Dr Latip (see Subardjo, Kesadaran Nasional, p. 195). It was this family which was interned in Cibadak by the Dutch.

33 Suleiman, S., “The last days of Batavia”, Indonesia 28 (1979): 56.

34 Report of Subardjo's organization in Tegal, Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2760.

35 Goto, “Life and Death of ‘Abdul Rachman'”, p. 66. See also Kanahele, “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, p. 253 n. 22.

36 Bruin, R. de, Indonesie. De laatste etappe naar de vrijheid 1942–1945 (Ph.D. diss., Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1982), p. 58.

37 The Pesat of 28 January 1942 made an urgent appeal to the nationalists to join the Pekope (Persoverzichten, Januari, 1942: 1312). The journal Pesat was Gerindo oriented.

38 Review of the Indonesian political parties in 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2413.

39 Hering, “Het afscheidswoord van het dagelijks bestuur van Parindra”, Kabar Seberang 38 (1992): 58.

40 The Head of the Pekope in Semarang was Dr Boentaran, later on the chairman of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka, taking over this function from his wife. See report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2739.

41 See the reports from Godong (BUZA.NEFIS/CML2768) and Salatiga (BUZA.NEFIS/ CML2761).

42 Report of the Controleur, A.H.P. Regoort, in Batavia, 10 Mar. 1947. ARA.Alg.Secr.:4946.

43 One source claims that in its pre-invasion propaganda broadcasts Radio Tokyo encouraged Indonesian nationalists to form independence committees. Kanahele, “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, p. 258 n. 63.

44 Suleiman, “The last days of Batavia”, p. 62.

45 On 28 Feb. 1942 the Dutch government gave orders for the demolition corps in Java to get on with their job.

46 How far the members of Subardjo's group succeeded in their anti-sabotage activities is not known. Several claim to have prevented the destruction of bridges and rice-mills, but they do not explain how this was accomplished.

47 Report of Subardjo's organization during the Japanese invasion in 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2729.

48 Benda, “The Beginning of the Japanese Occupation of Java”, p. 545.

49 See the following reports of Subardjo's organization. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2715, 2722 and 2717.

50 There seems to have been a radio message claiming that Indonesians would not be killed by Japanese soldiers when they landed if they showed the mark of the sun on their palms. See Nishijima, “The Nationalists in Java”, p. 262.

51 See reports of Subardjo's organization for Magelang (BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2775) and Demak (2726).

52 In the reports Yogyakarta is consistently called Mataram (2763). See also the report of Sukarto, 4 May 1942. RIOD.IC: 031605–031630. The name Mataram refers to the glorious days of Sultan Agung (r. 1613–16).

53 See report of Subardjo's organization in Magelang. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2775. The reason that a Chinese could join the Merdeka committee was that the person in question had not been a member of any Chinese association under the Dutch. He was more Indonesian than Chinese oriented and, moreover, he had been considered dangerous by the Dutch.

54 Report of Police Inspector Van Leeuwen in Djombang, 7 Nov. 1946. ARA.Alg.Secr.4956.

55 Report of Assistant Resident W.C. Schoevers, 7 May 1946. ARA.Alg.Secr.4952.

56 Report of the Dutch Police in Malang. ARA.Alg.Secr.4955.

57 Report of Subardjo's organization for Kendal. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2765.

58 Report on the activities in Blitar. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2722.

59 Report of Police Inspector Van Leeuwen, 7 Nov. 1946. ARA.Alg.Secr.4956.

60 Report of Subardjo's organization for Demak. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2726.

61 See the following reports of Subardjo's organization in Ambarawa (BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2721), Godong (2768), Kendal (2765), Semarang (2739).

62 Report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2739.

63 Report of Subardjo's organization for Kediri. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2774.

64 Report of Subardjo's organization in Kertosono. BUZA.NEFIS.CMI:2727.

65 Sukarto Report, Journey through East Java, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

66 Report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang, BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2739.

67 See the confidential letter from Abikusno, 10 Mar. 1942, concerning two lists of candidates for the posts of ministers and deputy-ministers in an Indonesian government during the transitional period. BUZA.NEFIS/CML1972. See also Sluimers, L., “Nieuwe orde op Java”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde 124 (1968): 336–67. In an appendix Sluimers gives an overview of the three lists of ministerial candidates for the Indonesian government and their assistants.

68 This was in accordance with the Japanese blueprint for Indonesia determined during the Liaison Conference on 20 November 1941 in Tokyo, where it was stated that the Greater Indonesia Movement should be curbed as much as possible. See Benda, H.J. and Irikura, J.K., Japanese Military Administration in Indonesia: Selected Documents (New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1965), p. 2. See also Nakamura, M., “General Imamura and the Early Period of Japanese Occupation”, Indonesia 10 (1970): 5.

69 Subardjo, Kesadaran Nasional, pp. 236–37.

70 K.A. de Weerd, The Japanese Occupation of the Netherlands Indies. RIOD. IC: 032759.

71 These committees are mentioned in Sukarto's report. He visited them during his trip through Central Java in April 1942. Some of the committees were formed as late as the end of that month. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

72 The Parindra at the Beginning of the Japanese Occupation. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2405.

73 Sukarto Report, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

74 The chairman of the committee in Semarang was Dr. Boentaran (see note 40 above), a member of Subardjo's organization. Besides him there were six other board members.

75 Report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang, 19 May 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2739.

76 Komite Nasional Indonesia in Semarang, 21 Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2738.

77 Sukarto Report, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

78 Hering, “Het afscheidswoord van het dagelijks bestuur van Parindra”, Kabar Seberang (1992): 60, 63.

79 Report of Subardjo's organization for Magelang, Feb.-Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2775.

80 See Kanahele, “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, pp. 28–29.

81 For Magelang, see BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2775 and for Semarang, BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2739.

82 For Krawang, see BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2711.

83 For Blitar, see BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2771. After the Japanese had taken measures against the activities of the committees and their organizations in July 1942, the ROEPIB took care of the support for the unemployed Indonesians and set up a committee to organize economic requirements of the Japanese.

84 In Subang the nationalists had to turn over the local administration to the Indonesian civil servants within one week. See Report on the activities for Subang in March 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2712.

85 Many who could not produce a certificate from the Japanese army were arrested and put in jail. A member of the committee in Kertosono reported that he had been arrested by the Dutch commander of the field police at the end of March. Thanks to his friends, who worked with the Kempeitai, he was released from prison on 29 April 1942. He had been arrested on charges of disturbing peace. See the Report of Subardjo's organization in Kertosono. BUZA.NEFIS/CML2727. According to Kanahele the arrests of nationalists may have been largely due to a misunderstanding on the part of the Kempeitai, rather than any hostile opposition (“The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, p. 43). But this is only partly correct. It was the Indonesian civil servants in conjunction with the former Dutch PID (Political Intelligence Service), the opponents of the nationalists, who informed the Kempeitai about disturbers of peace.

86 See Kanahele, “The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia”, p. 267 n. 18.

87 Parindra in the beginning of the Japanese occupation. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2405.

88 Sukarto Report, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

89 Hindromartono was not in Java during the Japanese invasion. He remained in New York, where he was a member of the Dutch delegation attending the Labour Conference as technical adviser on the interests of the Indonesians. He returned to Java shortly after the surrender of the Dutch. So he had good reasons for visiting his family. See Orang Indonesia yang Terkemuka di Jawa, p. 10.

90 Sukarto Report, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

91 Report of the Komite Indonesia Merdeka for Semarang, 19 May 1942. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2739.

92 See also Sluimers, L., “De Japanse bezettingspolitiek en de Indonesische elites 1942–1943”, Bijdragen tot de taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde 124 (1968): 364.

93 Report of Winarno Danoeatmodjo, Semarang, Aug. 1942. RIOD. IC: 039581.

94 Report of Police Inspector Van Leeuwen in Jombang, Soerabaya, 7 Nov. 1946. ARA. Alg.Secr.:4946.

95 Report of Subardjo's organization for Malang, Feb.-Mar. 1942. BUZA.NEHS/CMI:2771.

96 Hering, “Het afscheidswoord van het dagelijks bestuur”, p. 63.

97 Parindra in the beginning of the Japanese occupation. BUZA.NEFIS/CMI:2405.

98 Hering, “Het afscheidswoord van het dagelijks bestuur”, p. 63.

99 Sukarto Report, 4 May 1942. RIOD. IC: 031605–031630.

The Indonesian Nationalists and the Japanese “Liberation” of Indonesia: Visions and Reactions

  • Elly Touwen-Bouwsma (a1)

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