MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA PERTAMA DI INDONESIA
DALAM PROSES UNTUK MENDAPATKAN SERTIFIKAT MURI
PENDIRI DAN PENEMU IDE
Dr IWAN SUWANDY, MHA
WELCOME TO THE MAIN HALL OF FREEDOM
SELAMAT DATANG DI GEDUNG UTAMA “MERDEKA
The Driwan Masterpiece Uniquecollection Cybermuseum
(Museum Duniamaya koleksi unik masterpiece Dr Iwan)
THE DAI NIPPON OCCUPATION PROPAGANDA
Why do I do this to myself? First I watch two intensely depressing dramatic recreations of war atrocities, intense enough to haunt me for days. Then I decide to review them, challenging my love of Japan with these accounts of atrocious conduct by their armed forces.
In 1937, when Japan was invading China, its armies conquered the (then) capital city of Nanking. The Japanese army then began killing the prisoners of war, then the civilians, to strike a psychological blow to the rest of China. Knowing full well that they were breaking international conventions of war, they disguised the massacre from the rest of the world.
These are two very different films about the siege, serving two audiences: one is obviously intended for ‘international cinema’, the other (possibly unintentionally) is ‘exploitation’.
Though they’re tough viewing, knowing that these events actually happened, I wanted to learn more about the depths that the Japanese army sank to. While I admire Japanese culture, pop and otherwise, I’ve mainly been learning about their history from their viewpoint. But after visiting several of Japan’s neighbouring countries and reading their news sites, I became increasingly aware of ‘old wounds’ and lasting hostilities.
While the US and Europe are hyper-conscious of the history of Nazi Germany, we mainly remember wartime Japan for Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. In China, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, Japan was regarded the same way we saw Germany. Indeed, the scale of Japanese war crimes and the variety of atrocities rivals Nazi Germany.
So I’m having trouble joining the dots between their peace-loving society of today and the extremes of their wartime mindset. How can a country change so quickly and so completely? I guess the answer is closer to home – my own country has much to answer for in it’s conduct abroad, both recently and historically.
I’m not going to boycott Japanese culture for the crimes of the past, but I’m not going to ignore history either. When I first heard of the ‘Rape of Nanking’, I naively assumed it happened centuries ago in more barbaric times. To find that it was only last century showed up a large gap in my historical knowledge.
BLACK SUN: THE NANKING MASSACRE,
MEN BEHIND THE SUN 4
(1994, Hong Kong, Hei tai yang: Nan Jing da tu sha)
Relentless glory propaganda
This is a weird film that would need much more research to determine what the film-makers were trying to do, if I was at all impressed by it. The director, T F Mou, denies it’s an exploitation film, and the size of the budget seems to lift the project out of that genre. But it’s an endless diary of gory re-enactments of war atrocities, with little story or drama, and a near absence of continuing characters. The Japanese soldiers storm around the city, killing and raping. The commanders take pleasure in trying out various methods of execution, from machine-gun to samurai sword.
It looks like a wartime propaganda film, but it was made 1994. I’m almost guessing it was intended to pressure the Japanese government on outstanding issues – maybe compensation, apologies, selective history books? The other likely result was to incite outrage amongst Chinese audiences.
Compare this blunt approach to any modern American movie about the Nazis. One moment in Black Sun made me remember a silent movie where Eric Von Stroheim throws a baby out of a high window. The scene looked comical: a swift but lazy cinematic shorthand to make you hate the character in seconds, and tell you what to think about all German commanders.
While City of Life and Death shows only one Japanese leader orchestrating the destruction of the city, Black Sun takes pains to name and shame many different commanders and their personal roles in the killing. This is perhaps another clue to the movie’s intentions.
After a while, the many shock moments reminded me of the climax to Soldier Blue, but in contrast with it’s involving characters, storyline and complex portrayal of the invaders as well as the invaded (Soldier Blue himself is shocked by his own sides’ misconduct). The Japanese soldiers of Black Sun are portrayed with a uniform hive mentality. It also doesn’t help that the Japanese soldiers all look very Chinese. Only the commanders look as if they’re played by Japanese actors. Lazily and inaccurately, the soldiers of both sides talk in Chinese.
I expected this to be far more cheaply made than it is. It looks largely authentic, uses a lot of extras and some extensive locations. The most spectacular scene illustrates how the Japanese burned the bodies of civilians before dumping them in the river. They could then claim that they’d only killed soldiers. The scale of the fire of hundreds of bodies along a riverbank rivals the inferno at the end of Apocalypse Now.
But if there’s any doubt that what we’re being shown happened, the catalogue of atrocities is verified onscreen, by cross-cutting with actual photographs and filmed footage. The power and importance of these images was not lost on the Japanese army who made every effort to destroy any incriminating material that left Nanking at the time, and they burnt any such evidence of their own when the war was lost.
There’s no doubt that all this and worse actually happened, but without any emotional involvement and a clumsy, one-sided approach, it’s a far less powerful and informative film than it should have been.
I watched the US region 1 DVD, which fills in much of the historical context with an informative old documentary episode of Frank Capra’s Why We Fight as a DVD extra.
In the UK, it’s purely been sold as exploitation, check out the crass DVD cover, which somehow borders on comedy, using a poorly staged publicity shot of one of the film’s most infamous scenes. Contrast that with the US DVD cover that uses an actual archive photograph.
This is actually the fourth in a series of films, called Men Behind the Sun, which I won’t be investigating any further. The first film in the series has an important subject, the horrifying human experiments of Camp 731, but the inclusion of animal cruelty and mondo footage (using an actual corpse for one scene) means I’ll avoid it. However, the story of Camp 731 has one hell of conspiracy storyline and I’d like to learn more about it.
Black Sun is a bizarre experience – as it abandons so many movie conventions – that it’s fairly silly to compare it to the professionally and artfully produced City of Life and Death. But I have.
CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH
(2009, China/Hong Kong, Nanjing! Nanjing!)
An involving man-made disaster
This major new film, shot in black and white, is still being premiered round the world. It’s also about the Nanking during the Japanese siege.
While Black Sun throws out plenty of factual context in captions and voiceovers, this has no such introduction and relies on small badly-written postcards to set up a little historical background. Black Sun also portrayed the Chinese, soldiers and civilians alike, as totally defeated. This begins with the army still defending itself, albeit with guerrilla tactics. It also sets up storylines with soldiers from both armies, one Japanese soldier being just as traumatised.
The success of the film is the emotional involvement with the characters, focussing on the family of the Chinese translator to John Rabe – a German envoy famous for his attempts to protect the civilians against impossible odds.
Unlike Black Sun, if anyone gets hurt, raped, slaughtered, the impact is devastating. There’s a dreadful scene that’s basically a point of view experience of being herded into a mass slaughter.
After the threat of counterforce has been systematically eradicated, the invading army are rewarded with ‘comfort women’, Japanese prostitutes rationed out to the soldiers. But as the siege wears on, the supply of women starts taking Chinese ‘volunteers’. The widescale use of civilian women for sex lends an awful, literal meaning to ‘the rape of Nanking’.
While the Japanese use of unnecessary force was meant to terrify the rest of China, it instead unified the regions of the massive country into an unbeatable foe.
The inclusion of a sympathetic portrayal of a Japanese soldier has drawn criticism from Chinese critics, complaining that the tone of the film wasn’t harsh enough on the Japanese. Perhaps they would have preferred a less-sensitive, less balanced film, like Black Sun perhaps?
It had a limited cinema release in the UK and there’ll be a DVD and Blu-Ray release in August. I watched a Chinese DVD, which may be slightly censored (missing some violence). The subtitles didn’t translate all the onscreen signs and nameplates.
The excellent WildGrounds site has an article comparing City of Life and Death to actual (and upsetting) photos from the siege.
FRAME FIVE :
THE HISTORY OF DAI NIPPON OCCUPATION INDONESIA
Until 1942, Indonesia was colonised by the Netherlands and was known as the Netherlands East Indies. In 1929, during the Indonesian National Awakening, Indonesian nationalists 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. 
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 nineteenth 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.  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 twentieth 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.  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.  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.  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’. 
In November 1941, Madjlis Rakjat Indonesia, an Indonesian organization of religious, political and trade union groups, submitted a memorandum to the Dutch East Indies Government requesting the mobilization of the Indonesian people in the face of the war threat.  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.
2. The Invasion
Main article: Netherlands East Indies campaign
Japanese advance through Indonesia, 1942
On December 8, 1941, Netherlands declared war on Japan.  In January the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) was formed to co-ordinate Allied forces in South East Asia. On the night of January 10-11, 1942, the Japanese attacked Menado in Sulawesi. At about the same moment they attacked Tarakan, a major oil extraction centre and port in the north east of Borneo. On February 27, the Allied fleet was defeated in the Battle of the Java Sea. From February 28 to March 1, 1942, Japanese troops landed on four places along the northern coast of Java almost undisturbed. On March 8, the Allied forces in Indonesia surrendered. The colonial army was consigned to detention camps and Indonesian soldiers were released. European civilians were interned once Japanese or Indonesian replacements could be found for senior and technical positions. 
Outline of the Japanese entry in Batavia, as imagined by the Japanese
Liberation from the Dutch 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”.
The Indonesians abandoned their colonial masters in droves and openly welcomed the Japanese as liberators. As the Japanese advanced, rebellious Indonesians in virtually every part of the archipelago killed small groups of Europeans (particularly the Dutch) and informed the Japanese reliably on the whereabouts of larger groups 
In Aceh, the local population rebelled against the Dutch colonial authorities, even before the arrival of the Japanese. As renowned 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. 
3. The occupation
Indonesia under the Japanese occupation 
Initially Japanese occupation was welcomed by the Indonesians as liberators.  During the occupation, the Indonesian nationalist movement increased in popularity. In July 1942, leading nationalists like Sukarno accepted Japan’s offer to rally the public in support of the Japanese war effort. Both Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta were decorated by the Emperor of Japan in 1943.
Japanese rulers divided Indonesia into three 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 Navy 2nd South Fleet. The 16th and 25th Army were headquartered in Singapore  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 2nd South Fleet was headquartered in Makassar.
Internment camp in Jakarta, c. 1945
Experience of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia 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 unfree labour (romusha) for Japanese military projects, including the Burma-Siam Railway, and suffered or died as a result of ill-treatment and starvation. People of Dutch and mixed Dutch-Indonesian descent were particular targets of the Japanese occupation and were interned.
During the World War II occupation, 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 (including civilians), would die in fighting against the Japanese, Allied forces, and other Indonesians, before Independence was achieved.  A later United Nations report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of famine and forced labor during the Japanese occupation, including 30,000 European civilian internee deaths. 
Netherlands Indian roepiah – 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.
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 Menadonese. 
3. 1. Indonesian nationalism
Young Indonesian boys being trained by the Japanese Army
During the occupation, the Japanese encouraged and backed Indonesian nationalistic feeling, created new Indonesian institutions, and promoted nationalist leaders such as Sukarno. 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. 
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).
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. 
4. End of the occupation
Japanese commanders listening to the terms of surrender
General MacArthur had 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 have to spend the next four years fighting the Dutch for its independence. American restraint from fighting their way into Java certainly saved many Japanese, Javanese, Dutch and American lives. On the other hand, Indonesian independence would have likely been achieved more swiftly and smoothly had MacArthur had his way and American troops occupied Java. 
Liberation of the internment camps holding western prisoners was not swift. Sukarno, who had Japanese political sponsorship starting in 1929 and continuing into Japanese occupation, convinced his countrymen that these prisoners were a threat to Indonesia’s independence movement. Largely because they were political bargaining chips with which to deal with the colonizer, but also largely to humiliate them; Sukarno forced Westerners back into Japanese concentration camps, still run by armed Japanese soldiers. While there certainly was enough labor to garrison these camps with Indonesian soldiers, Sukarno chose to allow his former ally to maintain authority. Conditions were better during post war internment than under previous internment, 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 leave Indonesia.
Most of the Japanese military personnel and civilian colonial administrators were repatriated to Japan following the war, except for several hundred who were detained for investigations into war crimes, for which some were later put on trial. About 1,000 Japanese soldiers deserted from their units and assimilated into local communities. Many of these soldiers provided assistance to rebel forces during the Indonesian National Revolution. 
Japanese soldiers on trial.
The first 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. 
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. 
– 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
the end @ copyright dr Iwan Suwandy 2011