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Book Review
Japanese Militarism : Japan, Between Love And Resentment

Author : Hendrajit, Dkk

A book entitled Japanese Militarism and Its War Crimes in Asia Pacific Region (Hendrajit, ed) was recently sent to me, by the publisher, The Global Future Institute. No doubt, this book made me re-think and recollect my trip to Japan in 1996. At that time, I was warmly received by Japanese families who became my host, invited to travel to various places, and bought souvenirs. The psycological effect of my short visit is that it is hard to imagine that the Japanese people were cruel ones, perpetrators of the massacre of our ancestors, raping Indonesian girls, making them as prostitutes and enslaving our grandfathers to work on various projects.


Formerly, of course, I learned history in school. Although the subject of romusha was ever introduced at the time, the more ingrained in my mind was the Japanese 'contribution' to the Indonesia's independence. Imagine, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesia's Independence was formed with the approval of General Terauchi on August 7, 1945. In fact, the text of the proclamation was formulated in the house of Admiral Maeda on Jalan Imam Bonjol Jakarta. I have only recently got another perspective, from a book written by H. Bambang Setyo, MSc. "Telaah Critis Dasar Falsafah Negara Republic Indonesia dalam Perspektif Akidah Islam". In his book, Bambang criticized, why did the Preparatory Committee for the Indonesia's Independence, including Sukarno and Hatta discuss the text of the proclamation at the house of Admiral Maeda? Whereas, there was a draft in terms of the 'proclamation of Indonesia's independence" which was approved unanimously by the Investigation Agency on June 14, 1945. Bambang indicated possible 'psycho-politics' factors that link between the place where the text of proclamation was designed and the the paying no attention to the agreement of the Investigation Agency.

The Bambang suspicion might be answered by observing today's phenomena. Now, after Indonesia got a independence, we have become very friendly with Japan. On the street, there have been many the Japan made cars. In homes, the Japanese made electronics is a guarantee of quality and pride. Japan's progress as a reference. "If you want to make progress, see Japan!" People gazed in awe at Japan, including me for being fascinated by Japanese gardens which are so beautiful, and even I dreamed of one day to return to the country; if possible when the Sakura flower bloom. Romusha, Comfort women, Heiho, three Japan's biggest sins, as if lost in memory, and if so, without emotional pain. 

As written Hendrajit (freely translated), "the motive of Japanese occupation is principally to secure access to oil and raw materials for its industry." (P. 16). Because that's the main motive, as they 'graciously' to facilitate the independence of Indonesia, of course there were concessions granted reciprocity (between Japan and the leaders of Indonesia at that time). Evidently, the Japan-Indonesia war reparations agreement in 1958, three major Japanese war crimes (romusha, Comfort women, and heiho), were not included. That means Japan did not really 'help' Indonesia gain its independence.

After independence, the Japan that was formerly a ruthless invader, has become the largest trading partner and foreign direct investment in Indonesia. Not to mention the scholarships are disbursed by Japan,  'rescuing' the children of the nation, so that they could be so smart people and some have become government officials in the country. We also looked at Japan as a comrade, friend, helper. Even when Indonesia was facing the financial crisis, Japan became the country Habibie visited to ask for help. Has Japan become an angel?

Apparently not. Iwan Piliang, an independent journalist, once wrote in 2010 the results of investigation of cases of transfer pricing by Japanese companies.

What is transfer pricing? Iwan pointed out, "The price of 1 kg sugar is amounted to Rp 5,000, but by the company it is sold to group-affiliated companies to international market amounted to Rp 2,500, in the entry. The affiliated companies are generally tax-free countries, like Mauritius, Cayman Island. Its sugar product in the free market is amounted to Rp 5,000. In this case there is profit hidden amounted to Rp 2,500. In principle, each company makes its balance sheet losses. the profit is hidden. the cost is enlarged. Import prices are elevated. "

In this way, the companies need only pay a little tax to the government. In contrast, Indonesian companies which are not able to do transfer pricing will of course bear a huge tax burden. No wonder if the Indonesia's companies went bankrupt. For example, PT Perkasa Engineering which is capable of producing Japan class cars, has eventually sunk. "Almost all Japan's foreign direct investments in Indonesia have committed irregularities in their transactions or Transfer Pricing (TP). Of 750 foreign direct investments  claiming losses in 2005, most of them were from Japan."  In the Iwan's calculations, the state losses due to TP in 2009 reached Rp. 1300 trillion.

Then, why did the government remain keeping silent? Why has the Ministry of Industry reminded silent and paving the way for Japanese foreign direct investments? Why have the automotive and electronics industries in the country not been pushed forward, in order to become masters in their own country and no longer become Japan's slaves and market?

Perhaps this is what is called by Fanon, "the internalization of colonialism by the colonized people." Fanon in his book "Black Skin, White Mask" analyzed how the invaders instill inferiority, and through the mechanism of racism, eventually the colonized people want to be similarly (equally) invaders. He said that the colonists were not satisfied by seizing a nation and strorming the brain of the nation. With a misleading logic, the colonizers will return the colonized people's past, distort, stain and destroy it.

"Direct colonization may have disappeared, but the disguised colonialism in the form of cultural, economic, political, and knowledge oppression is still alive ..." Fanon said.

That's what has happened today. Now we are amazed by Japan. We forget the history. In fact, we do not realize that today we are being economically colonized by Japan. This is called hegemony, voluntary submission. We have been colonized, but we are proud. And it is here, in my opinion, the significance of the presence of "Japanese Militarism and ItsWar Crimes in Asia Pacific Region. This book, in my eyes, is a struggle against forgetting and to raise awareness. []


By Dina Y Sulaeman, The author earned her magister in International Relations, University of Padjadjaran and Research Associated GFI.


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   Book Review
Author : Hendrajit, Dkk
Japanese Militarism : Japan, Between Love And Resentment

A book entitled Japanese Militarism and Its War Crimes in Asia Pacific Region (Hendrajit, ed) was recently sent to me, by the publisher, The Global Future Institute. No doubt, this book made me re-think and recollect my trip to Japan in 1996. At that time, I was warmly received by Japanese families who became my host, invited to travel to various places, and bought souvenirs. The psycological effect of my short visit is that it is hard to imagine that the Japanese people were cruel ones, perpetrators of the massacre of our ancestors, raping Indonesian girls, making them as prostitutes and enslaving our grandfathers to work on various projects.

Read More »