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Analysis
29-04-2014
The disclosure of 39 Japanese war crimes documents in China, inspiration for Indonesian Ianfu advocates' struggle
Author : Hendrajit, Executive Director of the Global Future Institute (GFI)

Following the increasingly escalating border dispute between China and Japan recently, China published 39 confidential records related to the Japanese crimes in World War II. Inevitably this is an open confrontation between China and Japan. Imagine, Foreign Affairs Minister of China invited 20 foreign correspondents to the Archives building in northeast China's Jilin Province. The Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister's maneuver will possibly trigger the ire of the Japan's government under the leadership of Shinzo Abe.


Moreover, in a March's statement, Abe insisted he would not apologize for what was viewed by some countries of former Japanese colonies in Asia as a war crime. Including its war crimes in forcing Asian women to become "sex slaves" in the Japanese military headquarters.

In fact, China and South Korea have explicitly accused Japan of  trying to change the Sakura's dark history when it colonized some Asian countries. At least, approximately 200 thousand women, mostly Korean, were forced to become "sex slaves" for Japanese Army in the 1930s and 1940s.

Thus, the Chinese government maneuver realeasing confidential records of 39 Japan's crimes, including the actions of the Japanese military police in Kwangtung in the 1930s and 1940s, should inspire social elements in Indonesia, especially the advocates of Ianfu, to do some strategic steps to ask for the Japanese government' responsibility for its war crimes when it colonized Indonesia between 1942-1945.

The disclosure of 39 confidential documents of Japanese war crimes in China, is believed to further strengthen the struggle of a group of Chinese women (Ianfu) who were during World War II forced by the Japanese army as sexual slaves. On April 27, about 37 victims and families who once called comfort women, filed a lawsuit to about 35 Japanese companies, among others, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Victims demanded compensation of 1 million yuan, or approximately Rp1,8 billion (Rp1.899 per yuan), for every woman who becomes a victim. They also urged the Japan's apology to be published in Chinese media, the People's Daily and the Japanese media, the Asahi Shimbun .

The disclosure of 39 confidential records of Japanese war crimes in China includes forced labor policy (Romusha) implemented by Japanese Fascism government against approximately 38,900 Chinese civilians. According to records, some 6800 people were reportedly killed as a result of adverse conditions in the mines and factories for being forced by the Japanese soldiers to keep   war equipments in order to keep functioning.

Although the Japanese government refused the demands of the Chinese government on the grounds that China was no longer entitled to claim compensation when China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations in 1972, the issue of Ianfu as an integral part of the Japanese war crimes remained a public spotlight internationally, including in Japanese society itself.

One of the arguments made by the Japanese government to evade responsibility is that it did not recognize the individual right when bilateral relations treaty were already agreed by the victim's country. That's the Japan's argument to China and Korea. But the court in Korea has rejected the logic of bilateral treaty as a pretext to evade responsibility for the Japan's actions in the past.

A brief overview of the Indonesian Ianfu advocates' struggle
 
Let's start with a press release submitted by activists who are members of the Indonesian Jugun Ianfu Advocacy Network (JAJI) in 2006. In a press release, they emphasized that in regard with the comfort women reveal (sex slaves during the Japanese period) in Indonesia in 1993, there had been no official recognition from the government of Indonesia on the fate and support for the Indonesian comfort women struggle to gain their human rights.

Until now the fate of comfort women has only been championed by civil society and non- governmental organizations within and outside the country to sue the Japanese government responsibility over the sexual slavery system throughout Asia during the Asia Pacific war, including the fate of Indonesian women who become Ianfu at that time.

From the results of a study of Dutch journalist Hilde Janssen and persistent photographer Jan Banning when going around Indonesia to meet former "comfort women survivors", revealed how the Japanese war crime is indeed real. Their findings are then documented in a book titled Schaamte en Onschuld. Het verdrongen oorlogsverleden van troostmeisjes in Indonesië" by Hilde Janssen and Jan Banning.

Rosa, a woman from the South Molucca, born in 1929, in the war time was deliberately impregnated by her boyfriend because her boyfriend wanted to marry her than any other girl betrothed to him. Village head who had arranged marriages for the Rosa's girlfriend, then sent Rosa to a Japanese brothel in the city.

There Rosa was forced to serve Japanese soldiers while she was pregnant a few months. At the end of her pregnancy, she returned to the village where her baby died shortly after birth. Her boyfriend canceled the marriage administered by his parents, and married Rosa. This restored the Rosa's honor. After the war the whole villagers were keep silent on this matter. "It's our secret. Village people are very fond of me, because they knew I was forced. I could not tell speak anything our children. It is too embarrassing for me."

It's just part of the story. Kasinem, woman from Karanganyar, Central Java, born in 1931 has a different story. When she was 13 years old, Kasinem was summoned by village head and was forced into prostitution by the Japanese army in a military brothel in Solo. She received the Japanese name Kanaku and must serve three or four men each day.

"I was given a full set of clothes, powder, lipstick, hair combs, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a towel. They called me "Jeng," although I was just a farm kid. I was honored for the call, but was also uncomfortable. And I deeply wanted to go home. I was a kid. I could not because I was affraid of the men I did not dare to scream or cry openly, despite the tears come out". After three months she was allowed to go home for "a while" and never returned to the brothel. A few years later she eventually got married and gave birth to six children.

Icih, woman from Sukabumi, West Java, born in 1926, had a tragic fate. After her first husband was shot dead, Icih was locked by Japan and for three years almost every day she was raped and beaten by the army barrack commander and another officer. At first she was allowed to take a walk around the barrack under supervision, then she she locked up permanently. She was often tortured as punishment and not fed. After the war she returned home in a very thin condition and was sick. "I was treated by  mother, rubbed with hometown foliages, using lettuce, jawerkotok leaf, I was rubbed and massaged. I could not walk alone, calling my own name I could not". Icih remarried eight years later after the war. "My husband knew I was former sex slave of Japan, thank God, "keep worshipping," he said "what's already happened let it go".



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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.

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