The Putera Reports: Problems in Indonesian-Japanese Wartime Cooperation

The Putera Reports: Problems in Indonesian-Japanese Wartime Cooperation

The Putera Reports: Problems in Indonesian-Japanese Wartime Cooperation

The Putera Reports: Problems in Indonesian-Japanese Wartime Cooperation

Excerpt

Putera (Pusat Tenaga Rakjat—Concentration of the People’s Power), March 1943-February 1944, was an important and in some ways typical organization of Japanese-occupied Java. It was the first more or less durable association of what might be called the semi-public, semipolitical type, and the best as well as best-known example of Japanese attempts to harness Indonesian political figures from the old Pergerakan to serve their needs. Though sometimes depicted as such, Putera was neither a surrogate political party nor a simple propaganda arm of the military administration. It was, instead, a complex association with uncertain goals, varied interests and involvements, and an uneven record of success and failure, in which Japanese and Indonesians sometimes clashed and sometimes agreed on the goals to be pursued. A scarcity of concrete and detailed information concerning Putera has made its historical role difficult to assess in any but a very general manner.

The following two documents, made public here for the first time, do much to improve our understanding of Putera. They supply both details of the organization’s structure, staff and activities, and discussions of general problems facing it throughout its development. The Putera reports

1 The Triple A Movement (Gerakan Tiga A), which preceded Putera, was active for only a matter of months and did not affect all parts of Java. “Semi-public” indicates here that the organization was neither an agency of the military administration nor one in which the general public actually held membership or took part. By “semi-political” is meant that the organization, on the one hand, existed in the deliberately a-political atmosphere of a military occupation under which power and authority were unquestionably in the hands of the government, and, on the other hand, still was involved in many of the activities of political parties and leaned heavily on the reputation and prestige of members of a political elite.

2 Pergerakan (literally, “movement”) was loosely used from the late 1920’s on to describe the general struggle of all groups to achieve independence for Indonesia. Sometimes the word was used alone, sometimes with modifiers, as in pergerakan nasional, pergerakan kebangsaan, or pergerakan kemerdekaan.

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