A Japanese Memoir of Sumatra, 1945-1946: Love and Hatred in the Liberation War

A Japanese Memoir of Sumatra, 1945-1946: Love and Hatred in the Liberation War

A Japanese Memoir of Sumatra, 1945-1946: Love and Hatred in the Liberation War

A Japanese Memoir of Sumatra, 1945-1946: Love and Hatred in the Liberation War

Excerpt

I have three namelists in front of me which I acquired during the course of my research on the Japanese occupation of North Sumatra. They were composed by a former Japanese military officer in Medan, East Sumatra, and dated May 11, 1952. The title of the first list reads, in Japanese, “Namelist of the Japanese who died in battle or of illness in/ around Medan.” It contains 102 names, each with information concerning the person’s “former military affiliation,” “hometown” in Japan (one, however, is from Korea, one from Taiwan), and a brief record of how and where he died. A certain “Shimada,” for example, “died during the fight against the Dutch in front of Siantar Railroad Station, July 27, 1947. An art college graduate, an excellent painter.”

Three notes at the end of the list inform the reader that there are 88 additional Japanese who reportedly died in the region, among them the 83 who were massacred in Tebing Tinggi in December 1945 (see below, Chapter 8), but their names are unknown. There may have been further deaths which have not been confirmed. With the few exceptions of those who died of malaria or other illnesses, “most are martyrs to Indonesian independence who fell in battle against the Dutch.”

All the deaths took place after August 15, 1945, the date marking the “end” of World War II for Japan. This record provides a basis for the claim that there were more Japanese casualties during Indonesia’s revolutionary war than during Japan’s three-and-a-half year occupation of the tropical land.

The second list contains 97 names of the “members of the Japanese Association in Medan.” It provides such data as birth date, age, former military affiliation, family address in Japan, current address, marriage and children, current occupation. These men were living in Medan with their families (presumably Indonesian-born) as “mechanics,” “automobile . . .

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