The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945

By Harry J. Benda | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
THE CONSOLIDATION OF JAPAN'S ISLAMIC POLICY DURING 1943

After the important confrontation between some fundamental Japanese aims and Islamic responses to them discussed in the previous chapter, we can now resume our chronological analysis of Islamic developments during 1943.

The first seven months of the new year witnessed continued Japanese preoccupation with the mobilization of Indonesian Islam at the grass-roots level. But in the second half of that year, the political significane of Islam came to the fore, largely as a result of the first concessions granted to Indonesians on Java. Muslims came to occupy a far from negligible part in the new political organs created by the military administration. Of still greater importance was the leading role which Muslims assumed in the newly created Indonesian defense forces. On the socio-religious level, finally, apart from some limited Japanese actions calculated to meet Islamic demands, the initiative stemmed in the main from the M.I.A.I. executive. As we shall see, its boldly conceived expansion of Islamic organizational activities was doomed to failure when the military administration abolished its Indonesian sponsor at the close of the year.

Nippon's preoccupation with the latent strength of Islam on Java was, in effect, an educational preoccupation on the grandest imaginable scale. Compared to this problem, the previously discussed control of private education was relatively insignificant, if for no other reason than the fact that school education in an organized, Western sense of the term had made lamentably limited progress in Indonesia under Dutch rule. In concentrating on the educators of the Indonesian peasant par excellence, the village kiyayi and ulama, the Japanese shrewdly reversed their predecessors' attitude of at best polite aloofness. They

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