Avoiding Clemency: The Trial and Transfer of Japanese War Criminals in Indonesia, 1946-1949

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    Abstract

    Like other Allied powers in Asia, the Netherlands Indies government embarked on the trial of Japanese military personnel accused of war crimes during the occupation of the Indonesian archipelago. Although calls for clemency towards convicted war criminals were heard as early as 1947, the Dutch authorities resisted the suggestion that prisoners be released or repatriated. Many Dutch residents of the former colony remained bitter about Japanese crimes during the occupation. They also blamed Japanese policies for the insurgent Republic of Indonesia, which at times after its independence declaration in August 1945 controlled large parts of the archipelago. Whereas the rise of communist insurgency in other parts of Southeast Asia, and the broader context of the Cold War, rapidly diminished in those regions the importance of keeping war criminals imprisoned, the Dutch saw their war against the Republic as a continuation of the war against Japan and saw the continued detention of war criminals as essential. When military, diplomatic and political weakness forced the Dutch to recognize Indonesian independence in December 1949, one of their last acts was to arrange the transfer of the remaining imprisoned war criminals to Sugamo Prison in Japan.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)151-170
    JournalJapanese Studies
    Volume31
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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