My Father’s Thoughts and Activities during the Occupation by Dai Nippon.

A few days ago I received a document from my eldest sister, who currently is 91 years old and living in the Netherlands. This document with her permission I publish below here. However it might be useful to have some references about the subject matter to try to give you a few introductory impressions.

On 8 December 1941 the Netherlands declared war to Japan, upon which General Terauchi began to attack to Borneo; on 17 december the Japanese troops landed at  Miri, an oil production center northern  Sarawak.

Japanese attack on Nederlandsch Indie (1941 – 1942). Wikipedia


My Father’s Thoughts and Activities during the Occupation by Dai Nippon.

Emilia A. Pangalila-Ratulangi PhD. Md., Amsterdam University

(August 2013)


 1937  There was fear because of what happened in Nanking,  the barbarous acts committed  by the Japanese army, were  talked about by  the whole family. Still in the following years I realized   my  father received typical, funny, Japanese stationery that whirled down on my writing desk amid my schoolwork.

May 1941, coming home from school I learned  my  Dad was taken in custody by the police together with  his close  comrades  Mohamed Husni Thamrin and Raden  Mas  Soetardjo Karto Hadi Koesoemo,  because of their  alleged contacts with the Nipponese  embassy.  The following days  the Indonesian  students  at school  did not dare to be close to  me. The children of Soetardjo and  Deetje  Thamrin  must have  experienced the same. Thamrin, Soetardjo and my father were kept at the same police station and had to sleep on the floor for three days before they were set free.  There was no proof of any  espionage .  My   Dutch classmates, did not shy away   from me.  They  said , “As long as there is no proof we do not believe  your father is a spy!”  Thamrin   contracted  tropical malaria during the nights at the police station  and afterwards  he died by  this disease. Thamrin’s   death   was  a big loss for Indonesian nationalists.

Under arrest the sick MH Thamrin was denied medical assistance (Picture from Thamrin Museum)
Under the following house-arrest the sick MH Thamrin was denied medical assistance by the Dutch regime. (Picture from Thamrin Museum)

After my father was set free, one of his co-workers Albert Waworoentoe told us that he knew who had made  my father  suspected of spying. He mentioned   the  name of another  Minahassian who worked with my father for  an   organization. My father forbade   us too mention this name to anybody because ,“this man has children and they  will have to carry  the burden  later  on”.   Those words must have impressed    all  of  us.   73 yrs  afterwards  I  heard   a cousin   using,   in a similar situation,  exactly  the  same words.

Japanese army landing on Java in 1942 (picture from Wikipedia).

When   the Japanese were going to disembark on Java,  Soetardjo and my father arranged bungalows  for their own families at Tjimelati, a hamlet on the slopes of the  Salak mountain. My father  and  Soetardjo stayed at Batavia. Meanwhile   Governor General  Starkenborch Stachouwer  was struggling to accomplish his duty. Guarding the interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, trying to reconcile the directions of the Government   at  London, with the possibilities in the Netherland Indies. He had moved the seat of the government to Bandung. The Allied Forces of Montgomery   had their seat  at  Grand Hotel Lembang  near Bandung.  After the battle of the Java Sea was lost by Admiral  Karel Doorman, the coast of Java was open for Nippon.  Van Starkenborch decided to assign the total command of the KNIL army to General  ter Poorten. When at last he faced the Nipponese army at Kalijati  he felt  not entitled to capitulate the Sovereign Government of the Netherland Indies.  The Royal army of the Netherland Indies ( KNIL) capitulated  in  person  by  General  ter  Poorten.

Gen. Ter Poorten surrenders to the Japanese Army in Kalidjati (1942) from Wikipedia
Gen. Ter Poorten surrenders to the Japanese Army in Kalidjati (1942) , picture from Wikipedia

Nippon had still a young emperor Tenno Heika who was involved in the expansion of the Nipponese  the future prosperity  and    order sphere for  East Asia. Nippon  chose  between attacking  Siberia (Russia) or  south Asia.  The Netherland Indies and Malaka were important  for Nippon because of the commodities, oil, bitumen, aluminium and rubber.  They chose expansion to the   South.

Spying in the Netherland Indies must have started for years   before. In fact Nippon immigrants worked already in the Netherland Indies, when I was in the first classes of the Elementary school .  In Purwakarta  was a Japanese photographer,  whose children went to school  with us. Later on   one of the sons of the photographer  was medical student at Batavia, some years senior to me!   In Manado there was a Nippon dentist that filled   one of my molars with gold. Afterwards they all proofed to have been spies.

Their expansion to South East Asia,  they needed   the commodities of  South East Asia, could  get endangered  by  US  interference. However the war in Europa and the involvement of the US was giving them their   chance.   Admiral  Yamamoto  planned the  attack  on Pearl Harbor,  even before declaring war to  the US.  Pearl Harbor was the harbor where nearly the whole US naval power centered.

After the Japanese landed on Java ,  the Indonesian politically actives  groped to find their way.  Very soon it was clear Nippon did not want to have  any Dutchman in a  governmental  organization. Very respectfully the  Japanese  removed all the pictures of the Netherlands Queen at   the offices  and put the pictures  of their Tenno in her place. General   Imamura directly took measures to take over the government. Already shortly after disembarking on March 1,   he issued his orders  relating to the Government of the East Indies.

March   8th  the head  of the department of the military government,  colonel Josjito Nakayama asked 3  prominent nationalists  to meet him,  Abikoesno Tjokrosoejoso president of the Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia,  Dr. G.S.S.J. Ratulangi editor of the periodical Nationale Commentaren and former member of the Volksraad,  representative of the Minahassa and Ir. Soerachman member of the Parindra and also  relation of Imamura’s adviser Mr. Soejono. Nakajama’s question was , whether there were suggestions concerning  governmental changes. Abikoesno thought  Japan wanted the nationalists  to think  about  some  governmental  organization. The best way was to form a provisional cabinet.

The next day Abikoesno called a meeting of the board members of the PSII, the Gerindo, the Pasoendan, the Persatuan Minahassa, the Partai Arab Indonesia, de student organization Perhimpunan Pelajar Pelajar Indonesia  en de Parpindo founder  Mr. Moh. Yamin , member of the Volksraad. They proposed  the following  cabinet:   Foreign affairs Mr. Soejono,  Interior affairs Mr. Mon. Yamin,  Economic affairs drs Moh Hatta,  Defense Mayor Santoso of the ex KNIL,  Finance  Dr. Ratulangi, Education Ki Hadjar Dewantoro,  Islamic affairs Kiai Haji Mansoer Religious teacher  of the Moehammad yah schools.    Transportation  Abikoesno Tjokrosyoso,  Pers and Propaganda  Ir Soekarno (who was on his way from Padang  to  Java). The   Indonesian press was not happy with the proposed arrangement. Some thought  Abikoesno  placed himself above  Ir. Soekarno.  Why not wait till   Soekarno  was at Jakarta?

March 14 the information service of the Japanese army  announced   Imamura’s headquarter not considered  nominating Indonesians to high governmental functions.  The ordinance said,   for the time being all the activities, consultations, petitions and announcements a.s.o.,  concerning the legislation or construction of  a  state were forbidden. Social activities and those concerning sport,  arts and sciences or philanthropic ones were allowed. The  army sent to Java was a fresh  from Japan. People said the army that so terribly misbehaved in Nanking was coming down thru Korea  and  China and probably accustomed to a different warfare.

We were  informed  in the mosques was spread a pamphlet:   “Kill the Indo Europeans, the Menadonese  and  the Ambonese”.  My father contacted   Abikoesno Tjokroaminoto  and  the pamphlet disappeared. Not long afterwards the lawn in front of our house was filled up with Minahassian women and children. They were sent away from  their  homes , the barracks of the KNIL (Royal Netherlands Indies Army)   The Nippon Army needed those barracks. The   women  first went to the Minahassian  representative to the Volkraad,  Nico Mogot,  who lived around the corner.   He   could  not  help  them.   My father went to the deputy lord mayor of Jakarta Dahlan Abdulah,  an Acehnese ex member of the Volksraad and  a  close friend of  my  father.  Because the schools were closed ,  Dahlan  gave the Minahassian  women  permission to use those buildings tentatively.  The municipality of Jakarta also furnished the women with rice and oil. My father advised  Mr. Johannes Latuharary , the representative of Ambon in the Volksraad to help the Ambonese  women.  All the Minahassian students were mobilized to assist the women as much as they could. Not long afterwards my father was alarmed to go at once to the old STOVIA (Stichting ter opleiding van indiesche artsen) building.

On arriving there he was confronted by a young Nippon officer.  He asked the officer in English some respite for those women so they could pack.  The officer did not understand English.  He seemed only vexed by the old man preventing   him  to  fulfill his commission.  He kicked my father,   who   fell   to the ground. The adolescent   sons of the women cried : “Get  your fathers  guns (tucked who away at the bottom of the trunks) and shoot them!!!”   My   father   hearing   those shouts, roared  , “Do not mix  in with my affairs!  I forbid you to get   the   guns!” He grappled to his feet and promised the women he would soon  find another solution.

Afterwards we were visited  by  Japanese army officers.  Among them was the young officer who kicked my father at the  STOVIA building.  The officers offered their apologies and asked my father what  sort  of punishment the young officer would  have  to get.   In  case my father wanted to have him executed  or  beheaded  it  would happen.  My father must have been terrified by the thought of it.  After some contemplation and  looking at the  young  officer,   a kind of fatherly  feeling  for the young warrior  must have invaded him.  He said to the young officer:  “ I  want you to remember what you did and imagine  your father experiences  it ,  when  he is assisting   evacuated  women”.  After  hearing  the  Nippon  translation,  the young officer fell to his knees and bade for forgiveness.

During the occupation of the Japanese my father and Mr. Alex Maramis founded an organization called PeKaSe,  Penolong  Kaum  Selebes, to help the women of the  ex  KNIL soldiers.  All over Java this example was followed by leading Minahassians. At Jakarta the Pekase   could use two estates ,  during  the 17th  century   granted  to  VOC merchants, Tandjung  Oost and Tandjung West.  Those 2   encampments   were led   by   Albert Ratulangi.  He  organized  industrial activities  like rope twisting  or cigarette rolling to provide  for  living conditions. Those encampments had also their own schools  and  medical  service.  The overall management of the PeKA Se was  by  my  father’s  second wife Marie, C.J. Ratulangi –Tambajong. Mr. Alex Maramis  told  the ex KNIL soldiers,  their Oath to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands evaporated  because  the Queen of the Netherlands  fled  het country  from   the German army  and  stayed in London.   Some   of  the  ex militaries in  stayed with their women in those encampments,  after they fled from the army.

The Japanese occupation of the Indies consisted of two different entities, The Rikugun or the army and the Kaigun, or the navy.  In Tokio those two entities met   in  a Contact Counsel. To   coordinate   their activities.  They aimed at a collective prosperity sphere  in  East  Asia .  In January 1942 the Kaigun already disembarked at the Minahassa, Tarakan (oil), Balikpapan (oil), Kendari (South Celebes), Pontianak (West Borneo)  and Ambon.

In Februari 1942   they disembarked at  Makassar (South Celebes), Bandjermasin  South Borneo,  Bali, West Timor and East Timor. They bombarded Darwin (North Australia.  In Februari   1942 at Singapora General Parcival  capitulated after being  slain by the Rikugun.  Palembang ( South East Sumatra) was captured by air assault. At   the end  of   February 1942 during   the Battle on the Java sea ,   the Combined Forces  American ,British and Netherlands  were beaten. Shortly before the capitulation of the Netherlands army   at  Kalijati,  the Governor General   Starkenborch did sent his lieutenant governor general  van Mook  to Australia to represent the Government of the Netherland  Indie  safterwards.  Van Starkenborch Stachouwer  was convinced   once the US was involved the aggressors would lose. It seems that the Kaigun, before the capitulation   of the KNIL,  did not want to make prisoners  of  war, the defeated were all killed according to the informants.

Shortly after the capitulation of the KNIL we were visited by Dr. Andu  and  Zus  Kandouw  both respected citizens of the city Manado.  They had been interned in Tjilatjap (South West of Java) by the Netherland Indies Government in relation with  Pro Nippon attitudes.  They  warned  my father because they told him, “When you are not pro Nippon,  you are against Nippon”.  It sounded as a warning….. Conforming   General  Imamura’s  ordinance the propaganda department of the Nippon army started  the AAA  or Tiga A or Dai Tooa ( Great East Asia) movement.  Social work, sport , scientific and art activities were promoted.   Hitoshy Shimizu was in Jakarta to realize this command.

One ex member of the Volksraad  Raden Mr. Sjamsoedin , loco lord mayor of Buitenzorg,  became inspired by these possibilities.  Later on Soekardjo Wirjapranoto,  ex member of the Volksraad,  erected a youth movement  the  Soerya  Wirawan.  Shimizu was a realist;  when   people came to him to offer their activity,  I  heard  him  asking whether  they had an idea.  When they had not  he advised  them to join the fight against illiteracy. I   too  was captured by the possibility to organize the Indonesian young women  to   greater independence afterwards from their future husbands.  Soekenda,  a member of the former forbidden youth movement Indonessia  Muda  and  Maria Amin , a Minangkabouw girl and I were preparing this activity.

To prevent criticism afterwards,   we first consulted several people  such  as Adam Malik leader of the former  Indonesia  Muda,  a youth  leader of the PSII,  Moh. Hatta  and  of course Ir. Soekarno to get their consent.  Ir. Soekarno told me,  the first time  he  met the word ‘Indonesia”  was  on a board at the front of my father’s house at  Merdika Liu in Bandung.  On the Board stood   “Insurance  Office Indonesia”,  1922..  Enthusiasted the student   Soekarno   adopted  the  word Indonesia . Moh Hatta later on became a lecturer in our young women’s  organization.

In October 1942 the Tiga A movement was dissolved   because it did not really take roots. General  Imamura  was disappointed.. In the first week of June 1942 my father and some friends who were  daily  following all the activities of the Kaigun  in the Pacific  Ocean  became alerted. The Japanese   fleet was slain by the US in  Midway.  It could mean  some  change in the Nippon   policy toward Indonesia,  hey understood.   But   it did not happen at once.  Possibly   the  Kaigun did not immediately   admit  their  loss  to the Contact counsel in Tokio .

At home we were  on  the  alert.  Then Bart Ratulangi , Freddy Maengkom and other Minahassian young men were arrested by the KenPeTai , the military police. Afterwards Freddy  told   me  they were looking for suspicious activities of my father.  The  young men  were tortured ,  at last Fredy  could not stand the torture and  confessed   the presence of my  father at a certain meeting.  Freddy   knew  however,  my father could,  not possibly, have been  there. Bart Ratulangi   told   us later on,  he was tortured and at last hung in the air, his feet fastened with a rope to a beam. . But at  the  end  he  was offered excuses and  admiration.  Afterwards  he  ate together nasi goreng  with  his  torturers.

For their Collective Sphere of  Prosperity   in Éast  Asia  General Tojo  had in mind an orchestra  in which Nippon was the conductor.  But all the members of the orchestra had to be activated.  Nippon   hoped  to activate China  by  giving it its own government under Wang Ching Wei,  originally a combatant of Chiang Kai Check.  But the Chinese under Wang had to give a great part of their rice crops to the Nippon army and most of their businesses were already captured by Japanese family businesses. In the north of China the communists were already active. The Japanese   wanted, by their change of policy towards China , to cut down  their own army  there.  They   were now  at  war with the US. Many of the ex KNIL Menadonese, Ambonese, Timorese  but also Javanese and Soendanese  conscripted  in  the Heiho,  an auxiliary army for Nippon.  They did it   to earn a living.

Although Soekarno   did not really believe Dai Nippon would defeat the US,  he understood the  Indonesians  expected  his leadership towards freedom.  The   Japanese wanted   a  person with enough charisma  to  wake   up  the  people for their Dai Tooa.  Soekarno  was a Javanese and  Muslim, he would most possibly  be capable to  arise  the   people.  Moreover he had  been exiled  by the Netherlands Government   because  of his appeal  to  the masses.

About   July  1942 he  agreed  with Moh. Hatta.  Although the one was  not really a friend of the other, they decided to work together.  Their aim was to work together with   Dai Nippon , so the Japanese would allow more Indonesians  in high functions and to erect an Indonesian army. After   Soekarno  did agree to collaborate with Dai Nippon to realize Dai Tooa, he made a trip through  Java and was with  received  with  enthusiasm  by the masses.

Moh. Hatta   and  Soekarno  were  cooperating,  like  most  Indonesians  for the  “Sphere of  Greater  Prosperity  in  East  Asia”. A Tata  Negara  ( governmental) commission was formed  with Prof. Soepomo,  Ki  Hajar Dewantoro,  Hadji  Mansoer  of the Mohamadijah  and  Situ  Gunung  Mulia ( Batak Christian). Another   commission,   the  Komissie Bahasa  Indonesia  for the Indonesian  language,  was to define the Indonesian Malay. Soekardjo Wirjopranoto  proposed the idea  of   a  pure Indonesian native movement .   Among  several  native needs  the  aim was , of  course ,  to defend  the Great  East Asian Co-prosperity sphere.  The leadership of this   movement   were  called  the Empat Serangkai  (The Four  United  like  a  shamrock) consisting of  Ir. Soekarnno, drs. Moh.Hatta.  Ki Hadjar Dewantoro of the Taman Siswa Schools and Kyai Hadji Mansur  an Islamic teacher. Concerning the name and   the purpose of the  new  people’s organization  the four  leaders had to reach  the  consent  of   the Army’s planning board,   Nakajama ( born in Indonesia) and  the Navy’s Miyosji ( Co worker  of  Rear of admiral Maeda). Many   proposals   were  not  allowed,  but the name of the capital  Batavia changed   officially  to  Jakarta.

The red and white flag ,  the anthem  Indonesia Raya  and  the word   Indonesia,  were all forbidden.   Agreed upon was   the name “POETERA” ( SON)  an abbreviation  of  “ Poesat  Tenaga Rakyat  unruk  membantoe tenaga perang”  (Cente of people’s power to assist in the war  efforts). Soekarno   told  the press on December 8th 1942,  the new people’s  organization would start at  the 1st  of  1943.  But both the   Rikogun and the Kaigun  had still  their doubts  about  this  Indonesian  proposal.  It lasted  untill the 1st  March   Soekarno  could announce that on 9 March 1943 , the memorial day of the  capitulation  of the KNIL,  that the POETERA  would be  inaugurated at the Ikada (Koningsplein) square.  On that day   the  square was over  flown  by  people  and in his speech Soekarno used very often the word Indonesia……..

During the  ensuing  months it was striking that even the old academic Minahassians , who barely spoke Malay and identified themselves  with the Dutch, at the end of meetings  solidary   shouted  “Amerika  kita  strika,  Inggeris   kita  linggis”, America we strike, Brittain we split open. . Complete with their   fists threateningly in the air!

In November 1942   the Australian’s   had joined the Americans in a savage struggle at   Guadal Canal  and lost 3.095 men while 5.451 were wounded.  At last the Japanese were defeated   at   Guadal Canal and Papua. After  these developments the Strategy of Nippon was changed,  in Tokio  there was decided to stop  the Japanese thrust eastward in the Pacific. The westward movement of the Allied Forces   had to be halted. On 1 March 1943 a convoy  of  Japan  with 6.900 soldiers slipped  out of Rabaul’s  harbor  to  Huon Peninsula,  the north east tip of New Guinea.  During the following days it was repeatedly assaulted by the Allied airplanes,   at last,  only  950 men  reached  the  Huon  Peninsula.

That  time  my  father  succeeded to get permission to send  many  Minahassians students home to their families in the Minahassa by boat.  He was contemplating the possibility to spread the thought of future independency   of the whole archipelago after the war.

He was negotiating with the Kaigun , the possibility to be sent to Makassar to awake the people there to join an organization like the  POETRA but named  the  SUDARA (Brother) actually acronym of Sumber Darah Rakyat .   Mr. Tadjoeddin Noor, an   ex  member of the Volksraad  from Borneo would  go Borneo.  My father would try to reach  the people of Celebes  and if possibly the other  eastern  islands.  We were often visited  by  count  Hideko   Kodama  and  Nishijima.  My father had often meetings   with  Sato  the  head  of the Kai Gun  Bukanfu, the library  of the  Marine.  My   second mother Marie Tambayong   was often very afraid he would say the wrong things , because Sato liked to drink sake with  my  father,  they were like buddies.

At   about this time my father called me in his office and did show me the “Protocols of the sons of Zion”,(Editor: probably is meant “Protocols of the elders of Zion“) written by a Russian clergyman before the Russian revolution.  He told me to read them, but  never to tell  anybody  I  read  them, because it would harm my future.  My father was somehow compelled to write about the   Protocols  in the news paper  Asia Raya.  We understood   we  had  to be on the alert.  He was warning me too.

During their occupation   the Japanese   paid very   much attention to  three parts of the population, the nationalist, the  Islamists and the  indigenous rulers.  We were   Christians. The   Empat  Serangkai  fulfilled their promise to help  popularize the  idea of the Greater East  Asian  Co-prosperity  Sphere.  Soekarno   promoted  the  popular  participation to work  as ‘romusha’ (laborer)   for the Japanese army. Later on the Empat  Serangkai  complained  because  the Nanking  government  got “independence” in Januariy  1943, Birma would  get  it in August and the Philipines  in October.  When would   we follow?

In May   1943 the   Contact Counsel in Tokio decided   Singapora  and the East Indies would be incorporated  in the  Japanese Empire.  On the isle of Java ,  the indigenous population  would  be given some self government.

April  14, 1943 the US secret service intercepted  a message.  The   admiral Isoroko Yamamoto  Commander in Chief  of the Nippon Navy would be in  a  plane  above Bougainville on April 18. On April 18,  1943 an allied plane spotted   Yamamoto’s plane and  shot of a wing of  the  plane.  Consequently   it plunged  in the sea. This was a loss to the Kai Gun who  could not conceal it and   at  last  it  had   to avow its many losses in the  South  Pacific. Not long   afterwards  my father, Tadjoeddin Noor  and  their  families got  permission  leave  for  Celebes and Borneo. I stayed at   Jakarta ,  because the Ikadai Gakko (medical  high school)  started   and I wanted to continue my study.

In  April  1943  the  POETERA  members   complained.  Soekarno   found  out  the Japanese sent  the romusha  to work  in   other countries,  in Birma  and  Thailand.  Furthermore railway  material from  Java was sent to  Birma.  Moh.  Hatta  complained  there was  no unity  in  the  Nippon  government  since  Java  was under the 16th Army , Sumatra under the 25th and Borneo, Celebes  and the other islands under the Navy.  T he  nationalists  wanted  more participation  in the  government  not  only  in  Java,   but  in  the whole  of  Indonesia.  They   wanted their  anthem  the  Indonesia  Raya  and have their  own  red and white flag They wanted to send their complaint m  to the  prime  minister  Tojo.  But it was clear that  general  Harada, the successor of General  Imamura ,  would  not  pass  this  critical letter  to  the prime minister.  Rear Admiral   Maeda was consulted by   Empat  Serangkai ,  he  knew a better way.  The  message  could  travel   via  a naval   officer who was connected  to the military  government  of  the Kaigun  and   be passed  to  Prime  Minister  Tojo.  On Juli  5th  general  Harada  announced the installation  of  several   indigenous advisory  councils for cities and municipalities.

Juli 7th  the  Empat Serangkai, the  advisory council for  the Tata Negara , the Masyumi  (big Islamic organization) ,  the four autonomous rulers and  the  indigenous  government  officials  had all to be present  at  Prime Minister Tojo’s arrival . Soekarno  expressed  his  appraisal  of the visit  by the  Nippon  Prime Minister  as an older  brother During  the  centuries  of  Netherlands   domination  such  had  never  happened. He   promised more assistance   for   the   Japanese   war  effort. Prime  minister  Tojo,  however pleased  he  might have been ,  could  not promise  more   than  the   Tokio  Contact Counsel  allowed  him. No more participation in Government  of  Java.

The 7th June   1944 General  Harada announced  the POETERA   would  be  phased out.  A  new  organization the  JAVA  HOKOKAI  or  Himpunen  Kebaktian  Rakyat ( loyal popular organization ) would take its place. It had about the same targets as the POETERA,  but   every body  could   join , from  the age of  14 yrs onwards, after being approved by the  local indigenous  government,  Chinese,  Arab  and  Indoeuropeans  could  join. The whole  population  of  Java  had to be organized  in  small  tonairi gumis  (communities)  led  by a gumicho,  assisted  by 8 hanchos  for the distribution of tasks  to  clean  the  quarter,  concerning   the agriculture,  hygiene  etc.  By  the tonari gumi  the  Japanese army had  total control  over the population  of  Java.

On  7 September 1944  Soekarno  was called to the Palace of  General Harada  and  was informed that Prime Minister Koisho,  Tojo’ the successor  announced that  Indonesia  would  be  independent  at the end of 1945. The red  and  white  flag was allowed.  Soekarno was surprised ! The Barisan Pelopor  was  formed.  Every   man of 25 yrs   could be a member.  Each  town had  some  unities  of  20 members,  each district  had several  battalions,   Ir. Soekarno  would  be the commander. The   Barisan Pelopor was not really  armed,  they did  only  carry  bamboo  runtjing (shatpened  bamboo sticks). One week of festivity   followed. Also   the Pembela  Tanah Air (PETA) , voluntary  army for the defence of the home land  under  Japanese leadership  was  founded. In March 1945 a Civil Governmental   Academy  was  founded,  one for  50 accomplished higher  civil servants and another  for 150 persons who had already  an academic or followed some further education..

February   1945 the PETA revolted.  January   General  Harada had  proposed  a commission to  investigate  the possibility  of independence. This   was  followed  by much criticism from  other  Japanese occupational  forces On May 5, Shimizu   planned   a big meeting  of the  students  of the middle schools of Java  at the  Villa  Isola,  Bandung.  The medical  students ,  asked  my  opinion,  because we were not invited.  I suggested  we all could  go to the  Villa Isola   and  propose to the middle school students   to claim the  participation of the  medical students.  So we did and  after we were also  invited  too,  my colleagues  asked me  what would  be our  next  position.  I proposed   the   claiming   of  Independence  at once., Kemerdekaan   segera.  In   the end  we succeeded  again.   After  this  meeting ,  all over Java  the  students  of  thee middle  schools  organized  demonstrations  claiming:  ‘Kemerdekaan Sekarang  juga!’

On  the 29th  of May 1945  was the first meeting of  the  Badan  Penyelidik  Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan  Indonesia (BPUPKI) in the old Volksraad  building.  The   body  investigating  the  possibility  of  independence.  The chairman was Dr. K.Radjiman .T.Wedyodiningrat (born 21-04-1879). During the next   3  days  there were deliberations  after  introductory  talks  of  Moh. Yamin,  a  Minangkabouw ex Volksraad representative  and  Prof. Soepomo  from the  Juridical  Faculty.

On the 1st  of  June Ir. Soekarno  brought  his compilation  of  the  deliberations  during  those 3 days. He noted  5 principles :

First . Nationalism  based  on the collective wish to  be together. ,
Second .  Humanism, the  philosophy  asserting  the dignity  and  worth of  mankind.
Third.  Democracy  based on  consent of a  plurality.
Fourth.  Kesejahteraan social.  Common   wellbeing of  the people
Fifth.  Ketuhanan,  the belief in God.

The  PANCA  SILA   was  born !!!  The pillars supporting  the  Indonesian  State.  We all had the   feeling  God  was with us. The   next   meetings of the BPUPKI  took  place in June and  and  July  1945. There were formed   several  sub  commissions.  The most important   little   commission   was  on  planning  of the Constitution.   Consisting   of Prof.  Soepomo,  Mr. Toemenggoeng  Wongsonegoro, Mr. Soebardjo,  Mr. Pandji Singgih, Mr. Max Maramis, Haji Agoes Salim dan Dr. Soekiman Wiryosandjoyo.  When this little council   met  on 13-07-1945,  the medical students were alerted.

They tried  to  be in the council room in the Volksraad.  We,  the female  students   were asked to prepare the food for the council members  at the hotel  Savoy.  When we were ready   we went to the Volksraad  building  to  find  the male students  sitting and  lying on the lawn surrounding the building.  Before the entrance  were positioned  Japanese  soldiers  fully armed.  Before  realizing  the danger,  I  put down my bike  and went up to the entrance  gesturing  to the  soldiers  to  put down  their  weapons  and the students to follow  me, what they did.  On entering the  public side of  the  council room  it  was clear  the  council  members  got  aware  of our  presence.

We   knew  of a compromise  Ir. Soekarno  tried  to reach,   called  the Piagam Jakarta  or the Jakarta Charter.  The   compromise was  between  the Muslims  and the  Nationalists .  It concerned   article  29 of the proposed constitution concerning the  Religion. The  Believe in  God, “ while  the adherents to the Islam  had to  live according to the Shari’a”. Haji Abdoel  Wachid  Hasyim , President of the Madjelis Islam A’laa Indonesia,  was  a Cairo educated  Member of the Muslim Brotherhood .  He  had  claimed Indonesia  to be  an  Islam  state,  based  on the fact that 95% of the Indonesian population  was  Islam.   One   can understand   Ir. Soekarno  cherished  the  ultimately   reached  compromise . The compromise was   called  the Piagam Jakarta or the Jakarta Charter  dated 22 Juli  1945. 15  August  the Emperor  Hiro Hito capitulated  after  Hiroshima and Nagasaki  were hit by atom bombs.

Shigemitzu, Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister signs surrender, 2 Sept. 1945 (from Wikipedia)
Shigemitzu, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister signs surrender, 2 Sept. 1945 (from Wikipedia)

I  was approached  by  the president of the Christian student  organization,  Oscar  E. Engelen.  The  Christian  students   were not happy with the   compromise  because  the  commitment to  be   living according to the shari’a  by  Muslims  would  split  the Indonesian  people.  I   knew   most of the medical students  were  also  against  the   Piagam.. So as last resort we planned  to put the  problem  to  my father.  He  came to Jakarta  ( Editor: from Makassar where he was staying at that time) together  with other  representatives from the  islands  outside  of  Java  on  August  15.  When my  father  was  settled  in  hotel des Indes   we told   him  it was difficult  for us  to join  the coming  independence  struggle  when the  Piagam  Jakarta  was  included  in the  Constitution.

My   father promised   to  think  about  it.

The  next day  he told  me , he took  our problem  to   Mr. Haji  Teuku  Moehamad Hasan from  Aceh.  He   was a well known   scholar  of  Islamic law.  Teuku    Moeh. Hasan  told  my father  he  could  live in a country  as  long  as  the laws of  that  country  were not  against  the  Islam.  My father  asked  him  to let  this  opinion  be  known  to  constitution  commission,  mainly  to  Soekarno  and  Hatta.  My  father  could not  do it,  being a Christian.


At  that  time  the  medical  student  hostel  proofed  to  be  closed  for the female students.  The   male students  were all  included  in a  kidnapping  of  Soekarno- Hatta. This action  seemed  to  be  led  by  the  older  , pre war student  leaders  of the PPPI,  Soekarni,  Chairul  Saleh,  Wikana and others.  They  kidnapped   Soekarno-Hatta   who  did  not  want to  declare the  independence  immediately.  Both were brought to  a little  town near Jakarta,  Rengasdengklok.  Soekarno-Hatta still   refused   to declare the independence while  the  Japanese army were  still in power.

Mr. Soebardjo   noted   both the  leaders  were  no  longer in Jakarta. He consulted   Maeda.   The  Kenpeitai  was  instructed  to  seek  it out.  At last  Nishijima found   out  where they  were. Soebardjo  decided  to  go  to Rengasdengklok  together  with  a  worker of Maeda,  to  convey the  message the  Rear  Admiral  Maeda wanted to  cooperate.  His house was at the disposal   for  the meetings.  He guaranteed  their  safe  return to Jakarta. Before going to  Rengas dengklok  Soebardjo  sent  message to the  members  of the  BUPKI  and  the representatives  of  the outer islands ,  to  be  present  at  Maeda’s  house  at 10 o’clock.

Soekarno-Hatta  arrived   there  in the night  of the 16th August.  There upon  Maeda  had  a  long telephone  call   with  general  Nishimura  in  which  he threatened there would  be  big  upheavals  tomorrow  when  there  did  not happen  anything.  Soekarno  still tried  to get any  cooperation  from  the  Japanese  army,  but the general  did stick to the  orders from Tokio,  not to  change  the  status  quo after  Nippon’s  capitulation. He promised   however  the army  would  not interfere  when the  Indonesians   declared their independence.

At   the house of   Maeda   ,Soekarno   complained that he had no  guards  at all,  his  army had only the bamboo  runcing.  My father   promised   him a  well  trained  guard.  The ex KNIL   soldiers  had  during the occupation,  found  a  job as chucker-outs  of the Chinese  gambling houses at Passar Senen.  These  men   promised  my  father  they  would  do  anything  he  asked   them. After the Proclamation   on the 17th of August 1945 President  Soekarno  and   vice president  Moh. Hatta  had  their guards, sturdy  Minahassian ex soldiers.

Vice president  Hatta  said  in his speech  at  the  Declaration  of  Independence,   the president  will be  an authentic  Indonesian.  The  vice president  Hatta  added:  “The  obligation of  Indonesians to live in accordance with the shari’a “, can be scratched  out of the preliminary  constitution.  “Those  people  of the  outer islands,  who  are  Christians, also can stand up  for our  constitution.”

After  the  Netherlands  Indies  Civil  Administration  tried  to  take  root again ,  among the first  things  they  did was ,  imprisoning  Rear  Admiral  Maeda  and  Nishijima  in the Struiswijk  jail at  Jakarta because they  did not  keep  the Status  Quo  after the capitulation  of  Japan.  After  the war  Nishijima became  Professor  at  the  Waseda  University  at  Tokio. I  visited  with Prof.  Nishijima  Rear Admiral  Maeda’s  grave.  He   was  buried   at the  site  of  the Tokio  Cemetery  where  Prime Minister  Tojo,   Admiral  Yamamoto  and others  found  their  last  resting  place,  the site  is called ” Yasukuni Shrine”, dedicated  to the  Nipponese  War criminals.


  1. Het Koninlrijk der Nederlanden. 11a&b.  Dr. L. de Jong, 1984.
  2. Island  Fighting . Time Life Books . Rafael Steinberg, 1998.
  3. Risalah Sidang  Badan Penyelidik Usaha Usaha  Persiapan  Kemerdekaan Indonesia. BPUPKI,  Panitia persiapan  Kemerdekaan  Indonesia.  PPKI, 29  Mei  1945- 19 Augutus  1945. Sekretariat Negara Republik Indonesia. 1992.
  4. Meeting  with Prof. Nishijima  of the Wasada university  at Tokio, 1987.
  5. Remembrances  of  Emilia A. Pangalila-Ratulangi PhD. Md. Amsterdam University

More from this author:

Two letters from Emilia A. Pangalila-Ratulangi

The First Letter

The Second Letter


Published by laniratulangi

I am a retired chemical consultant, now enjoying my "golden years", dedicating myself to all sorts of hobbies: reading, blogging, digging

9 thoughts on “My Father’s Thoughts and Activities during the Occupation by Dai Nippon.

  1. There must be a mistake: Mohammad Husni Thamrin died on Januari 11 1941. He cannot have been in the group that was arrested in May 1942. He was already ill (malaria) before he got house arrest ( he was not in prison ). There is no proof that he was denied medical care.
    As the Dutch capitulated on March 9 1942, so “May 1942” the Japanse were already in power.

    1. Dear Johan, Thank you very much for your comment, there was indeed a typo and I’ll correct it in a minute. About the painting at the museum where you can see Thamrin sick in bed while his (lovely) wife was pleading to the “colonial SS Polizei” guards (who were seeking in vain for Japanese documents as proof of Thamrins “espionage activities”) to allow a medical doctor to treat her husband, which request was denied by those. Written below that painting I got this information. Thamrin’s daughter (we call her “Deetje”) might be still alive and would be about 84 years old. When I meet her I will eventually recheck this info.
      Terima kasih and TABEA.

      1. An email from my sister Emilia Pangalila-Ratulangie regarding the comment by Johan Smits:
        Rectivicatie :

        Johan is right. May 1941 Thamrin, Soetardjo and my dad were arrested. They were not imprisonned but kept at the Police staion where they slept on the floor, together. Some weeks afterwards Thamrin died os tropical malaria. This kind of malaria can kill somebody within a short time.
        I finished middle school at june 1941 and in september I entered the medical study. So in may 1942 I was already a student.


  2. Dear Lani
    About the fate of Mr. Thamrin:
    As I was not there, I must give at least 50% of my credits to his family.
    But as we know, relatives and friends of deceased are apt to connect A and B, while second research most times proves that they are wrong; – Or results are unclear: A painting ( produced later ) is no proof.
    Did the police then withold him necessary medicine ? Was the coming of a dokter really necessary , or would arrival of a doctor have saved his life ?
    Even if they had done , like my father in law said to Soekarno: “They should have placed him in a cooled room !” would this certainly have saved his life ? We donot know.
    The situation was serious and complicated: There was a serious threat of war : Not a dispute about a soccer match. And then some men of your own people seem to have friendly relations with the ennemy ! Wouldnot this ask for a serious investigation ? And perhaps, for the moment being, put the fate of the whole be more important than an ill person ?
    Persons from the medical profession should be carefull in their judgement of murder.
    I also strongly protest against your expression “colonial SS Polizei” : You donot know, what you are talking about !

    Perhaps this title was more suitable for the Indonesian policemen, armed with guns, with bayonets attached, who came to arrest Lex Wawo Roentoe and deliver him to the Kempetai; And who treatened with those bayonets the little children, 7 and 9 years old, who wanted to stand near their father.
    The real SS mostly prefered dead bodies above prisonners.

    You know, I am the son-in-law of a proud Indonesian nationalist, who gave his life for his country; Who worked together with and cared for Soekarno, while they both were banned by the colonial authorities to Bengkulu, and housed Soekarno under his roof in Padang, after the capitulation of the Dutch.
    But he never believed that Japan could win the war; He never believed that, if Japan though would win this war, it would give Indonesia its freedom; He saw how the population suffered under the Japanese occupation; He felt every bowing, fysically or psycologically, for the Japanese as an humiliation and an insult for his people.
    His ideal was a modern democratic Indonesia.
    We honor his remembrance every day.

    Love to you all from Suze

    1. Dear Johan, Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the details you put forward, although regarding to certain points I might not agree 100 % with you. Each of us have life experiences that are different of one another and these experiences of course shape our opinions and actions of which we have full right to be free to express. Therefore I will not go into a “debate” about who is right or who is wrong.
      It is a pity that yesterday, when I attended a “Halal bil halal” event organized by the Ikatan Keluarga Pahlawan Nasional, IKPNI, (Family Bond of Descendants of Indonesian National Heroes) held at Jakarta, I failed to meet descendants of MH Thamrin, because there I was informed that regretfully Deetje Thamrin had passed away whilst due to the usual “ramai-ramai” I was not able to find Deetje’s son who might have been present. Then I would be able to come closer to the “truth” of the information at the museum.
      Thanks again and kind regards to Suze, TABEA.

  3. Omtrent the capitulatie in Kalijati schreef J.C. Bijkerk een volledig verslag, waarvan ik hier enige fragmenten citeer.
    Luitenant Generaal Imamora: Bent u Mr.A.W.L.Tjarda van Stakenborgh Stachower, Gouvernerur Generaal van Nedarlands-Indie en opperbevelhebber der Nederlands Indishe strijdkrachten?”
    Zonder aarzelen antwoordt Jhr. Van Starkenborgh:
    “Uw eerste aanduiding is juist. Maar sinds 4 Maart ben ik geen opperbevelhebber meer.”
    Na herhaaldelijke weigering om toe te geven aan de eis van Lt. Generaal Imamora om zich onvoorwaardelijk over te geven, gaf de Japanse generaal de Nederlanders 10 minuten tijd om te beraadslagan.
    Toen na de 10 minuten de GG voet bij stuk hield, maaktge Imamora korte metten en zei tot de GG:
    “Het lijkt mij beter dat ik niet meer met diplomaten en rechtsgeleerden spreek, maar mij verder bezig houd met uw militairen.”
    Jhr Van Starkenborgh voelt hiermede zijn taak ten einde. Rustig zei hij:
    “Aangezien hier zuiver militaire zaken behandeld zullen worden, zou ik graag deze stoel willen verlaten. Mocht u echter nog willen spreken over aangelegenheden betreffende de belangan deer bevolking, ben ik daartoe bereid.”
    Hierop antwoordde Imamora:
    “Het ogenblik voor een dergelijk gesprek is nog niet aangebroken. Bovendien heeft het Japanse leger opdracht gekregen om dit land te veroveren en niet om politieke problemen te behandelen.”

    De schrijver schreef hier e footenote:
    Generaal Imamora maakte hier een fout. Hij wilde aleen maar spreken over militaire zaken en een overgave van de strijdkrachten bewerkstelligen. De landvoogd heeft hem dus zo ver weten te krijgen. Imamora had moeten blijven staan op totale overgave van Nederlands Indie, dus ook van “het land”, maar hij heeft zich dit waarschijlijk niet gerealiseerd.

    Generaal Hitoshi Imamura schreef in Tokio, 19 augustuts 1967:
    “Zelfs nu, na 25 jaar, ben ik vol verwondering voor hun uitstekende manieren en wel in het bijzonder heb ik het grootste respect voor de houding en woordkeus van Gouverneur Generaal Tjarda van Stakenborgh Stachouwer…
    Indien de GG opperbevelhebber was geweest, overeenkomstig de Constitutie van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, dan zou een wapenstilstand, een overgave binnen nog geen tien dagen tijds, onmogelijk zijn geweest.”

    Gezien dit feit, is het onmogelijk dat de Japaners aan ons de “vrijheid hebben geschonken”. Daar hadden zij volgens internationale wetten geen recht toe, omdat Mr. Tjarda het land NIET aan Japan heeft overgegeven.
    It is by the Proclamation of August 17, 1945 dat wij, Indonesiers, ons land van Nederland hebben toegeeigend…of “teruggenomen”…..!

    1. Dear Alfred Thomas (I remember us as classmates in the grammar school “Prapattan” way back in 1939)
      My belated regrets that I did not reply you in time when you sent me your comment on 01/04/2015. I am referring now to your letter at the final part where you mentioned : “Gezien dit feit, is het onmogelijk dat de Japaners aan ons de “vrijheid hebben geschonken”. Daar hadden zij volgens internationale wetten geen recht toe, omdat Mr. Tjarda het land NIET aan Japan heeft overgegeven.

      It is by the Proclamation of August 17, 1945 dat wij, Indonesiers, ons land van Nederland hebben toe geeigend…of “teruggenomen”…..!

      Jaaaa dit is waarlijk de kern van je comentaar en ik begrijp WAAROM… Sommige mensen,menen dat wij de vrijheid van ons land van de Japanners hebben GEKREGEN ! Als ik in een emotionele bui zou zein zou ik zeggen : “Dat is wel het TOPPUNT van onredelijkheid, want …….zus en zo. Over dit geval zou men een hele dag kunnen seminaren of gewoon kort en bondig tegen de mensen die dat denken zeggen……”Nee hoor daar over heb je het mis en tegelijk een copy van jouw commentaar toe zenden…. Hartelijk bedankt Alfred ! Ik wens je een prettig Kerst toe en laat ons allen bidden voor de VREDE op Aarde die hoe langer hoe moeilijker schijnt te realiseeren.

      Semoga Tuhan memBerkati Anda dan keluarga.

  4. Dear Madame Lani,

    I have come across a picture of Philippine President Manuel Quezon as guest of the VIA (Vereniging van Indonesische Academici) in 1940 in your wordpress blogspot page (

    I am reconstructing the historical relations between Indonesia and the Philippines, and President Quezon I believe was the very first Filipino President to visit Indonesia. I wonder if you can tell me something more about President Quezon’s visit which I can include in my research.

    Please do contact me through my email:, as I do not know how to contact you.

    Many thanks and best regards.

    Roberto G. MANALO
    Embassy of the Philippines

    1. Dear Mr. Roberto Manalo.
      Thank you for your comment on my blog at WordPress. In trying to reply as proper as I can on this occasion I will rely only on the direct memories that I have, as I was a of around 10 years these memories are still “fresh” in my mind. My father had great respect for your country. In our family we used to have lunch together where usually casual discussions were held with my teen age half brother and sister and some nieces and nephews who were staying with us. In fact one nephew later went to Manila to study. In the “Nationale Commentaren” (in Dutch Language), a monthly publication by my father are several articles on your President, a picture also of the beautiful first lady Mme Quezon etc.etc. but I have to dig it out of my book case, which will take some time. The best way to reach me is at this address . I am living with my family in Jakarta but I have problems with my smartphone which is indeed still too smart for me. Thanks again I will inform you when I have the material ready.
      Dr. Matulanda SUGANDI-RATULANGI

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