When World War II began in earnest, Japan was engaged in a fight against the Western Allies who had long dominated much of Asia, particularly Southeast Asia. Part of the Japanese justification for occupying Indonesia was eliminating Western colonial control, and in some way “emancipating” the local people. The Japanese during their occupation thus sought to eliminate a variety of European influences in Indonesia; use of Dutch was eliminated in favor of Indonesian, Japanese or local languages, the visible presence of Europeans eliminated, even when they were not interned, Dutch place names replaced, and symbols of European domination like the Erberveld monument in Jakarta were immediately eliminated. While the Japanese administration’s anti-European and anti-colonial policy was very clear, closer examination suggest that there may have been a variety of ways in which European influences remained, and in some cases perhaps even intensified.
This panel seeks to explore a wide range of areas subjected to enduring European influences. These included some very subtle continuities with the colonial past, a range of adoptions of the established customs and institutions left behind by the Dutch colonizers, and still other influences hidden, as it were, in broad daylight. This panel also identifies the ironic attitude of Japanese authorities in encouraging the elimination of European influences on subject Indonesians on the one hand, and Japanese actively adopting and adapting the European administrative system, technology, culture and even human relations. While only taking a first step in presenting 5 limited analyses, through this panel, the Japanese occupation period can be seen to be essentially characterized more by continuities with the Dutch colonial period rather than a separate period of modern Indonesian history.