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Indigenization of the Pacific War in Timor Island: A Multi-language Study of its Contexts and Impact

This article reconstructs Timorese participation in violence during the Pacific War period (1941-45) mainly utilizing Portuguese, Japanese, and English sources. The primary aim is to explain why and how the war between the Japanese and the Allied
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at War & Society ISSN: 0729-2473 (Print) 2042-4345 (Online) Journal homepage: Indigenization of the Pacific War in Timor Island: AMulti-language Study of its Contexts and Impact Kisho Tsuchiya To cite this article:  Kisho Tsuchiya (2018): Indigenization of the Pacific War in Timor Island: AMulti-language Study of its Contexts and Impact, War & Society To link to this article: Published online: 13 Nov 2018.Submit your article to this journal View Crossmark data  Indigenization of the Pacific Warin Timor Island: A Multi-languageStudy of its Contexts and Impact K ISHO  T SUCHIYA Department of History, National University of Singapore, Singapore This article provides a multi-dimensional picture of West and EastTimorese participation in war-time violence using Japanese, Portugueseand English sources. It argues that mobilization of the  ‘ natives ’  by foreignforces in neutral Portuguese Timor brought about a reorganization of social relations on Timor Island. From a local perspective, the exploitationof the Timorese resulted in a great number of casualties, and intensifiedexisting tensions, but also created trans-colonial communities. KEYWORDS  the Pacific War; Portuguese Timor; neutrality; Indonesia;indigenisation of war; trans-colonial community; the Second World War In the historiography of East Timor, the expansion of the Pacific War to neutralPortuguese Timor is interpreted as an  ‘ interruption ’ . With the Japanese surrenderin August 1945, Portuguese colonialists reoccupied the territory and ruled EasternTimor until 1975. Thus, historians saw the post-war period as a continuation of colonialism, and the Australian and Japanese occupations of Timor as an ‘ interruption ’ . 1 Such a narrative is in sharp contrast to how the West Timorese andbroader Indonesian experiences of war has been interpreted as a  ‘ change ’  from thecolonial era to the independence period.This article approaches the war-time period within the broader context of thehistory of Timor Island, rather than within the narrower confines of East Timor 1 Geoffrey C. Gunn,  ‘ Wartime Portuguese Timor ’ , in Geoffrey C. Gunn with Jefferson Lee,  A Critical View of Western Journalism and Scholarship on Timor  (Manila: Journal of Contemporary Asia, 1994),45 – 64; Geoffrey C. Gunn,  ‘ Wartime Timor: 1942 – 1945 ’ , in Geoffrey C. Gunn,  Timor Loro Sae: 500Years  (Macau: Livros do Oriente, 1999), 223 – 39; Steven Farram,  ‘  Japanese Occupation ’ , in  A Political History of West Timor 1901  –  1967  (Saarbr € ucken: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010), 143 – 91;Carlos Viera da Rocha,  Timor Ocupac¸ ~ ao Japonesa durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial   (Lisboa:Sociedade Hist  orica da Independ ^ encia de Portugal, 1994); Kanichi Got  o,  Higashi Timor KokusaiKankeishi 1900  –  1945  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobou, 1999). # 2018 School of Humanities,University of New South Wales DOI: 10.1080/07292473.2019.1524348 WAR & SOCIETY,  Vol. 38 No. 1, February 2018, 1 – 22  history and historiography. It illustrates that the war in Portuguese Timor resultedin trans-colonial contacts, which brought changes to social relations in two colonialterritories. What is essential in such a transformation is the indigenization of thePacific War into the rhythms of Timor Island ’ s existing socio-political dynamics, anencounter between the strategies and priorities of foreign militaries with localworldviews and cultural rhythms. Locals were forbidden to participate in war inneutral territory, but the need for resources, personnel, and political collaboratorsby the Allied Forces and the Japanese threatened the colonial epistemology of racein Timor Island.The lack of comparison among Portuguese, Japanese and English scholarshiphas led to a fragmentary picture of the war-time situation in Timor Island.Accordingly, this article compares Portuguese, Japanese and English sources toestablish a timeline and a multi-dimensional picture of the Timorese political andmilitary actions that took place between 1942 and 1945, which strongly influencedpost-war political discourses on the island. This article focuses, first, on the disrup-tion of internal colonial relations by the conflict between the Allied Forces and the Japanese on Timor Island, secondly, on the circumstances through which localswere drawn into the war, and thirdly, on some wartime Timorese experiences. The expansion of the Pacific War to the Island:diplomatic background Diplomatic relations surrounding Timor Island were highly complex when the Japanese attacked Malaya and Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Portugal hadalready declared its neutrality in the Second World War when hostilities developedbetween the Allied Forces and Japan. From a Japanese perspective, Dutch Timorbelonged to the enemy, and it was natural for the Japanese to include it in theirwar strategy.Portuguese Timor was another case. Originally, Japan did not include PortugueseTimor in its war strategy even though it had sent spies long before the start of thewar. 2 Tokyo believed that diplomatic relations with Portugal would affect the resultof the war. Lisbon provided a great deal of strategic information to Japan. PrimeMinister Tojo, therefore, did not wish to cut relations with Portugal. 3 Germany, a Japanese ally, relied on materials sent by Portugal. Consequently, it sent a messageto Tokyo advising it not to complicate relations with Portugal. 4 Thus, the Japanesedid not consider Portuguese Timor as a location of strategic importance as long asthe Japanese solidly occupied Dutch East India, and Portuguese neutrality wasstrictly maintained. 2 Senshishitsu Boueikenshuujo,  Senshigyousho Gouhokuhoumenrikugunsakusen  (Tokyo: AsagumoShinbunsha, 1969), 14. 3 Senshishitsu Boueikenshuujo,  Senshigyousho Raninkouryakusakusen  (Tokyo: Asagumoshinbun,1967), 394 – 395. 4 Kenichi Got  o ed.,  Wartime Experience in East Timor of Former Taiwanese Army Special Volunteer  –  Testimonies of Mr. Chen Qian-wu  (Ajia-Taiheiyoukenkyuu, no. 7. May 2005). 151; James Dunn,, Timor A people Betrayed   (Sydney: ABC Books, 1983), 19. 2  K .  TSUCHIYA  In contrast, the United Kingdom viewed Portuguese Timor as critically signifi-cant. If the Japanese took over both Dutch East India and Portuguese Timor, itmeant that the connection between Singapore and Australia  —  two importantBritish bases  —  would be lost. Moreover, located only about 600 kilometres awayfrom Darwin, Portuguese Timor could be used as a base to launch a direct attackagainst Australia.On 11 and 12 December 1941, Sir Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the British Secretaryof State for Dominion Affairs, sent two secret telegrams to John Curtin, the PrimeMinister of Australia, to propose a preemptive measure in Portuguese Timor,implying that Portugal had already agreed to the plan. 5 The Australian governmentthen decided to send Allied Forces to Portuguese Timor. 6 On 17 December,approximately 1500 troops of the Australian – Dutch Forces occupied PortugueseTimor, and all Japanese in the territory were jailed. 7 The Portuguese government inLisbon and the governor of Timor did not engage in military resistance butexpressed their objection to this aggression through an official statement and a tele-gram, respectively. Japan learned about this development in Portuguese Timor in early January1942. Enemy occupation of the neutral territory and the detention of its Japanesepopulation then gave Japan a pretext to intervene. On 5 January, the JapaneseSouthern Expeditionary Army Group communicated their plan to attack DutchTimor. At this occasion, they reported the Australian – Dutch invasion of PortugueseTimor and insisted that Japanese attack on Dili should be justified under thenew situation. 8 Tokyo ’ s reply was delayed until February because Hajime Sugiyama (the chief of the Army General Staff) and Shigenori Togo (the Foreign Minister) did not agreeon the issue: Sugiyama supported the conquest of Portuguese Timor whereas Togoinsisted on respecting Portuguese neutrality. 9 In the end, at the Army ’ s insistence,the Japanese government approved the attack on Dili. Furthermore, Prime MinisterHideki Tojo and Osami Nagano (the Chief of Military Orders) also debatedwhether the Japanese force should leave Portuguese Timor after defeating the Alliesin Dili or engage in a long-term occupation of the territory. Finally, it was agreedthat the Japanese force would remain until sufficient Portuguese reinforcementswere installed. The decision was then sent to the Southern Expeditionary ArmyGroup on 8 February. Its 38th Division then struck Dutch and Portuguese Timorsimultaneously on 20 February. Major General Takeo Ito led the attack onKupang, while Colonel Sadahachi Doi led the attack on Dili. Both were occupiedthree days later. 5 Clinton Fernandes,  ‘ Two Tales of Timor ’  in  Zombie Myths of Australian Military History,  Stockings,Craig (ed), (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2010), 217 – 18. 6 Henry P. Frei,  Japan ’ s Southward Advance and Australia from the Sixteenth Century to World War II  (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1991), 159. 7  Jos  e Luis Howell de Mendoc¸a,  Resumo dos Principais Acontecimentos Ocorridos, Durante a Ocupac¸ ~ aoEstrangeira, Na Area deste Concelho  (Dili: National Archives of Timor-Leste, Box 888, 3December 1947). 8 Boueikenshuujo,  Raninkouryakusakusen , 395 – 400. 9 Ibid; Got  o, 154 – 155. INDIGENIZATION OF THE PACIFIC WAR IN TIMOR ISLAND  3  Disruption of colonial relations: the early period of Japaneseintervention As the Japanese intervention began, a new situation emerged on the island. Someindigenous authorities began playing two sides. On 20 February, the Raja of Amarasi, Hendrik Arnold Koroh, for example, informed a Dutch officer that Japanese troops had arrived at Batulesa, a village along the Southern coast. Thisnews led the Allies to demolish the airfield in Penfui. 10 Koroh also welcomed the Japanese troops. 11 He told a Japanese army journalist that he listened to the Malaylanguage broadcast from Tokyo and decided to assist the Japanese. Koroh and thevillagers then gave strategic information to the Japanese and guided them tothe location of the Australian force at Desau, 40km east of Kupang. When the Japanese troops thanked him for his assistance, Koroh requested the Japanese wipeout every single man on the Dutch – Australian base.Ko Ehuan, a West Timorese commentator, recounted a similar story. The villag-ers from Batulesa who guided the Japanese into Kupang found Fort Concordiaempty. The Dutch strongholdonthe island for three centuries was abandonedwith-out combat and the myth of the invincible white men disappeared. 12 For a month after the invasion, the Japanese experienced West Timor as a  ‘ totallypeaceful ’  place, and occasionally encountered starving Dutch or Australian soldierswho were eager to surrender. 13 Many Indonesian soldiers, who composed the entir-ety of the Dutch infantry troops on Timor Island, deserted the Allied Forces. 14 Carvalho claimed that the Indonesian soldiers had already been acquainted withthe idea of nationalism, and it was difficult for them to risk their lives for theDutch. 15 Some of them went missing, but later on many of them collaborated withthe Japanese. According to the 48th Division ’ s post-war report, 3000 Javanese andAmbonese worked  —  not all of them willingly  —  under the Japanese in Timor. 16 Some Timorese started attacking the symbols of colonialism and nonindigenouspresences. Captain Bernard Callinan, the second-in-command to the 2/2Independent Company, later recounted that in Atambua, where the Japanese hadnot yet arrived, the local inhabitants began robbing Chinese merchantsand churches. 17 10 Farram, 150. 11 Houdouhanin Suzuki,  ‘ Chimooru no Shinnichiou ’ , in  Daitouasensou rikugunhoudouhanin shuki Jawa gekimetsusen , ed. By Bunkahoukoukai (Tokyo: Dainipponyuubenkaikoudansha, 1942), 316 – 318. 12 Farram, 151. 13 Boueikenshuujo,  Gouhokuhoumen Rikugunsakusen , 16. 14 Manuel de Abreu Ferreira de Carvalho,  Relat   orio dos Acontecimentos de Timor (1942  –  1945) . (Lisboa:Edic¸ ~ oes Cosmos Instituto da Defesa Nacional, 2004), 165. This book was srcinally a 500-page faxedsecret report by Carvalho to the ministry of colonies in 1947 (classified until 1974). The report wasbased on his telegrams and daily notes as the governor. 15 Carvalho, 165. Based on his knowledge of the Javanese in Dili, Carvalho stated that even before thewar began, the Javanese troops had expressed an intention to desert. 16 Kunitaro Yamada,,  Shouwa 21nen Daiyonjyuuhachishidan Shuusenshorikinkyou Houkoku  (Tokyo:Boueikenshuujo Archives, 480 Shireibu, 1946), 1114. 17 Bernard J. Callinan,  Independent Company: The 2/2 and 2/4 Australian Independent Companies inPortuguese Timor, 1941  –  1943  (Melbourne, London, Toronto: William Heinemann LTD, 1953), 58 – 59. 4  K .  TSUCHIYA


Sep 22, 2019
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