By a unique accident, the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies laid the foundations for an independent nation. Although the Japanese navy swept the Dutch and their British and American allies aside with ease, one Allied submarine managed to sink a transport carrying half the trained administrators sent by Tokyo to take over the government of the vast Indonesian archipelago – it is as wide as the United States, and Sumatra alone is the size of California. Among some Indonesians the Japanese, and their erasure of Dutch-language street signs and place names, were welcomed, although their earliest actions included the dissolution of political parties and the prohibition of the red and white Indonesian nationalist flag. However, the mass internment of Dutch administrators and the deaths of their Japanese replacements meant that educated Indonesians filled thousands of middle- and upper-echelon administrative and technical jobs. These officials soon gained confidence and realized that they did not need Dutch – or Japanese – tutelage to run their country.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
US submarines and Indonesian independence
From Small Wars, Faraway Places by Michael Burleigh. Page 40.