International Conference Paris

International Conference

Justice to the Survivors of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery

and Stop Violence against Women in Armed Conflicts

Paris, November 2014


Presented by Brigitte van Halder


War crimes by the Japanese military during the 1942-1945 occupation of Dutch East Indies
Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts


The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts was established in 1990 in The Hague, The Netherlands, with the purpose to look after the interests of the Dutch citizens who, during the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), were victims of the Japanese military.

On behalf of the victims we demand acknowledgement from the Japanese authorities of the gross violations of human rights and we seek  redress for the damage done to the individual victims still alive or their next of kin for those who passed away. These damages were inflicted on them by the Japanese military on behalf of the Japanese government, as well as on their own accord.

The Netherlands is a victim country of the Japanese war terror during the military occupation of the Dutch East Indies from 1942 to 1945.

March 1942 the Japanese military commenced to occupy the Netherlands East Indies. Japan wanted to get rid of Western influences in the Netherlands East Indies and immediately instituted discriminatory measures against the Dutch. Of the around 300,000 people with the Dutch nationality 40,000 were POW’s,   100,000 interned in concentration camps and 160,000 were oppressed outside of the concentration camps. 45,000 died and 75,000 of the surviving Dutch nationals suffered incurable disorders. The Dutch were included, with the other Allied POW’s, in the order by the Japanese military, on instructions from Tokyo, to be disposed of by the end of the War (the order to “Kill All, Leave no Traces”). In 1943 the Dutch civilian internees – men, women and children-  became POW’s too as the concentration camps were included in the Japanese Military Ordonnance. Of the original 300,000 victims it is estimated that now (2014) about 60,000 are still alive. Around 400 girls and women are known to have been forced into sexual slavery; many more have been abused, including young boys. Those who survived were left with permanent trauma’s. Only a few of them are still alive. The continuous denial of the war facts by the Japanese authorities is shameful. The coercion into prostitution of Dutch girls and women from concentration camps, the systematic maltreatment in those camps, the torture of Dutch civilians and military and the deliberate discrimination and denial of the existence of the Dutch outside the camps are hard, concrete facts. They are all war crimes under the then accepted conventions of which Japan was a signatory. The historic facts are proven by the Courts-Martial set up immediately after Japan’s capitulation 15th August 1945. Between 1945 and 1951 Allied Military Courts-Martial throughout the Far East condemned 920 Japanese military to death and sentenced some 3,000 others to prison terms. The accused had been found guilty of war crimes. From 1946 to 1948 the International Military Tribunal of Tokyo tried and sentenced 25 “major” Japanese war criminals – Tojo and company – for plotting and waging the Pacific War. In the Dutch East Indies during 1946 – 1948 the Temporary Courts-Martial tried 986 persons excluding minor war criminals. The Temporary Court-Martial of Batavia tried 111 war criminal cases with 352 defendants. 64 received the death penalty. The former President of this court Mr. L.F de Groot reviewed in his book “Court- Martial of Japanese war criminals in the Dutch East Indies 1946-1949” the majority of the cases of the Batavia Court-Martial. His impressive book reports on the many cases he presided. It made clear the evil inhumanity and total lack of respect by the Japanese military for internationally accepted conventions and the customs of war. Many cases were tried by the Batavia Court Martial including the well-known Semarang case: coercion into prostitution of Dutch girls and women recruited by the Japanese military from concentration camps. A substantial number of cases concern the way in which Japanese military commanders administrated a regime of terror and maltreatment in the POW and civilian camps. When the end of the war came in sight Tokyo Headquarters issued the order to kill all, leave no traces. Another set of cases concern the Kempeitai Java. Their prime objective was through systematic terror and torture to enforce confessions from arrested suspects and involve local people in the process. The Martial-Court Batavia spent considerable time on the Kempeitai Bondowoso/Djember case. 18 members of the Kempeitai Djember were accused. 2 were acquitted, the others were declared guilty. 6 were condemned to the death penalty and the other 10 got long prison sentences. The Djember Kempeitai investigated espionage and the preparation for a possible landing by Allied Forces in East Java. They rounded up some 30 suspects, who were interrogated by the Kempeitai. At the same time the Kempeitai in Djember investigated alleged espionage by a number of planters (owners or employees of agricultural enterprises). The results of both investigations were delivered to the Kempeitai headquarters and the headquarters of the 16th Japanese army both in Batavia. Shortly thereafter the commanding officer of the Kempeitai in Djember received the order to execute them all. The Kempeitai used the most horrendous methods of torture and intimidation to extract confessions. The Court concluded that the Kempeitai Djember was the worst of all the Kempeitai offices. They violated the laws and customs of war and the internationally accepted conventions and routinely committed war crimes of the worst kind.

Immediately after the unconditional transfer of power to General Douglas McArthur (Supreme Commander Allied Powers) on 2nd September 1945 in Tokyo some Japanese expressed a feeling of guilt; regrettably this feeling faded away quickly. The present Japanese government appears now to question Japan’s Pacific War history and in particular how war crimes were established and culprits pointed out. As widely known, the Japanese government is even deliberately trying to whitewash clean its own children’s school books. Hence our message to the government of Japan and in particular to the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe: Acknowledge the facts, thoroughly investigated by professional judges; be ashamed of what the Japanese military routinely did to the Dutch and others in Dutch East Indies and come forward with genuine excuses and a solatium for the victims who still live with traumas and bad memories. The Japanese government has the moral and social responsibility to rectify the wrongdoings of the Japanese Imperial Army and has to extend the so called settlements made in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Stikker-Yoshida agreement later. Considering the history and the position of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts as an accepted Non-Governmental Organization by the United Nations in consultative status (Roster) with ECOSOC, it has the position and the will to continue the fight for justice and redress on moral and social grounds.