Japanese Freighter
the Junyo Maru

11 The Japanese Occupation (1)

Bericht Capitulatie in Leidsche Courant, 10 maart 1942
Article about the Capitulation Dutch East Indies in the Leidsche Courant, 10 maart 1942
When we capitulated against the superior Japanese forces in 1942, by which time I, the eldest son, was 16, the ‘Japs’ closed down European schools, European businesses were confiscated and my mother was left with no income. Soon after, once we’d sold most of our household items for a pittance, we moved to a large, double mansion with a stylish driveway, which was owned by three very old spinster sisters and was also located on the Kramatweg near Senèn. We had only one lounge room for the four of us since the entire double mansion, including all rooms in the annexes, was crammed with families who found themselves in the same situation. Nobody was required to pay rent, as the three old ladies who owned the mansion lived frugally, were reasonably well off and were actually pleased that all the rooms were being used by likeminded people. Our former cook and her daughter moved to the kampong, were the daughter got married after a while
Mijn vader Ernst Quirinus Charles Abels, hier ongeveer 28 jaar oud.
My father Ernst Quirinus Charles Abels

Parting from my father

Just like so many other ready and able men, my father, being a tax inspector, was a militarised civilian on the weekends, a ‘Landstorm soldier’, when the Indies were at war with Japan. I can still picture him walking somewhat ill at ease in his military outfit, with an ancient rifle over his shoulder. We never saw him again after our capitulation… Only much later, after the Japanese capitulation of 15 August 1945, we were informed by the Red Cross that the Japanese freighter “Junyo Maru” - which also had my father on board - had been torpedoed off Benkulen on Sumatra. This happened in the Indian Ocean, by the English submarine the HMS “Tradewind”.

Sudden changes by order of the occupying forces

After the surrender of the Indies to the Japanese in March 1942, many things changed at once. The names of many places were changed, and so Batavia, the capital of the Indies, was renamed Jakarta. The Japanese put new bank notes in circulation, which, would you believe, had a text in Dutch which said (when translated into English): “Payable to bearer by the Japanese government” !!!

Banknotes, printed and used under Japanese occupation

Passer Baroe

The words “Passer Baroe” were spoken by a Dutchman, actually by someone of the V.O.C. (United (Dutch) East Indies Company) at the time this shopping street started its existence. Originally, I’d purposely walked to Pasar Baru to take a photo of the gate which had been erected there at the occasion of however many hundred years of Dutch colonialism.

Winkelstraat Passer Baroe
Shopping street Pasar Baru in Jakarta
Decades later, strolling through Pasar Baru, I noticed some street vendors along the road who were selling all sorts of (old) foreign stamps and bank notes. So I asked one of these vendors if he happened to have any Japanese money from the days of the Japanese occupation and that’s how I obtained those bank notes. These notes are still for sale on the streets today, as curiosities amongst the stamps and bank notes.

From one day to the next, even the year 1942 had become part of the past, since according to the Japanese era we were now living in the year 2602. It was also forbidden to speak Dutch at information desks at any of the public places. They weren’t too strict on this at first, as the Japanese authorities had plenty of other things on their mind and the transition had to run especially smoothly. For this, it is important to realise that the Japanese army consisted of two types of soldiers. The majority by far were professional soldiers, most of them Koreans and a somewhat smaller group of Japanese. All officers were of Japanese descent. Most of them were professional officers, but there was also a somewhat smaller group of Sakuras. These were actually militarised Japanese civilians, who had been working as hairdressers, well educated shop owners, Japanese business directors, etc. in the Indies before the invasion by Japan. In short, these were people who had been living in the Indies for years, had worked there, knew the ins and outs of the situation and who sometimes had good friends within the European community. In addition to their rank, high ranked Sakura officers could be identified by the emblem they wore on the left of their chest, a Japanese flower, the Sakura. These officers were extremely well suited for placement in the industry, because, realistically, they had been respectable civilians and had had nothing to do with the rigid discipline of the mostly Korean soldiers.

Junyo Mary The freighter Junyo Maru, with a clipping from the list of victims which includes my father.
Source Junyo Maru  pagina

Japanners en schilderij (De boer, hij ploegde voort)

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