18th Dialogue Conference Sept. 5th 2015

Speakers text of the 18th Conference

Dialogue Netherlands-Japan-Indonesia

Saturday September 5th 2015 at  Voorburg

Theme:     The influence of WWII in the Pacific on the following generations

10:25        Opening words                                                                           Mr. Ton Stephan

10.35        “A Japanese face inside an Indisch family; Reconciliation and expression"   Mrs. Jill Stolk

11.00        “Light and shadow after the war”:                                                Mrs. Chieko van Santen

11.45        “Looking for  my grandfather’s roots in the Dutch East Indies”:      Mrs. Tineke Bennema

12.10        “Message from Japan en some important notices:    Mrs. Yukari Tangena and Mrs. Mulder

12.35        a festive Indisch luncheon and discussion groups

15:05        Review of groupdiscussions                                                      Mrs. Aya Ezawa

16.05        Closing words                                                                        Prof. Takemitsu Muraoka  

Please submit your ideas and remarks to our mailadress:           dialoguenji@gmail.com

Note: We are aiming to have the next Conference on May 28th 2016. Watch our messages!


Light and shadow after the 2nd world war

Mrs. Chieko van Santen:

First of all, I was not sure what part of my life could be interesting to talk about here.  I thought it was most probably my marriage to a Dutch man who was held in the an internment camp of the Japanese army in the Dutch East Indies (nowadays called Indonesia). Anyway I accepted my speech thinking that it could be a good opportunity for me to think back on my past

I will start my story by introducing myself.  I was born in 1944 in Hiroshima-prefecture, in a city which is about 100 km away from Hiroshima-city. Therefore, although I am not a direct victim of the atomic bomb, I often saw the misery of Hiroshima on the projector at school, and I still remember we made a lot of Origami-cranes to send to Hiroshima. For me, living in a small town where we never got bombs, Hiroshima looked like a completely different world

There is one memory I will never forget!  When I was 4 or 5 years old, I visited a relative living in Hiroshima, and I saw a piece of broken glass come out from under the lady’s skin even a few years after the atomic bomb.

 I also have a friend from University who was a victim of the atomic bomb and went to United Nations to appeal for the stop of nuclear energy.

People said that no plants would grow in Hiroshima for 100 years, but now 70 years after, fortunately Hiroshima turned to be a beautiful city with a lot of green. Only the memorial dome will tell us the misery of the atomic bomb forever

This 2nd world war changed my life, too.  My mother had to marry a man she never loved. Because she had to support her family (younger brothers and sisters) after the death of my grandfather who had been a successful merchant. Then when my father came back from the war with health damage, she divorced him but she told me for a long time that he had been dead. She might not be happy because of the marriage without love. But as a daughter, it was always painful to hear only the negative parts of my own father. She did not tell me even his name, and kept no photos at all. It led me to lose interest in knowing my father, I guess. 

However she could afford to give me everything I needed, so I could have all kinds of lessons, like piano, dancing, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, oil painting, calligraphy etc. etc. It is a pity I could not master any of them, though I appreciate having a rough knowledge about all these cultures.

She was not happy when I asked her about my father. Moreover I was not the only one without a father in this time, as there were quite a few friends who lost fathers due to the war. That is why I did not miss him so much, I guess. When I was nearly 40 years old shortly before I left Japan, I visited my father to have received the message from his relative that he was very ill without consciousness and soon I could only join to his funeral.

I find it now very regretful not to have met him earlier.  I believe my mother is wrong to shut the bond between him and me.

My mother had a rather high education for that time, so expected me also to have the same.  I graduated from a university at her wish.  So, self- sustained growth from her, I might have chosen the international marriage, I feel.

After graduating from the university, I worked in an Osaka branch office of a Dutch company and a few years later married a Dutch man who came from Singapore to the Tokyo head office as a director. It was indeed a big decision since I had never been abroad.  He was born in Indie (former Dutch East Indies) and 10 years older than I, so held in the internment camp after 10 years old separated from his mother and sister’s camp in Ambarawa on Java. My uncle, who was the same age as my fiancé, asked me if I knew what it meant. But I never took his comment very serious at that time.

My fiance said he proposed to me as a lady, not as a Japanese. Well I did not know much about that camp at that time, and even after marriage, he never liked to talk about this subject.

I understood later that the company had given him one year to decide about moving to Japan considering his feeling, and why he never showed any interest in Japanese art, culture and language during the 15 years we lived in Tokyo. We never visited Indonesia also though we went to many other Asian countries for vacation.

When I visited Holland for the first time, I was deeply impressed by the warm welcome by my mother and sister-in-law. His mother came back to Holland with two kids, after she heard that her husband had died in the hospital of Semarang in Java on 24/08/1945 just after being freed. She has unconditional attachment for her son just thanking he was alive, and apparently she even said to her family “German and Japanese blood are not welcome to our family”. I heard all these things from the relatives of my husband.

Nevertheless his mother showed me her deep love so as did his sister by accepting me as a family member, and I never had uncomfortable experiences with them, which I believe came from their great and respectable characters, and I am very thankful to them.

One of my husband’s uncles, however, refused to meet me, as he suffered so much from the forced hard labor by the Japanese army. My mother-in-law said that her brother should forgive the past to think of the family, and my husband also did not meet him without me until this uncle died. Though I appreciated their supporting me, and I believe also that the responsibility of the war is the nations, not the persons, I could imagine this uncle could not face any Japanese because of such bad experiences even though he missed his loved nephew!

One more story I would like to tell you is my experience in the bridge club in Wassenaar. When I was chatting with my bridge partner in Japanese, who was a Japanese expat’s wife, a Dutch lady sitting beside asked us to stop the conversation. My Japanese partner was very upset saying why we could not talk in our own language at free time. This Dutch lady said she had a headache from hearing Japanese. I understood immediately she was from a  Japanese camp in Indie. I know many Indisch people live around The Hague.  Then I felt a bit ashamed and thought that all the expats sent from Japan should have studied a bit about the history of the country and the peoples’ feeling before they came!

After my mother–in-law died, my elder son married a German lady.  I wonder how my mother-in-law felt in heaven!  Probably she gave up her comment that “German and Japanese blood is not welcome in her family” smiling to say how lucky she is as long as her family is happy with good wives!!!

In the late 1980ies I heard by a Dutch journalist about the group of Indisch  people with Japanese fathers. I arranged a party to show them Japanese culture with the Japanese women’s club in The Hague and I invited also a Japanese journalist from Tokyo News Paper to help look for their Japanese fathers. I think this was the start of the activities of JIN and the later established SAKURA which are the organizations of the children whose parents are mainly Japanese soldiers and Indisch ladies. Unfortunately I could not help them later due to the sickness of my husband and my work at Nichiran Silvernet.

My husband started to lose his health 10 years after we settled in Holland. In the beginning he was very supportive to my work to set up Nichiran Silvernet , but as his health condition was going down, he became unhappy to see that I became busier. After fighting with his sickness about 13 or 14 years, he passed away in 2007.

To explain Nichiran Silvernet Foundation shortly, it is a Japanese Mutual Support organization established in 2003.  Some Japanese who left Japan and became older might need help, so many same kind of groups came out in Europe. It must have been the right time for this kind of organization, and ours has grown now to be the biggest Japanese organization in Holland with more than 150 members. I set it up and have worked there now for 12 years as a chairperson, and have still many matters to be arranged.

Our generation is in a way lucky to see each year things are getting better and richer having started at very poor time after the war. The young generation is however now facing a difficult future. I sincerely wish them to have courage not to repeat the same mistakes of history and not to forget to be understanding and thoughtful of each other over the nations.

In spite of some misfortunes caused by war, I could call my life as rather happy and lucky, because I could experience Japan and Holland as well as other countries and look back my life with a kind and thoughtful family.

Now let’s wish to have a healthy and peaceful life from now on, too.

I appreciate very much for you all listening to my story. 



Reconciliation can be achieved when we look at ourselves not only as victims

“Looking for my grandfather’s roots in the Dutch East Indies”

Mrs. Tineke Bennema:

Historian Loe de Jong said that we had learned lessons from WWII, the memories were “normative”. But for our past in The Netherlands East Indies it does not apply for that time, many memories have been put away in shoeboxes of Veterans and the trauma’s of former war inmates and survivors of the Bersiap , the Indonesian War of Independence, are still hidden. However, the call of the third generation Netherlands Indies –goers supported by scientists, reporters and lawyers, becomes louder, to read all the pages of this history. It creates more reflection, a more critical look at ourselves which is necessary for reconciliation.

I am a child of a war camp and a grandchild of a colonial. My father survived the Japanese war camp and the Besiap. My grandfather who was a police inspector in The Netherlands East Indies, did not survive. To whom should I be loyal ? Of course to my father who was then three and a half years old and kept in prison by the Japanese occupiers in a war camp. 

But how can I muster empathy for my grandfather who was just a little wheel in the well-operating system , the Dutch colonial system ? Actually my grandfather was part of a regime that occupied the vast archipelago for years long before the Japanese.

A regime that also exploited an other nation and robbed raw materials.

An answer to that I do not find in the lessons that should have learned from our colonial history because for this, in contrast to the Second World War, is no collective vision.

There is not much knowledge about it (neither in school nor in college and neither in the social and political debate - Note on Excesses was a cover-up).

Therefore, I myself have done research on the role and the ideas of my grandfather and his family in The Netherlands East Indies.

How the Netherlands looks at its colonial history, the petite histoire of my family can serve as an illustration .

The family stories about The Netherlands East Indies  especially the tragedy of the Japanese occupation and the Bersiap were put first. On the role of my grandfather  my grandmother who is now deceased didn’t tell anything.  To my family his part in this was was beyond discussion  though for me, being part of the third generation it is.

Everyone in The Netherland has a family member or acquaintance who lived in The Netherlands East Indies at that time or before. As camp victims they brought their stories of internment, starvation, rape and murder by the Japanese along to The Netherlands.

As Bersiap survivors they coloured  their views of the Indonesian freedom fighters, through their testimonies about the period in which these young men attacked weakened Dutch women and children in the camps.

Along with the veterans of the so-called Politionele Acties which took back their personal sufferings, and their emphatic silence about war crimes, they determined the tone of the debate.  That vision is backed by the government.


The Dutch state took over in 1800 the contents of the Dutch Indies multinational with its own army and navy, the Dutch East India Company, which through mismanagement and corruption went bankrupt


A company that had already been supported wholeheartedly for two centuries by the motherland. In that way our country was fiddled into an economic project of which we did not want to accept the political consequences. A colony was eventually perpendicular to the right to self-determination of a nation.

Colonists as my grandfather operated within the frameworks ordered by  the Government Together with 1,500 other inspectors he had to keep order in an archipelago of 60 million people. This white pyramid was based on a 'native' police force of around 35,000 officers. In particular they were deployed in the crackdown on communist and Muslim rebellions against the Dutch occupation around 1927. It was an almost impossible task, this ambitious reorganization of the Netherlands East Indies Police Force in 1915. In 1942 the entire system crashed.

There was also a cadre of white superiority supported by religion, of which my grandfather considered to be his duty to lead and show an ignorant, childish, even  retarded nation the only right way, that of Christianity.

"The moral and intellectual majority of the white human race is superior to the brown one, on  which our dominance is based in The Netherlands East Indies," our Governor-General Jan Jacob Rochussen once said around 1850. Only we possessed 'the nobility of the skin. " And a century later  The Netherlands was still thinking the same.. Even at the time of the euphemistically called Politionele Acties we found that the Indonesians were not yet ready for their independence.

And my grandfather also acted within a political and legal framework: The Netherlands East Indies did belong to the Netherlands. The archipelago should completely be administered according to Dutch principles, although not in accordance with Dutch laws. Eventually the Netherlands East Indies were just a colony. And therefore there were laws, according to which the Dutch elite, with the help of the Indisch happy few, were privileged.

But immediately after decolonization, after the so-called catastrophic Politionel Acties, after 350 years of colonialism the government withdrew of its legal, political and humanitarian responsibilities towards its former colony and servants. Suddenly The Netherlands East Indies were not the "thirteenth proud province" as the KNIL (The Royal Dutch Indisch Army ) liked to say. The Netherlands East Indies were  not only deleted from the state system, but also from memory.

The Dutch Government was authoritarian and hierarchical, almost organized in a military way to suppress the emerging Indonesian nationalist uprising . For each association, meeting, even a sporting event, police permission had to be requested. Intellectuals like Hatta and Sukarno were arrested and exiled. In the thirties and forties The Netherlands East Indies developed into a police state, where other views were not tolerated.

As a police inspector my grandfather shot at Javanese who stood up for their independence. He was part of a new fast manoeuvrable police unit, the field police, which was specifically meant to suppress uprisings for legitimate self-determination as soon as possible.

If he thought it was necessary, he hit a detainee. Mid-thirties he shortly sympathized with the NSB. And he took advantage of economically dependent Indonesian officers who lived with their own families under poor circumstances in the barracks   (where my grandfather had his villa, at a stone's throw away) to suppress their own people.

But during my research, the more I learned about him, paradoxically, I began to get more and more appreciation for him. He executed  his duties conscientiously and dutifully , he was very serious and honest. And my grandmother was also honest and open towards her servants whom she fully trusted. Both my grandfather and grandmother did not personally abuse of the position they were in. Although I have an aversion to the colonial project, I got more respect for my grandparents. And I began to understand more that my own knowledge and ideas about colonialism and colonial violence after WWII were inconsistent with the performance of my grandfather. He himself acted entirely within the political frameworks at that time

Science, journalism and law

My grandparents represented views that until now have been discussed too little in the Netherlands. Not our own suffering and interests, but our responsibility for creating many measures which were against the interests of the Indonesian people, should prevail in the interpretation of history. During World War II the archipelago changed of ownership four times within five years : after a long time of Dutch rule it eventually ended up, through Japanese, shared British and Dutch hands into Indonesian hands. Only they can be understood in a larger context. For example to consider the Bersiap apart from 350 years of Dutch occupation, is identifying a disease and to diagnose without a thorough medical examination.

Where the government still refuses to admit to be guilty for the entire colonial project, the need for reflection grows for the third-generation Dutch Indies- goers on our part in the history of Indonesia. Part of the new generation is to be heard in  the (social) media and wants to hear the truth about our collective history. They are primarily supported by several journalists who have tracked down veterans who now make confessions because they are worried by a guilty conscience about war crimes committed during the Politionele Acties

Linked to this call for a major national historical research by among others the NIOD ( National Institute for War Documentation ), which is unfortunately almost laughingly rejected by politicians. This should also result in a better description in the schoolbooks of our own history. About 350 years of colonialism and the Politionele Acties very little can be found. In some paragraphs about  the Declaration of Indonesian Independence in 1945, students can still read that this was proclaimed by the Japanese collaborationists Hatta and Sukarno. My own research shows that the Dutch-Indisch police themselves continued working under the Japanese regime for some months on the orders of the government. The argument of 'treason' from the Indonesians is thus untenable. More journalistic and scientific research, together with Indonesia is desperately needed. The UvA ( Amsterdam University ) recently proved this by the appointment of a Professor occupying an endowed chair for colonial history.

Also legal attack is used to pick up war crimes cover-up: In a short time The Committee Dutch Debts of Honour won three lawsuits against the Dutch State and was promised compensation for the families of people who were summarily executed by Dutch soldiers. The Committee assisted by a lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, runs after all the misdeeds that are described in the Note on Excesses, and for which politics in the eighties invented a shameful limitation clause. In the next few years more and more court cases on Dutch massacres, destruction, torture and rape are to be revealed. Until The Netherlands is prepared to meet all the relatives generously.

All these groups will continue to pronounce that The Netherlands East Indies are an open wound, until the government takes its responsibility.  It cannot continue applying a one-sided dedication to the interests of the veterans who, like my grandfather, only fulfilled their duty.  A wholehearted recognition by our government of our despicable role as a colonial power in Indonesia would be a first step.

This includes the legal recognition of the Indonesian Independence Day on August 17th. Neither the veiled formulation of Foreign Affairs Minister Bot that "we are on the wrong side of history" is  sufficient nor the halfhearted apology made by the Dutch ambassador to the widows of victims of our misdeeds. The we are afraid of indemnifications should not be considered: our country forced Indonesia to pay a $ 6 million compensation after the independence war that we initiated ourselves.

Why didn’t  the government do that so far? I think it is because our role of perpetrator and victim inter-mingle, as is the case in Indonesia and Japan. All three parties have caused pain, and at the same time have become  victims of an unfortunate history. As long as all three parties continue to point to their own victimization and do not want to take responsibility for their actions, for example, the Japanese camps, the comfort women, the atomic bombs, or the Bersiap, or 350 years of colonialism which resulted in the Politionele Acties, reconciliation will be difficult.

However painful, careful collective processing of the Indisch tragedy is needed at government level in Japan,  Indonesia, the Netherlands and also in the USA for the atomic bombs that made so many civilian casualties. For us The Netherlands East Indies must come back into our consciousness, the lack of it also determines our pedantic, often arrogant attitude in politics, our relationship with other countries and dissidents, because we never have acknowledged our mistakes.

When I was in Jakarta with my father and visited the grave of my grandfather at Menteng Pulo,  the war cemetery, and saw all those precisely symmetrical rows of wooden crosses, I suddenly understood that there is no paradox between this man labeled as gentle and friendly and his participation in an occupying power. Until this moment I could not reconcile the two. Here I just understood that performing his duties was just a sense of duty, as for all the others, and that his actions were determined by the government . The Dutch Government is responsible for this in the first place. Therefore it is just  important for the families and the veterans that the Prime Minister, and then the King during his visit to Indonesia, will declare that our The Dutch East Indies ‘enterprise’ was wrong and that the hundreds of thousands of colonists were only loyal subjects executing that National policy. Thus I can also be loyal to my grandfather and show respect for him.

In my opinion here is a task for those who are grandchildren of colonial authorities, but at the same time are able to consider the past from a distance more than our parents and grandparents could. It is up to us to keep all of those memories alive. For too long, the Netherlands has had double standards. For too long we have primarily considered ourselves as victims, and not also as perpetrators. Our country has always been leading the field  to condemn other countries as to human rights violations. A significant part of the population now looks down on Muslims, colored people and foreigners and feels superior. I think it originates from our illusion of infallibility. Now, 70 years after independence, it is high time to learn our Indisch lessons , only with a humble attitude reconciliation will be possible.


Message from Japan en some important notices

Mrs. Yukari Tangena and Mrs. Kitty Mulder:


It is my great pleasure that we can get together again to have the Dialogue NJI conference.  I am Yukari Tangena-Suzuki the chair of the working group. 

Every country has a black page in her history.  In the Bible in the Letter to the Romans it is said “There is none righteous, no, not one”. I think we can also say this about countries.  What is really necessary and important for us as an individual is how we face this dark page of our own country and how we overcome this as a person.  I hope this Dialogue conference will remain the place to make us think what our next challenge will be.  Because we do have a dream we need to work on it. Reconciliation is not the ultimate goal.  After reconciliation with others we have to come to peace with ourselves.   

I said last year that the power of reconciliation is to work together.  And surprisingly the past year was really a powerful one. Today I would like to share it with you.

 Right after the last conference I flew to Japan.  King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima followed me!  And I was invited for a few occasions. 

Before I tell you my story, let us listen to Kitty Mulder’s story.  She is here to testimony the days with the Royal and Imperial families. Please welcome Kitty Mulder. 

Mrs. Kitty Mulder:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Kitty Mulder and I was born in the beginning of April 1942 at Semarang on the island of Java in the former Dutch colony of Nederlandsch-Indie, one month after the capitulation of the Royal Dutch Indisch Army on the 9th of March 1842. The war on land and at sea was already going on for some time. My father allmost immediately was arrested as a militaryman and transported to a prisoner-of-war camp for men.

I was not even one month old....

In cooperation with Mrs. Tangena I am now addressing you and would like to tell you about the PEACE EXCHANGE PROGRAM which is organised and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. This Peace Exchange Program celebrated its 10th anniversary on the 14th of July at the Residence of the Japanese Ambassador in The Hague. Many of the 190 participants were present there.

I myself participated on this trip about 2,5 years ago and for me it was a special experience and a real healing. We were in a group of 14 people and one of us was beforehand chosen to be our kepala (group-leader). We visited amongst others a preliminary school in Mizumaki, where we met with the youth of Japan. After that we visited the Cross- Monument in remembrance of the Dutch POW's who died in Japan due to the war in the East from 1942 till 1945. While being rhere two big cranes flew over us and the Monument as a farewell. At the end of our Japan-trip we visited a University in Tokio and were received by a hall filled with law-students. A lively discussion developed after we were introduced to them. Finally we went to the Dutch Ambassy where we were welcomed by the Dutch Ambassador Mr. Radinck van Vollenhove.

He was the one who phoned me two years later and asked me if I was prepared to travel to Japan in the retinue of our King Willem-Alexander and our Queen Maxima for the official State-Visit to Japan at the end of October 2014. During a meeting at the Royal Palace  in The Hague with the King's Grandmaster and his Ceremonial Master I was asked if I was willing to have a meeting with the Imperial Highnesses the Emperor and the Empress of Japan to tell them as a witness of the healing effects of the Peace Exchange Program, and to ask them politely to please continue this Program.

When at the end of the farewell-concert I was accompanied by the Ministers Koenders and Kamp to the Emperor he took both my hands and listened carefully to my story about my family, the prison-camps in the Dutch-Indies and the magnificent PEACE EXCHANGE PROGRAM. When the Emperor held my hands for at least 5 minutes it felt as if I was holding my father's hands. I felt a flow of sympathy and warmth coming from him.

Our King Willem-Alexander told me afterwards that he felt, when watching me meeting the Emperor, that a lot of emotionality was in the air.

Mrs. Yukari Tangena:

Thank you very much Kitty.  OK, now I continue my story. 

As soon as I arrived in Japan I visited the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo to discuss about the arrangements for the Dialogue in Japan. There they asked me to attend the concert and reception sponsored by the King and Queen. Wow, I thought this is getting really crazy.  Why me? What am I supposed to do there? But most of all I was curious and excited. The first day was just shaking hands with the King and Queen. The second day was a lunch meeting with Mr. Koenders, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  He took the leadership of the meeting and asked all sorts of questions.  Besides Kitty and I there were a Japanese ex-ambassador to the Netherlands, a lady from the POW network, and a Dutch lady living in Japan for more than thirty years.  My situation was rather complicated and unique because I am Japanese but I felt it as my duty to convey the voice of  most people from the Dutch Indies. I had to especially criticize the present Japanese government that tries to ignore our Constitution and move on to make Japan a country that can use its military power against enemies of the USA.  This made the ex-ambassador upset and he opposed my opinion.  I explained that the Japanese government must have the courage to apologize to all war victims and to give correct history lessons.  Although the Dialogue NJI is not even an official organization, our grass roots reconciliation movement has continued for the last 15 years, thanks to the initiators like Prof. Muraoka and mother and son Lindeijers. Further I also pointed out that this problem has of course much to do with the attitude of Japan regarding the second world war, but we should not forget that the Dutch government also has a responsibility regarding the treatment of the Dutch Indies.

The last day after the concert, as Kitty already told you, we were invited by ministers to the Royals.  At first I spoke with our Empress. I mentioned the book of Henriette van Raalte, which I translated into Japanese and presented to her five years ago. I also told her about our Dialogue conferences and its activities.  She grabbed my hands and begged me to support  the Dutch people with unhealed wounds caused by the Japanese.

Afterwards I was led to the Emperor!!  I did not expect this at all.  And I shook his hand!  Maybe you know better what I should have done.  Yes, I should have bowed deeply!!  I explained a little about the Dialogue conference and its activity in Japan. Then he started to tell me his story. In 1986 Queen Beatrix was supposed to visit Japan but this did not happen because of a strong opposition movement. At that time she wrote the late emperor a private letter asking for his pardon and how sorry she was.  Since that moment the two Royal families became special friends and they are still building a closer relationship. Then he said that it is possible to have  special close friends when you overcome that you were opponents in the past.  He ended “Please continue your precious work and please send my hearty greetings to the Dutch people for a better future for all.”  I am glad I could finally tell you this now.  I still get excited and feel honored when I remember that moment because I respect Emperor and Empress very much because they are the real pacifists.

King Willem Alexander was a very nice young man with a friendly smile. He was very happy when I told him that his speech the night before at the Palace was very thoughtful and impressed many people from the Dutch Indies. I promised to inform him about our activities.

After everything was over, I suddenly realized our Dialogue is very unique and the activities in Japan which we organize and practice to bridge two countries around the history during the war are highly appreciated by the Dutch Embassy.  Otherwise why was I invited and given many chances to talk with important persons.

The Dialogue in Japan was given twice last year. The first one was like other years, where students received a history lecture from Professor Utsumi, a specialist in the field of internment camps during the war time in Indonesia. They then watched the film “Arigato” that was shown at the Dialogue conference in 2013. I also explained the film, so that they learned there are still people suffering from their war experience. Then they all moved to a dinner to have a dialogue with Dutch guests who were war victims visiting Japan sponsored by Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs   The leader of the group was Tjako and he is also present today.

The second Dialogue in Japan had a completely different program. It was the premier screening of a film titled “Children’s Tears”.  It is a documentary film about children from the Dutch Indies with Japanese fathers. This theme is of course hardly known in Japanese society and many persons in the audience were impressed by Yuki Sunada’s film. Some of them organized screenings afterwards, even in Kamaishi which has special relationship with our group. Because DialogueNJI have been her patron for her filming every time she visited the Netherlands, we really hope this film is going to be spread widely in Japan.

Although it is a small and slow attempt to enlighten Japanese about their unknown history I am pleased and proud that this work has been done and will continue.

Well, those who attended last conference may remember that we collected donations for a memorial in Nagasaki last year.  The memorial to remember all victims who were interned at Fukuoka No.2 and forced to labor at a ship yard will be unveiled next week on the 13th at the former camp site in Koyagi town. On the memorial the names of deceased POWs from this camp will be engraved.  The Dialogue added the same amount of money as we collected and donated 100,000yen (about 800euro) for this.  So thank you very much for your donations. Among the names of the deceased there is one of our Dialogue initiators, Annie Goudswaard’s father.   When Annie and her husband visited Japan with Prof and Mrs.Muraoka in 2004 Japanese Christians donated for this reconciliation work.  A part of this fund and the donation from a pastor of Peace Church in Tokyo 250,000yen was added.

After I came back to the Netherlands a project team to record this historical event of the memorial was organized.  The main aim is to show it to the families of the survivors of this camp, but it is also worth letting Dutch people know about Nagasaki citizens’ reconciliation act. Through Facebook and a website all information is shared to the public. Also many articles were published in magazines.  We also received quite a bit of subsidy to realize this project.  Andre Schram who spoke at our last conference about his father who was also in this camp took great effort to realize this with the help of Bill Thomson, one of our discussion leaders today. 16 of us will attend the unveiling memorial ceremony, including our special cameraman, Ernst de Groot and a journalist, Laurens van Aggelen who will write a book about the event and of course Mr.Kleijn, a survivor of this camp and his family .  We are hoping to present this film and book in our next conference.

A lot of things are going on actively and rapidly within and around the Dialogue NJI and our activities are spreading beyond expectations.  Since regular Dialogue attendants urged us to obtain an official status we decided to register ourselves as a foundation. All activities except these conferences were paid from our own money. For example we, the working group as well as all volunteers also pay the registration fee for this conference since we have no rights to receive any subsidy.  The preparation of a foundation is now under way so that we can further develop this unique activity towards reconciliation and more peace in the world.  If any one of you would like to support these activities please register your name at the table.   And if you have a good project in line with our mission please talk to us about your idea. 

I said at the beginning of my speech, we cannot remain as we are.  Let our eyes look at the future even though the world seems to be in a tunnel without an exit. We must reconcile not only with our enemies but also with ourselves.  We keep on telling about our unique heritage grown from wonderful meetings and dialogues in our conferences and we hope our actions towards reconciliation and peace help you to be proud of being a part of us


Closing words by Prof. Takemitsu Muraoka

                This year has a very special meaning for our Dialogue, for all of us. Seventy years and twenty days ago the war which Japan launched in the Asia-Pacific region came to an end with her unconditional capitulation. It meant an end to the suffering and degradation for hundreds of millions of people in the lands which were colonised and occupied by Japan. It also brought an end to the misery of tens of millions of Japanese themselves who were forced to fight that senseless, futile, and hopeless war as well as an end to the folly and arrogance of their compatriots who promoted this aggression and invasion of foreign lands.

                Our Dialogue has been going on now fifteen years. The first meeting in 2000 was organised as a one-off conference. However, many of the participants saw value for its continuation. So here we are today for its 18th meeting.

                During the last war the Dutch people suffered on two fronts, here at home at the hands of German Nazis and in the then Dutch East Indies at the hands of Japanese invaders-occupiers. The relationship with the enemies closer at hand appears to have become largely normalised, though there still do remain some hard feelings, as it appeared a couple of years ago when the German ambassador was refused to attend the commemorative service in Amsterdam.

                By contrast, precious little has happened on the other front. In his official statement on Aug. 14 last the Japanese premier, Mr Abe, expressed satisfaction with “the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.” We all know, however, don’t we?, that these POWs represent a tiny minority. We remember a scene shown by the TV a couple of years ago when our current emperor made an official visit to UK; we saw not a small number of elderly English men lining a London street with their backs turned towards the emperor seated in a royal coach next to the British monarch. If all were right between our two countries, I wouldn’t have spent days on translating Geknakte bloem: Acht vrouwen vertellen hun verhaal over Japanse militaire dwangprostitutie, authored by Mrs Marguerite Hamer, published simultaneously two years ago here and in Tokyo. I could have spent those hours on my hobby, research in Greek and Hebrew. I didn’t do it for money; for I renounced every single Yen for royalties, for I can’t bring myself to see my assets grow even with a cent, translating a book such as this. Never mind, it’s unlikely to become a best-seller in Japan.

                As shown by Ms Bennema’s address, the realisation has been growing over the recent years that the Dutch-Indonesian history, with special reference to the short period following the declaration of independence of the Republic on 17.8.1945 is in need of radical revision. Some excitement was awakened in mid August by the news of a Ph.D. dissertation written by a young historian of mixed Dutch-Swiss background demonstrating that what has been euphemistically known as “excesses,” a negligible number of exceptions, actually represents a mere tip of the iceberg.

                Dark pages in one’s national history are never easy reading. But they can’t be pushed safely under the carpet. They are bound to surface one day, chase you, and torture you. It is wise counsel to face them and deal with them honestly. The sooner, the better.

                Here, not only perpetrators, but also victims should not run away from the past, the painful past. History must be remembered, recorded, and learned from for ever. Even after reconciliation has been achieved and a relationship of friendship and mutual trust has been restored.

                To quote Mr Abe again, it is absolutely wrong-headed and a madness to think as he does: “In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.” Abe assumes that Japan has already apologised. Many people in and out of Japan would say that his assumption is totally wrong. The former emperor did not apologise, whether to his own subjects or other nations. Nor has his successor done so up to now. Apologies he thinks Japan has done repeatedly have not been accepted by victimised nations. Besides, such apologies should come from the Japanese parliament as representing the nation. Such has not been forthcoming. If even the war generation hasn’t apologised, its offspring would have no choice but to face the music.

                Mr Abe goes on to say: “Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.” If he wishes to be taken seriously, he must stop visiting the Yasukuni shrine, where Japanese war criminals are commemorated and condoning his cabinet ministers and MPs of his party doing the same. He must direct the Ministry of Education to have history textbooks written honestly about the war of invasion and countless atrocities, robberies, and damages.

                One challenge which faces us in the future is how to keep the young generation interested in this history. The Dialogue is not about historical or intellectual curiosity or dilettantism. The past war as fought in the South-East Asian theatre and the Dutch-Indonesian relationships stretching over the past centuries still confront us with many a hard and painful issue bound to have implications as to how our future is going to unfold itself, and we are to play each a role in shaping our future in mutual relationship and interaction. This is all the more important with people fast passing away who had first-hand experiences of this shared history.

                It appears then that our Dialogue cannot be yet dissolved in the near future. It makes sense to constitute a foundation to confer on it a little greater stability and permanency.

                Let me conclude by thanking all the speakers today, whether in prose or in verse, the small group discussion leaders, the organising group under the indefatigable chair in the person of Mrs Tangena, and of course all who have come to this meeting today. I wish you all a safe journey home, mentally chewing what you have heard today.



The text of the speakera of the 18th Conference Dialogue Netherlands-Japan-Indonesia

Saturday September 5th 2015 at  Voorburg

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