Oppression and Romanticism: The Food Supply of Java during the Japanese Occupation

  • Shigeru Sato
Part of the Studies in the Economies of East and South-East Asia book series (SEESEA)


Before the invasion of South-East Asia, the authorities in Tokyo gave their expeditionary forces guidelines concerning the military administration of the lands to be occupied. These guidelines covered three main points: speedy acquisition of strategic resources; self-sustenance of the field forces; and restoration and maintenance of public order.1 During the first half of the Occupation, the Japanese Army in Java achieved these objectives easily. The strategic resources to be obtained from Java were no more than several items which Java produced in abundance. These were, in the plan for 1942, manganese, rubber, castor oil, cinchona bark, quinine, industrial salt, maize, tobacco, coffee, kapok, and theriac (an antidote to venomous bites). With the exception of manganese, Japan planned to obtain less than the quantities Java used to export in the prewar years.2 Self-sufficiency for the field forces also posed few difficulties. The total Japanese population in Java, military men and civilians combined, fluctuated around 50 000, or 0.1 per cent of the local population. Therefore, to secure rice for their own use in Central Java, for instance, all the Japanese had to do was to request a few mills to process it for them.3 With regard to public order there was no organized opposition to the Japanese, and the local people were generally cooperative.


Labour Mobilization Strategic Resource Total Mobilization Japanese Occupation Lean Season 
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  1. 1.
    Nanpo Senryochi Gyosei Jisshi Yoryo’, in Nanpo no Gunsei (Tokyo: Asagumo Shinbunsha, 1985), pp. 91–2.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See, for instance, Yamamoto Moichiro, Watashi no Indoneshia (Tokyo: Nippon Indoneshia Kyokai, 1979), p. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    George McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1952);Google Scholar
  4. George Sanford Kanahele, ‘The Japanese Occupation of Indonesia: Prelude to Independence’ (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1967);Google Scholar
  5. Benedict R. O’G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944–1946 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  6. 38.
    Cindy Adams, Sukarno: An Autobiography as Told to Cindy Adams (New York: Bobbs-Merril, 1965), pp. 186–94.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • Shigeru Sato

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