2014 Volume 57 Pages 80-93
In 1942, proletarian writer, Takeda Rintarō, was sent from Japan to the Dutch East-Indies (Indonesia) as part of the Sendenbu (propaganda squad), where he led the literature section in the Keimin Bunka Shidōshō (cultural center) in Jakarta. Jawa sarasa documents Takeda Rintaro's activities and cultural experiences in Java, Indonesia, after he returned to Japan in 1944.
Most Japanese literature and cultural writings about Nanyō or Nanpō (“South Islands” - South Asia and the Pacific, including Indonesia) from this era reference the concept of Imperialism in Asia. In the pre-war period, stereotypes such as dojin (local primitive) and tōmin (islander) defined South Island people as being lesser than or “other” than the Japanese people. Japanese literary depictions of tropical Eden's and exotic “uncivilized people” reflect similar perceptions and writings by Western authors towards Asia in the 19th century.
This paper explores Takeda Rintarō's perspectives of “otherness” in prewar discourses about Indonesia. Through the influence of “The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” propaganda concept, the ideology of “sameness” was becoming a hegemonic cultural idea in Takeda's writings about Indonesia. Conversely, however, Takeda's depiction of the double-occupation of Java, with the political rule of Holland and economic domination of daily life by Chinese immigrants, implied criticism of Japan's administrative policies regarding economic exploitation in Java. Takeda's criticisms of Japanese policy are bedded in his emotion for the nature, culture and people of Indonesia.