Dear Japanese | Children of the War, by Miyuki Okuyama

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“Dear Japanese” documents the offspring of Japanese soldiers and Indo women, born during the Pacific War, now living in the Netherlands.

More than three centuries of Dutch rule over Indonesia archipelago gave rise to a population of “Indo”, Dutch-Indonesians. When Japan attacked and occupied the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942, many Indo males were jailed, leaving their wives and daughters to fend for themselves. Those Japanese children are the fruits of relationships based on love or economic need, while a few were from sexual assaults. Some found out about their Japanese roots when they were around sixty years old, since the truth was often been kept a family secret.

During the postwar chaos of Indonesian National Revolution, the Indo people had to escape to their unknown homeland, Holland. For them, Japan was the enemy who stole their land and killed many people. Many half-Japanese children grew up in the hostile atmosphere towards Japan. They were traumatized because their existence was taboo, brought shame to their families. Almost 70 years after the war, many of them are still searching for their fathers as an important missing piece of their identities, and are suffering from the lasting psychological effects of difficult childhood.

At the first encounter with the Japanese offspring, their clearly Japanese features surprised me. Since none of my immediate family members were affected deeply by the war, this became my first tangible war experience. This is a subjective documentary assembled from a personal perspective, recording compatriots abroad. As an immigrant from a former enemy country, Japan, I can now share their pride in being Japanese, coupled with feelings of alienation and guilt.

Text & Photographs (2012-2014): Miyuki Okuyama | Website: www.miyukiokuyama.com

 

 

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