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BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor

Japanese Self-Defense Force
Jepang - Pasukan Bela Diri:

A collection of recent statements and news on the plan to send a Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) to join the Peace Keeping Force (PKF) in East Timor.

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Up-Dated: Jan 24, 2002

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Bahasa Indonesia/Malay:
Jan 22 Shige: Jepang dan TL: Luka Kekerasan Sulit Dilupakan
Artikel ditambahkan tanggal 22 Januari 2002
"Seandainya pemerintah Jepang sungguh mau membangun hubungan bilateral yang baik dengan Timor Lorosae, langkah awal adalah pengakuan kesalahan atas perbuatan dan kebijakannya pada masa lalu yang kejam, baik pada masa Perang Dunia II maupun masa pendudukan militer Indonesia di mana pemerintah Jepang selalu mendukungnya, dan meminta maaf kepada rakyat Timor Lorosae. Mungkin ada yang mengatakan (pejabat Japan Mission dan UNTAET?) bahwa Pasukan Bela Diri berbeda dengan tentara Kaisar Jepang dulu yang terkenal dengan fasisme paksaan, kekerasan keji dan metode-metode teror. Atau, Pasukan Bela Diri adalah pasukan yang semata-mata mengajar ilmu “bela diri”. Tetapi kenyataannya, itu adalah penjelmaan kembali tentara Kaisar Jepang yang pernah membantai kira-kira 20,000,000 jiwa di kawasan Asia-Pasifik, termasuk sekitar 40,000 jiwa di Timor Lorosae selama Perang Dunia II." Takahashi Shigehito, Perwakilan East Timor Desk, Konferensi Uskup Katolik Jepang

Jan 10 Shige: Japan & ET: Wounds of Violence are Hard to Forget  Article added Jan 22
"If the Government of Japan really wanted to build a good bilateral relationship with Timor Lorosae, the first step it should take is to acknowledge the mistakes of its brutal policies and actions toward the people in the past, both during WWII, and during the Indonesian military occupation - which Japan’s government consistently supported it - and ask the pardon of the people of Timor Lorosae. There may be those that say that the Self-Defense Forces is different from the Imperial Japanese Army of the past, infamous for its fascist coercion, and its shameless, terrorist methods. Or, they may say that the Self-Defense Forces is only going to teach the science of “self-defense”. In fact, however, the SDF is a reincarnation of the army of the Japanese Emperor, the army that claimed the lives of some 20 million people in the Asia-Pacific region during WWII, including around 40,000 people in Timor Lorosae." Takahashi Shigehito, Resident Representative of East Timor Desk, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

Dec 8 ETNGOs: Commemoration Day of the Commencement of the Pacific War  Letter added Jan 24
"The Pacific War which was begun by the Imperial Nation of Japan on 8 December sixty years ago, cost around 40,000 innocent lives in East Timor during the time period of three and half years of the military occupation of the Emperor of Japan. ... History is very important in order to build a better future. For that reason, mistakes of the past have to be straighten out before steps can be made forward. If not, human history has already proven similar mistakes will be repeated. ... We are aware that Japan is the largest donor nation for the East Timor Trust Fund and has given major attention to the reconstruction of East Timor. And we too would like to express our gratitude for this assistance. However, this assistance may not simply cover up the wounds that have been inflicted by the Japanese military on this land of East Timor. If there is no justice, there can be no betterment of life." Representatives of 20 East Timorese Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

Nov 3 Age: Timor's Haunted Women  Article added Nov 7
"They’re cruel! We don’t want Japanese soldiers back here!” Marta Pereira, one of around 1000 surviving ETimorese women who were used as sex slaves, or “comfort women”, by the Japanese military
“We see it as an important issue - despite their old age, these women are still suffering, ... We struggled 24 years to get Indonesian troops out of here, and now we’re being asked to accept Japanese troops. Japanese support should be in another form. It’s ugly to have troops here when no apology has yet been made.” Natalia de Jesus Cesaltino, Fokupers

Nov 1 Inglis: UN and Tokyo agree on dispatch of Japanese troops to ETimor  Article added Nov 7
"The Japanese government announced on October 22 that a 600-member Self-Defense Force engineering battalion would be sent to East Timor next spring. ... twelve Timorese NGOs, organizations (involved in such fields as human rights, women’s issues, student mobilization, international aid monitoring, etc.)  issued a statement opposing the SDF dispatch and urging Japan to instead use its political and economic influence with Indonesia to bring about the normalization of conditions along the border with Indonesian West Timor. ... most of the world’s people, if given a choice, would opt for a twenty-first century with one less, rather than one more, military armed to the teeth and waiting for war." Jean Inglis, member of the Japanese solidarity network

October 2001 IAI: SDF Dispatch to the PKF in ETimor: “Aid with a face”?  Article added Nov 19
"East Timor thus becomes the target zone in which the [Japanese] Self-Defense Force aims to advance its own priorities. But toward whom should we [Japan] be turning our face? The people who were made to suffer by the Japanese Army in World War II, the people who suffered from the Indonesian invasion, the people who still live under the threat of violence by the pro-Jakarta militia, and the people who are working to build their land into a new country. To protect its own interests, Japan supported Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor and turned a blind eye to the slaughter carried out by the Indonesian military. The crimes we have committed against the people of East Timor (including the crime of indifference) are not such as can be erased by aid given after independence. But if, even so, we want to help East Timor in some way, we have to start by listening to the East Timorese. The statement of the twelve East Timorese NGOs on the issue of the SDF dispatch is one such voice." Namba Mitsuru

Sep 3 ETimorese NGOs write to Japanese PM re SDF  Letter added Sep 6
"The Japanese government has shown their concern for East Timor’s reconstruction and has contributed the largest amount of funds to the Trust Fund for East Timor. Drawing from our experience of the past and view of the present, we offer the following views: * The Japanese government must publicly acknowledge that past policies have caused great suffering to the East Timorese people. ... * The plan to send a Japanese Self-Defense Force to join the PKF in East Timor should be abandoned. ... * There is no need to introduce a new military contingent from Japan to the international troops now present in East Timor. ... * We believe that security problems around East Timor’s border will not be solved by increasing the PKF." Yayasan HAK; Kdadalak Suli Mutu Institute; Gerakan Mahasiswa Pro Demokrasi; Grupo Feto Foin Sae Timor Lorosa’e; East Timor Women Against Violence; East Timor Students Solidarity Council; Sa’he Institute for Liberation; Fokupers; LBH “Ukun Rasik An”; Lao Hamutuk; Centro Desenvolvimento Economia Popular; Fundacao Haburas.

Until Sep 7 TETA: No! to the Dispatch of Japanese SDF to ETimor  Release updated Sep 7
"Free East Timor! National Coalition, Japan, is against the current Japanese government plan to send the Self Defence Force (SDF) to East Timor as part of PKF, issued a statement in mid-July, and we are currently doing a FAX campagin against the plan. While knowing that Xanana and Horta said OK to the sending of SDF and understanding it, we cannot agree with the dispatch of SDF. Please read the following and, if you agree to our stand, please act on with us to stop sending SDF. ... Last but not least, during WWII, Japanese army occupied East Timor and many Timorese suffered forced labour and sex slavery. Japanese government did nothing about this." Kyo Kageura, Tokyo East Timor Association

Jul 29 Matsuno: Japan's Self-Defense Force face up to the militia?--NO WAY!  Analysis added Aug 4
"Wherever in the world the trouble spot might be, the Government wants to send the SDF only to score political points, and certainly in the case of East Timor it has never given serious thought to securing peace. ... By this scenario, Japan can achieve its diplomatic targets. Firstly, contributing to this UN PKO will allow Japan to push more strongly its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Secondly, Japan can protect its interests in Indonesia by avoiding being dragged into an open conflict with Indonesian politicians and generals. Contributing to peace in East Timor is not a matter of consideration in Japanese diplomacy and therefore it will be the first thing to be compromised when it is found to be at odds with Japan's relations with Indonesia." Akihisa Matsuno, Osaka University of Foreign Studies

Jul 16 Free East Timor Japan Coalition letter to the Defense Agency  Letter added Aug 4
"At this time we ask that you reexamine the proposal now being considered to send Self Defense Force troops to East Timor. ... In recent years the Japanese Government has eschewed forthright debate on the constitutionality of the Self Defense Forces and has instead sought to gain recognition-by-default of the SDF through having it participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, in which context it is treated just like the armies of other countries. On the other hand, moves to set up a specialized organization, separate from the SDF, to deal with aspects of refugee relief, cease-fire and referendum observation in conflict areas have been pushed into the shadows where they have ground to a stop. For the government to act in this way is to jeopardize the rule of law that constitutes the very foundation of any democratic state; this is suicidal." Free East Timor Japan Coalition

Jul 16 KY: 2 Japan GSDF officials to visit E. Timor  News added July 17
"Two Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) officials will shortly visit East Timor to collect information on the state of security in the territory, Japan’s Defense Agency said Monday. ... The two are also expected to gather information about PKO in East Timor, given agency chief Gen Nakatani’s desire to study plans to dispatch personnel of the Self-Defense Forces in the event of new PKO there." Kyodo

Jun 30 JCCJP: Japanese church leaders oppose Japanese troops in East Timor  Position statement added July 10
"Most Japanese people want Japan to contribute to world peace first and foremost by strictly adhering to its war-renouncing “peace constitution.” ... The present government plan to send the SDF to join a peace keeping operation in East is directly opposed to theses, the fervently held wishes of our people. Furthermore, this newly planned dispatch of Japanese troops to East Timor is particularly callous in light of the Government’s refusal to this day to fully acknowledge, apologize for, or compensate the army’s sex slaves and other victims of Japan’s occupation of East Timor during the Pacific War." Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace

Feb 12 Xanana: Symposium on “Reconciliation, Tolerance, Human Rights and Elections”  Speech added Feb 15
"We believe that after the rebellion of the Manufahi, the Timorese People, obviously still divided by kingdoms, lived an era of a better relationship among themselves until the period before the Japanese invasion. The Japanese invasion, from 1942 to 1945, was another test to the courage of the Timorese people which concurrently managed to live with the invaders while maintaining a determination to fight its presence. I am from the generation post-Japanese invasion. From this period until the Indonesian invasion 30 years went by." President Xanana

Dec 10 2000 KY: ETimor: 2 ex-sex slaves break silence at NGO tribunal  Added Dec 11
"Two East Timorese women broke over half a century of silence Sunday and told of their ordeals as sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army at a mock tribunal to try the Japanese government over its responsibility for the recruitment of so-called ''comfort women'' before and during World War II." Kyodo

Dec 8 2000 DPA: Women demand apology & compensation for War-time Japanese mistreatment  Added Dec 9
"The Japanese government, which failed to respond to the tribunal's invitation to participate in the event, continues to deny any legal responsibility for the suffering of the former comfort women. Sexual violence committed by the Japanese Imperial Army was hardly touched by the 1946-1948 International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo, set up by the Allied Forces after the war." Deutsche Presse-Agentur

1999 Gunn: Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years - Wartime Timor: 1942-45  Book extract added July 10
"Many Timorese including liurai paid with their lives [at the hands of Japanese military 1942-45] either for standing neutral or for alleged support of Australian guerrillas. ... The number of Timorese who died during the war is impossible to calculate with precision but is of the order of 40-70,000 out of a total prewar population of around 450,000. The disruption to native agriculture and the breakdown of prewar society stemming from the harsh system of food collection and corvees imposed by the Japanese inevitably led to famine and other hardships, including debilitating disease. ... The issues of Japanese wartime compensation including the claims of so-called "comfort women" or sexual slavery in Timor first became public in 1997 but only in the Macau media where it was taken up by Jose Ramos-Horta speaking on behalf of the Timorese people." Geoffrey C. Gunn, author, Timor Loro Sae: 500 Years

Sept 27 1999 Noam Chomsky: East Timor Retrospective - An overview and lessons  Analysis added Dec 28
"The story does not begin in 1975. East Timor had not been overlooked by the planners of the postwar world. The territory should be granted independence, Roosevelt's senior adviser Sumner Welles mused, but "it would certainly take a thousand years." With an awe-inspiring display of courage and fortitude, the people of East Timor have struggled to confound that cynical prediction, enduring monstrous disasters. Perhaps 50,000 lost their lives protecting a small contingent of Australian commandoes fighting the Japanese; their heroism may have saved Australia from Japanese invasion. A third of the population were victims of the first years of the 1975 Indonesian invasion, many more since." Noam Chomsky

BD: Sexual & related Violence as a weapon of war - A collection of recent articles and news

BD: Military and political aid to Indonesia - A collection of recent reports, articles and news

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