The Blue-Eyed Enemy: Japan against the West in Java and Luzon, 1942-1945

The Blue-Eyed Enemy: Japan against the West in Java and Luzon, 1942-1945

by Theodore Friend


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The Blue-Eyed Enemy is a comprehensive account of the interwoven histories of the three major archipelago-nations of the West Pacific during the years of the Second World War. Theodore Friend examines Japanese colonialism in Indonesia and the Philippines as an example of recurring patterns of domination and repression in that region. He depicts Japanese rule in Greater East Asia as expressive of the folly of the general who exhorted his troops "to annihilate the blue-eyed enemy and their black slaves." At the same time he clearly shows where the return of Western power aimed at new links between conqueror and conquered, or lords and bondsmen. Throughout the work one encounters an infectious sympathy for those afflicted by imperialism and racism from whatever source, at whatever time.

The book is based on documentary research in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as in the United States and the Netherlands, and on over one hundred interviews with major actors and key observers of the era. The analysis balances an eclectic use of social science perspectives with a humanistic concreteness, and leads to new understanding of leaders like Sukarno and Hatta, Jose P. Laurel and Benigno Aquino, Sr., and Generals Yamashita and MacArthur. As comparative tropical history, it elucidates the contrasting cultural traditions and political psychologies of Indonesia and the Philippines and explains why 1945 was a year of dramatic contrast: "reoccupation" and revolution for the first country, and "liberation" and restoration for the latter.

Originally published in 1988.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691602776
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/14/2014
Series: Princeton Legacy Library , #908
Pages: 364
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Blue-Eyed Enemy

Japan Against the West in Java and Luzon, 1942â"1945

By Theodore Friend


Copyright © 1988 Princeton University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-691-05524-4



Why did Indonesians revolt against the Dutch in 1945, while Filipinos were reembracing an American semicolonial system? If we put aside the disposition of imperial forces in that year, and examine the underlying historical causes, differences of scale immediately loom up. Gross realities are important truths. In a colonial relationship, as in other things, small relies on large, and large may ignore small.

The land area of the Indies was sixty times that of the Netherlands, and the population seven times as great. Government revenues, according to the 1930 budget, were 30 percent larger in the colony than in the mother country. At the same time, the Philippines had a land area one-thirtieth that of the United States, a population one-tenth as great, and a government revenue of the same dollar magnitude as the twelfth largest American city.

The Netherlands was heavily dependent on its colony economically, and deeply involved with it, both constitutionally and emotionally. In the Philippine-American situation, however, the colony was economically dependent on and emotionally attached to the mother country. That power found it an encumbrance and sought in the 1930s to be rid of it. Differences in economic and educational practices, and in levels of political participation and repression in the two colonies, follow from the consequences of scale. These differences, in turn, help explain the contrasting responses to Japanese conquest and to Western reoccupation.

Indonesia and the Philippines in 1931: An Overview

Governor General Dwight Davis of the Philippines made a six-week tour of the Netherlands East Indies, French Indochina, and the Federated Malay States in 1931, a trip unique in American imperial history and in the impressions reported. The Philippines derived a larger proportion of its income from taxation than other Southeast Asian colonies, which all used government monopolies — including opium — as a source of income. In 1930, opium sales raised almost $11 million for the Dutch. In the Philippines the Americans tolerated an illegal trade, and thus both abjured opium revenue and avoided subsequent blame. The United States, by not taxing heavily, and by not developing government monopolies, had come to be appreciated by most Filipinos as relatively nonexploitative.

Dutch developmental priorities, to Davis's eye, however, made the Netherlands East Indies stand out — in public buildings, public utilities, and roads, and in telephone, telegraph, and shipping facilities — as "the most complete and most efficiently managed colonial development that I have yet observed." In scientific knowledge of agriculture, Java led the Philippines by "30 or 40 years." The single salvation of Philippine sugar was its preferential treatment in the United States market, without which it could not survive world competition.

In the light of history, however, the Dutch had their own deficiencies of vision. They apparently planned roads and harbor facilities with military as well as economic objectives in mind, and 26 percent of Indies government expenditures went to maintain military forces stationed there. Had the United States made the Filipinos bear all local military costs in the Philippines, this would have consumed 37 percent of the insular budget. As it was, the American taxpayer bore the entire expense.

The Dutch spent a particularly large amount of money on their executive branch of government — eight times as much, relatively, as the Philippines — of which amount over $16 million went to what the Americans saw as "local princes, grandees, and ... local government bodies." In practice this meant perpetuating elaborate and impressive courts and a hollow advisory apparatus at high cost.

Davis and his party did not articulate any reasons for the greater incidence of communism they found in other colonies, but the Philippine secretary of agriculture believed that the Filipino farm laborer was the highest paid in the area. He reported that in Java, particularly, housing standards were "noticeably lower" than in the Philippines. Overall, the governor general concluded: "Nowhere ... did we find that the laboring man is better cared for, better paid, better protected from outside competition or by accident, insurance, and labor legislation than in our own country." His report implicitly attributed the relative lack of anti-imperial nationalism in the Philippines to the high proportion of the budget devoted to the direct benefit of Filipinos. The Philippine government spent, proportionately, nearly three times as much on education and social services, including public works, as the Indies. Lower administrative costs and the absence of a defense item in the Philippine budget both accented this relative generosity, American style.

In the figures, however, lies a pattern not noted by Davis: the per capita expenditures of the insular government of the Philippines were lower than those of any other colony he visited except Indochina. The expenditures of the municipal government of the city of Buffalo, New York, exceeded those of the government of the Philippines, which served thirty times as many people. Filipinos generally, however, did not have a way of perceiving or judging the stinginess of their government. Instead, they apparently viewed the relatively strong internal budgetary accent on education and health as evidence of the good intentions of the colonial power, and that view survived in the Philippines long after independence.

Dutch imperial accent on infrastructure, support of obedient native princes, and financing a military presence on the basis of native revenues all appeared, in the long run, to create indigenous skepticism. Relatively high American expenditures on education and health, even if absolutely small, tended to create local trust.

Economic Dependence and Development

To understand the events of 1942–45, it helps not only to know how the colonial governments were spending money in the Indies and Philippines, but how the imperial powers were deriving national revenue from their colonies. When the question arose after the war, two prominent Dutch economists attempted a compilation of all sources of income the Netherlands would lack if it did not have its Indonesian possessions and connections. These sources — dividends and interest derived from investments in plantations, mines, and businesses; income from trade and shipping; salaries, wages, and pensions of Dutch in private enterprise; salaries, pensions, and furlough payments of Dutch in the Indies civil service; currency transfers to families in the Netherlands; and undisbursed profits of companies active in the Indies — constituted primary revenues. On the assumption that possession of the Indies constituted a general stimulant to the Netherlands economy, and that their loss would be a depressant, the economists calculated secondary revenues as 70 percent of primary revenues, and added them to complete the economic picture. The results showed that the interwar Dutch economy relied upon its major colony for one-seventh of its national income (see Table 1.1), probably the highest ratio in any country in the world.

By contrast, the income derived from the Philippines was a negligible factor in American national income — so small that no one ever bothered to compute it. The American population in the Philippines in 1938 was only 8,700, compared with 40,000 Dutch proper in Indonesia, and another 200,000 "Europeans," mostly Dutch citizens of Eurasian blood. American investment in the Philippines in the 1930s was about $200 million, or only 1 percent of total American foreign investment. The American share of total Philippine trade reached a high of 77 percent in 1940, when the Philippines was America's sixth best customer. Taking the whole pattern of settlement, investment, and trade together, of which only the last was of any significant size, one may estimate that Philippine-derived income as a proportion of American national income was at most a very small fraction of 1 percent.

From many vantage points the Philippines was not an economic asset but a liability. While the insular treasury met nearly all civil expenditures, the United States government regularly paid for defense, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the census, and some aspects of public health. Over a forty-year period, American government expenditures in the Philippines totaled about a billion dollars, including over $900 million for military expenses. In view of strategic jeopardy from Japan, these military expenditures were so pathetically small that they endangered the whole Philippine-American achievement. The Netherlands, with its enormous economic dependence on its colony, understandably clung to the Indies. But what kept the United States in the Philippines under conditions of strategic danger without clear economic gain? Spain had endured in the Philippines for the glory of God; America, perhaps, for the sake of "democratic mission." Financially, both were losing propositions.

The Great Depression threw Philippine-American relations into crisis. Complaints arose over economic competition from the colony; American beet sugar, dairy, and labor interests all felt and exaggerated the effect of free entry of Philippine sugar and coconut oil, and free immigration of Filipino laborers. Give them independence, the argument went, so we can shut out their products and their people. The reasoning was tawdry. Any relief to American farmers and laborers would have been so gradual as to be unfelt. The lobbyists' success nonetheless illustrates a polar difference from the Dutch-Indonesian situation, where imperial power and colony were economically and emotionally welded together.

Although actual prewar Dutch income dependence on the Indies was around 14 percent, influential businessmen, government officials, and decision makers uniformly thought the percentage of Indies-derived national income was as much as 40 to 50 percent. The slogan of the postwar years ran, Indië veiloren, rampspoed geboien ("Indies lost, disastrous cost"). What a contrast to the depression-born American psychology, which might have expressed itself in sloganistic exaggeration as "American needs the Philippines freed."

Debates of the immediate predepression years on the poenale sanctie in Indonesia and the corporation law in the Philippines illustrate, if a trifle overdramatically, the two different styles of economic development. The controversial "penal sanction" was part of an ordinance affecting coolie labor, chiefly on the East Coast of Sumatra. The law defined sanctions against both employer and employee for violation of contracts, but coolies, who generally signed the contract out of sheer need and ignorant of its conditions, were the only ones who had cause to break it. The Ethical Movement at the turn of the century had first brought the penal sanction under criticism for its exploitation and cruelty. The number of coolies sentenced because of offenses against the ordinance — for each year from 1922 to 1930 constantly in the neighborhood of 5 percent of the daily average of hands — brought about renewed debate in the Volksraad. The sharpest remarks came from Haji Agus Salim, a prominent Muslim leader, who called the penal sanction "this stain on civilization, this blow in the face of humanity," as bad as pre-Civil War American slavery, and worse than anything in twentieth-century Islamic countries. Despite such criticism, the Netherlands parliament voted a renewal of the penal sanction in 1924, while trying to soften opposition by expressing "the intention of coming to a gradual abolition."

Not Dutch intentions, but the Great Depression and American legislation against importing articles made by indentured labor finally changed the situation. Contract coolie employment hit its peak in 1929 and declined rapidly thereafter. The half century of legal sanctions behind indentured labor, however, showed the willingness of the Netherlands parliament and of the Indies government to protect and support Dutch business interests despite strong evidence of exploitation and injustice.

In the Philippines, a contemporaneous debate over the corporation law illustrates the difficulty American business interests experienced in obtaining the governmental cooperation and investment conditions they desired. Henry Stimson, arriving as governor general in 1928 with the perspective of a Wall Street lawyer, noted that all the Philippines generated no more electric power than Havana, Cuba. To correct what he considered general economic underdevelopment, Stimson attempted revisions in the land law and the corporation law in order to attract American capital.

Both statutes had originated early in the century. The land law prohibited purchase of public lands in excess of 16 hectares by individuals, or 1,024 hectares by corporations. The corporation law limited the life of corporations to fifty years and prohibited investors from holding an interest in more than one agricultural corporation. The first law was the work of American beet sugar interests, anti-imperialists, and conservationists, and the second the result of the antitrust atmosphere of the Progressive era. The Philippine legislature, from its inception in 1907, defended this American legal handiwork because it coincided with Filipino desires to "preserve the patrimony" against foreign plantation development and imperial capital. Filipino convictions about landholding and the success of the sugar industry in adapting to small plots eventually persuaded Stimson to forget about land law revision. As for the corporation law, the legislature revised Stimson's proposals so that it remained nearly impossible for a holding company to obtain centralized control of two or more corporations.

Unlike the Indonesian Volksraad debate on the penal sanction, the Filipino debate concluded with a native legislature checking the intentions of a foreign executive, and defending native political and economic autonomy at the cost of decelerated economic development. Not until Philippine weakness coincided with American expansionism in 1945–46 would American business lobbies achieve some of the inroads they desired against the restraints erected by turn-of-the century Progressives and anti-imperialists.

Educational Development

As colonial political systems are characterized by foreign dominance, and such social systems by foreign eminence, so are colonial educational systems distinguished by foreign preference. Imperial power projects its own educational system abroad, with adjustments for scale, resources, and long-term policy.

In the United States in 1938, 70 percent of youths aged twelve to nineteen were in school, while in the Netherlands only 30 percent were enrolled in secondary and vocational schools. An even larger imbalance existed between those going on to higher education in the two countries. The American system was clearly oriented toward the mass, while the structure of education in the Netherlands, like that in most of Europe, "had the effect of reinforcing class distinctions and reducing the flow of social mobility. ... The upper levels of education were the preserve of the upper classes." Those who squeezed through all the filters of the system to graduate from Dutch universities, however, were usually grounded in the classics, fluent in two or more Western languages, well-spoken in their own tongue, and familiar with other subjects of consequence.

Administrators carried to their respective colonies these sharply different educational philosophies — the mass orientation of the Americans and the elitism of the Dutch. Comparative literacy figures and enrollment statistics at primary, secondary, and university levels illuminate the systems; the employability of graduates reveals still more; and considerations of cultural gain and loss are also part of an ideal reckoning of value.

The prewar Filipino literacy rate was five times as high as that of the Javanese. Immediately before the war, Western-style school enrollment in the Philippines as a proportion of total population was more than three times as great as that of the Netherlands Indies (Table 1.2). In public high schools (the eighth through eleventh years of academic and vocational education) the Philippines in 1938 had 76,000 students enrolled. The Netherlands Indies had a more rigorous and complex secondary system that included: HBS (Higher Civil School) and lyceum schools comparable in curriculum to those in Holland; MULO (More Extended Lower Instruction) and AMS (General Middle School) levels, whose curricula were partially adapted to the need for Malay language and Asian subject matter; and vocational, commercial, and technical schools. Taken together their total enrollment was 15,000. Thus the Netherlands East Indies, with four times the population of the Philippines, enrolled one-fifth as many students in secondary education. The Philippines, however, had no alternative school systems comparable to the Islamic pesantièn and madrasah in Java, which offered significant opportunities for non-Western learning.

In higher education, differences of quality apparent at the secondary level remained, and differences of quantity became still more pronounced. In 1938–39, there were about 7,500 students at the University of the Philippines, the apex of public education in that country, and another 3,600 in normal and technical schools at a collegiate level. In the same year, at all institutes of advanced education in the Indies, there were only 128 Indonesians.


Excerpted from The Blue-Eyed Enemy by Theodore Friend. Copyright © 1988 Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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Table of Contents

  • FrontMatter, pg. i
  • Contents, pg. vii
  • List of Illustrations, pg. xi
  • List of Tables, pg. xiii
  • Preface, pg. xv
  • Abbreviations and Transliterations, pg. xix
  • Introduction. Liberators and Oppressors in Southeast Asia, pg. 1
  • 1. Dependence and Development Under Dutch and American Rule, pg. 14
  • 2. Expression and Repression Under Dutch and American Rule, pg. 33
  • 3. Japan as Successor Empire, pg. 54
  • 4. Expectation and Mobilization in Java and Luzon, pg. 75
  • 5. Toward a Republic: Indonesia, pg. 105
  • 6. Transition Republic: The Philippines, pg. 121
  • 7. Encounters in the Asian Family, pg. 139
  • 8. Assistance and Resistance, pg. 157
  • 9. Japanese Repression in Victory and Defeat, pg. 185
  • 10. Revolution in Java, pg. 211
  • 11. Binational Restoration in Luzon, pg. 240
  • Conclusion: Dynamics of Empire and Liberation, pg. 258
  • The Sources: A Bibliographic Essay, pg. 289
  • Index, pg. 309

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