During the Pacific War,
the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the Netherlands East Indies (current
Republic of Indonesia) where approximately 288,000 Japanese military and
civilians stationed. In this context, many children were born of Indisch or Indonesian
mothers fathered by Japanese including military personnel, military civilians (e.g.
government officials) and non-military personnel (e.g. company employees). At
the end of the Pacific War, these children were left behind in Indonesia along
with their mothers in most cases after their Japanese fathers repatriated.
Since the Japanese nationality law adopted
patrilineal jus sanguinis principle
until 1984, these children were originally entitled to Japanese nationality.
few children were registered in Japanese
family register (koseki) during the
war. Because neither
of the governments in Japan and the Netherlands have conducted official
investigations on these children, an accurate number of this group of
individuals is unknown. However, based on existing written materials, the
number of children born of Japanese fathers is assumed to range from a few
thousands to tens of thousands.
When the Netherlands agreed to transfer
sovereignty to the independent Indonesia in 1949, many of these children born
of Japanese fathers migrated to the Netherlands with their mothers and their
stepfathers who hold Netherlands nationality.
These children had distinct facial
features inherited from their Japanese fathers that reminded Netherlands-Indisch
people of their former enemy—Japan. Many of them have led an extremely difficult
life, discriminated within their family and society as ‘the enemy’s child’. Most
of these Japanese descendants were not informed explicitly of their origin until
they reached their adulthood. These Japanese-Indisch descendants born of war established
organizations in the Netherlands called JIN and SAKURA in 1991 and 1995 respectively.
For more than two decades, they have been engaged in searching for their
biological fathers as well as confirming their own identity.
Since SOO was established in 2012, we
have implemented projects that aim to contribute to the development of friendship
and mutual understanding among Japan, the Netherlands and Indonesia. SOO’s
current projects include 1) search for biological fathers of children born of Indisch
or Indonesian mothers fathered by Japanese during and after the war, 2) investigation
on their birth and establishing contacts with their Japanese family and 3) improving
public understanding and raising awareness about this group of individuals in
the Netherlands, to name but a few. As of 2017, SOO has conducted
investigations on Japanese biological fathers for 36 individuals. Among these
cases, 9 people successfully found their fathers and 4 people could reunite
with their Japanese relatives.
Search for Japanese
fathers is conducted systematically through interviews with the clients,
through archival research of official documents in Japan, the Netherlands and
other countries and through legal support by a Japanese lawyer. SOO protects personal
information of such individuals and their Japanese families in the process of search
for their fathers and family reunions.