Biological Father Search of Japanese-Indisch Children Born of War

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. However, very 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.