Mandor, Pontianak, and Tayan: Focal Points in West Kalimantan that Echo the Traces of Japanese Occupation

Recorded in history: the traces of Japan's control and occupation in West Kalimantan are immortalized in the "Makam Juang" (Grave of Struggle) in Mandor. Photo credit: Dayak Djongkang book.

Japan didn't hold sway over the Indonesian archipelago for long compared to the Dutch East Indies. Not more than between 3 to 4 years. 

Yet, the imprint of Japan's rule and influence was profound. Take for example West Kalimantan, where there are settlements preserving the traces, deeds, and actions of the Japanese in Kampung Bali, Pontianak city today. 

In Mandor, not far from Pontianak, there's the "Makam Juang" (Grave of Struggle) which historically commemorates the events carried out by the Japanese during their occupation, never to be forgotten, including the humanitarian tragedy. 

This book devotes a whole chapter to recount how the Dayaks resisted the Japanese in the Battle of Madjang Desa and the horrifying "Sungkup" event. It intricately details the period of Japanese occupation in West Kalimantan, particularly in the Dayak Djongkang region, which is one of the Bidayuh subgroups in Sanggau.

The narrative revealed encompasses crucial aspects such as sungkup, Japanese commercial endeavors, and their actions' aftermath during the occupation.

The Dayak Djongkang and the Japanese

The Dayak Djongkang, as an integral part of the social history of Dayak Djongkang, actively engaged in the dynamics of their relationship with Japan during the occupation period. Their presence bore witness to tragic events and changes in daily life brought about by the Japanese forces.

The Japanese occupation in Dayak Djongkang not only involved military presence but also encompassed social, historical, and livelihood aspects.

General Hideki Tojo and the Makam Juang Monument in Mandor stand witness to the Japanese atrocities that left traumatic marks, lingering in the collective consciousness of the younger generations of West Kalimantan (Kalbar) to this day.

In West Kalimantan, Japan held power from 1942 to 1945 during World War II. To this day, several eyewitnesses can still recount stories about Japan on the island of Borneo.

Hideki Tojo, as a Japanese general, was involved in the decision to launch military aggression in various Asian regions, including West Kalimantan. The cruel actions and Japanese occupation in the area left unforgettable traces. The Makam Juang Monument serves as a reminder of the atrocities committed during the Japanese occupation.

The younger generation of West Kalimantan is reminded of the brutality of the sungkup events of the past, and the trauma from those experiences still lingers today. The Makam Juang Monument serves as a reminder of those tragic events and as a tribute to the victims who witnessed the Japanese atrocities in West Kalimantan.

This book records the Japanese occupation, internment of missionary pastors serving in West Borneo, sungkup events, and the atrocities of that era, all embodied in the Makam Juang in Mandor, West Kalimantan.

The Juang Graves in Mandor

In their quest to establish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Japan viewed Borneo as an extremely strategic region, especially as it stretches north to south along with islands like Japan, Formosa, Borneo, and Celebes. During the Greater East Asia War, Japan aimed to control this island cluster as part of its territory.

Cities along the coast of the South China Sea, such as Sambas, Pemangkat, Singkawang, Mempawah, Sei Pinyuh, and Pontianak, were considered highly strategic and advantageous for Japan as defense bastions in the Greater East Asia War. During their occupation, Japan established governance in West Borneo by annexing new territories, such as East Kalimantan with Samarinda as its capital.

Borneo Minseibu Cokan

West Borneo during the Japanese occupation was ruled by the Navy (Kaigun) under the name Borneo Minseibu Cokan, with its center in Banjarmasin. Despite being under Japanese rule, West Borneo still maintained the status of Minseibu Syuu controlled by Syuu Tizi.

In 1945, the Japanese government was replaced by the Dutch government, Nica.

To control West Borneo, Japan opened trading companies such as Fuku Company involved in timber and railway trading, Nakahara Fuji Company focusing on groceries and fragile goods trading, and Nomur Trading Co engaged in rubber and major enterprises. 

Honda controlled the portrait shop and portrait photography business, while Sumitomo Kabushiki Kaisyo managed sawmills in West Borneo and its surrounding areas.

Japan launched horrific sungkup events by landing a number of their citizens in West Borneo. Employees and associates of Japanese companies were turned into spies providing vital information for decision-making.

These spies were highly organized and unsuspected or known by the colonial government. Girls from the Land of the Rising Sun were turned into prostitutes tasked with spying, serving as alluring bait to acquire secret information impossible to obtain directly by the colonial government.

To this day, remnants of the past still "speak". The locus is in Kampung Bali, Pontianak, now right behind the Santika Hotel. It was once a place of prostitution for Japanese girls.

- Ruma Kencana

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