The Kenpeitai In Java and Sumatra

The Kenpeitai In Java and Sumatra

To understand the tone of recent Kenpei recollections, it helps to recall that in the final days of World War ll, the Kenpeitai command bitterly opposed any Japanese proposals for surrender. When the Emperor finally did concede defeat, some Kenpei squad leaders in the field refused to comply and fled to the hills to resist. o­nce a complete Allied victory looked certain, the Kenpeitai burned many of its files in a frantic effort to conceal its war-time record. These memoirs, then, are significant first in that historians have few primary materials o­n the subject of the Kenpeitai in World War II. They are also important because they reveal the thinking of men who helped to shape some of the events of the Pacific War, and certainly helped determine the atmosphere under the Japanese occupation. Of more interest here than accounts of the historical facts, which are often inaccurate, are the tone and attitude of these veterans of the Kenpeitai. Their white-washing and self-vindication do not arise from having been written during the bitterness of the early postwar years, but from a new Japanese pride and nationalism of the last decade.
    In translating these memoirs, we faced the perennial dilemma of a literal versus a liberal translation. While trying to remain faithful line by line to the text, we have had to edit for the sake of readability in English. Japanese personal names appear as in the original—surnames first, given names second. Where multiple readings were possible for a Japanese name, we chose the most common reading for that name. Where the spelling of a Dutch or Indonesian name was unclear from the transliterated Japanese rōmaji, we attempted a phonetic approximation of the Dutch or Indonesian, and noted the rōmaji.

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