The Jansen Diary, in Deze Halve Gevangenis, (In this semi prison) is one of the most extraordinary documents emerging from the Pacific War. That the document survived and finally saw the light of day is a miracle.
Leo Jansen Biography
Dr Leo Jansen Graduated with a degree in Law in 1928 and soon thereafter immigrated to the Netherlands East indies where he secured employment in the administration. His interest in social issues were quickly aroused in his new environment, where his innate linguistic capabilities soon also manifested itself. He became fluent in Japanese and Malay, today’s Behassa Indonesia.
By the time the Pacific War broke out he had become a senior figure managing the affairs of the Governor General’s advisory Council, a multi-ethnic, partly elected, partly appointed body.
The Japanese Propaganda Bureau in Batavia
After the capitulation of the Netherlands East Indies government on 8 March 1942, Japanese officials engaged in the establishment of a propaganda bureau in Batavia (Jakarta), attemptedÂ to recruit the erudite Dr Jansen, along with other prominent figures from the prewar Dutch and Malay language media.
The Propaganda bureau was charged with three objectives: to discourage Allied troops, to encourage Japanese troops, and to keep the lid on domestic (Indonesian) unrest. Jansen refused to take part in Dutch language radio broadcasts, but after physical coercion by the notorious kempetai agreed to translate English, Dutch and French broadcasts into Japanese. A quid pro quo was that he was able to lead a normal but restricted life in occupied Batavia. He was in a half prison.
During this period he kept a secret diary detailing discussions that took place in the propaganda bureau among the well-informed international staff (Japanese, Indonesian, Dutch, Ceylonese, English). Many of these discussions touched on the military developments and the political evolution throughout South east Asia.
Dr Leo Jansen’s fatal misstep
Towards the end of the war he became acutely aware of the misconceptions held by the Netherlands East Indies Government-in-exile in Australia. These people even before the war had failed to appreciate how widespread had become opposition to Colonial rule, and now (1945), assumed that Indonesians would welcome a return of their colonial masters.
Leo’s ill-fated attempt to secretly use the Japanese Radio transmitter to disabuse his form,er government colleagues in Brisbane, Queensland of this absurd notion was intercepted and Dr Jansen spent the remainder of the war in a Kempetai cell under appalling conditions. He barely survived the liberation only toe misdiagnosed by hospital staff and to die.
Contribution to Tjideng Reunion
Leo’s diary informed the writing of chapters 5 through 9, with valuable account of the military, social , economic and political factors on Java that influenced the oppressive atmosphere in Tjihapit and Tjideng. This book thus complements the diary of Jan Bouwer