7 August 2003

The Jakarta Post | Another side of Hiroshima:
In this context, Indonesia's honesty would likely be tested over her role as a former colonial power. It would likely be too bitter for Indonesia to concede the historical fact that it colonized East Timor. From the expressions and stories of many East Timorese, we can gather that their perception of the brutality and atrocities suffered under Indonesian occupation was no different from the perceptions of those Indonesians who suffered under Japanese rule.

Still we insist that we liberated East Timor in 1976 from imperialism. Does Indonesia still not feel any shame in insisting -- as Japan also insisted in the 1940s -- that the East Timorese should thank us for our generosity in providing them with a better life? Indonesia needs to rewrite at least its historical version of East Timor. Denial only proves how immature and irresponsible we are as a nation.

One day, East Timor might build a museum to memorialize the nation's suffering during Indonesian oppression. If that happens, perhaps there will be a protest from the Indonesian government, insisting that Dili place a plaque in the museum 'speaking the truth about the role each country played in the war'.

Back to Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to attend on Wednesday an annual memorial service in Hiroshima. Japan is the only nation that has directly felt the horror of nuclear weapons. Japan was changed by the experience and now she consistently plays a pivotal role in building world peace.

And we hope that Japan will continue to play its role as the world's second most powerful economy for world prosperity and peace. However, it is not easy to face up to a moment of truth in history, even in our individual lives.

I had planned a longish Hiroshima Day essay, but in the end I thought this Indonesian perspective was more interesting.

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