Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday he regrets the fact that Indonesian victims of the Japanese invasion during World War II feel misunderstood, but stopped short of apologising.
‘The Indonesian people still feel misunderstood because of a lack of understanding by others for the horrors of the war in Asia. I regret that,’ he said during the annual remembrance ceremony in The Hague on Saturday.
‘Seventy years after the Japanese capitulation we are more than ever conscious that this period of our history demands continuing attention and an active remembrance,’ Rutte said.
‘Let us ensure that the lack of understanding and the grief of the victims is slowly removed.’
Immediately after the capitulation in what was then Dutch India, the local population called for independence which the Dutch were not prepared to grant. The result was a war between Dutch soldiers and the Indonesians which lasted from 1945 to 1950.
The organisers of Saturday’s ceremony told the NRC: ‘The period following the end of World War II was a chaotic and violent time, during which many people were unable to leave the Japanese prison camps and thousands more were interned.’
On Friday Rutte told broadcaster Nos that ‘it has taken a long time for the Dutch and Indonesians to recognise that what happened during that period was horrific’.
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