Indians in War and Revolution in the Asia-Pacific Region

Robert Cribb's picture
February 20, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Military History, South Asian History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies

When Japanese forces invaded Southeast Asia in 1941, hundreds of thousands of Indian people were present in the region. Some were soldiers of the British Raj, some were independent entrepreneurs and professionals, some were labourers in plantations, ports and factories and some had come to join family members. Some were sojourners, intending to return home sooner or later, while others had settled in the region for good. Indians in Southeast Asia had mixed experiences under Japanese rule. Some were cultivated by Japanese authorities as allies in the struggle against the British empire, others were treated brutally as forced labourers. In the revolutionary years that followed the Japanese surrender, Indians appeared on the political stage in Southeast Asia as allies of the nationalist movements, as troops fighting for the colonial powers and amongst the many who sought a reckoning for the hardships they had suffered under the Japanese occupation.

This workshop examines the Indian experience in the Asia-Pacific region during the 1940s. Speakers address especially the roles of Indians in the war crimes trials that followed the conflict as victims, witnesses, prosecutors and judges.

To offer a paper in this workshop, please contact Robert Cribb ( by 7 February 2017. To register to attend, please contact Robert Cribb ( by 16 February 2017

This workshop is supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and the ANU Southeast Asia Institute.


Draft program

Monday 20 February

12.45                             Registration

13.00                             Opening

13.30 – 15.30           Panel 1: Indians in Southeast Asia in Time of War

Sandra Wilson (Murdoch): "Indian Prisoners of the Japanese Military"

Takuma Melber (Heidelberg): The ‘Indian role’ in the Fall of Singapore and the Japanese occupation of the Malay Peninsula"

Afternoon tea break

 16.00 – 17.00          Round table discussion: Summary of the day – 1st ideas for common research project prospective


Tuesday 21 February


09.00 – 10.30           Panel 2: Tangled allegiances

Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg): “The global frame: Indian representatives within the Allied war crimes trials program”

Lisette Schouten (Heidelberg): “Shifting loyalties? Desertion among British and Indian troops on Java and Sumatra, 1945-1949”

Morning tea break

11.00 – 13.00           Panel 3: The persecutors on trial I

Wolfgang Form (ICWC, Marburg): “Indians as victims within the Allied war crimes trials program after WWIIAsia-Pacific-Region”


Lunch break



14.00 – 15.30           Panel 3: The persecutors on trial II

Milinda Banerjee (LMU Munich): “South-East Asian Nationalisms, Japanese Colonialism, and the Ambiguities of Indian Victimhood: Three Indian Representations” 

Robert Cribb (ANU): "Out of the mouth of death: the trial of Yamawaki Hifumi"


Afternoon tea break


16.00 – 17.00           Narrelle Morris (Curtin) Indians in Australian cases in Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

17.00                             Final discussion

Contact Info: 

Robert Cribb

Dept of Political and Social Change

Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs

Australian National University

Contact Email: