Bulu prison massacre

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The Bulu prison massacre was an incident that took place in Bulu prison, Semarang, Central Java, occurring late in World War II in which over one hundred Japanese POWs were killed by Indonesian forces.


In 1945, even before they surrendered to the Allied Powers, Japan had begun to lose its grip on Indonesia and Indonesian nationalists began to seriously consider its independence. The Allies knew this, and because there were still at least 70,000 Allied prisoners of war in Indonesia, RAPWI (Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees) was sent on a mission by the Allies to "try to contact the responsible Japanese authorities, alleviate conditions in the prison camps and arrange the evacuation of the prisoners and internees." [1]

Two days after the Japanese surrender, Sukarno, an Indonesian Nationalist, declared Indonesia independent. As for the Japanese still stationed in Indonesia, the nationalists, called pemuda, demanded the Japanese hand over all arms and ammunition. RAPWI "strongly objected to such actions and demanded that the Japanese continue to protect the [Allied POW] camps".[2] However, many officers, including Major General Nakamura Junji, ignored RAPWI's request and turned over their weapons.[2]

However, not all Japanese officers, such as Major Kido Shinishiro, agreed to surrender their weapons. Although originally thought to be a sign of "military honor and obligation toward the prisoners and internees menaced by the Indonesians," Kido later admitted that he refused to surrender his rifles because they "bore the imperial chrysanthemum emblem, indicating that they were in fact the property of the emperor."[3]

This refusal to surrender the weapons infuriated the Indonesian nationalists.


In response to Kido's decision not to return the weapons, Indonesian nationalists in Semarang killed one hundred and thirty Japanese prisoners located at Bulu prison: "Some corpses were hanging from the roof and from the windows, others had been pierced through and through with bamboo spears....Some had tried to write last messages in blood on the walls."[3]

When the Japanese came upon the prison, they were infuriated and "As the Japanese soldiers captured more weapons from the Japanese nationalists they armed Japanese civilians, who joined in the killing." All together, the Japanese killed over two thousand Indonesians as revenge for the Bulu Prison Massacre.[3]


  1. ^ Spector, p.169.
  2. ^ a b Spector, p.178.
  3. ^ a b c p. Spector, 179


  • Spector, Ronald. In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia. (Random House: New York) 2007.