The forgotten Jihad under Japan: Muslim reformism and the promise of Indonesian independence

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In this article I seek to make sense of the apparent contradiction of a call for jihad made under the auspices of the Japanese empire during its occupation of Java from March 1942 to September 1945. Why was Mas Mansur (1896–1946), the Indonesian religious figure and national hero who made the call, so supportive of the Japanese military administration? And why is this act so seldom remembered? As I hope to explain, Japan had already figured in the reformist Muslim imagination as a patriotic anti-western model for decades, creating a constituency that was initially open to Japanese overtures framed around mobilising national sentiment. Equally some Japanese advocates of southern expansion had thought about such framings while downplaying their preferred vision for a Greater East Asia that would not include an independent Indonesia. How this collaboration played out, with the Japanese eventually conceding ground on Islamic terms to gain national bodies, is a story worth retelling. In so doing I stress that Indonesia – lying at the intersection of pan-Islamic and pan-Asian imaginaries – should figure more prominently in global studies of Japanese policies regarding Islam in Asia or yet anti-Westernism in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-161
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Indonesia
  • Islam
  • Japanese occupation
  • Reformism


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