Dear Japanese

commissioned by, and in collaboration with graphic designer Rob van Hoesel

Dear Japanese documents the offspring of Japanese soldiers and Indonesian women, born during the Pacific War, now living in the Netherlands. More than three centuries of Dutch rule over the Indonesian archipelago gave rise to a population of Indo (Dutch-Indonesians). When Japan attacked and occupied the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942, many Indo males were jailed, leaving their wives and daughters to fend for themselves. Japanese children were born as the fruits of relationships based on love or economic need, and a few from sexual assaults. Some only recently found out about their Japanese roots, since the truth was often been kept a family secret.

The project is a subjective documentary assembled by Arnhem-based Japanese photographer Miyuki Okuyama. The book consists of portraits, places and landscapes containing associative Japanese elements which often feel displaced within the Dutch environment and next to the Indonesian characteristics of the people involved.

Since the photographs have a distinct Japanese or Indonesian subject, but were all taken in the Netherlands, we tried to incorporate this contrast into the design of the book as well. Therefore we printed the heavy and dark images on a very thin paper, and only on one side, referring to the ancient Japanese printing techniques. Also, the thin pink cover design resembles typical Japanese newspapers.

Dear Japanese is published by The Eriskay Connection.