Japan brought an ethnic awakening to Indonesia

Ethnologist Iwa Kusuma Sumantri has said that the Russo-Japanese War awakened the Asian people from their sleep.  The war showed that even a large country in Europe could be defeated by a small country in Asia.

Later in the political development of Asia and Indonesia, Japan’s victory had  incalculable meaning. All of Asia shared a common delight in the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War.

In April of 1905, the Baltic Fleet sailed confidently as if carrying all the powerful energy of Europe, when the combined fleet led by Togo Heihachiro sent it to the bottom of the Japan Sea. The news surprised the world, and ethnologists in Asia rejoiced.

The colonial structure of the European ruling over the Asian was then justified by Darwin’s theory of evolution, that whites were superior and coloured, inferior. When the Japanese defeated the Russians, they smashed this myth of white superiority to pieces. Three years later in 1908, Budi Utomo (a political society whose name meant “Pure Endeavor”) was organized, commemorating Indonesia’s ethnic awakening.