Shigetada Nishijima

Shigetada Nishijima
Shigetada Nishima (back row, third from right) is captured in a photograph taken during Sukarno’s visit to Makassar in 1945. By unknown photographer -, Public Domain,

Born in Gunmaken in 1911, Shigetada Nishijima moved to the Dutch East Indies in 1937 under the auspices of Japanese Naval Intelligence; a highly educated man, he had been recruited to increase Japanese naval influence in the region of the southern seas, the Nan’you. He managed to escape detection by the Dutch authorities, even as he and other undercover Japanese established links with Indonesian nationalists.

He was, however, among the Japanese who were detained by the Dutch East Indies authorities at the outbreak of war in the Pacific and was sent to Australia aboard the Cremer in January 1942 to be interned at Loveday. Had authorities been aware that Nishijima was a spy, and that he would go on to play a role in undermining Dutch colonial control, then they might not have included him among the 834 Japanese who departed Australia via an exchange agreement in August 1942. Back in the Japanese-controlled Dutch East Indies, Nishijima would go on to gather together Indonesian nationalists and developa special school for independence under the authority of Admiral Maeda of the Japanese Navy. He was present in Maeda’s house when the nationalists under Sukarno drew up Indonesia’s proclamation of independence. After the Japanese surrender, Nishijima was arrested as a war criminal but was soon able to return to his family in Japan.



Greg Poulgrain, ‘The Loveday Exchange, Australia, 1942: The Japanese Naval Spies Return to Java’, Indonesia, Vol.55 (1993), pp.140-149;

‘Shigetada Nishijima’,

NAA: MP1103/2 IJ50866 Prisoner of War/Internee; Nishijima, Shigetada; Year of birth - 1911; Nationality - Japanese