The Full Wiki

Japanese occupation of Singapore: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is part of
the History of Singapore series
Flag of Singapore.svg
Early history of Singapore (pre-1819)
Founding of modern Singapore (1819–1826)
Straits Settlements (1826–1867)
Crown colony (1867–1942)
Battle of Singapore (1942)
Japanese Occupation (1942–1945)
Sook Ching massacre (1942–1945)
Post-war period (1945–1955)
First Legislative Council (1948–1951)
Maria Hertogh riots(1950)
Second Legislative Council (1951–1955)
Anti-National Service Riots (1954)
Internal self-government (1955–1962)
Hock Lee bus riots (1955)
Chinese middle schools riots (1956)
Merger with Malaysia (1962–1965)
Merger referendum, 1962
Operation Coldstore (1963)
1964 race riots in Singapore
MacDonald House bombing (1965)
Republic of Singapore (1965–present)
1969 race riots of Singapore (1969)
Operation Spectrum (1987)
East Asian financial crisis (1997)
Embassies attack plot (2001)
See also Timeline of Singaporean history
[edit this box]
Lt Gen Yamashita (seated, centre) thumps the table with his fist to emphasize his terms – unconditional surrender. Lt Gen Percival. sits between his officers, his clenched hand to his mouth.

The Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War II occurred between 1942 and 1945 after the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942. Military forces of the Empire of Japan occupied Singapore after defeating the combined Australian, British, Indian and Malayan garrison in the Battle of Singapore. The occupation was to become a major turning point in the history of several nations, including that of Japan, Britain and the then colonial state of Singapore. Singapore was renamed to Syonan-to (昭南島 Shōnan-tō), which means "Island of the Light of the South" or "Southern Island (obtained) during Shōwa period".

Singapore was only officially returned to British colonial rule on 12 September 1945, following the formal signing of the surrender instrument at City Hall.


Events leading to the occupation

The Japanese took all of Malaya during the Battle of Malaya in little more than two months. The garrison defending Singapore surrendered only a week after the invasion of Singapore commenced. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history."

Life during the occupation

Reign of terror

The Kempeitai (Japanese military secret police) committed numerous atrocities against the common people. They introduced the system of "Sook Ching", which means "purge through purification", to get rid of those deemed as anti-Japanese. The Sook Ching Massacre claimed the lives of between 25,000 and 50,000 ethnic Chinese in Singapore and Malaya. These men were rounded up and taken to deserted spots around the island and killed systematically. Besides, the Kempeitai established a network of informers around the island to help them identify those who were anti-Japanese. These informers were well-paid by the Kempeitai and had no fear of being arrested. Japanese soldiers patrolled the streets and commoners had to bow to them when they passed by. Those who failed to do so would be beaten.

Scarce basic necessities

Banana money was issued during the war.

Resources were scarce during the occupation. The prices of basic necessities increased drastically due to hyperinflation. For example, the price of rice increased from $5 per 100 catties (about 60 kg) to $5000. The Japanese issued ration cards to limit the amount of resources received by the civilian population. Adults could purchase 4.8 kg of rice per month and 2.4 kg for children. The amount of rice for adults was reduced by 25% as the war progressed.[1]

The Japanese issued banana money as their main currency since Straits currency became rare. The Japanese instituted elements of a command economy in which there were restrictions on the demand and supply of resources, thus creating a popular black market. The "banana currency" started to suffer from high inflation and dropped drastically in value because the authorities would simply print more whenever they needed more money; consequently the black market often used Straits currency.

Food quality and availability decreased greatly. Tapioca, sweet potatoes and yam became the staple food of most diets of Singaporeans because it was considerably cheaper than rice and could also be grown in gardens. It was then turned into a variety of dishes, as both dessert, and all three meals of the day. The nutrients helped stave off starvation, and new ways of consuming tapioca with other produce were regularly invented in order to stave off the monotony. Both the British and Japanese authorities encouraged the population to grow their own food if they had even the smallest amount of land, the encouragement and produce were similar to what occurred with Victory Gardens in the Western nations during World War II.[2] Ipomoea aquatica, which grew relatively easy and flourished relatively well near the water, became a popular crop, as did other vegetables.

Indian National Army

The Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) led by Subhash Chandra Bose was organised by the Japanese military and it aided the Japanese in the Burma Campaign.[3] On October 21 1943, the Provisional Government of Free India established with its first headquarters in Singapore.


Main article: Operation Jaywick, Operation Gustavus, Operation Rimau, Operation Struggle
Ivan Lyon (center) celebrating with 2 other members of Z Force following the success of Operation Jaywick.

Japanese activities in Singapore became the targets of various operations masterminded by Allied forces to recapture the island. On 26 September 1943, an Allied commando unit (Z Force) led by Major Ivan Lyon infiltrated Singapore Harbour and sank or damaged seven Japanese ships comprising over 39,000 tons.

Lyon led another operation, code named Operation Rimau, against Japanese shipping almost a year later and sank three ships. Lyon and 13 of his men were killed after the Japanese discovered them. The other 10 who participated in the operation were charged with espionage in court and subsequently executed.

Lim Bo Seng of Force 136 led another operation, code named Gustavus, to establish an espionage network in Malaya and Singapore to gather military intelligence about Japanese forces for the Allies. However, Operation Gustavus failed and Lim was captured along with his men. Lim died in prison due to ill-treatment.

In August 1945, two midget submarines of the Royal Navy took part in Operation Struggle, a plan to infiltrate Singapore Harbour and sabotage the Japanese cruisers Takao and Myōkō using limpet mines. They inflicted heavy damage on the Takao.

End of the occupation

The Japanese delegation leaves the Municipal Building after the surrender ceremony on 12 September 1945.
A cheering crowd welcome the return of British forces on 5th September 1945.

On 6 and 9 August 1945, U.S. B-29 bombers dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia. By then, the Japanese forces allowed Allied forces to send in reinforcements and food supplies. Prisoners-of-war were checked by the medical officers and arrangements were made to send them home.

On 15 August 1945, Japan announced its surrender. The formal signing of the surrender instrument was held at City Hall, Singapore, then known as "Municipal Hall", on 12 September 1945. This was followed by a celebration at the Padang, which included a victory parade. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia Command, came to Singapore to receive the formal surrender of the Japanese forces in the region from General Itagaki Seishiro on behalf of General Hisaichi Terauchi. A British military administration was formed to govern the island until March 1946.

After the surrender, there was a state of anomie in Singapore, as the British had not arrived yet to take control. The Japanese occupiers had a considerably weakened hold over the populace. There were widespread incidents of looting and revenge-killing. Much of the infrastructure had been wrecked, including the harbor facilities and electricity, water supply, and telephone services. It took four or five years for the economy to return to pre-war levels. When British troops finally arrived they met with cheering and fanfare.

Banana money became worthless after the occupation ended. Many individuals who acquired their wealth through banana currency were rendered penniless overnight.


Decades after the war, there was a political awakening amongst the local populace and the rise of nationalist and anti-colonial sentiments. The Japanese Occupation was testament to the failure of the British to defend Singapore from foreign invasion. The occupation was a milestone in the path to Singapore's eventual independence.

Popular culture

List of monuments and historical sites

See also


  1. ^ "Japanese Occupation". AsiaOne. Retrieved 2006-05-01.  
  2. ^ "Hungry years". AsiaOne. Retrieved 2006-05-01.  
  3. ^ Bose, Romen, "A Will for freedom: Netaji and the Indian Independence Movement in Southeast Asia", V.J. Times, Singapore, 1993

External links

Simple English

The Japanese Occupation of Singapore is a time from 1942-1945 (during World War II) where the Japanese occupied Singapore. The occupation started after the army of Japan defeated the garrison of Australian, British Malaya, Britain, and India. This was at the Battle of Singapore. It was officially returned to the British after the peace treaty ending World War II was signed.

The Japanese did not treat the people very well during their occupation. They tried to kill all anti-Japanese people. There was a large amount of inflation because the Japanese printed paper money for Singapore to use.


In 1941, due to the weak defenses of the country, the Japanese attacked Singapore. They took control of the colony on 15 February 1942 and renamed it Syonan-to (pronounced as Sho-nan-to), meaning Light of the South, during the rule. Many people suffered during this time till the British got back Singapore in September 1945.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address