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The Second World War in Southeast Asia

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  1. 1.  In little more than 3 months, Japan was in militarycontrol of the countries of French Indochina, theBritish possessions in Malaysia, Singapore andBorneo, almost all of the Netherlands East Indies(Indonesia) and was occupying Portuguese Timor. Basically, Southeast Asia fell to the Japanese in lessthan six months of fighting. The peoples of Southeast Asia found their newcolonial masters.
  2. 2. Indonesia Indonesian nationalists like Sukarno and Hatta decided topursue their goal of true independence by joining withthe Japanese, while many Indonesians hailed theJapanese as liberators. One of the single most important aspects of the Japaneseoccupation of Indonesia was the involvement of theindigenous people in political organization of the country. While Japanese military men were try to develop supportfor their country’s war effort, the Indonesians weretaking the opportunity to demonstrate their identity. The Japanese occupation provided another importantsymbolic guide for young Indonesians.
  3. 3. Malay and Singapore The Chinese were regarded as enemies and weretreated savagely, at the beginning of the occupationwhen ten thousands of Chinese were executed. In contrast, less harsh treatment was accorded theMalays and the Indians, showing some deference totraditional Malay leaders. The Japanese also recruited members of the Indianminority to enroll in the Indian National Army forliberate India from the colonial rule.
  4. 4. Burma The Japanese encouraged local politicians tobecome part of an administrative structure, intheory at least, they had a significant role to play. Many thousands younger Burmese claimed the rightto play part in the administration of the country. The Japanese established a civilian Burmeseadministration headed by a well-known oldernationalist, Ba Maw. For a brief period of disagreement seemed to meetthe divergent interests in both parties.
  5. 5. Burma Japanese interests remained paramount and alldiscussion of Burmese independence, powerremained firmly in the hands of the invading army. The demand of war led the Japanese to seek theprovision of food, other resources, and labour fortheir strategic rail and road building projects. These led to the formation of a clandestineorganization with the young military officer AungSan as a prominent member.
  6. 6. The Philippines The Philippines politicians who worked with theJapanese never succeeded in seeming other thanpuppets. The Japanese brutality against the civilian populationand the heavy economic demands tended toreinforce a widespread feeling among ordinary. There was both a significant guerilla resistancemovement, and a large group of politicians andadministrators worked with the invaders.
  7. 7. French Indochina It was unique that the French administration continued tofunction until early 1945. The French’s position remained because of its agreementmade with the Japanese; its colonial territories were putat the will of them. While military and political powers kept by the Japanese,they demanded for resources and manpower. The Communists under the leadership of Ho Chi Minhsucceeded in 1941 in establishing a political frontorganization.
  8. 8. The Tide of War Turns The victories of 1942 had meant the establishment ofnew administrations in which local politicians playeda part. The Japanese interregnum had brought irrevocablechange to the region and problems andopportunities differed greatly form country tocountry. For Thailand, at the beginning, enlisting on theJapanese side gave of regaining control of areas ofCambodia and Laos and later Burma.
  9. 9. The Tide of War Turns (cont.) As circumstances changed so did the Thai leadershipbegin its shift to a position that signaled a cleardefection from the Japanese camp. Traditional capacity for astute diplomacy, domesticskills and more demanding problems elsewhere inSoutheast Asia saved Thailand from any serioushumiliation.
  10. 10. The Tide of War Turns (cont.) In Burma, as British and Indian military forces carriedon a successful campaign defeating the Japanesearmy in 1945, the Allied Supreme Commander, LordLouis Mountbatten, agreed to cooperate with theBurmese nationalists. In the Philippines, the recon-quest took place withconsiderable assistance from various groups such asHakbalahap and a Communist organization.
  11. 11. First Steps to Independence The final Japanese surrender to the Allies took placein August 1945. In Indonesia, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimedindependence and served a notice of readiness tofight against any attempt at the predisposition ofthe Dutch rule. In March 1945, six months before the end of the war,the Japanese forces overthrew the Frenchadministration.
  12. 12. First Steps to Independence (cont.) It became possible for the communist-led Viet Minhforces to accelerate their efforts to gain power, andtheir forces were the most able and affective. When Japan surrendered, Ho Chi Minh proclaimedthe establishment of an independent Vietnam stateon 2 September 1945. Cambodia and Laos did not have the high drama thatmarked the closing stages of WWII.
  13. 13. First Steps to Independence (cont.) Malaya had no significant nationalist movement. Therewas little local interest in nationalism. Even though there was no resistance to the return of theBritish themselves once the war had ended, it was notgreeted with flag-decked buildings or by cheeringcrowds. Singapore was reverted to being a British crown colony. British re-established their protectorate over the Bruneisultanate. The Portuguese resumed their colony in April 1946.