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GROUP MEMBERS: Tan Chuu Yee(0315097),
Chia Sue Yi (0315334),
Wong YunShi (0315225),
Tan Kai Sin (0315213),
Kimberley EeSze Ann (0315319).
MODULE: Malaysian Studies (MPW1133)
COURSE: Foundation in Natural and Built Environments
SESSION: April 2013
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Introduction of the Assignment
The main purpose of this assignment is to fulfill the requirements for the subject of Malaysian Studies in our foundation course. Thus,
we were assigned to research a topic related to Malaysian Studies and write about it.
This assignment also has a few objectives which are, to create an opportunity of researching about Malaysia through experiential
learning, to assess student‟s ability on various areas or skills such as research methods, management, communication and technical
skills, to train students in research and fact finding, effective coordinating, executing and writing an assignment, analyzing and
planning, to give opportunity for students to develop their creativity in writing an assignment.
In relation to the above, the topic that we have chosen to research is the topic of Japanese Occupation (in the Malay Peninsula), which
can be found in the textbook Malaysian Studies (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011). The reason that we have chosen to research this
topic is because we find that this topic is historically significant in many ways. The fact that the British could be overthrown by the
Japanese created an understanding among the Asian countries that the Western power could indeed be overcome. Furthermore, the
Japanese also brought about political awareness through their propaganda „Asia for Asians‟ and made locals seek freedom from the
British rule and independence as a country, as stated by (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011).
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However, the Japanese Occupation also spoke of dark times for the population of the Malay Peninsula. It was a time of torture and
cruelty as the Japanese were merciless rulers whom employed violence in carrying out their rule. Even worse, was their treatment of
the Chinese people that eventually caused a rift between the Chinese and Malay people and led to racial strife. Moreover, even the
economy of the Malay Peninsula underwent depression, many necessities were difficult to obtain and this caused prices to inflate as
shown by (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011).
Thus, because of the many historical impacts of the Japanese occupation to the Malay Peninsula we have chosen this topic and we will
further discuss these issues in the later pages of our assignment.
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Table of Content
Title Page no.
Front Cover Page 1
Introduction of the Assignment 2-3
Table of Content 4
The Japanese Occupation 5-9
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The Japanese Occupation
The Rise of Japan
In the period up to 1941, Japan emerged as a major power strong enough to challenge the United States. The growth of Japanese
power was demonstrated in the Russian- Japanese war (1904-1905) and during World War One, Japan's power was further increased.
However, although Japan developed rapidly as an industrialized nation, its people faced many problems. The Japanese faced food
shortages, as their rice production could not keep up with their growing population. Furthermore, the Japanese had no raw materials or
valuable commodities and things such as oil, rubber and iron had to be imported. Therefore, it was no surprise that when the world
went into economic recession after 1929. Japan went to war
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Japan‟s Plan for a New Order
In 1938, Japan devised a plan for establishing a "New Order" in Asia (Greater East Asia Co. -Prosperity Sphere). This plan involved
setting up an organization under Japan's leadership to provide economic growth and political independence. However, in reality it
meant Japan gaining control of Asia and exploiting Asia's raw material for its own use. In order to achieve this goal, the Japanese
propagated "Greater East Asia Co.-Prosperity Sphere" and "Asia for the Asian" to gain support from the Asian people. The Japanese
promised to declare independence in certain South East Asian countries.
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Reason for Japan‟s Invasion on Malaya
However, Japan‟s plan for a “New Order” was not the only reason they were drawn to Malaya. Japanese militarists and industrialists
were keen on obtaining the natural resources that Malaya was known to be rich for. According to the World War II database website,
in 1939, Malaya was the resource of 40% of the world's rubber and 60% of the world's tin; that fact alone interested Japanese
expansionists. However, there were two additional reasons that sealed the approval on the invasion planning that started in early 1941.
The first was that most of Malaya‟s rubber and tin supply went to Japan's potential cross-ocean rival, the United States. Secondly,
Japan needed oil, as every drop of oil consumed by Japan's military and industrial capacities had to be imported. In addition, Malaya
was also part of Japan's "Outline Plan for the Execution of the Empire's National Policy", a plan to expand the Japan‟s outer
perimeters so wide that enemies would not be able to attack by air against the home islands.
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The Japanese Invasion
In the textbook Malaysian Studies, (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011) it is clearly stated that the attack by the Japanese on the Malay
Peninsula took place on 8 December 1941. In fact, the Japanese succeeded in capturing the entire Malay Peninsula as well as
Singapore in the middle of February 1942.
However, it is probable that the success of the Japanese would not have been so easy if not for the fact that the British had been
unprepared for their assault. Firstly, the Japanese were able to take the British by surprise as they launched their attack from the North
instead of the South and attacked through sea routes instead of by air; sinking both the Repulse and the Prince of Wales in the South
China Sea. Furthermore, there was also a delay in military aid from London and India due to financial troubles faced by the British.
Moreover, the Japanese came well prepared to overthrow the British. Their soldiers were well trained, experienced, had high morale
and used combat tactics that suited the terrain, (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011).
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The Japanese Administration
As shown by (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011), the Japanese administration in the Malay Peninsula was military rule that aimed to
restore public order and monopolize the economy of the Malay Peninsula. The Japanese intended to restore order to the local
community which was disrupted by the revolts against Western rulers and form an Asia for Asians‟ administration. Also, the Japanese
planned to use the profits from the economy to support their war effort.
A new Malay Peninsula administration, called the MalaiBaru was headed by a Japanese President or Gunseikan, with his headquarter
in Singapore. Every state was led by a Japanese governor or Syuchokan who were assisted by the District Council. Singapore was
renamed Syonan, and was ruled along with MalaiBaru and Sumatera. The northern Malay States of Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and
Kedah were handed over to Thailand in August 1943.
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Effects of The Japanese Occupation
The Japanese rule brought many negative effects to the population of the Malay Peninsula. The Chinese people were subjugated by
the Japanese due to the fact that the Chinese community had close ties with China. Furthermore, many youths were used as labor and
forced to build the Death Railway that connected Thailand and Burma, many who worked on the railway died of sickness and hunger
as they were forced to work under appalling conditions,(History Channel). The country also faced a food shortage during the time of
the Japanese due to the disruption of world trade and many had to rely on other food sources, such as cassava instead. Moreover,
locals also faced health problems due to lack of medical supplies and malnutrition. The Japanese also created a rift between the
Chinese and Malay people by giving the Malays better treatment, while treating the Chinese poorly.
During the rule of the Japanese, the Malay Peninsula underwent economic depression. The tin and rubber trade went into depression
and almost came to a standstill as a result due to the damage incurred by mines, estates and processing plants during the Japanese
invasion, (Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011). Many necessities were hard to obtain and this caused prices to inflate. The value of the
currency fell badly and the „Banana Leaf‟ currency that was introduced by the Japanese had little value because of uncontrolled
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However, although the population of the Malay Peninsula suffered greatly during the Japanese rule, there were also a few positive
effects. The Japanese occupation brought about political awareness to the local populace and made them want independence.
Furthermore, the Malays were also able to experience being in administrative post and gained confidence to rule their own country,
(Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H, 2011). Also, the locals became aware of the weakness in British rule as they had been defeated by an
Asian power. The Japanese occupation gave birth to the spirit of nationalism amongst the local populace.
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In conclusion, the Japanese occupation brought both negative and positive effects to the Malay Peninsula. The locals had at first been
naive to trust the Japanese and believe their propaganda that promised an „Asia for Asians‟. Moreover, when the British betrayed the
population of the Malay Peninsula by abandoning them to the rule of the Japanese it became clear that they could not trust any other
power to protect them. The Japanese were merciless in their rule and the whole of the Malay Peninsula underwent torture and
suffering. This caused hate, to grow amongst the people of the Malay Peninsula and they were able to rise up and join forces with the
British to overthrow the Japanese. Although after the defeat of Japan, the Malay Peninsula was placed under British rule once more,
the locals had now become aware of their own strength and the spirit of nationalism grew within them and finally allowed them to
Today, many Malaysians overlook the past as we move forward into the future. However, we must not forget the events of the past
that have helped us to develop and achieve the peace and independence we have today. A good example is displayed by the many
Malaysians who choose to pay their respects to those who died during the Japanese occupation. Presently, we can observe that the
world has changed greatly since the time of the Japanese occupation. The Japanese themselves choose not to forget the war crimes
committed by the Japanese soldiers of the past. For example, Professor Nobuyoshi Takashima has been bringing Japanese school
teachers to Malaysia to inform them of the cruelty committed by their people in the past (History Channel). We too must take heed
from the lessons we can learn from history, such that we will never have to suffer in the way of our predecessors.
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Nordin, M. and Hussiin, H. (2011). Malaysian Studies. Shah Alam: Oxford Fajar.
Anthony, W., Tajuddin, A. and Pathmanathan, S. (2012). Malaysian Studies Visual Mind Maps.Puchong: PNI Neuron.
Ww2db.com (1941).Invasion of Malaya and Singapore | World War II Database. [online] Retrieved from:
http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=47 [Accessed: 10 Jul 2013].
Battley, P. (2005).po-ru.com: Manifesto for Greater East Asian Co-operation. [online] Retrieved from: http://po-
ru.com/articles/manifesto-for-greater-east-asian-co-operation/ [Accessed: 11 Jul 2013].
Outsiderjapan.pbworks.com (n.d.).Outsider Japan / War Propaganda. [online] Retrieved from:
http://outsiderjapan.pbworks.com/w/page/9758560/War%20Propaganda [Accessed: 11 Jul 2013].
Warhistoryonline.com (2013).War History Online. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/reg-twigg-
[Accessed: 11 Jul 2013].
Foo, D. (2013). Global Economy Archives - Silver In Malaysia. [online] Retrieved from: http://silverinmalaysia.com/category/global-
economy/ [Accessed: 11 Jul 2013].
Unknown. (2013). The Japanese Invasion of Malaya. [image online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09dGuZ6zQt0
[Accessed: 11 July 2013].
History Channel (2013).Rising Sun Over Malaya. [image online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLx0V0GK4-A
[Accessed: 11 July 2013].
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Manifesto for Greater East Asian Co-operation, Battley, P. (2005).
Japanese war propaganda, depicting Japan as the liberator of East Asia, (Outsider Japan).
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Banana Leaf currency introduced by the Japanese, (Silver in Malaysia).
The locals are forced to become a labor workforce for the construction of the Death Railway, (War History Online).