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South Asian During Japanese Occupation Essay

1566 words - 7 pages

a) The South Asian experience during the Japanese Occupation (1942-45)

The Japanese Occupation was like a long nightmare that lasted for three and a half years. The various ethnic groups of Singapore were treated differently during 3 years of Japanese ruling. Following the defeat of the “Impregnable Fortress”, the Japanese military administration in Tokyo convinced with Japanese military to use highly brutal clean-up operations against the Chinese. The Indians, on the other-hand, were either given much leeway and treated with kindness or experienced a similar fate like the Chinese. This essay will examine how the Indians were torn between two choices; for or against the Japanese ...view middle of the document...

Indian soldiers who had defied the Japanese’s appeal to join the INA had to work on various Japanese contruction projects. The largest group contained 5,000 Indian prisoners which were sent to Rabual in New Britan. The second largest group was sent to Wewak, in north-western Australian New Guinea, which consisted of 3,000 men. (Journal of the Australian War Memorial | Australian War Memorial) The formation of the INA (Indian National Army) was mooted by an Indian POW, Captain Mohan Singh, in 1942 with the aim of mobilizing Indians in Singapore to support India’s independence struggle. Captain Mohan Singh was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Indian contingents by the Japanese; he convinced the Indian POWs to enlist in the Indian National Army, only then they are able to liberate India’s freedom from British rule. The agreed condition was that “military action against the British in India will be taken only by the INA and under Indian command. (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose) Indian military, naval and air assistance may be requested from the Japanese by the “Council of Action”. (Indian Independence League: The "think tank" behind the INA) After the liberation of India, the framing of the future constitution of India was left entirely to the representatives of India. (Subhas Chandra Bose, The Indian National Army, and The War)

Despite supporting the Japanese, it is clear that the Indians’ loyalty belongs to India and India’s liberation from British rule. However, Captain Mohan Singh later fell out with senior Japanese intelligence officers as he did not want the Japanese military to fully control the Indian National Army. Captain Mohan Singh was treated roughly by the Japanese military and stripped of his military powers and put under house arrest. The relationship between the Japanese military and the militant Indian National Army turned sour. The situation had turned risky. Luckily for the Japanese, Subhas Chandra Bose, another leader of the Indian National Army, returned secretly from Germany to Singapore and took over the handling of this highly sensitive matter. No one could imagine what might have happened should the situation deteriorate further as there were more than 20,000 members of the fully armed Indian National Army in the Malay Peninsula. The Indian POWs, who eventually joined the INA, kept a wary eye on the Japanese Military. (Joyce C. Lebra, 2008)

Despite the military’s efforts to gain more of the Indian population’s support, they had instilled more fear in their hearts. The brutalities shown against the Chinese sowed seeds of doubt in their hearts, many questioned if this was the benevolent governance of the Imperial Army which they promised. I will now discuss the other group of South Asian POWs in Singapore, those who were anti-japanese. Indian troops captured in Singapore were immediately separated from their European officers and exposed in INA propaganda. There was a group of Indian soldiers who fought alongside...

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