By Qiuhong Huang

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The Japanese occupation in Singapore was widely regarded as a reign of terror. With the rigid impression of the Japanese as inhumane and violent during World War II, such perceptions overshadowed the changes that occupation might bring to Japan’s colonized populations. Most publications discussing the Japanese occupation of Singapore analyse statistics and case studies associated with the brutality of occupation.1 Due to the short period during which Singapore was occupied by the Japanese, policies implemented by the Japanese administration have been overlooked as exerting negligible impact on the Singaporean political landscape and discussions of Japanese occupation elsewhere. While there are few papers which discuss such policies—such as Yōji Akashi and Mako Yoshimura’s research on Japan’s economic policies for occupied Malaya and Paul H. Kratoska’s discussion of labor mobilisation within Malaya—these studies tend to prioritize their political and economic impact, and lack analyses of their social dimension. 2 To acquire a detailed picture of the Japanese occupation of Singapore, it is imperative to derive a new social perspective regarding policies implemented by the Japanese administration during Singapore’s occupation.

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  1. Cheah Boon Kheng, Red Star over Malaya: Resistance and social conflict during and after the Japanese Occupation, 1941-1946. (NUS Press, 2012).
  2. Yōji Akashi and Mako Yoshimura, New Perspectives on the Japanese Occupation in Malaya and Singapore, 1941-1945, (Nus Press, 2008); Paul H. Kratoska,, The Japanese occupation of Malaya: A social and economic history, (C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1998): 9.