Japanese Invasion of Malaysia

Members of the groups, which included trade and education associations, gathered in Kuala Lumpur and heard speeches from their leaders who accused Tokyo of denying history by playing down Japan’s wartime atrocities on Sunday, April 24, 2005.

Japanese Invasion/Occupation of Malaysia between 1941 and 1945

By the start of the second world war, Malaysia’s economy was flourishing with the output of tin and rubber, giving it great strategic importance. Malaysia fell under threat of a Japanese invasion when the American, British and Dutch governments froze essential raw materials and oil supplies to Japan. Japan was then forced to look to Southeast Asia for shipments. While Britain was preoccupied with defending itself against he threat of German invasion, the Japanese wasted no time to effect their occupation of Malaysia, commencing with the bombing of the beaches of Kota Bharu in Kelantan, and Singapore, on 8 December 1941.

British jungle patrol during Japanese occupation.
British jungle patrol during Japanese occupation.

The takeover continued almost without opposition as Commonwealth troops defending Malaysia were expecting invasion by sea and not by land. They were hopelessly and inadequately trained in jungle warfare and lacked ammunition, so fell to the invaders one by one. Malaysia was occupied for the next three and a half years by the Japanese.

The Japanese army landed in Kota Bharu in Kelantan and Singora and Patani in Thailand. A well led battle-hardened Japanese army soon overran the main towns, breaking the ill prepared Unified Malaysian defence.

After the Japanese Air Raid in Singapore
After the Japanese Air Raid in Singapore

The Japanese invade Singapore after a day of air bombardment. Troops of the Japanese 5th, 18th and Imperial Guards Divisions land on the northwest of the island in the area defended by the 22nd Australian Brigade. The garrison at this point is almost 85,000 strong including support troops. The Japanese have successfully avoided the large guns at the fortress on Singapore as they were designed to defend against a direct sea borne attack.

On Feb 15th, 1942 Britain surrendered the Allied forces.

Within ten weeks the Japanese won control of Malaysia and Singapore. The dreaded Japanese secret police, the Kempetai subjected sympathisers to humiliation and torture especially the Malaysian Chinese sympathisers who were treated ruthlessly and executed.

Oppression of the Chinese community led to a resistance movement which moved to the jungle fringes. There was widespread unemployment and marked social and economic problems, destruction of mining equipment and decline in rubber and tin industries. An armed resistance movement against the Japanese was organised in the Malaysian jungle consisting mainly of Chinese men from The Malaysian Communist Party.

Following the atom bombing of Hiroshima nad Nagasaki, The Japanese surrendered on 12th September 1945 in Singapore.

British forces then landed in Malaysia and re-established their authority.

Source: journeymalaysia.com, raafschoolpenang.com

A Brief History of Malaysia

Malaysia Today
Malaysia Today

The early Buddhist Malay kingdom of Srivijaya, based at what is now Palembang, Sumatra, dominated much of the Malay peninsula from the 9th to the 13th centuries AD. The powerful Hindu kingdom of Majapahit, based on Java, gained control of the Malay peninsula in the 14th century. Conversion of the Malays to Islam, beginning in the early 14th century, accelerated with the rise of the state of Malacca under the rule of a Muslim prince in the 15th century. Malacca was a major regional entrepot, where Chinese, Arab, Malay, and Indian merchants traded precious goods. Drawn by this rich trade, a Portuguese fleet conquered Malacca in 1511, marking the beginning of European expansion in Southeast Asia.

The Dutch ousted the Portuguese from Malacca in 1641. The British obtained the island of Penang in 1786. In 1795, the Dutch gave up Malacca to the British temporarily to prevent it from falling to the French during the Napoleonic war. It was returned to the Dutch in 1818. In 1824, through the Anglo-Dutch treaty, Malacca was given to the British in exchange for Bengkulen on the island of Sumatra, in what is today Indonesia.

In 1826, the British settlements of Malacca, Penang, and Singapore were combined to form the Colony of the Straits Settlements. From these strongholds, in the 19th and early 20th centuries the British established protectorates over the Malay sultanates on the peninsula. Four of these states were consolidated in 1895 as the Federated Malay States.

During British control, a well-ordered system of public administration was established, public services were extended, and large-scale rubber and tin production was developed. This control was interrupted by the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.

Popular sentiment for independence swelled during and after the war and, in 1957, the Federation of Malaysia, established from the British-ruled territories of peninsular Malaysia in 1948, negotiated independence from the United Kingdom under the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman, who became the first prime minister. The British colonies of Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah (called North Borneo) joined together with the Federation to form Malaysia on September 16, 1963.

Japanese Invasion of Malaysia (AP/Vincent Thian)
A Malaysian man walks under a banner, referring Japanese invasion during World War II, as a meeting from more than 100 Chinese groups in Malaysia condemned Japan over its controversial new school textbook and opposed Tokyo’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 24, 2005.

Singapore left the Federation on August 9, 1965, and became an independent republic. Neighboring Indonesia objected to the formation of Malaysia and pursued a program of economic, political, diplomatic, and military “confrontation” against the new country, which ended only after the fall of Indonesia’s President Sukarno in 1966.

Following World War II, local communists, nearly all Chinese, launched a long, bitter insurgency, prompting the imposition of a state of emergency in 1948 (lifted in 1960). Small bands of guerrillas remained in bases along the rugged border with southern Thailand, occasionally entering northern Malaysia. These guerrillas finally signed a peace accord with the Malaysian Government in December 1989. A separate, small-scale communist insurgency that began in the mid-1960s in Sarawak also ended with the signing of a peace accord in October 1990.

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs