Liveblogging World War II: February 20, 1942
Fiscal Policy During the Great Recession…

Liveblogging World War II: February 21, 1942

Japanese troops in Singapore begin the Sook Ching Massacre:

Wikipedia: The Sook Ching massacre (Chinese: 肅清大屠殺) was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among the Chinese in Singapore by the Japanese military during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, after the British colony surrendered on 15 February 1942 during the Second World War. Sook Ching was later extended to include Chinese Malayans as well…. Hirofumi Hayashi is professor of politics at Kanto Gakuin University and the Co-Director of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility. He writes….

the purge was planned before Japanese troops landed in Singapore. The military government section of the 25th Army had already drawn up a plan entitled, "Implementation Guideline for Manipulating Overseas Chinese" on or around 28 December 1941.[ This guideline stated that anyone who failed to obey or cooperate with the occupation authorities should be eliminated. It is clear that the headquarters of the 25th Army had decided on a harsh policy toward the Chinese population of Singapore and Malaya from the beginning of the war…. the Singapore Massacre was not the conduct of a few evil people, but was consistent with approaches honed and applied in the course of a long period of Japanese aggression against China and subsequently applied to other Asian countries…

The Japanese military authorities, led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, decided on a policy of "eliminating" those who harboured strong anti-Japanese sentiments. The Japanese military authorities defined the following as "undesirables":

  • Activists in the China Relief Fund.
  • Wealthy men who had contributed generously to the Fund.
  • Adherents of Tan Kah Kee, leader of the Nanyang National Salvation Movement.
  • Hainanese, perceived to be communists.
  • China-born Chinese who came to Malaya after the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • Men with tattoos, perceived to be Triad members (Chinese gangsters)
  • Chinese who joined the Singapore Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Army.
  • Civil servants and those who were likely to sympathise with the British, such as Justices of the Peace, and members of the Legislative Council.
  • People who possessed arms and were likely to disrupt public security.

Gen. Yamashita instructed the Syonan garrison to cooperate with the Syonan Kempeitai, the Japanese military police to "punish hostile Chinese severely"…. Lieutenant-Colonel Masayuki Oishi, commander of No. 2 Field Kempeitai, set up his headquarters in the YMCA Building at Stamford Road as the Kempeitai East District Branch…. The Japanese set up designated "screening centers" all over Singapore to gather and "screen" all Chinese males between the ages of 18 and 50. Those who were thought to be "anti-Japanese" would be eliminated…. There were several sites for the killings, the most notable ones being Changi Beach Park, Punggol Beach and Sentosa (or Pulau Blakang Mati)….

The figures of the death toll vary. Official Japanese statistics show fewer than 5000 while the Singaporean Chinese community claims the numbers to be around 100,000. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister who ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990, said in a Discovery Channel programme that the estimated death toll was, "Somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 young men, Chinese".

In an interview on 6 July 2009 with National Geographic, Lee Kuan Yew said:

I was a Chinese male, tall and the Japanese were going for people like me because Singapore had been the centre for the collection of ethnic Chinese donations to Chongqing to fight the Japanese. So they were out to punish us. They slaughtered 70,000 - perhaps as high as 90,000 but verifiable numbers would be about 70,000. But for a stroke of fortune, I would have been one of them….

In 1947, after the Japanese surrender, the British authorities in Singapore held a war crimes trial for the perpetrators of the Sook Ching massacre. Seven Japanese officers - Lieutenant-General Takuma Nishimura, Lieutenant-General Saburo Kawamura, Lieutenant-Colonel Masayuki Oishi, Lieutenant-Colonel Yoshitaka Yokata, Major Tomotatsu Jo, Major Satoru Onishi and Captain Haruji Hisamatsu were charged with the execution of the massacre.