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How Valid Is the Claim That the Impact of the Japanese Occupation on the Success of Post-War Independence Movements Has Been Greatly Exaggerated.

Essay by review  •  March 20, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,970 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,410 Views

Essay Preview: How Valid Is the Claim That the Impact of the Japanese Occupation on the Success of Post-War Independence Movements Has Been Greatly Exaggerated.

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The Japanese Occupation would refer to the seizure and control of an area by Japanese military forces. This was marked as an important event in the history of Southeast Asia and a major transformation. Most scholars generally agree that the Japanese Occupation played an important role as a catalyst in ending Western colonial rule in post-war Southeast Asia. However, there are also other factors that allowed the success of post-war independence that include international circumstances and the colonial masters' post war policies. Therefore the impact of the JO on the success of post-war independence movements can be regarded as an exaggeration due to fact that it was unable to fortify the anti-colonial forces enough for the success of post-war independent movements and the vagueness of the stronger force empowered with the ability to demand for independence. Furthermore, the JO increased the problems encountered by the nationalists as it led to the scattering of political powers and the weakening of the nationalists’ movements. Among the various factors, the most crucial factor would be International circumstances in determining the success of post-war independence movements.

The JO had accelerated the development of nationalism in SEA in most countries. It acted as a catalyst to quicken the spreading of the nationalist movements, be it for or against the Japanese. This includes the nationalist movements becoming allies with the Japanese, or them using the common resentment for the Japanese among the local masses. It also assisted the growth of nationalist movements by creating an opportune context for them to generate new elites and marred the status of the colonial masters by proving that they were not invincible. The JO has helped several SEAsian nationalist movements to advance and gain the necessary skills to become successful in their quest to drive out the colonial masters and gain the favor of the masses.

The first case study would be Burma. A group of Thakins, including Aung San, formed the Thirty Comrades and smuggled into Japan to receive military training. They had decided to ally with the Japanese as they were attracted to the Japanese's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere believed that the Japanese were sincere in their offer to help them in their quest to drive out the British. By providing them training, the Japanese helped the movement gain the strength and confidence of the masses. That group also became an vital group in an alliance of anti-Japanese nationalist groups called the Anti Fascist People's Freedom League. The freedom that came with being allies with the Japanese helped the Thakins to move forward with AFPFL, which they participated in when Aung San began to feel that the Japanese were not sincere about helping them gain independence. However the Japanese did help the nationalist movement when they declared Burma an independent country although it was not official as it made them appear to be controlling their own country. The strength, confidence and unity that the Thakins gained during the JO made them a powerful force in the post-war fight against British.

The second case study is Indonesia. Similar to Burma, the Indonesian nationalist movements developed during the JO in terms of strength, confidence and unity. Before the JO, the nationalist movement was disunited as there were secular and religious movements which opposed each other's causes. The defeat of the Dutch during the JO proved to the Dutch-resenting Indonesians that the colonial powers were not all that powerful. The JO also caused the politicization of the Indonesian masses, which led to the rise of the nationalist movements. The Japanese politicized the Indonesians thoroughly through a brutal colonial regime. The exploitation on their economy caused them to suffer even greater than during the Great Depression. This resulted in a common resentment against the Japanese in the masses. By working with the Japanese during propaganda tours, Sukarno, who was in charge of the secular movement, was able to promote himself as a leader to the masses. The rise of influential politicians like Sukarno, Hatto, Sjahrir and Sjarifudin, enabled the nationalist to win over the masses and thus, through its unity as a country and their common goal to be an independent country under no colonial power's control, led to the nationalist forces becoming strong enough to hold back the Dutch till it was eventually successful in gaining official independence. In the cases of both Burma and Indonesia, the JO led to the rise of influential leaders who were able to mould the nation into powerful forces during the JO to achieve their goal.

A factor that showed that the impact of JO is exaggerated is the colonial masters' post war policies. The colonial masters saw the immediate post war period as the 'second colonial reoccupation of SEA', and they were even more determined to maintain their hold on their countries. This is done in benefit for their own home country, where resurrecting their overseas empires will compensate for their loss of wealth and prestige. Despite their detailed plans for economic reconstruction, the undermining of the powers of new movements and ultimately enabling them to gain independence. This showed that the JO’s influence on the post-war independence movement was indeed exaggerated.

Our first case study will be on Malaya. The conflict between communists and democrats in Malaya was tangible. The MCP tried obtaining more political influence by infiltrating political bodies like PMCJA, however, that strategy failed and thus they changed their strategies to reasons like the change of leader from Lai Teck to Chin Peng, and the fact that they could easily retreat to safety in the jungles where they had support. These communists aimed to disrupt the economy and establish a communist republic, and this made the colonial masters realize that they had to pass political power to the locals before the communists got to it. They hastened decolonization by promoting constitutional developments to ensure stability as they knew from the violent struggles for independence in neighboring countries made it clear that decolonization was unavoidable. Without the colonial masters' policies and way of handling the decolonization process, the independence movements in Malaya might not have worked as they succeeded mostly because they received help from the colonial masters, who helped implement the MU which in turn caused more united nationalist movements to form.

The second case study is on Burma. The British refused independence for Burma during the war and insisted on moving towards self-government at the initial pace it'd been going. However, the British's resolution to hold onto Burma wavered due to several factors, one of them being the evident influence of the AFPFL

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