The Japanese Occupation – Singapore

This post would be useful particularly for students using the new Secondary Two History textbook.

The Occupation between 1942 and 1945 saw new legal tender (the ‘banana money’, that had no serial number!) and rationing (with the Japanese issued ‘Peace Living Certificates’). As there was hoarding and decreased supply, a black market grew with prices hitting the roof (hyperinflation – arguably by expansion of money supply). Eventually, death rates in the final two years jumped 100% owing to disease and poor nutrition.

The Old Ford Factory, run by the National Archives of Singapore is another place you can find out about the period.

[Kelly Jackson-Nash. (2016). Culture Shock: Singapore. Marshall Cavendish. Singapore. p.24-25.]

Politically, there was a constant climate of fear with the Kempeitai (Japanese military police) in the shadows. The purges of the Sook Ching operation (against mainly the Chinese), was described by Nicholas Tarling as “…not only a crime, but a blunder.’ A racial/ethnic based divide-and-rule policy was maintained though.

Interestingly, an airport ordered by the Japanese was completed between 1943 and 1945.

In the end, many local residents actually embraced the re-establishment of British control in September 1945.

[Nicholas Tarling. (2015). Colonial Singapore. Straits Times Press and Institute of Policy Studies. Singapore. p.73-75.]

Finally, InSing ran a piece in 2013 on food during the period (with a video to boot!). Click on the lick below : )

Wartime recipes: What people ate during WWII in Singapore

[Side note: The Ipomoea aquatica or Water Spinach is our kang kong/kang kung! It is considered a weed in the United States?! – Worldcrop website.]




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