Japanese military forces invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941 and British forces surrendered in Singapore 70 days later. Japan ruled the territory for 3% years. During this time, early efforts to maintain pre-war standards gave way to a grim struggle for survival as the once-vibrant economy ground to a halt, and residents struggled to deal with unemployment, shortages of consumer goods, sharp price rises, a thriving black market and widespread corruption. People were hungry, dressed in rags, and falling victim to treatable diseases for which medicines were unavailable, and had little reason to hope for better in the future.
Drawing on surviving wartime administrative papers, oral sources, intelligence reports and post-war accounts by Japanese officers, this book presents a picture of life in occupied Malaya and Singapore. It shows the impact of war and occupation on a non-belligerent population, and creates a new understanding of the changes and the continuities that underlay the post-war economy and society.
The book was first published in 1998 and is now re-issued in a new edition that incorporates information from newly translated Japanese documents and other recent discoveries.
“This major piece of historical scholarship examines Malaya and Singapore between 1939 and 1945, a period that hastened the transition from colonialism to independence. The best book on World War ll Malaya, it is indispensable for understanding the consequences of Japan’s wartime occupation.” – Gregg Huff, Pembroke College, University of Oxford
About the author: Paul H. Kratoska formerly taught history at Universiti Sains Malaysia and the National University of Singapore. He is the publishing director of NUS Press.