Japanese Occupation of the Philippinesby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
Trace the Japanese interests, occupation of, and departure from the island chain of the Philippines and the reaction of the Philippinos.
During the years 1941 to 1945 the Philippines went through an occupation by the Japanese. It was a time of heartache, brutality, and guerilla warfare as the inhabitants tried to their utmost to push the foreign invaders out of their land. However, what caused the Japanese to go there in the first place? How did their occupation affect the religion and mind set of the Philippine natives?
Beginning by initiating a war with Russia in 1905, they brutality they swept into China, the Pacific islands, and other such countries in close proximity to them. Their ultimate act of aggression took place on December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese Navy, under Yamamoto, launched a surprise attack against the United States navy at Pearl Harbor. This attack brought the United States into the war against the “axis powers,” of which Japan had recently joined. On December 8th, the Americans declared war, and on the same day, the Philippines were invaded. The Japanese took the Philippines for natural resources and military advantage in order to destroy a forward American base under the command of Douglas MacArthur.
Natural resources posed a great area of stress for the Japanese. Their islands were not large enough and did not contain enough resources to sustain the Japanese war machine. Manchuria and the massive resources of China could supply raw materials for steel. The Philippines contained rich plantations, and thus the Japanese turned their hungry eyes towards the island chain.
Finally, the military advantages were immense. The Philippines could be used as another base of operations, thus allowing further flexibility and maneuverability of the Japanese Air Force and Naval forces. Based in the Philippines, the Japanese were one step closer to reaching the English held Australia, an important military target. Finally, by taking the island away from the United States the Japanese were in essence removing an important Allied command post in southern Pacific.
Although MacArthur had previously put in frequent requests for more troops to defend the island, no troops came. Japanese bombers shattered the island chain, while troop transports unloaded at several beaches. The United States soldiers under MacArthur could do almost nothing to stop the onslaught. Eventually, by May of 1941, MacArthur was forced to flee by the United States President, who feared for the general’s life. The remaining 80,000 Americans were doomed to a life in the brutal prisoner of war camps. With his immortal words, MacArthur promised, “I shall return.”
With the Japanese in full control of the islands, they immediately went about establishing an “independent republic.” However, this puppet type of government, with their own chosen official as President, did not meet with public popularity. This increased the motivation of the guerilla resistance that gradually helped force the Japanese off of the islands. The Japanese could not do nearly enough to stop the uprisings, and by the end of the war they only retained a fourth of the entire string of islands.
Following through with his promise, MacArthur landed his troops in October of 1944. With local help he began an almost year long bloody offensive ending when the Philippines were finally surrendered to the Americans in September of 1945. At last the Philipinos had ridden themselves of the Japanese terror.
From the perspective of the natives themselves, neither the Americans nor the Japanese were looked on kindly at first. The Americans treated the inhabitants well, yet they were still looked upon as an unwelcome guest. However, in comparison, the Japanese brutality quickly decided them. With frequent rapes, forced labor, and other such cruelties, the Japanese showed their traditional appreciation for their conquered territories. When the Americans returned, they were viewed as heroes.
For almost 300 hundred years the Philippines had been immersed in the Roman Catholic religion, until the Spanish American War of 1898. At that time Protestant missionaries ‘invaded’ the island, bringing a different form of a relationship with God instead of a religion with God. Overall, the Philippine natives did not look kindly on this, and this added another reason they did not appreciate the American’s before the Japanese invasion.
While the Japanese inhabited the island, an influx of their religion came as well. The Japanese ancestral worship and the worship of multiple gods further confused the inhabitants of the Philippines. Finally however, the American’s came back and brought religious freedom with them.
The Japanese shifted interests after the war. With their national pride of arms devastated, they turned to a more ‘peaceful’ alternative. Instead of producing weapons and tanks, the Japanese came back as an economic instead of a militaristic nation. Instead of militaristic rule they now center on a constitutional rule.
Overall, the Japanese interests in the Philippines as a militaristic nation were immense. It provided many advantages to further the war effort, and also supplies and raw material needed to fuel a large scale war. However, the Philippines fought back, and with the American aid eventually demolished the Japanese hold on the islands. From the end of the war, the Japanese view changed to a more constitutional and economic one.
1) What were the basic reasons for the Japanese invasions of the Philippines?
- To reclaim what they had lost in 1853
- To get natural resources of oil and iron ore.
- To acquire natural resources, gain a military instillation, and conquer a enemy force
- To meet the famed American General and get fat with the locals on the delicious sugar cane.
2) What General said the immortal words “I will return?”
- General MacArthur,
- General Eisenhower,
- General Patton,
- General Harrison, or
- None: the correct phrase is “I shall return”.
3) What date did the Japanese invade the island?
- December 7th, 1940
- December 7th, 1941
- December 8th, 1942
- December 8th, 1941
4) When was the islands retaken by MacArthur and his men?
- October, 1944, to September, 1945.
- October, 1943, to October, 1946.
- September, 1944, to October, 1945.
- October, 1946, to September, 1964.
“MacArthur”, Emperor.com. May 6, 2005
“Country Studies”, The Library of Congress. May 6, 2005
“Southeast Asia during World War II”, Dr. Arlene Neher
Personal interview: Corrin, John. May 4th, 2005
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