The Info List - Japanese Occupation Of Burma

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The Japanese occupation of Burma
was the period between 1942 and 1945 during World War II, when Burma
was occupied by the Empire of Japan. The Japanese had assisted formation of the Burma
Independence Army, and trained the Thirty Comrades, who were the founders of the modern Armed Forces (Tatmadaw). The Burmese hoped to gain support of the Japanese in expelling the British, so that Burma
could become independent.[1][2] In 1942 Japan invaded Burma
and nominally declared the colony independent as the State of Burma
State of Burma
on 1 August 1943. A puppet government led by Ba Maw
Ba Maw
was installed. However, many Burmese began to believe the Japanese had no intention of giving them real independence.[1][2] Aung San, father of future opposition leader and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and other nationalist leaders formed the Anti-Fascist Organisation in August 1944, which asked the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
to form a coalition with other allies against the Japanese. By April 1945, the Allies
had driven out the Japanese. Subsequently, negotiations began between the Burmese and the British for independence. Under Japanese occupation, 170,000 to 250,000 civilians died.[1][2]


1 Background 2 Japanese occupation

2.1 Massacre during the occupation

3 End of the occupation 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading

Background[edit] Some Burmese nationalists saw the outbreak of World War II
World War II
as an opportunity to extort concessions from the British in exchange for support in the war effort. Other Burmese, such as the Thakin movement, opposed Burma's participation in the war under any circumstances. Aung San with other Thakins founded the Communist Party of Burma
(CPB) in August 1939.[3] Aung San
Aung San
also co-founded the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), renamed the Socialist
Party after World War II. He was also instrumental in founding the Freedom Bloc
Freedom Bloc
by forging an alliance of Dobama Asiayone, ABSU, politically active monks and Ba Maw's Poor Man's Party.[3] After Dobama Asiayone
Dobama Asiayone
called for a national uprising, an arrest warrant was issued for many of the organisation's leaders including Aung San, who escaped to China. Aung San's intention was to make contact with the Chinese Communists
Chinese Communists
but he was detected by the Japanese authorities who offered him support by forming a secret intelligence unit called the Minami Kikan, headed by Colonel Suzuki with the objective of closing the Burma
Road and supporting a national uprising.[3] Aung San
Aung San
briefly returned to Burma
to enlist twenty-nine young men who went to Japan with him to receive military training on Hainan, China, and they came to be known as the "Thirty Comrades". When the Japanese occupied Bangkok
in December 1941, Aung San
Aung San
announced the formation of the Burma
Independence Army (BIA) in anticipation of the Japanese invasion of Burma
in 1942.[3] For Japan's military leadership, the conquest of Burma
was a vital strategic objective upon the opening of hostilities with Britain and the United States. Occupation of Burma
would interrupt a critical supply link to China. Also, the Japanese knew that rubber was one of the few militarily vital resources that the United States
United States
was not self-sufficient in. It was thought critical that the Allies
be denied access to Southeast Asian rubber supplies if they were ever to accept peace terms favourable to Japan. Japanese occupation[edit]

Japanese army at Shwethalyaung Buddha.

The BIA formed a provisional government in some areas of the country in the spring of 1942, but there were differences within the Japanese leadership over the future of Burma. While Colonel Suzuki encouraged the Thirty Comrades
Thirty Comrades
to form a provisional government, the Japanese military leadership had never formally accepted such a plan. Eventually, the Japanese Army turned to Ba Maw
Ba Maw
to form a government.[3] During the war in 1942, the BIA had grown in an uncontrolled manner, and in many districts officials and even criminals appointed themselves to the BIA. It was reorganised as the Burma
Defence Army (BDA) under the Japanese but still headed by Aung San. While the BIA had been an irregular force, the BDA was recruited by selection and trained as a conventional army by Japanese instructors.[3] Ba Maw
Ba Maw
was afterwards declared head of state, and his cabinet included both Aung San
Aung San
as War Minister and the Communist leader Thakin Than Tun as Minister of Land and Agriculture as well as the Socialist
leaders Thakins Nu and Mya. When the Japanese declared Burma, in theory, independent in 1943, the Burma
Defence Army (BDA) was renamed the Burma
National Army (BNA).[3]

The flag of the State of Burma, used 1943-5.

It soon became apparent that Japanese promises of independence were merely a sham and that Ba Maw
Ba Maw
was deceived. As the war turned against the Japanese, they declared Burma
a fully sovereign state on 1 August 1943, but this was just another façade. Disillusioned, Aung San
Aung San
began negotiations with Communist leaders Thakin Than Tun
Thakin Than Tun
and Thakin Soe, and Socialist
leaders Ba Swe
Ba Swe
and Kyaw Nyein which led to the formation of the Anti-Fascist Organisation
Anti-Fascist Organisation
(AFO) in August 1944 at a secret meeting of the CPB, the PRP and the BNA in Pegu. The AFO was later renamed the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
(AFPFL),[3] and roundly opposed the Japanese fascism, proposing a fairer and more equal society.[4] Thakins Than Tun and Soe, while in Insein prison in July 1941, had co-authored the Insein Manifesto which, against the prevailing opinion in the Dobama movement, identified world fascism as the main enemy in the coming war and called for temporary co-operation with the British in a broad allied coalition which should include the Soviet Union. Soe had already gone underground to organise resistance against the Japanese occupation, and Than Tun was able to pass on Japanese intelligence to Soe, while other Communist leaders Thakins Thein Pe and Tin Shwe made contact with the exiled colonial government in Simla, India.[3] Massacre during the occupation[edit] Main article: Kalagong
massacre Japanese soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, the 215th Regiment and the OC Moulmein Kempeitai of the Imperial Japanese Army entered the village of Kalagong
on 7 July 1945 and rounded up all the inhabitants for questioning. These soldiers were then ordered by Major General Seiei Yamamoto, chief of staff of the 33rd Army, to massacre an estimated 600 Burmese villagers. End of the occupation[edit]

The destruction of Rangoon in the aftermath of World War II.

There were informal contacts between the AFO and the Allies
in 1944 and 1945 through the British Force 136. On 27 March 1945, the Burma National Army rose up in a country-wide rebellion against the Japanese.[3] 27 March had been celebrated as 'Resistance Day' until the military renamed it ' Tatmadaw
(Armed Forces) Day'. Aung San
Aung San
and others subsequently began negotiations with Lord Mountbatten and officially joined the Allies
as the Patriotic Burmese Forces (PBF). At the first meeting, the AFO represented itself to the British as the provisional government of Burma
with Thakin Soe as Chairman and Aung San as a member of its ruling committee.[3] The Japanese were routed from most of Burma
by May 1945. Negotiations then began with the British over the disarming of the AFO and the participation of its troops in a post-war Burma
Army. Some veterans had been formed into a paramilitary force under Aung San, called the Pyithu yèbaw tat or People's Volunteer Organisation (PVO), and were openly drilling in uniform.[3] The absorption of the PBF was concluded successfully at the Kandy
conference in Ceylon in September 1945.[3] See also[edit]

Battle of Meiktila / Mandalay Battle of the Admin Box Burma
Campaign Burma
Road China
Theater of World War II Chindits Force 136 Japanese conquest of Burma Japanese invasion money (Burma) Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma Merrill's Marauders Operation Capital Operation Dracula State of Burma William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim Women's Auxiliary Service (Burma)


^ a b c Michael Clodfelter. Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000. 2nd Ed. 2002 ISBN 0-7864-1204-6. p. 556 ^ a b c Werner Gruhl, Imperial Japan's World War Two, 1931–1945 Transaction 2007 ISBN 978-0-7658-0352-8 (Werner Gruhl is former chief of NASA's Cost and Economic Analysis Branch with a lifetime interest in the study of the First and Second World Wars.) ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Martin Smith (1991). Burma
- Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London and New Jersey: Zed Books. pp. 49,91,50,53,54,56,57,58–59,60,61,60,66,65,68,69,77,78,64,70,103,92,120,176,168–169,177,178,180,186,195–197,193,,202,204,199,200,270,269,275–276,292–3,318–320,25,24,1,4–16,365,375–377,414.  ^ Robert H. Taylor (1987). The state in Burma. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 284. 

Further reading[edit]

Newell, Clayton R. Burma, 1942. World War II
World War II
Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States
United States
Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-21.  Hogan, David W. India-Burma. World War II
World War II
Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States
United States
Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-5.  MacGarrigle, George L. Central Burma. World War II
World War II
Campaign Brochures. Washington D.C.: United States
United States
Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-37. 

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