Japanese occupation of Singapore

Syonan Island
昭南島 Shōnantō
(English: "His Imperial Majesty's Reign")[1][2]
Location of Japanese-occupied Singapore
Japanese Empire (orthographic projection).svg
The Empire of Japan at its peak in 1942:
   Territory (1870–1895)
   Acquisitions (1895–1930)
   Acquisitions (1930–1942)
StatusMilitary occupation
Official language
and national language
Common languages
State Shinto
(de facto)[nb 1]
GovernmentMilitary occupation by a unitary one-party showa statist constitutional monarchy under a totalitarian military dictatorship
• 1942-1945
Prime Minister 
• 1942-1944
Hideki Tojo
• 1944-1945
Kuniaki Koiso
Historical eraWorld War II
• Pacific War begins
8 December 1941a

15 February 1942
Nov 1944 – May 1945
15 August 1945
4–12 September 1945
• Singapore becomes a Crown colony

1 April 1946
CurrencyJapanese-issued dollar
Time zoneUTC+9 (TST)
Date format
  • yyyy-mm-dd
  • yyyy年m月d日
  • Era yy年m月d日 (CE−1988)
Driving sideleft
ISO 3166 codeJP
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Straits Settlements
British Military Administration (Malaya)
Today part ofSingapore
  1. The Pacific War started on 8 December 1941 in Asian time zones, but is often referred to as starting on 7 December, as that was the date in European and American time zones (such as for the attack on Pearl Harbor in the United States' Territory of Hawaii).
Syonan or Shonan
Japanese name
Singapore in 1945
Britain surrenders Singapore to the Japanese. Lieutenant-General Yamashita (seated, third from the left) faces Lt. Gen. Percival (sitting second from the right, back to camera)

Syonan (Japanese: 昭南, Hepburn: Shōnan, Kunrei-shiki: Syônan), officially Syonan Island (Japanese: 昭南島, Hepburn: Shōnan-tō, Kunrei-shiki: Syônan-tô), was the name for Singapore when it was occupied and ruled by the Empire of Japan, following the fall and surrender of British military forces on 15 February 1942 during World War II.

Japanese military forces occupied it after defeating the combined British, Indian, Australian, Malayan and the Straits Settlements garrison in the Battle of Singapore. The occupation was to become a major turning point in the histories of several nations, including those of Japan, Britain, and Singapore. Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, meaning "Light of the South Island" and was also included as part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (Japanese: 大東亜共栄圏, Hepburn: Dai Tōa Kyōeiken).[5][6]

Singapore was officially returned to British colonial rule on 12 September 1945, following the formal signing of the surrender instrument at the Municipal Building, currently known as the City Hall. After the return of the British, there were growing political sentiment amongst the local populace in tandem to the rise of anti-colonial and nationalist fervor, as many felt that the British were no longer competent in the administration and defence of the crown colony and its inhabitants.[7]

Shortly after the war, the Straits Settlements were dissolved and Singapore became a separate crown colony in 1946. It would go on to achieve self-governance in 1959, before becoming a sovereign city-state a few years later in 1965. The day of the surrender of the British to the Japanese in 1942 continues to be commemorated in Singapore with Total Defence Day, which is marked annually on 15 February.

  1. ^ "Explore Japan National Flag and National Anthem". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  2. ^ "National Symbols". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  3. ^ Josephson, Jason Ānanda (2012). The Invention of Religion in Japan. University of Chicago Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-0226412344.
  4. ^ Thomas, Jolyon Baraka (2014). Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom (Ph.D.). Princeton University. p. 76.
  5. ^ Abshire, Jean (2011). The History of Singapore. ABC-CLIO. p. 104. ISBN 978-0313377433.
  6. ^ Giggidy, Kevin; Hack, Karl (2004). Did Singapore Have to Fall?: Churchill and the Impregnable Fortress. Routledge. p. 132. ISBN 0203404408.
  7. ^ "Singapore – Aftermath of War". countrystudies.us. U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 September 2021.

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