Before the invasion, the Japanese came under the pretext of liberating the Malayans from the British power through propaganda such as “Asia for Asians”. On December 8, 1941, the Japanese invaded Malaya. The root of their success not only lies in their well-trained soldiers but also in their use of bicycles enabling them to travel through jungles towards the South of Malaya in a short amount of time. During the Japanese Occupation, Malaya was affected in many aspects. Politically, Malaya was ruled by a Military government under the Japanese Army.
In addition, though the Sultans were made Vice-Presidents of the Council, they only had influence in Malay customs and religious matters. Kedah, Terengganu, Kelantan and Perlis were also given by the Japanese to Thailand. As for the economic effects, food shortages problems rose and inflation occurred. Poverty was also widespread due to the scorched-earth policy carried out by retreating British forces causing production languish, rampant unemployment and ultimately leading to the near standstill in international trading. From the social aspect, the Peace-living Certificate was introduced restricting the movement of the locals.
The Japanese language and culture were also taught in schools. Moreover, Malnutrition and Beri-beri were common as medical supplies were majorly directed to the Japanese Army. During this time, different races were treated differently by the Japanese. The Chinese received the severest treatment as Japan and China were traditional rivals. As for the Indians, the Japanese supported their campaigns for India to break free from British rule. The Malays, however, were treated the best compared to the previous two races in order to win their support and overcome the opposition but the Malays gave little cooperation.
On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered after the launch of atomic bombs by the US at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus, marking the end of World War II. In conclusion, the Japanese Occupation made a big impact on the life of Malaysians. The misunderstandings between the Chinese and the Malays that happened years ago can still be seen today as the cause of the worsening of an already strained relationship can be traced back to the practicing of double standards by the Japanese. With this knowledge, we as citizens of Malaysia should continue to mend this relationship and be united in diversity.