Yes, I agree that the worst problem Singaporeans faced during the Japanese occupation was living in constant fear of the Japanese rather than Japanese propaganda. The Japanese had claimed that they were liberating Southeast Asia from colonialism, but in reality they were far harsher rulers than the British ever were. In addition to civilian casualties, many cruel acts were committed by Japanese troops, particularly by the Kempeitai. The Kempetai were the Japanese police. Commoners were made to bow to them as they passes, if not, they would be punished by kicking, hitting, and many more.
The Japanese, to ‘purify’ the commoners and not have ‘unloyals’ going against them, introduced a system called Sook Ching. There were secret informers all over the island. When asked by the Japanese to select and ‘accused’, they would simply point to anyone. These people were rounded up and taken to a deserted place to be shot and killed. The local people lived in fear at that time because they did not know who worked for the Japanese and who did not. This caused distrust of the people. People no longer knew who to trust, as the secret informers were well paid and they had a high chance of not being rounded up for shooting.
This was unfair to Singaporeans as people were being killed for small matters like not bowing down to the Japanese when they pass. This then caused many people to lose their closed ones. Japanese propaganda during World War 2 was designed to assist the ruling government of Japan. Singapore was then renamed to ‘Syonan-to’. Propaganda Campaigns were carried out to influence people to pledge their loyalty to Japan. Students in Singapore also had to learn Japanese in school. Children were marched to school where half their time was spent on indoctrination on loyalty to the emperor, and frugality, obedience, honesty, and diligence.
Teachers were instructed to teach “Japanese science” based on the “Imperial Way”. Students were given more physical education and required to perform community service. Those who left school after completing six years were required to attend night school for Japanese history and ethics, military training for boys, and home economics for girls. Radio stations were controlled by the Japanese so that only local broadcasts were allowed. Singaporeans did not have any freedom and everything had to be done according to the Japanese’s ways.
I feel that the worst problem Singaporeans faced during the Japanese occupation was living in constant fear of the Japanese rather than Japanese propaganda. People were killed for small reasons, like not bowing down to the Japanese. They did not dare to go out, and didn’t know who to trust, fearing that they would get killed. But Singaporeans didn’t have to die during the propaganda, even though they had to follow the Japanese’s ways and suffer. Therefore, I think that the worst problem that the Singaporeans faced during the Japanese occupation was living in the fear of the Japanese.
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