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The Philippines Under Japan: Occupation Policy and Reaction

Ikehata Setsuho and Ricardo Trota Jose, editors
Quezon City / Ateneo de Manila University Press / 1999

By Temario C. Rivera

 
If understanding the past is a key to making sense of the present and the future, this collection of eight meticulously researched and clearly written articles on the Japanese occupation of the Philippines is a must read.

The book stands out for its extensive use of hitherto inaccessible primary Japanese documents and selected interviews with Japanese personnel directly involved in the Occupation. With these invaluable resources, the scholars writing here have provided new perspectives essential to our understanding of the political, social, and economic aspects of the Japanese occupation which have been unstudied or glossed over in the past.

A careful examination of Japan’s official occupation strategy towards the Philippines, which was originally rooted in a surprising policy of appeasement and conciliation, serves as the book’s unifying theme. The book’s eight contributors (seven Japanese and one Filipino) examine the unravelling of this policy in various areas of the Occupation experience, stressing the policy’s contradictory and devastating consequences given the exigencies of war and popular resistance to military occupation.  

In the book’s opening chapter, Nakano Satoshi identifies the guiding documents, policies, and reasons adopted by the Japanese military administration for its official strategy of appeasement in its occupation of the Philippines. This strategy was implemented in two major ways. First, the Japanese authorities sought to win over the Quezon-led Commonwealth government with the promise of respecting existing governance structures and practices and granting independence. Second, the authorities sought to develop a “wait and see attitude” among the people by trying to depict the war as essentially between the United States and Japan, with...
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