Propaganda of Suppression: the Role of Cultural Policies During the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945

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This paper is about the cultural policies implemented by the Japanese Military Administration during their occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945). It is the intention of this piece to prove that the orders which the Japanese imposed were directed at suppressing the Filipinos in many aspects of their socio-cultural life.

This position ironically contradicts the rosy picture which the Japanese painted for the country, that is, a new Philippines free from dependence on America and proud of its Oriental roots. Hence, this paper entitled, “Propaganda of Suppression: The Role of Cultural Policies during the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945,” looks at how a seemingly adorable vision for a colonized country could be a strategic tool to subjugate and suppress its people. To explain how this propaganda worked, this paper will show the two sides of the same coin: the ideal vision articulated in Japan’s cultural policies and their repressive content.

A portion of the discussion of every policy will also present the ideas and corresponding reactions of the Filipinos, to whom these policies were directed at. This is to show that the reactions varied according the nature of the policies. There were few Filipinos who, for example, benefited from one policy, while a magnitude of them experienced hostilities to which they responded through various forms of resistance.

One could hardly grasp how he would have survived if he were to live in one of the Philippine’s darkest eras. Surviving during this time equated to surrendering one’s freedom, liberty, and happiness in exchange for imposed orders that dictated and controlled one’s actions. Defiance only meant punishment or death. And if one were to ask for the reasons behind all these hostilities, widespread social unrest, and extreme poverty, the answers will emanate from only one source, namely, Japan’s cultural policies.

The Cultural Policy: Definition and Scope
The paper uses the term “cultural policy” to refer to all the implemented policies that targeted the cultural institutions of the Philippines such as education and the media. For the purposes of this paper, the policies that emanated from three of the six departments established under the reorganized government, the Executive Commission, are covered: the Departments of Interior; Education, Health, and Public Welfare; and Public Works and Communications.

The Department of Interior was given the duty of eradicating the idolization of the United States and Europe by making the Filipinos realize their oriental nature. Apart from this, it was also the duty of this department to secure peace and order of the country while maintaining good relations with Japan.[1]

The Department of Education, Health, and Public Welfare, meanwhile, was further divided into three bureaus, Public Instruction, Private Education, Health, Public Welfare, and the Institute of National Language. Among these bureaus, only Public Instruction, Private Education, and the Institute of National Language are given attention in this paper for they served as the means through which policies on education and language were channeled.

The Bureau of Public Instruction functioned in administering the public school system and in supervising the general school interests of the Philippines under the authorization and orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces or of the Chairman of the Executive Commission. The duty of the Bureau of Private Education was to maintain a general standard of efficiency in all private schools and colleges of the Philippines. It was authorized to supervise, inspect, and regulate the schools and colleges in order to determine the efficiency of their instruction. And finally, the duty of the Institute of National Language was to make a study of the Filipino languages with a view of developing a national language based on Tagalog. It had the authority to correct, alter, or amend the linguistic forms and...
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