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"Sook Ching"


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#1 Liang Jieming

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Posted 13 November 2004 - 11:09 PM

"Sook Ching"
- Japan's treatment of the Chinese of Singapore and Malaya
(excerpt from "Lords of the Rim" by Sterling Seagrove)

All male Chinese on the island aged between eighteen and fifty were
ordered to assemble in five locations by noon 21 February, with severe
punishment for anyone who disobeyed. Each Chinese walked past a row
of hooded informers, mostly Japanese agents, but including captured
Chinese defenders or triad members who gave information to save their
lives. Some were women or children avenging themselves for earlier
mistreatment, or trying to gain merit with the conquerors. When a
hood nodded, a man was dragged away.

The condemned were stamped on their skin with a triangular ink chop.
Others were stamped with squares and released. They took pains not
to wash the patch for months till the mark became invisible. For six
days, those waiting had no food, water or toilets. A total of 70,699
Singapore Chinese were taken off for torture or killing. When they
began, the mass executions lasted many days, sometimes with Tsuji
watching closely. Those who were not shot, bayoneted or beheaded
were roped together and taken out to sea on barges off Blakang Mati,
Changi or Siglap. At Changi, where the water is shallow for hundreds
of metres out, and fishermen's weirs extended here and there in
random patterns, the barges had to go very far out to find deep water.
More than twenty thousand Chinese were roped together in this way
and towed out into the sea lanes off Singapore, where they were
forced overboard. Those who did not drown immediately were
machine-gunned.

At Tsuji's urging, Sook Ching was extended then to the Malay
Peninsula. In Malay towns and villages, it began the same way,
with hooded informers and lists. Then the Kempeitai lost patience
and began indiscriminately killing all Chinese they could find in the
quiet kampongs, rubber plantations and tin mines. At a typical
village, thirty soldiers rounded up several hundred Chinese and
Malays, and marched them to a paddy field, where they were forced
to kneel. Each soldier stepped forward in turn to behead a victim
with a sword or stab him with a bayonet. Corpses were thrown into
village wells to contaminate the water supply. Babies were flung into
the air and stabbed as they fell. Groups of Chinese schoolchildren
screamed for mercy as they were hacked to pieces. The bloodbath
continued through March with estimates of forty thousand slain.
General Manaki, who was present, insisted later that Sook Ching
was the worst Japanese excess during the Malay campaign. But
all Southeast Asia has grim memories of the Japanese conquest.
Those Overseas Chinese who survived were completely alienated.
Hundreds of men and boys fled into the jungles to join the
communist-led resistance movement. After Sook Ching ended,
severe repression continued, but without Tsuji's grisly signature.

#2 Xeenslayer

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 10:51 AM

Interesting stuff about the Sook Ching in Malaya, Jieming. I've read very little on that before this. Anyway, I thought the Malays were quite favoured by the Japanese? Why were they still killed over there?

#3 Liang Jieming

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 11:19 AM

Interesting stuff about the Sook Ching in Malaya, Jieming. I've read very little on that before this. Anyway, I thought the Malays were quite favoured by the Japanese? Why were they still killed over there?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Xeenslayer,

Actually most of the victims of the Japanese in Malaya/Singapore were the Chinese. The Malays were favoured because they by and large coorperated with the Japanese. It also created a rift between the Malays and the Chinese in Malaya/Singapore which was a policy continued from the conquered British by the new Japanese overlords. The Chinese fought back with the creation of the MPAJA or Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army which was backed by the Communists as well as the deposed British based in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). They fought in the jungles until the end of WW2 when they were disbanded by the returning British. Many however, fled back into the jungles when the British refused to grant independence immediately to Malaya and joined instead the CPM or communist party of malaya. This CPM was predominately Chinese with only 1 regiment of Malay guerillas. The fought the British, the the Malaysian government right up to the 1980s.

Jieming

#4 Xeenslayer

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 05:45 AM

Thanks for the info, Jieming. But that still doesn't explain why the Malays were given the same brutal treatment as the Chinese? You mentioned in the header post that the Kempeitai rounded up by random, hundreds of Chinese and Malays for execution.

#5 Liang Jieming

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 05:56 AM

Thanks for the info, Jieming. But that still doesn't explain why the Malays were given the same brutal treatment as the Chinese? You mentioned in the header post that the Kempeitai rounded up by random, hundreds of Chinese and Malays for execution.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Huh? Where? Now I'm confused. :(

Maybe you are talking about the word Malaya, not Malay. Malaya is the old name of Malaysia. :lol:

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#6 Xeenslayer

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 06:01 AM

Duh, of course I know that. :lol: There:

Then the Kempeitai lost patience
and began indiscriminately killing all Chinese they could find in the
quiet kampongs, rubber plantations and tin mines. At a typical
village, thirty soldiers rounded up several hundred Chinese and
Malays, and marched them to a paddy field, where they were forced
to kneel...


That's why I got puzzled. I thought the Malays were supposed to be in the good books of the Japanese, and here it says that they're being killed as well.

#7 Liang Jieming

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 10:58 PM

Duh, of course I know that. :lol: There:
That's why I got puzzled. I thought the Malays were supposed to be in the good books of the Japanese, and here it says that they're being killed as well.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ah, ok sorry. Yes you're right. The Malays were in the good books but these were crazy times and the Japanese were getting blood-thirsty. The main targets were still the Chinese but by then, they were killing indescriminately and many non-chinese were killed as well. The Kempetai had quotas to fill and competition between units too. It was like some mad carnival to them.

The Japanese officers were encouraged to take turns in beheadings to desensitize them to killing. It made them better "soldiers" who could kill more efficiently since conscience was done way with. There is an interview of a former kempetai officer where he said that they were all caught up in the frenzy and that many officers didn't feel complete and fulfilled if they went without killing someone for too long a period of time.

Jieming

#8 kaixin

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 01:52 AM

This is more evidence to prove that the japanese.s were out on a mission to genocide the entire Chinese race during WWII. My family was in America during the war, but had those japanese.s took control of California, I am sure they would have wanted to hunt down the Chinese living there as well.

I think we as Chinese in the diaspora needs to document this and bring it to the world's attention. The Japanese had committed genocide against the Chinese in WWII.

#9 Mok

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 05:22 AM

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother's brothers escaped Sook Ching by the skin of their teeth. I wouldn't be around if they hadn't ran away to Malaysia to hide in the mountains (Genting, I think.)
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#10 USC

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:21 PM

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother's brothers escaped Sook Ching by the skin of their teeth. I wouldn't be around if they hadn't ran away to Malaysia to hide in the mountains (Genting, I think.)

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you're lucky....from my parent stories told. Genting/Pahang was where the
CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) and anti-Japanese resistance force hiding!!
BTW, the CPM also murdered some British-Malaya governors there, i was told
when small. may be Liang cud tell u more!! he's expert in Malaya history


USC

#11 kaixin

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 12:56 AM

Just don't forget what your grandparents had to do to get where you guys are at right now.

I live in America and I am going to dedicate the rest of my life in continuing this war of resistance against all Japanese. That is what being a true Chinese is all about.

#12 Liang Jieming

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 09:10 AM

you're lucky....from my parent stories told. Genting/Pahang was where the
CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) and anti-Japanese resistance force hiding!!
BTW, the CPM also murdered some British-Malaya governors there, i was told
when small. may be Liang cud tell u more!! he's expert in Malaya history
USC

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The CPM were the goodguys back then remember? The CPM dominated MPAJA fought the Japanese with British supplies and help. Chin Peng and many of his fellow CPM members were decorated with the OBE after the war in a ceremony held in Singapore at what is now the high court building.

All this killing of British governors occured much later during the Emergency after the MPAJA was ordered to disband and the CPM outlawed.

#13 superquarterback

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:31 AM

Sook Ching Massacre
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Sook Ching Massacre (肅清大屠殺) was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among ethnic Chinese Singaporeans by the Japanese military administration, after the British colony surrendered on 15 February 1942 during World War II. Sook Ching was later extended to include Chinese Malayans.

The term sook ching (肃清) is a Chinese word meaning "a purge through cleansing". Ironically, the Japanese also described the incident as such, although term daikenshō (大検証), lit. "great inspection" is also used. Although the term "Sook Ching" appeared as early as 1946, it was not commonly used in the Chinese press or other publications until the 1980s.

The Massacre

After Singapore fell to the Japanese, the Japanese military authorities became concerned about the local Chinese population. The Japanese Imperial Army had become aware that the ethnic Chinese had strong loyalties to either Great Britain or China, with wealthy Chinese financing Chiang Kai-Shek's effort in the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance, which started back in July 1937. The military authorities, led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, decided on a policy of "eliminating" the anti-Japanese elements.

The Japanese military authorities defined the following as "undesirables":
Persons who had been active in the China Relief Fund.
Rich men who had given most generously to the Relief Fund.
Adherents of Tan Kah Kee, leader of the Nanyang National Salvation Movement.
Hainanese, who were believed to be communists.
China-born Chinese who came to Malaya after the 1937 Sino-Japanese War.
Men with tattoo marks, who were believed to be members of secret societies, specifically Triads.
Persons who fought for the British as volunteers against the Japanese.
Government servants and men who were likely to have pro-British sympathies, such as Justices of the Peace, and members of the Legislative Council.
Persons who possessed arms and tried to disturb public safety.

Yamashita instructed the Syonan garrison to cooperate with the Syonan Kempeitai (Japanese military police) and carry out "severe punishment of hostile Chinese."

Soon after the fall of Singapore, Lieutenant Colonel Masayuki Oishi, commander of No. 2 Field Kempeitai, took over the offices of the Supreme Court building. Singapore was broken up into sectors, each placed under the control of a Kempeitai officer. The Japanese set up designated "screening centers" all over the colony. The blueprint was to gather and screen all Chinese males between 18 to 50 years old, and eliminating those thought to be anti-Japanese. The ones who passed the "screening" would receive a piece of paper with "Examined" written on it, or have a square ink mark on their arms and shirts. Those who did not pass the "screening" would be stamped with triangular marks. There were trucks near these screening centers to send those anti-Japanese elements to their deaths. The Japanese Army chose remote sites such as Changi, Punggol, Blakang Mati and Bedok to perform the executions, with the victims thrown overboard off boats or be machine-gunned to death off the harbour.

At the behest of Lieutenant Colonel Tsuji Masanobu, who had played a key role in the organisation of the Singapore operation, Sook Ching was extended to the rest of Malaya, particularly Penang. In Malaya, especially the rural areas, however, the Japanese did not have the luxury of a working with a concentrated population in a certain area. So as a result, the army did not have sufficient time nor manpower to fully interrogate the entire Chinese rural population. Therefore, widespread indiscriminate killing of the Chinese population occurred, even though the Japanese made a show of screening the civilians and identifying the guerrillas.

After the Japanese military realized that they could not kill off as many as 50,000 Chinese, and that Japan's resources were being stretched with advances in other parts of Southeast Asia, the head of the authorities called off the killing on 3 March.

The Sook Ching Massacre cost the Japanese military administrators any chance of cooperations with local Singaporeans, especially the Chinese community. Unlike other places in Southeast Asia where Japan occupied during the war, Singaporeans did not view the Japanese army as liberators of European imperialism in Asia. Even though Singapore did not have a nationalist movement like other places in Asia because of the diverse demographics, the Japanese army was able to have the different ethnic communities in Singapore play off each other.

Death toll

Due to the lack of records, it is impossible to definitively tally up the total number of Chinese killed in the Sook Ching Massacre. There are varying figures regarding the death toll—the range goes from the deflated official Japanese figures of less than 5,000 to an inflated total of 100,000 by the Singaporeans. Postwar trial testimonies, though, strongly suggest a total between 25,000 and 50,000.

Aftermath

Singapore Civilian War Memorial, also known as "Chopsticks". Officially opened in 15 February 1967, by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, it is dedicated for all civilians killed by the Japanese occupation, regardless of race. The memorial is built on one of the mass graves of the Sook Ching Massacre in the Marina Bay area.

In 1947, the British Colonial authorities in Singapore held a war crimes trial to bring the perpetrators of the Sook Ching Massacre to justice. Seven officers, namely Lieutenant General Takuma Nishimura, Lieutenant General Saburo Kawamura, Lieutenant Masayuki Oishi, Lieutenant Colonel Yoshitaka Yokata, Major Tomotatsu Jo, Major Satoru Onishi and Captain Haruji Hisamatsu were charged with carrying out the massacre. While Kawamura and Oishi received the death penalty, the other five received life sentences. The court accepted the Nuremberg Trials defence of “just following orders." The death sentences were carried out on 26 June 1947. Even though the Chinese community urged the British authorities to stage the executions of Kawamura and Oishi in public to ease the anger in the Chinese community, the British allowed only six members of the victims' family association to witness the execution. After the trial the British colonial government in Singapore considered the matter closed, and only demanded war reparations from Japan for damage caused to British property, much to the dismay of the Chinese community.

However, with Singapore gaining independence from British colonial rule, the Chinese community began a new wave of anti-Japanese resentment and demanded reparations and an apology from Japan. The Foreign Ministry of Japan denied Singapore's request in 1963, stating the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 settled the issue of reparation with Britain, and therefore, the colony of Singapore. However, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew responded by saying that the British colonial government did not represent the voice of the people of Singapore. The Chinese staged a boycott of Japanese goods in September 1963, even though it only lasted seven days.

With Singapore's declaring independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, the Government of Singapore made another request to Japan for reparation and an apology. In 25 October 1966, Japan agreed to pay $50 million in compensation, half as a grant and the other half as a loan. However, the compensation package did not come with an official apology.

Further Reading
Akashi, Yoji. "Japanese policy towards the Malayan Chinese, 1941-1945". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 1, 2 (September 1970): 61-89.
Blackburn, Kevin. "The Collective Memory of the Sook Ching Massacre and the Creation of the Civilian War Memorial of Singapore". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 73, 2 (December 2000), 71-90.
Kang, Jew Koon. "Chinese in Singapore during the Japanese occupation, 1942-1945." Academic exercise - Dept. of History, National University of Singapore, 1981.
Turnbull, C. M. A History of Singapore: 1819-1988. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989, Chapter 5.
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