Urbanization in Southeast Asia during the world War II Japanese Occupation and its Aftermath by Gregg Huff and Gillian Huff
Nur Syafiqah Binti Mohd Sobran (G1727186)
In this article, the authors analyzed an important issue of demographic change of main cities mostly the area of urbanization in Southeast Asia. The authors focusing on several main countries in Southeast Asia which affected drastically during pre-war and post-war of Japanese occupation such as Malaya, Indochina, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, and Philippines. According to the authors, these countries play an important role to realized the intention of the Japanese, which is providing natural resources and necessities during their invasion to Southeast Asia throughout during and after the World War II. The authors argue that two main patterns of population movements are evident, which are a search for food security led to large net inflows to main urban centers and an urban exodus dominated in food surplus regions because the chief risk was to personal safety, especially from Japanese and Allied bombing during the second World War.
In the foremost pages, the authors make clear of the gap in the study with the aim of providing data and analysis of demographic change in Southeast Asia within the year of 1940 until 1950, linking these years by examining urbanization in certain region during Japanese occupation and its aftermath. They also argued on the misunderstanding in the literature of the study which the World War II reversed continuous post-1870s Southeast Asian urban growth and ushered in de-urbanization because hungry populations returned to the countryside to take on sustenance agriculture. D. W. Fryer argued, “population decreased in the cities because of the shortage of food”. However, the authors claim that all Southeast Asia’s main cities except Hanoi, gained large numbers of new inhabitants, contradicted to Fryer’s theory. Ten main cities which were mentioned in this article are Rangoon in Burma, Bangkok in Thailand, Singapore, Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaya, Jakarta (colonial Batavia) and Surabaya in Indonesia, Saigon-Cholon and Hanoi in Indochina, and Manila in the Philippines. These main cities are the cities which became important features in analyzing the data and structure of population during and after World War II. The authors indicate principal patterns and suggest that during the war urban populations changed principally as a trade-off between food and fear: people balanced the risks of insufficient food against the arbitrarily imposed external dangers of armies, armed conflict and bombs. This means that the population of urban cities changes and increased several times due to food and fear, which the population perceived that the best chance to get some food or other thing, was more concentrated in the cities. The authors conclude that, the produced of large fluctuations in several urban population and fueled urbanization arising from political instability and armed conflict during the latter 1940s.
To begin with this issue, the authors had described six pre-war characteristics and introduced Japanese Occupation policy which are the foundation of this study in order to understand the issue of urbanization. Six pre-war characteristics are extreme specialization in a few primary commodities exported to world markets, the resulting division of Southeast Asian countries into those with large surpluses of basic foodstuffs and those with food deficits which specialized in minerals and non-food cash crops including non-basic foods, Southeast Asia’s integration with Western markets, a highly integrated regional supply of rice, low pre-war levels of import-substituting industrialization in basic consumer goods, weak urbanization and lastly, an irregular population spread across Southeast Asia. Much of the region, including Malaya, Burma and Thailand, remained thinly populated. For the Japanese policy, the authors mentioned a policy of the military living off the land, of sending a bare minimum of consumer goods to Southeast Asia, and of making countries in the region self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs.
During the implementation of Japanese occupation policy, the enforced-autarky or self-sufficiency offered by the Japanese was fundamentally affected the Southeast Asia because rice or food was favoured in the most of the region. The authors claimed this statement by mentioning about the uneven access to rice was countered by the highly integrated regional rice market and wartime transport disruption undermined intra-regional rice shipments. The rice-deficit countries such as Java and Malaya affected by the autarky policy by growing crops and other plant such as cassava, sweet potatoes, maize and tapioca as a substitute for the rice due to the lack of rice desired for the country. The authors focused on Java, which increasingly in severe condition with famine deaths which estimated at some two to three million, between about 4.5% and 7.0% of the population due to the Japanese policy of prohibited trade between Java and Madura rice and exacted severe penalties to anyone who disobeying the policy while in rice-specialized country such as Rangoon in Burma, Bangkok in Thailand and Saigon-Cholon, the interchange of rice-surplus areas trading in somewhere of the region itself, hardly to be able to put in action due to Japanese military’s monopolization of local transport and Allied bombing of bridges, rail lines and local shipping. The famine death occurred in these regions with 1.0 to 1.3 million deaths in Tonkin and three affected areas of North Anam.
During the wartime, urbanization had taken place on particular region of Southeast Asia in 1940s. The authors mentioned how two demographic trends indicate a pattern which happened in the group cities (Manila, Jakarta, Surabaya, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) that did not have hinterlands specialized in producing rice, and so with restricted wartime access to food both in the city and surrounding region, population increased rapidly and far above historic averages. According to the data obtained by the authors, between 1939 and 1944, Manila’s population grew at 13.5% annually, while Jakarta 14.2% in the years between 1940 to 1944 and Penang increased closed to double between 1941 and 1947. In some country such as Singapore, the proportions of this inflow attributable to fear and, with the collapse of Malaya’s economy, a search of food is unknowable. In all of the countries, Hanoi affected terribly by the war since the First Indochina War and authors stressed on the fear which Hanoi took on, lost its population, opposite from other cities in Southeast Asia. In some urban specialized in rice production such as Burma, Thailand and Indochina, was also targeted by the war due to its advantage as a rice producer-country. Such as, Rangoon in Burma suffered a war which contributed to the lost population due to repeated Japanese bombing caused by mass exodus of Indians. However, soon after British took back the control, increased the influx of urban population as same as pre-war time.
In this article also, fear and food became an important factor that the authors had stressed on repeatedly which change the pattern of urban population in Southeast Asia. There are five principal sources of food account for the ability of main cities in food-deficit areas largely to avoid famine and to attract hinterland migrants. The authors had mentioned in his writing, these five sources and condition which led to obtain food are the Japanese rationing system, wages paid in kind by the Japanese, cultivation in urban areas and the surrounding fringes; imports both from nearby hinterlands and abroad and by utilizing food from the first four sources, relief efforts. Apart from relief, which generally meant feeding on the spot, black markets tied together food sources.
During the rationing system which implemented by the Japanese, although was not completely the best condition, reduced the risk of grossly inadequate nutrition by putting a floor under food availability. However, the weakness of rationing system is apparent due to the food allocation which not included everyone in the area, and certainly had no record or registration existed. The population in urban areas increased because of this system and on the other side, main cities offered numerous chances for part-time and casual employment and so a variety of possible sources of income to buy food which are less getting this chance in the rural areas. In Malaya, Japanese rationing never operated effectively outside the larger settlements and during the latter half of 1943 ceased entirely with the allocation of rice 12,066 grams per person per month in march 1942 decreased the ration of rice to 158 grams per day for men and 119 grams for women by February 1944. In Java, the rice ration was irregular and little as 500 grams of beras per family per month while contradict to Jakarta, where generally received regular distribution of beras, reported to be 180 grams per person per day. In Surabaya, food rationing began early in the occupation and in some areas was backed up by a coupon system for the needy and soup kitchens. In Manila, a lack of food and fear of the Japanese military caused mass evacuation with population quickly fell from its pre-war peak of 623,500 to 300,000 according to the data in table 1 show by the authors. However, due to dangerous condition of rural areas due to the guerilla resistance in Manila, increased the urban population inflows which, the government unmanage to control rice put pressure on rations.
In addition, working with the Japanese firms or military, put great condition to those who seek for food and security. Whoever works with the Japanese, will gained a lot of benefits and advantages due to their priorities set on the worker who works with the Japanese. Workers employed by the Japanese could buy these items at officially fixed prices. With this priority system which control by the Japanese, attracted the poor men and women to serve the Japanese, including those who were enemies such as Chinese in Singapore, forced by the desperate condition in seeking food, did a lot of works including prostitution, in worse matter, some of them which was married woman had to became mistress to the Japanese in order to feed their families during Japanese occupation. The sources of food also came from urban cultivation which Japanese administrators strongly promoted grow-your-own food campaigns and the dissemination of information on the preparation of unfamiliar foodstuffs. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, every scrape urban land was planted, where health minister was cultivated land at the Golf Club, while in Singapore, offered limited scope for cultivation due to the small land and had to change the source of food from crops into meat, which gained from urban cats and dogs. These animals considered as endangered species, due to this worse condition of food scarcity.
During the World War II, squatter settlements appeared and spread widely immediately after the war and soon, re-configured Southeast Asia’s urban geography. Easy access to central urban districts for squatters looking to sell surplus market garden production helps to explain inwards migration from rural Southeast Asia, and perhaps also, as in Kuala Lumpur, some outwards movement to urban fringes. Just after the war, in Singapore, Rangoon, Hanoi and Saigon, squatter settlements became a prominent urban feature. Food imports and the appearance of black market certainly played a big role to obtain food in the wartime, which the author mentioned, falling rice production due to low, largely inflexible government-controlled prices, geography, transport availability and corruption are fundamental in explaining the varying abilities of rice-deficit cities to import food and thus, leading to the appearance of black market. The food import affected by the scarcity and war which could not sustenance the population and soon, decreased in the rice production. This was also caused by the cultivation of significant crops as a food was not fully supported the large influx population into urban areas a significant share, of what rice the government could purchase in the provinces was lost organized gangs derailed trains and waylaid lorries carrying rice. Many provincial governors, in connivance with municipal mayors, oversaw the trafficking of black-market rice. Black markets certainly had a major role in urban in urban food provision and, as explored below, probably also in preventing mass urban starvation, inevitably needed to obtain more food during the wartime. Two vital functions of black markets which are in the absence of well-functioning markets, to draw food to cities by compensating for the effort of producing food, and the risk and danger of transporting it illegally from surrounding areas. The more food that black markets drew into cities the lower was its price there. Second, black markets and a burgeoning informal economy provided new jobs and some employment that replaced work unavailable since the outbreak of the war. Thus, black market became a common thing during the war. The relief efforts from several volunteers especially in Manila, was also become one of the features in order to obtain food on the spot due to the strong Catholic charitable tradition such as the red cross and other private charities operated and established community kitchen to feed some of the poor classes of families. Up to this, the authors clarified all five sources of food which effected the population relocation patterns in the urban regions and also mentioned the poor background of horrendous famine death and scarcity in the city of Hanoi, which led to millions of death.
To conclude of all matter, the authors primarily focused on how food and fear distressed the urban population during wartime especially during Japanese occupation in World War II. These two big factors play an important part in demographic change of urban population before and after war in several countries which are Malaya, Indonesia, Indochina, Singapore, Burma, Thailand and Philippines. As we link all the issues related to all the country, most of the country was affected horribly by the war while scarcity and famine became a huge burden which the war had took from these countries. Japanese Occupation which began in December 1941 worsen the condition of population from regularly moving in and out of the main cities, in order to survive in this atrocious time. The decline of population influx during the war was affected by the lack of food necessities and war condition such as bombing and attack from all over the side while the growing of population in the cities can be seen after the end of Japanese Occupation in Southeast Asia that soon were taken by the western power, which gave security to the immigrant and people coming back into the urban areas. Although the authors had mentioned clearly, in regard of lack of data in specific places or period of study, however, successfully explain, given out many information and analysis of demographic changes during and after the World War II.