Japanese YouTuber makes video to explain to Japanese what Japan did to S'pore in WWII

He visited the Civilian War Memorial, and even talked about the Sook Ching massacre.

Kayla Wong | December 15, 2019, 11:11 PM

A Japanese YouTuber living in Singapore has made a video on the Japanese Occupation of Singapore back in the years 1942 to 1945.

Ghibli Ojisan (or Uncle Ghibli), as he calls himself, regularly puts up videos documenting his life in Singapore — he also recently vlogged about a visit he made to Yishun, a place he found to be not so "dangerous" after all:

However, in the video titled "What did Japan do to Singapore?", he decided to delve into the touchy piece of history that happened between the two countries back in the 1940s. 

Instead of shying away from the topic, which can be rather sensitive to some, especially war survivors, the YouTuber dived into certain aspects of the war.

Here are some of the facts he introduced in his video:

Forgive, but not forget

Ghibli first opened his video in front of the Civilian War Memorial by introducing his audience to the famous (but shortened) phrase the late Lee Kuan Yew said in the past — "Forgive, but never forget".

The Civilian War Memorial was unveiled in 1957 to commemorate the civilians who were killed during the 1942 - 1945 Japanese Occupation of Singapore.

Moving from the past in order to move forward

Ghibli was referring to the remarks that Lee made back in 1969 on moving forward from Singapore's painful past for the sake of Singapore's future.

In the book "China, India, Japan and the Security of Southeast Asia" published in the year 2000 by ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Lee was noted as saying, "My generation and that of my elders cannot forget [the Japanese occupation] as long as we live."

"We can forgive but we are unlikely ever to forget," he said.

He also added, "The policy of the government is not to allow the unhappy experiences of the past to inhibit us from a policy which can enhance our growth rates by Japanese participation in our industry..."

Lee's philosophy would go on to form the basis of Singapore's foreign policy towards Japan, underlining their bilateral ties after the Second World War, which prioritised economic relations with each other for the sake of Singapore's development regardless of negative historical experiences.

Changed use of term from "occupied" to "ruled"

Ghibli also explained some of the basic facts that surrounded the Japanese invasion of Singapore, saying that "the Japanese army occupied Singapore in 1942".

However, he noted at this point in Japanese text that he subsequently edited into his video, that he should have used the word "ruled", instead of "occupied".

He then apologised for what he perceived to be his misuse of the terms.

In addition, he touched on how Japan renamed Singapore to Syonan-to, and changed the language of instruction in schools to the Japanese language.

The locals also had to face the direction of Japan every morning, and sing the Japanese national anthem Kimigayo (which means "His Imperial Majesty's Reign"), Ghibli added.

Operation Sook Ching

In his video, Ghibli also covered Japanese war crimes committed in Singapore, such as the Sook Ching massacre, which saw the mass killings of tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese deemed hostile to the Japanese.

He even took the effort to highlight the fact that there is a discrepancy in the number of victims reported by the Japanese and Singaporean governments.

He noted that Japan says about 5,000 deaths had occurred, but the number was believed by Singapore to be much higher.

"Amazing" that Singaporeans still like Japan

Ghibli concluded his video by saying he feels "terrible" that so many innocent lives were lost.

However, he noted that despite all that happened, a survey revealed that "90 per cent of Singaporeans" still hold a favourable view towards Japan, which is, to him, "amazing".

He then attributed this success to the late Lee's accomplishments and efforts.

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

Japanese audience thanked him for talking about the Japanese Occupation

A number of Japanese commenters expressed their gratitude to Ghibli for making the video, and also to Singapore and Singaporeans for not holding the past against them.

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

"This is a piece of history that the Japanese people should be aware of. Ghibli-san, thank you for the wonderful video. Also, thank you Singapore for your magnanimity."

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

"It has been quite some time since I last saw a video that made me think this deeply. Thank you for making content that the Japanese people should know about. While I think this video has many layers of meaning to it, I do think it is important to look at things accurately, objectively, and develop one's own opinion."

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

"I think Singapore is broad-minded."

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

"Peaceful and friendly relations are still the best. I learnt loads from the video this time round. Thank you very much.

I like Singapore even more after this."

The video also struck a chord with Singaporeans, such as this commenter who said Singaporeans "no longer hold any more grudge towards the Japanese".

Screenshot via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube

You can watch Ghibli's entire video here:

Top image adapted via Ghibli Ojisan/YouTube


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