Home News SG Economy Japanese Imperial Guards committed atrocities in Sook Ching

Japanese Imperial Guards committed atrocities in Sook Ching




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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

It was earlier disclosed that Former President Nathan was more than just an interpreter working for the Japanese civilian police. He also helped interpret for units in the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and supplied food to them during WW2 (https://theindependent.sg.sg/nathan-supplied-food-to-japanese-imperial-guard-in-ww2).

In particular, he was very close to an Imperial Guards unit of IJA stationed in Muar after the fall of Singapore and Malaya. Mr Nathan’s own account in his book “An Unexpected Journey, Path to the Presidency” described how he would arrange to buy fruits from a fruit seller, then resell to the Japanese soldiers of the Imperial Guards in Muar. He described this as a “business” and that his business was prospering dealing with the Japanese. In fact, to facilitate his business and dealings with the Japanese, he was given an armband to freely walk in and out of the Imperial Guards camp which was limited to only Japanese personnel.

Japanese Imperial Guards

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So, who were the Japanese Imperial Guards?

It was an organization originally created to protect the Emperor of Japan and his family, palaces and other imperial properties. Emperor Meiji ordered its creation during the Meiji Restoration (1867). It was formed from loyal retainers and former samurai. This unit would then go on to form the nucleus of the new Imperial Japanese Army at the time.

When war broke out in Singapore and Malaya in Dec 1941, it joined the Japanese 5th and 18th divisions to form a 3-division strong army – the25th Japanese Army. This army was led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita, aka “Tiger of Malaya”, who swiftly conquered Singapore and Malaya in less than 3 months. On 15 Feb, 1942, Singapore, the Great Britain’s “Gibraltar of the East”, fell.

In Malaya and Singapore, the Imperial Guards was recorded to have involved in several notorious Japanese war crimes such as the Parit Sulong Massacre and the Sook Ching massacre.

Parit Sulong massacre

During the Battle of Muar, the Imperial Guards killed 155 Australian and Indian prisoners of war, in an event known as the Parit Sulong Massacre. Then, members of both the Australian 8th Division and the 45th Indian Infantry Brigade were making a fighting withdrawal, when they became surrounded near the bridge at Parit Sulong. They fought the larger Japanese forces for two days, until they ran low on ammunition and food. Able-bodied soldiers were ordered to disperse into the jungle, the only way they could return to Allied lines. About 150 Australians and Indians were too seriously injured to move, and their only option was to surrender.

The Imperial Guards then began to kick and beat the wounded prisoners of war with their rifle butts. Some of the prisoners were tied up with wire in the middle of the road and machine-gunned. The Japanese then poured petrol over the bodies, set them alight. A prisoner who survived recorded that after the prisoners were incinerated, their bodies were “systematically run over, back and forwards, by Japanese driven trucks.”

Anecdotal accounts by local people also reported POWs being tied together with wire and forced to stand on a bridge, before a Japanese soldier shot one of them, causing the rest to fall into the Simpang Kiri river and drown, thereby saving bullets.

Sook Ching massacre

After Singapore was conquered, a mass screening of the Chinese population was carried out by the dreaded Japanese Military Police, Kempeitai, between 21 and 23 Feb 1942 in urban areas, and by the feared Imperial Guards division at the end of Feb in suburban districts (http://apjjf.org/-Hayashi-Hirofumi/3187/article.html).

Anyone suspected of being anti-Japanese were rounded up and later slaughtered. Some of the massacre sites include:
• Punggol Beach.
• Changi Beach/Changi Spit Beach: Victims were from the Bukit Timah/Stevens Road area.
• Changi Road 8-mile section (ms): Massacre site found at a plantation area (formerly Samba Ikat village) contained remains of 250 victims from the vicinity.
• Hougang 8 ms: Six lorry loads of people were reported to have been massacred here.
• Katong 7 ms: 20 trenches for burying the bodies of victims were dug here.
• Beach opposite 27 Amber Road: Two lorry loads of people were said to have been massacred here. The site later became a car park.
• Tanah Merah Beach/Tanah Merah Besar Beach: 242 victims from Jalan Besar were massacred here. The site later became part of the Changi airport runway.
• Sime Road off Thomson Road: Massacre sites found near a golf course and villages in the vicinity.
• Katong, East Coast Road: 732 victims from Telok Kurau School.
• Siglap area: Massacre site near Bedok South Avenue/Bedok South Road (previously known as Jalan Puay Poon).
• Blakang Mati Beach, off the Sentosa Golf Course: Many of the bodies of massacre victims that were washed ashore were buried here.

Some tens of thousands of people were believed to have been killed during the event now known as the Sook Ching massacre carried out by the Japanese.

After the war, General Takuma Nishimura, the commander of the Imperial Guards division in the Malaya campaign, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a British military court in relation to the Sook Ching killings. He was later also convicted of war crimes by an Australian Military Court in relation to the Parit Sulong massacre. He was hanged in 1951.

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