Australia and New Guinea
The last major section of Japanese leaflets we discuss and illustrate are those leaflets prepared for use in Australia, New Guinea, and Papua. I saved the best for last. These are the colorful, comical and sexual leaflets that are usually illustrated when one discusses Japanese leaflets. They were dropped on the Australians and New Zealanders and depicted slick-haired Hollywood "Yanks" in bed with the wives of the Aussies. Others showed civilians and "slackers" with the women. The Japanese were pictured as strong and brave, and the "Anzacs" were depicted as injured, hoodwinked, or confused.
On one full-color anti-American leaflet, we find a slick American officer holding a young semi-exposed lady who is in the process of struggling for her freedom. A ragged Australian soldier stands on a depiction of New Guinea. The text over him is:
The Aussie: "What was that scream. Something up?"
Meanwhile the American officer tries to quiet his struggling victim and says:
The Yank: "Sh..Sh..Quiet Girlie, Calm yourself. He'll be on the next casualty list. No worry."
That goes double
The Japanese might have desired something more to the point. A much more graphic leaflet was prepared and dropped over the Australian troops fighting in the jungles of New Guinea. In this leaflet, the glorified American now appears in civilian dress with slicked-downed hair and a moustache. The caricature is right out of a Grade B Movie. He is making love to a beautiful Australian girl. The text is,
That goes double. The slick Yank (In Melbourne): Take your sweet time at the front Aussie-- I got my hands full right now-- with your sweet toots at home.
Below the picture of the happy couple the Australian soldier runs through the jungle with his pants down, chasing a leaf-covered native girl through the jungle.
Japanese Folding leaflets
This leaflet dropped on New Guinea by the Japanese is one of a number of folding or trick leaflets that the Japanese created. When fully folded on the ground it seems to be just a regular leaflet, but when unfolded it has an anti-morale, anti-American message. The leaflet is 7 1/8-inches by 3 3/8-inches folded and 7 1/8-inches by 10-inches unfolded. At first glance we see just an Australian soldier and his wife in bed. The text is:
Your happiness at home in Australia
After some manipulation of the folds we see the bare-breasted Australian wife waving at her husband on the battlefield with explosions and a burial cross nearby. The text is simply:
After further manipulation the Australian soldier is depicted again in battle at the top and his wife is now apparently being assaulted by an American soldier below. The text in the center of the vignette with a background of helmets and skulls is:
That American war mongers may indulge in this!
OK A-1 PASS
The Japanese really seem to have liked these folding or trick leaflets. I have seen about 5 different since the end of the war. The leaflet above was found in New Guinea and measures 5.5-inches by 8.25-inches when folded and 5.5-inches by 14-inches when opened up. At first glance the leaflet depicts a smiling Australian soldier with a clean pressed uniform and the text:
OK A-1 - PASS - but
When the leaflet is fully opened the same soldier is shown wounded with a bloody head and hand and the text:
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS
When the fragments from one bomb - - One burst of machine gun fire - - One fierce thrust of a bayonet - - Gets YOU
BUT, in this case you are still alive - - and you dont have to die - - unless you want to
That Unforgettable Embrace
This is a very intricate Japanese trick leaflet for New Guinea and quite well done. The folded leaflet is 5 5/8-inches by 9-inches folded and 5 5/8-inches by 14 1/16-inches unfolded. At first it appears to show just an Australian soldier and his wife embracing. The text is:
The unforgettable embrace under the beautiful moon with the warmth of HER shapely body nestled against yours: that blood-tingling kiss: that over powering sense of passion that sweeps over you These and many other pleasant youll be able to live again if you throw down your arms, surrender and prepare to get out of this hell-hole.
We should mention that the Allies were very careful not to use the word surrender to the Japanese because it was known that the term I cease resistance was preferable and caused no loss of face within the enemy ranks. However, the Japanese were not so courteous and had no trepidation about using the word surrender in leaflets for Allied soldiers.
When the folded leaflet is manipulated you still see the soldier s undamaged legs, but now he is dead on the battlefield near barbed wire. The new text at the top is:
BUT if you continue to resist - Then under the beautiful tropical moon, only DEATH awaits you. Bullet holes in your guts - agonizing death! You have two alternatives. Take your choice.
This Guy was Smart
Another Japanese folding leaflet depicts a smiling Australian soldier holding bread and a pack of American Old Gold cigarettes in his upraised hands. The text is:
THIS GUY WAS SMART
He got his food
He got his cigs.
Above all he is assured of life and the chance
To get back home
When the card is folded it shows how the soldier got that bread and cigarettes. His hands are empty and upraised in surrender. The new text at top is:
BY DOING THIS
Another folding leaflet depicts a group at a dinner party with the radio announcing Another major victory. That leaflet unfolds to show a smiling Japanese soldier, a Japanese tank and a dead American soldier fallen into barbed wire. The text is:
ANOTHER MAJOR VICTORY
Another major victory for the United States! As champagne glasses clinked around the radio, doughboys at the front lay cold and lifeless on the bloody wires. Oh! If those at home only knew what you are undergoing, but theyll never know cause the honorable Colonel secretaries of the Army and Navy wont have it!
Japanese "The Spectre Commands" leaflet
The Japanese attacked Roosevelt on several occasions. In one divide-and-conquer leaflet they tried to convince the Australians that they were being sacrificed by the American President. Roosevelt is shown as a figure of death, wrapped in a black robe with greenish skin. Beneath him an Australian soldier is shown bleeding to death with an American flag driven through his stomach. Text on the leaflet is:
The spectre commands - Thou shall go Americans, and eat the Australians out of their homes if necessary...The Americans will fight to the last Australian.
Ole Man Roosevelt
In another attack on Roosevelt, he is depicted walking away with Australia under his arm while an "Aussie" is left to fight an oncoming Japanese warship. The text is:
While Aussies shed their precious blood, ole man Roosevelt finds his selfish aims going according to schedule.
Another leaflet depicts five naked women dancing among a field of crosses. An American flag is in the background. The text is:
Weve got oomph and weve got curves, weve got stars and a lot of stripes, Weve got passion and weve got breasts, Weve got everything except our desire, and only the crosses mark them here.
America's Playboy No. 1
The above leaflet depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt as intentially risking the lives of American soldiers by placing them in the line of fire so that he can look good to the rest of the world. The leaflet reads:
Valiant Americans this hurts me more than it does you. I am forced to do this in order to maintain my prestige and honor. Also it's good for my figure you see. So here we go again--alley oops--who's next?
Its Yours for the Asking!
This Japanese message is short and to the point. A soldier is seen at the left with a Japanese bomb in his plate. At the right a civilian is depicted with a steaming roast chicken on his plate. The meaning is simple: To fight is to die. To stay home or to surrender is to be safe and well fed. The text is:
Its Yours for the Asking
This Japanese leaflet depicts Americans stranded on an island while Japanese bombers sink American ships in the distance. The Japanese try to entice the soldiers with a delicious plate of food but not understanding the American diet, instead of a steak or a hamburger they tempt the troops with a cold salad. They imply that for a change of mind (actually a surrender), the soldiers can have that fine salad. The text is:
Nothing but dog-biscuits.
Day after day, positively.
How about a dish of salad like this?
For a change of diet...Just a change of mind
You are wanted
The above leaflet attempted to place guilt on the soldier for abandoning his woman for the war. The leaflet depicted a woman lying in bed clutching a picture of her man. The leaflet reads:
Why did you leave me like this--? Why must I suffer alone this unbearable loneliness--this silence--this welling unsatisfied passion--? Why--Why--? Why don't YOU come back?
This Japanese leaflet tugs on the heartstrings of American and Australian troops by depicting very kissable lips in full color on the front along with the word:
The back has a short text message in a womans handwriting:
Darling, cant you find a way to come back to me? I miss you so. I send all my love, and my kisses are on the other side of this card.
The finder of this particular leaflet mailed it home with the following comment:
This is what the Japs dropped for Christmas. They want to make us more homesick than we are. I wish that was really you on the other side.
[Authors Note] The New Guinea campaign was fought from 24 January 1943 to 31 December 1944. So, although we cannot be sure, it seems likely that this leaflet was dropped in December 1944.
You Above All Men
Another leaflet tells the Australians that their women are being tempted while they are at war. It depicts a woman thinking of her soldier at the front while between them a couple is kissing. She is contemplating having an affair with Tom, another soldier who has returned from the war. The text is:
You Above All Men
Do you have to bear the brunt of this war alone and for so long? You never seem to think of me. Im lonesome without you. Tom has come home months ago. And, Thomas still admires me as you know. Sometimes I really do lose confidence in myself
The above leaflet attempted to persuade the Australian "Diggers" to abandon New Guinea and go home because their real threat were the American soldiers, to include black soldiers, staged in Australia who were seducing the Australian women while they were dying in the jungle. The leaflet depicts an American soldier kissing an Australian wife while dead bodies are shown in the foreground and background. The text is:
Hey! you Diggers! He came he saw conquered!
Thinking you diggers will never come back alive The BLACKS and the YANKS are raping your wives, your daughters and your sweethearts --they are helpless without your protection. Your future happiness is at stake! One last Aussie simply means one more Yank safely in the house. Surely you'll not give up your lives to make this possible.
Another full-color leaflet to the Australians depicts a formally dressed man and woman in the foreground, while three injured Aussies are in the background. The text is:
Aw! Heck! Whats the use of thinking of those ugly looking cripples? Youre sound and Im sound, so lets .
Ratio of Marriageable men
Looking at the way the faces of the men and women are portrayed, this leaflet seems to have been prepared by the same artist who did Aw! Heck! above. This leaflet is aimed at the Americans and uses a little sex, a little home-sickness, and a little divide-and-conquer to imply that while the soldiers are at the front, the slackers and draft-dodgers back home have an excess of available women to choose from. Three women smile at a civilian while American ships are sunk by the Japanese in the background. The Japanese math says that where the ratio of men to women was once equal back home, it is now 10 to 1 in a mans favor. The back is blank. Some of the text is:
What a life to be at home where a man is the idol of millions of beautiful girls! Its great to be alive! And what a time you would have!
Ticket to Meet your Wife and Kid
This Japanese leaflet depicts an Aussie holding his child with his wife close behind. The text on the front is:
Ticket to Meet your Wife and Kid
The back is all text and in the form of a safe conduct pass. It says in part:
HERES ALL YOU DO!
Come towards our lines waving a white flag.
Strap you gun over your left shoulder, muzzle down and pointed behind you.
Show this ticket to the sentry.
Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket.
JAPANESE ARMY HEADQUARTERS
Killed in Action
Still another leaflet played on the theme that any defense of New Guinea was hopeless and for nothing. Why die for a jungle. The 7-inch by 5-inch Japanese leaflet depicts a dead Australian soldier chained to the island of New Guinea holding a citation from U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. The text reads:
KILLED IN ACTION! Died that the jungles of New Guinea might again rest in peace.
Another leaflet that stresses the soldiers on
are helpless depicts two giant Japanese soldiers to the left and right of three small Allies troops. The text is: New Guinea
They were a pushover -- were they?
Supplies were coming -- did they?
Enforcement were on the way are they?
NOW, where are you?
You stand between horrible DEATH
and reasonable surrender.
I believe the Japanese writer meant to say Reinforcements rather than Enforcement, but I suppose the recipients of the leaflets got the general idea.
Another full-color Japanese leaflet to Australians in New Guinea is entitled Siren. The 7-inch by 5-inch leaflet depicts an Australian soldier in the grasp of a female figure with a skull for a face that surely represents Death. The back is blank. The text is on the front is:
Beware young man. The lady will get you if you don't watch out. You'll never see those green hills at home again once her clutches tighten on you... and she's got a fairly good grip right now...There is only one way out.
Several of the leaflets dropped on Australia and New Guinea were long vertical strips, sometimes meant to be folded. The leaflet above is made up of five cartoons and depicts an American soldier seeing a U.S. Navy ship on the horizon and then seeing it sunk; then seeing a Japanese battle fleet and finally throwing a temper tantrum as he realized he is trapped on the island. The text is:
Exasperation that blankety-blank president
and his two cent promises---
I did not want to add this plain text leaflet in this section with all the full-color images. However, it is very interesting because we know it was dropped on Rabaul, and we know the date. That is very rare on a propaganda leaflets. The Japanese wanted Rabaul and intended to make it a Pacific fortress. The attack was called Operation R and launched against the Australian troops known as Lark Force. Japanese forces landed on 22 April 1942 and attacked the following day. They were victorious and held the island until August, 1945. The leaflets were dropped by seaplane. The text is:
To the Officers and Soldiers of This Island!
SURRENDER AT ONCE!
And we will guarantee your life, treating you as war prisoners. Those who RESIST US WILL BE KILLED ONE AND ALL. Consider seriously, you can find neither food nor way of escape in this island and you will only die of hunger unless you surrender.
January 23rd 1942.
Japanese Commander in Chief
Fake Japanese Propaganda Leaflets
As we have done in so many other articles, we must warn the reader to only purchase leaflets from trusted veterans that brought them back from the Pacific. Australia seems to have become a hotbed for counterfeits and forgeries and here a dealer offers nine fake Japanese leaflets for $8.32 U.S. I do not see any mention of reproduction on the individual leaflets. Each of these leaflets could be resold for $30 to 40, so the danger of these being resold as genuine for profit is clear.
REPRODUCTION WW2 Japanese Produced Leaflets
Dropped on the Australian Troops in New Guinea. Set Includes Nine (9) Reproduced Leaflets from the war. All are reproduced from Originals of Wartime Make - All are Full Color. Set Includes Three (3) that Fold Out to reveal a further message
Ticket to Armistice
Sometimes the Japanese used sexual images in order to influence Allied soldiers to pick up surrender leaflets. The leaflet above depicts a bare-breasted female in an inviting pose. The English-language text is text is:
TICKET TO ARMISTACE
USE THIS TICKET, SAVE YOUR LIFE AND YOU WILL BE KINDLY TREATED.
Follow these instructions:
- Come towards our lines waving a white flag.
- Strap your gun over your left shoulder muzzle down and pointed behind you.
- Show this ticket to the sentry.
- Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket.
This is followed by Japanese text:
The bearer(s) of this ticker has surrendered.
It is strictly forbidden to kill him (them).
Commander, Japanese Army forces
The leaflet ends with the English sentence:
Sing your way to Peace pray for Peace.
This leaflet was mailed to by an Australian airman to his father at home. He wrote on the back:
I am sending you this Jap propaganda leaflet. The Nips often drop these, but of course we know about all these promises of his. I received your letter and will answer it during the week.
Your loving son
The Japanese Propaganda Movie Calling Australia.
The Japanese are known to have made on very interesting propaganda movie for use against the Australians. The movie used Australian prisoners-of-war and it is unsure if they took part voluntarily or under duress. The movies shows all the prisoners in clean, starched uniforms, eating hot meals in recreation clubs, drinking various beers and liquors, being paid a monthly stipend and even swimming in a country-club style pool. It is an amazing propaganda piece. Considering that something like 27% of Japanese POWs did not survive the war, I doubt that many Australians were fooled by this motion picture. Prisoners of war from Australia held by the Japanese were subject to murder, beatings, summary punishment, brutal treatment, forced labor, medical experimentation, starvation rations and poor medical treatment. No access to the POWs was provided to the International Red Cross.
Japanese Leaflet to the Local Natives
Americans tend to think of the Japanese soldiers as tyrannical and inhumane. However, in some cases they seem to have treated the locals better than their former white masters, paying them a fair wage and giving them limited freedom. There seem to have been some cases where the tribesmen actually felt a loyalty to the Japanese. One individual who knows the Papuans well said in regard to this leaflet:
The Japanese occupiers of northern Papua /
were, for the most part, liked by the Papuans. In general, the Japanese hired the Papuans to work for them; teaching them to drive trucks, perform rudimentary maintenance on vehicles and equipment, etc. and paying wages in the occupation currency. Better treatment than they received from their pre-war Australian administrators. From the Papuans' point of view, they just changed one occupier for another. New Guinea
In this Papua /
Pidgin-language leaflet the Japanese encourage the natives to report on the whereabouts of any Allied troops. The leaflet depicts two natives standing on a hill above American troops making an amphibious landing on their island. One comments on the foolishness of the Americans and the second native points and tells him to run and tell the Japanese troops. Text on the front of this very colorful leaflet is: New Guinea
GO QUICKLY AND TELL THE JAPANESE SOLDIERS
Oh! The American soldiers are very dumb! They dont know that the strong Japanese soldiers will kill them.
Hello! Run quickly and tell the Japanese soldiers. The Japanese soldiers are there!
We read more of the Japanese techniques in
New Guineain War by Stealth: Australians and the Allied Intelligence Bureau, Alan Powell, Press, 1996: Melbourne University
Japanese propaganda was very extensive in this district during their occupation and seems to be rather effective. Natives were told that the war started because
Japanand Germanyand native (spirit) ancestors were sending goods to and the English would not let them get through. New Guinea
Japanand Germanywould win the war and then would kill all the English in New Guineaand any natives who helped them Natives who helped would be well cared for and paid well at the end of the war. Japan
The Japanese preyed on the members of the Cargo Cult (who prepared airfields for the coming of the aircraft bringing treasure to the natives) and called on the spirits to help their war effort. An Australian sergeant added:
The enemy staged singings and during the proceedings they would kill a pig, cut it down the center, and then eat the right side. The left side would be left in the sun until it rotted. This side represented the Australians who were not strong enough to win.
The Japanese also dropped leaflets on Burma, Thailand and Indochina. These campaigns were not as extensive as those mentioned above and in most cases the leaflets were more plain, either black and white or a dull monotone.
Burma Monster Leaflet
An obvious exception to my description of "dull" leaflets are those for Burma. They are quite colorful. Some leaflets show the British as monsters. One dropped over Burma depicts a green toothed demon wearing a Union Jack devouring Burmese civilians. The text is:
The British Monster and Us
Burmese attack leaflet
Another shows a Burmese leader on horseback attacking British troops. In this case the flag they carry was a Japanese sponsored organization that allegedly wanted to revive the Burmese monarchy. A very similar image was used on a leaflet to the Indians. The text is:
Join the Revolutionary Army to rout out the British
This Man is Foolish
The leaflets to Indochina are written in French and depict images such as a lone French officer looking at swarms of Japanese bombers and tanks on the horizon with the text:
Those who think of resisting the Japanese would be foolish!
This Woman Wishes
Another depicts a wife and children trying to pull a French soldier away from a battlefield covered with skeletons with the text:
This woman wishes that you live.
Another leaflet is in the form of a hand-written letter and entitled in French "Proclamation of the Japanese Army in Indochina." Other leaflets teach the French and the colonial troops how to surrender by using a white flag, and one contains a safe conduct pass from the Supreme Commander of the Japanese Army.
Safe Conduct Pass
Another safe conduct pass shows a classic nude on the back. The text is standard, telling the finder that he may use the pass to go over safely to the Japanese Army.
Some of the leaflets picture wartime photographs of Japanese bombers with the text, "Japanese bombers over Indochina! Do you know what they will do to you? In another leaflet, the bombing of Chungking, China is depicted. One long horizontal leaflet depicts five beautiful women on one side, and five scenes of Japanese military might on the other with the title "Impossible to Resist."
The Japanese swept across Malaya quickly after their 8 December 1941 invasion, moving through what was thought to be impassable jungle. In this leaflet that the finder has dated 5 February 1942, the Japanese tell the Empire soldiers that British and Australian soldiers are secretly leaving Singapore while the people riot. It warns the Malayan and Indian soldiers that they will soon be alone and encourages them to cooperate with the Japanese. Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, Commander of Allied forces in Singapore surrendered about 130,000 Allied troops to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. The fall of Singapore was the largest surrender in British military history.
Hong Kong Leaflet
A Japanese leaflet dropped on Hong Kong depicts crossed rifles bearing the flags of Japan and China over a table set with drinks and glasses. The Chinese text is:
FOR BETTER FOR WORSE. It is essential that the relationship between China and Japan must grow closer because of the war in East Asia. The victorious results of Imperial Japan will be advantageous to China and provide her with prosperity and happiness. Chinese and Japanese should be like brothers and sister and should join together to understand each other and work towards the future prosperity of East Asia. Do remember the date; December 8th. JAPANESE ARMY
English text on the back is:
British Officers and men! What do you expect in your useless resistance after having been cornered in this small island of Hong Kong? If you are waiting for the Chungking troops to stir up the Japanese rear, it will only end in a fools dream, the Malay Peninsula and the Philippines are now under the way of the Japanese Forces and their fate is completely sealed. Your comrades brought to Kowloon, have already been to Samchun and they are calmly enjoying a peaceful Xmas. You are at the crossroads now. Its all up to you whether you prefer death or save your life for the future. We will give you the last chance for your reconsideration, if you surrender to us, the ultimatum ends at the midnight of Dec. 26. JAPANESE ARMY.
A colorful Japanese leaflet was dropped on the Chinese troops allied with the British. It shows a wolf-faced British soldier leading a Chinese soldier to a cliff where he will surely fall off and into massed Japanese bayonets depicted below. The text on the front is:
Do you really want to sell your soul to the British white ghost and see the Liao Zhai tragedy befall you?
Why does the British soldier have the face of a wolf? In
the wolf represented rapacity and greed or an official who exacted money unfairly from the people in the shape of unauthorized taxation. In fact, Chinese propaganda sometimes showed the Japanese as wolves. The term white Ghost was an insult used for Caucasians. The Liao Zhai tragedy relates to famous tales from Chinese history and can be translated to Strange stories from the Chinese Studio. This is a collection of nearly five hundred mostly supernatural tales published during the early Qing Dynasty. These tales are about being deceived or led to death in some way. The Japanese seemed to have done their homework here and this would appear to be an excellent propaganda leaflet. China
The back of the leaflet is all text. The first two columns say that anyone who surrenders with the leaflet will not be treated as a captive but as an ally. He will also be given cash in exchange for working for the Japanese. The leaflet then explains how it is to be used. It is not necessary for each person to have a leaflet; a group may surrender with one leaflet. When approaching, wave a white flag, hold your hands high, and have any guns pointing downwards. Hand over the leaflet to the Japanese. If you have killed a British or American soldier who had some documents, you will get promotion to a high office in the newly formed government. The leaflet is signed by the Japanese Commanding General and there is a section that gives instructions to the Japanese soldiers who are handed the leaflet.
Chun Guis Dream
I love this Japanese leaflet to the Chinese because it reminds me of other leaflets. At the top we see soldiers dead in the barbed wire. The Germans produced similar leaflets for the French showing both French and American soldiers dead in the wire. To the left of the Chinese soldier is a question mark. In Vietnam the United States produced a very similar leaflet coded Q-237 showing a Viet Cong wondering about the war with a large question mark to his right. This leaflet and the one following both seem to have been used in the same place; Guangdong province. The text on the front appears to be a parody of an old Tang dynasty poem:
Pitiful bones by the river on Yunnans frontier - Just like the man in Chun Guis dream.
This refers to an ancient story about a woman whose newlywed husband was drafted into the forces of a warlord. She dreamed that he had died in battle. The site of the scene (Yunnans border) indicates that in both cases the leaflets were aimed at soldiers drafted from Guangdong province for fighting in the south. The back of the leaflet has directions for surrender, offering to let the holder either enroll in the army of the "ew China" (the Japanese puppet state in Nanjing) or return home to Guangdong. Those who have killed American, British, or Chiang Kai-shek troops are offered favorable terms, as is also the case with anyone carrying important documents when they defect. There is also Japanese text at the back left instructing Japanese troops to respect the terms of surrender.
No Sooner has one of us Fallen
This Japanese leaflet clearly shows the Chinese soldiers that the British see them as nothing better than shields to be used as protection against Japanese fire. The British soldier hides behind the bodies of two dead Chinese soldiers. He lives as the soldiers are shot to pieces. The text on the front is:
No sooner has one of us fallen than another enters the breach!
The leaflet targets men from the Guangdong provincial fishing villages who had been drafted into the Republican forces. The image implies that they are dying like flies for the sake of the foreigners. As in the leaflet above, the back of the leaflet has directions for surrender, offering to let the holder either enroll in the army of the "New China" or return home to Guangdong.
This leaflet is so clearly drawn and the message so plain that it can be used for both literate and illiterate Chinese. It consists of four vertical panels. In the first, American and British soldiers see an unknown object on the ground. In the second panel they push a Chinese soldier ahead toward the object. The object turns out to be explosive and the Chinese soldier is killed in the third panel. In the final panel, the British and American soldiers march away quite satisfied with themselves. The moral is clear; to fight alongside the Allies means death to the Chinese. The text is:
The British and Americans are not your allies and will betray you.
A Japanese Leaflet to the People of
As the war neared its inevitable end, the Japanese military was forced to propagandize its own subjects. The first American large-scale use of PSYOP in the Pacific was the
Okinawacampaign. U.S.forces on Saipanprinted more than six million leaflets to be dropped on Japanese troops and Okinawan civilians. Loudspeaker teams were used in depth. The result was the surrender of 11,409 prisoners of war. Up until the Okinawacampaign it was believed that Japanese troops could not be convinced to surrender. The Okinawan PSYOP campaign proved the fallacy of that theory.
The Japanese prepared a propaganda leaflet in an attempt to lift the morale of the people of
Okinawaand enlist them in the defense of the island. It is written in an archaic Japanese and very difficult to translate today. The leaflet says:
Beyond a doubt the hateful, ugly Americans will land on
Okinawa. Swear on the Imperial Graves; pledge to die a martyr. Citizens of Okinawa, you want to protect the empire!! Once the enemy comes you have to follow the five provisions on the left and endeavor with your life to annihilate them.
Dont give the enemy even one drop of water.
Dont let the enemy help themselves to stores of provisions.
Dont permit the enemy to make use of your fields and rice paddies.
Dont permit the enemy to peacefully sleep in even the most humble dwelling.
Dont permit even one enemy to remain on the island.
Okinawa, all together, with every stick and stone shielded with the support of the Imperial Throne, destroy the ugly Americans. The militarys divine secret plan is to annihilate the American enemy. Continue to charge.
April 1, 1945
Local Military Commander
Other Japanese Propaganda
Besides leaflets, the Japanese also prepared hundreds of propaganda posters, postcards and matchbooks. Perhaps the most famous wartime poster, "The Samurai," is at the top of this article.
Independence is Almost here (1945)
The Japanese army's occupation of the Dutch East Indies from 1942 to August 1945 was made easier by the promise of "liberation" from Dutch colonialism and national independence. Here a Japanese soldier celebrates the new freedom with the people of Indonesia.
The Japanese pretended to be interested in Indonesian freedom. A 1942 proclamation said in part:
Nippon has no thought of establishing any regimented sphere of imperialism in
East Asia. That would be contrary to her principals. Fundamentally, it is to be a union of neighboring states, sharing to a greater or lesser degree common racial and cultural origins and geographical propinquity.
The Indonesians strongly supported the Japanese who promised them complete independence. In 1943, a volunteer army raised to defend Java attracted 34,000 men.
Numerous postcards were prepared for both home and foreign consumption. They were meant to strengthen the resolve of the Japanese people and to show the occupied nations the strength of the Japanese military. Perhaps the most infamous of all the postcards is a set of three that were printed in 1943 by the Ministry of Communications and Transportation and sold in a fancy decorated folder. That is the only war-related postal card set issued by that ministry. One million postcard sets were printed. The cost of the set was 30 sen.
Pearl Harbor Attack
The first of three "Commemorative postcards of the Greater East Asia War," issued by the Postal Forwarding Bureau of Japan, entitled "The Ferocious Bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii." The caption is, "This picture shall always be remembered by all Japanese. On the morning of Showa 16th year, 8 December, planes from our carriers attacked the U.S. Navy's principal base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It depicts the moment prior to the attack on the airfield at Ford Island during the second wave of the attack." The illustration was from a painting by Yoshioka Kenji, which was inspired by an official Japanese Navy photograph of
Hong Kong Attack
The second card is entitled "The Capture of the Anti-Aircraft Battery at Wong Neichong." The caption is, "On Showa 16th year, 19 December, our Imperial Army attacked the anti-aircraft battery in the vicinity of Wong Neichong Gorge. The British base in Hong Kong on the Jardine hilltop, was one of the fortifications possessed by the British in Greater East Asia. From it, the intense battles on the waters of the South China Sea could be observed." The illustration was from a painting by Koiso Yoshihira.
The Fall of Singapore
The third postcard caption is, "The fall of Singapore - The East Asian fortress under the intrusion of the British for more than a century - fell on Showa 15th year, the 2nd month, on the 17th day at 6:40 p.m. In a single file, bearing white flags, the British officers of the Malayan Command approached our mighty army to surrender. From the right: Commanding Officer Malaya, Lieutenant General Percival; Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier General Torrance; Staff officer, Colonel Sugita; Interpreter, Ling-zhuan; Chief Administrator of the British High Command, Malaya, Major General Newbiggen, who is holding the Union Jack; and Captain Wylde who serves as interpreter." The illustration was from a painting by Miyamoto Saburo.
It is worth noting that the Japanese made use of PSYOP in their Singapore victory. Japanese General Yamashita was outnumbered three-to one and was nearly out of ammunition by the time he reached Singapore. Instead of acting cautiously, he cut off Singapore's water supply and dropped leaflets demanding immediate surrender. The leaflet read:
The Japanese Commander to the British Commander.
In the spirit of chivalry, we have the honour of addressing you to surrender. Your Army founded on the traditional spirit of Great Britain, is defending Singapore which is completely isolated and raising the fame of Great Britain by the utmost exertions and heroic fighting. I disclose my respects from my innermost feelings.
Nevertheless the war situation is already determined and in the meantime, the surrender of Singapore is imminent. From now on, resistance is futile and merely increases the danger to the 1,000,000 civilian inhabitants without good reason, exposing them to infliction of pain by fire and sword.
Furthermore, we do not feel you will increase the fame of the British Army by further resistance. From first to last our counsel is that Your Excellency will cease to think of meaningless resistance, and from now on yielding to our advice promptly and immediately suspending the action extending over the whole British battlefront.
It is expected that you will take measures to dispatch an Army messenger as stated below . If on the contrary you continue resistance as previously, it will be difficult to hear with patience from a humanitarian point of view and inevitable, we must continue an intensive attack on Singapore.
Ending this advice, we show respect to your Excellency.
1. The Army messager's route of advance shall be by Bukit Timah Road.
2. The Army messenger hoisting a white flag as well as the British flag will be escorted by a number of soldiers as protection.
It was signed by Yamashita.
His bluff worked. When General Percival met with him hoping to negotiate, Yamashita blustered, demanded unconditional surrender and yelled, "Yes or no? Surrender of fight?" Percival had no idea that he had the stronger hand, and simply said "Yes."
Japanese Propaganda Postcard for Occupied Nations
As the Japanese Army moved relentlessly across the Pacific a number of postcards were prepared to be used by the soldiers to show their love for the children of the nations they conquered. In all cases the face of the Japanese soldier was left blank so that each man could draw an image that he thought represented him. The card above shows the soldier holding four children representing
Vietnam, China, Malaya, and either Borneo or the . Philippines
Wong Hon Sum says in The Japanese Occupation of
Malayaand its Currency:
The Japanese held the education of the young in high regard and emphasis was given to the childrens reformative program. During the first anniversary photographs of children were put on display.
postcard depicting the tenderness and warmth between the Japanese soldier and the children The face of the soldier was left out to be filled at senders own discretion.
A second postcard from the same series depicts a Japanese soldier coming ashore on a turtle while three native children watch.
These cards portray the Japanese Army as friends of the children whose countries they have invaded. They reinforce the concept of the Asian Co-prosperity Sphere.
During WWII, American soldiers were issued very thin letter blanks known as V-mail (Victory mail). The idea was that the letters were very light and thus more could be carried in an airplane raising the morale of both the soldiers and their civilian families. During the American invasion of the Japanese
in April 1945, several of these letters were apparently captured by the Japanese and propaganda messages were placed on them. I have seen two such letters. One letter blank has the message: islandof Okinawa
Dear American Komerad
Think of your old mother gazing at west sky and longing to see you!
Think your darling embracing your portrait and crying hot tears!
You must be alive by all means.
Dont you want to enjoy your youth, dance, wine and jazz again?
It is interesting that the Japanese writer used the German Kamerad instead of the English Comrade. I wonder if he was motivated by his German allies. The second captured V-letter says:
Dear American Soldier
Dont you know that this operation to
Okinawais destroying your glorious mother land?
Your useless battle will fat the dogs in
Okinawaby yourselves corpse.
Imagine to your wife crying at the sad news.
Besides all the obvious grammatical errors, I find it interesting that the Japanese writer uses the term Mother land. The German use of Fatherland was well known during the war, but I have never heard the term Motherland used in Connection with the
. It is just not a term that Americans use. United States of America
On the subject of
Malaya, the leaflet above was dropped by the Japanese in both the Malay and Chinese languages. It addresses the Malayans as brethren and asks that they inform on the British and Americans, It offers rewards for worthwhile intelligence. Some of the text in Malayan and Japanese is:
The Japanese Army is your friend unlike the foreign British and Americans. We are all of a common ancestry and are Asian brethren. As such, we have a common enemy in the British and Americans.
If you see any British or Americans, please capture or report them to the Japanese Army and do not let them escape. If you can transport them to the Japanese Army then do so.
The Japanese Army will not harm you and you will be paid a reward.
Signed: Japanese Army Commander.
A great number of patriotic matchbooks showing military scenes were prepared by the Japanese. We show some samples above.
Keep Lips Silent
Japan as Asia's Liberator
Japanese Subjugation of the Philippines
The final propaganda leaflets of WWII might have been dropped on 21 August 1945 according to Bertrand M. Roehners Relationships Between Allied Forces and the Population of Japan, He says:
Japans surrender, many of the pilots at Atsugi airbase (16 kilometers west of ) refused to follow Hirohitos order to lay down their arms. They printed thousands of leaflets stating that those who had agreed to surrender were guilty of treason and urged the continuation of the war. The leaflets were dropped over Yokohama Tokyo, Yokohama, and other locations around the Kanto Plain. They also held the base captive for seven days. Constructed in 1938, the base housed Japanese elite fighter squadrons which shot down more than 300 American bombers during the fire bombings of 1945. Yokosuka
Several groups of soldiers commandeered airplanes and flew over
and the surrounding areas. Soldiers who could not accept defeat printed up thousands of leaflets and distributed them. The police now collected these leaflets opposed to surrender and classified them as seditious. Only days before, the same police had been canvassing the population, weeding out any who desired surrender. All the leaflets exhorted Tokyo to continue the war. The messages against surrender reminded the Japanese that it was better to die an honorable death fighting to the end than to submit to the enemy. Japan
One leaflet mentioned Pietro Badoglio who helped
A message to the people of the country. The Badoglio-type leaders of the country are deceiving you. They are only securing an idle life for themselves and enslaving you.
Other leaflets warned again Communism, called for volunteers to join the kamikaze squads and said that surrender would not bring real peace.
Kushner concludes that although we like to think of propagandists as insidious militarists trying to influence the people, in Japan, everyone was on board:
Japanese wartime propaganda persisted because it evolved from multiple centers of production. The Cabinet Board of Information, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, military propaganda platoons, the Special Higher Police, private individuals, advertisers, comedians, publishers and writers all urged the nation to support the war.
Japanese propaganda in some cases was well constructed, especially where the colonial peoples of Asia were promised freedom from the European masters. The PSYOP was less successful in their personal and insulting attacks on the Allied forces and their military. Use of terrible grammar made the leaflets a laughing-stock to the Allied armies, a reminder that a good translators and current usage of the vernacular in propaganda text is key. Many of the Japanese leaflets were well drawn, and the use of caricature and color offers a stunning visual image. However, the cruelty of the Japanese military destroyed whatever good will the psychological operations built, and without the hearts and the minds of the people, the campaign was destined to fail.
As always, readers are invited to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com with comments or questions.
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