Thursday, 22 October 2015

Fates of the Japanese Soldiers in Malaya after WW2

War has both its good and bad effects. Children who survived WW2 are mostly dead today. Some still survive to tell stories of the war.

There was a TV documentary of WW2 in Malaya and what happened to some of the Japanese soldiers who were in Malaya while waiting to go home to Japan. They grew and ate the humble sweet potato (ubi keledek). They had to plant ubi keledek as there was no food rationed for the Japanese soldiers following the war. Ubi keledek is different from ubi kayu (tapioca).

Ubi keledek (sweet potato)
Ubi kayu rebus (boiled tapioca/manioc/casava)

Merdeka was long awaited after other neighbouring nations celebrated their independence. Malaysia celebrated Merdeka on 31 August 1957, after much negotiation with the British.

A film of Malaya's struggle during the British re-occupation following the war, entitled Seruan Merdeka (Call of Freedom), was filmed on site in Kg Glam, Singapore. The film was directed and produced by Mr SMAH Chishty, a relative of an early Malay doctor in Singapore - Dr HS Moonshi.
Malay Film of the Occupation - The Straits Times, 10 March 1947, Page 3
The film Seruan Merdeka was advertised and shown at the Queens Theatre.
Page 3 Advertisements Column 3 - The Straits Times, 18 August 1947, Page 3

Not all Japanese soldiers wanted to return to Japan. Some chose to remain in Malaya.

In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers in Malaysia (1970)

Why do you think some of the Japanese soldiers did not want to return to Japan after the war?

One Japanese soldier who chose to remain in Malaya was Yano Shigeru @ Mohd Ali, or better known as Pak Ali. He was a soldier before WW2 and was a soldier for 8 years. He was once a farmer in Malacca - the actual site was not mentioned. He was also a fisherman for 5 years. He followed the advice of a Malay fisherman and became a Muslim. He had worked at Malayawata Steel for 6 years. He married a woman from Malacca and had 10 children. They lived in Tanah Liat, Bukit Mertajam, on the mainland near Penang. He operated a bicycle shop. A handful of helpful Muslims assisted him.

Mohd Ali @ Yano Shigeru, a revert Japanese soldier in Malaysia
From Facebook: Shaharudin Abu Hassan Affirmative. This is Pak Ali my neighbour in Tanah Liat, Bukit Mertajam back in the 60s. In the scene where the family is having their meal I could recognise one of his sons who we refer to as Md Dani. The eldest son is Daud and the eldest daughter is Maimunah. His wife is Mak Jarah (Zaharah?) from Melaka.
Malaya's struggle for freedom was recently presented in a film produced by Greenlight Pictures Sdn Bhd at the 20th Busan International Film Festival 2015 (BIFF 2015).

Malayawata Steel Mill was established in Malaya in 1961 as a Malayan-Japanese joint venture. It was built by the Japanese company Nippon Steel Corporation. Malayawata was renamed Ann Joo Steel Berhad on 8 December 2006. It now operates at two sites, one in Prai, Penang, and another in Shah Alam, Selangor.
New Scientist - 16 Oct 1980 - Page 144 - Google Books Result