Understanding Japanese Policy for Malaya from the Perspective of Nihonjinron
An examination of Japan in search of national character can be traced back to its modernization in Meiji Era and as recent as post-war period. Japan sought to articulate national identity because of tainted Japanese minds by wicked Occident ideas. In this context, the notion of Nihonjinron and its distinctive characteristics are central to grasp Japan’s thoughts and behaviors vis-à-vis dominant Western culture. During Japan’s occupation of Malaya in 1941-45, the promulgation of its wartime propaganda to create “Asia for the Asiatic” and to exterminate imperialist Western power from the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” had a considerable impact on Malayan political development. The occupation accelerated the drive towards Malayan independence amid repeated racial clashes. This paper is a conceptual attempt to unravel Japanese nationalist doctrines, rooted in Nihonjinron discourse that not only underpinned its Occident worldview throughout the course of war but also became the underpinning ofits propaganda machine.The significance of this study lies in its effort to offer an alternative way of interpreting Japanese occupation of Malaya from the perspective of Nihonjinron. It has important implications for understanding how the construction of Japanese image affects its relationship with Malaysia in the post-war period.
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