Sketch by Jack Chalker

Phase 1

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War Crimes Document

The Internment of Civilians in Singapore By The Nipponese Authorities

February 1942 to August 1945


Phase 1 - February to September 1942

During this period internees were under the direct control of the Nipponese Military Authorities.

The first Camp Commandant was Major Kato whose attitude may be judged from the following extracts from his pronouncements to represent atives of the Camps during the first weeks of internment.

    “If you want food you must work for it. The first job is to repair destruction in the town.”

    “In the Camp you are to do everything for yourselves. Women and children are to be strictly separated.”

    “In the Camp you are to feed yourselves and work in co-operation and lead a good life in the Camp.”

    “ The Governor has asked for us to supply you with beds and mosquito nets but these are luxuries in war time.”

    “You must submit a list of medical instruments and medicines required. The High Command will then decide whether these will be supplied to you or whether you have to get them yourselves.”

    (N.B. The only medical supplies received from the Nipponese during the first 25 months of internment was 1 bale of cotton wool).

Major Kato lost no opportunity of informing the internees that it was the intention of the Nipponese to punish them in revenge for the alleged ill-treatment of Nipponese internees by the British Authorities. O 25th March when he handed over control of the internees to Lieutenant Okazaki he said:-

    “When we consider the way in which Japanese internees have been treated by the British we feel we cannot give you freedom or an easy life.”

One of the punishments which he decreed and which was maintained during the first 15 months of internment was the complete separation of husbands and wives, parents and children and male and female relatives generally in the Men’s and Women’s Camps. Except for a meeting on Christmas Day 1942 and 11th February 1843, husbands and wives quartered in the same building were not allowed to meet until June 1943 from which date meetings were as follows:-

June to September 1943


1/2 hour every fortnight

13th September to 10th October 1943


1/2 hour every week

10th October 1943 to 25th December 1943


No meetings

25th December 1943


Meeting for 1 hour

1st January 1944


Meeting for 1/2 hour

7th April 1944


Meeting for 1 hour

4th June 1944 to August 1945


Weekly meetings

In succession to Major Kato, Lieutenant Okazaki assisted by 2nd Lt. Tokuda, controlled the Changi Camp from 25th March to September 1942. It was on the whole a negative administration. Internees were left to work out their own organization. The controlling officers seldom entered the living quarters of the Camp. There were no roll-calls or routine inspections. After mid-April limited and irregular opportunities were given for buying extra food and other food and other supplies through a firm of Indian merchants. But these facilities were insufficient to enable the camp to get in sufficient supplies of food to balance the diet. And the Camp was on the verge of an outbreak of beri-beri in June when after repeated requests permission was given to buy rice polishings. Nothing was done to relieve congestion or improve living conditions. - many of them ill-equipped continued to be sent to the Camp.

Under this regime the administration of discipline was left in the main to the Camp Committee. Individual punishments inflicted by the Nipponese staff included 3 cases of face-slapping of women internees for alleged irregularities in bowing and a few similar instances in the Men’s Camp but there were no instances of imprisonment or corporal punishment inflicted by the officers in charge of the Camp. At the time internees took this as a matter of course but in the light of their later experiences they were to realize that the restraint shown by Lieutenant Okazaki and Tokuda were a matter for surprise and gratitude.


Phase 2 - Military Administration Dept. Singapore (M.A.D.)


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