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Major events of this period

Happy faces celebrating the end of the war

The War is Over!

12 September 1945.

The formal surrender ceremony takes place in City Hall, then known as the Council Chamber of the Municipal Building.

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia, accepts the surrender of the Japanese forces.

Lt Gen S Itagaki signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese.

People rejoiced and were most relieved when they heard the news. Street parades were held, and people lined the streets; waving British, American, Russian and Kuomintang flags. It marked the end of hardships suffered since Singapore fell to the Japanese on Feb 15,1942.

What they had to endure...

Banana money Food rationing Skyhigh prices The "Chop" of life From this...to this

What is this?

Moses pic

Banana money

Banana money - 5 cents banana money - $10

This money was used during the Japanese Occupation. By the time the war ended, the "banana money" had no value and became useless.

The Japanese wanted to curb anti-Japanese activities, as well as to punish the Chinese who had provided aid to the Chinese activists in the Sino-Japanese conflict.

On March 22, Chinese leaders from Malaya and Singapore were penalised and asked to pay a sum of 50 million Straits dollars as "tributary money."

As most had already had their property and assets destroyed during the war, it was a monumental task to raise the money. They finally took a loan of $21.5 million from Yokohama Specie Bank at 6% interest.

The incident curtailed the circulation and caused a shortage in Straits currency.

A large quantity of Japanese currency, also known as "banana money", was issued.

The exact amount is unknown even to the Japanese, as these currency did not bear any serial number; only block letters.

Food rationing

food queues
Ration cards were often the only way to get food. However, the quality of food was not always good. Rice had weevils and stones in them.
One of the most serious problems during the Occupation was food shortage.

The people of Singapore were encouraged to grow their own vegetables.

In addition, the Japanese also issued ration cards to control supplies of rice and other essential items.

You could not get any provisions from shops if you did not have this ration card.

Each adult was given a ration of 4.8kg of rice per month and each child 2.4kg. This amount was subsequently reduced to 3.6kg per month for adults.

Even then, these ran out before long. Click here to read about the hungry years.

Skyrocketing prices

The scarcity of goods sent prices sky-rocketing. The table below show how different prices were just before - and after the war broke out.

Item 1941 ($) 1945 ($)
Rice - 1 picul (about 60.5kg) 5 5,000
Egg - 1 dozen 0.24 120
Quinine powder 1.50 15
Shophouse 5,000 - 6,000 160,000 - 250,000

The "Chop" of Life

Security clearance chop
This means you get to live.
This must have been the most treasured item during the Japanese Occupation. Without it, you might have to die.

Troops of the Japanese Imperial Army would conduct spot-checks. The people had no way of knowing whether they would be given security clearance. If they were cleared, they would get this rectangular mark.

If it had been a triangular mark, they would be taken away and killed.

Some had the mark printed on their clothes. The printed area would then be cut and carried around wherever they went.

Others had their arms or legs marked.

Some people would go for months without bathing for fear that the marks would be washed away.

From this...  
The Straits Times  
...to this
Shonan Times

The Japanese took over several newspapers.

These appeared under different names. The Straits Times was renamed The Shonan Times and later, Syonan Shimbun.

The Shonan Times was the official newspaper in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation.

The paper ran on Tokyo times, normally two hours ahead of Singapore. Staff had to come to work in the dark, working through to sundown.

The Shonan Times was run by Japanese officers from the Propaganda Department, who threatened to behead anyone who spelt the Emperor's name or title incorrectly.



Copyright 1998 Singapore Press Holdings. All Rights Reserved.