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Re-Orienting the Philippines: The KALIBAPI party and the application of Japanese Pan-Asianism, 1942–45


During their occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945, the Japanese invaders aimed at making the archipelago become part of the so-called Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere (GEACPS, Daitōa kyōeiken)—a self-sustaining economic bloc that should act as a bulwark against Western imperialism. The underlying philosophy of the GEACPS was pan-Asianism (Han Ajia-shugi)—an ideology that propagated the liberation and unity of all Asian peoples. In the Philippines, the Japanese administrators faced various problems with the implementation of this ideology. The strong impact of four centuries under Western colonial rule had created a mindset among many Filipinos that they themselves were Westerners and not Asians. Therefore, one of the main purposes of the new Japanese rulers was to change the attitude of the Philippine population and win the Filipinos over to the concept of the GEACPS. One means to this end was the dissolution of all political parties in the Philippines and replacing them with the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI: lit., ‘Association for Service to the New Philippines’). The Japanese wanted to turn this association into a mass organization with the ultimate goal to create a mass movement towards the establishment of the ‘New Philippines’ among the population. In this article, I will discuss how the Japanese administrators used the KALIBAPI to adopt their pan-Asianism to Philippine circumstances, but also how the organization exemplifies the ultimate failure of Japanese pan-Asianism in the Philippines.

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1 Gotō, K., ‘Cooperation, Submission, and Resistance of Indigenous Elites of Southeast Asia in the Wartime Empire’, in The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931–1945, Duus, Peter, Myers, Ramon H., and Peattie, Mark R. (eds) (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 274301.

2 Trota José, R., ‘The Association for Service to the New Philippines (KALIBAPI) during the Japanese Occupation: Attempting to Transplant a Japanese Wartime Concept to the Philippines’, The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies, vol. 19, 2001, pp. 149185.

3 See, for example, Agoncillo, Teodoro A., The Fateful Years: Japan's Adventure in the Philippines, 1941–1945, vols 1 and 2 (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1965) and Santos, Angelito L., ‘Gleanings from a Cruel War’, in Under Japanese Rule: Memories and Reflections, Constantino, Renato (ed.) (Quezon City: Foundation for Nationalist Studies, Inc., 1992).

4 Hotta, E., Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931–1945 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 201.

5 Ibid.

6 The Dai-Ajia Kyōkai (Greater Asia Society) was founded in 1933 as brain trust for Konoe Fumimaro, who was also among the founding members of the organization. Many members were Japanese nationalists who aimed at creating a Greater Asia by means of creating a Greater Japan.

7 The Shōwa Kenkyūkai was a political think tank and an advisory organ to Konoe Fumimaro, established in 1930 under the leadership of Gotō Ryūnosuke. Gotō then appointed Rōyama Masamichi as head of the organization. The Shōwa Kenkyūkai incorporated members of different political colours, ranging from ardent nationalists like Yabe Teiji to Marxists like Ozaki Hotsumi. By the time it was dissolved in 1940, roughly 300 intellectuals were members of the organization. Pan-Asianism had been a central aspect of the Shōwa Kenkyūkai’s political agenda and the organization developed the ideological groundwork of Konoe's ‘New Order’ and the GEACPS.

8 Rōyama, M., ‘Tōa kyōdōtai no riron’, Kaizō, vol. 20, no. 4, 1938, pp. 627.

9 Mark, E., ‘Indonesian Nationalism and Wartime Asianism: Essays from the “Culture” Column of Greater Asia, 1942’, in Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History, vol. 2, Saaler, S. and Szpilman, C. W. A. (eds) (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2011), pp. 233242.

10 Goto, K., ‘Returning to Asia’: Japan-Indonesia Relations 1930s–1942 (Tokyo: Ryukei Shyosha, 1997), p. 477.

11 Ibid., p. 153.

12 Ibid., p. 478.

13 Rōyama, M., ‘Daitōa kōiki ken ron: chiseigakuteki kōsatsu’, in Taiheiyō mondai no sai kentō, Kyōkai, Taiheiyō (ed.) (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1941), pp. 357.

14 Rōyama, M., Tōa to sekai: Shin chitsujō e no riron (Tokyo: Kaizōsha, 1941), p. 370.

15 Ibid., p. 376.

16 Ibid., p. 378.

17 Totsuka, J., ‘Kaigunshō no “DaitōaKyōeiken-ron”–“Kokka no seizan” gainen wo megutte’, Nihonshi no Hōhō, vol. 1, no. 3, 2005, pp. 8197.

18 M. Rōyama, Kyōiku oyobi shukyō, vol. 3 of Hitō chōsa hōkoku, Hitō Chōsa Iinkai (ed.) (Manila: Hitō Gunsei Kambu, 1943).

19 Young, L., ‘Ideologies of Difference and the Turn to Atrocity: Japan's War on China’, in A World at Total War. Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937–1945, Chickering, R., Förster, S., and Greiner, B. (eds) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 333354.

20 Sato, S., War, Nationalism and Peasants. Java under Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), pp. 43, 49–50.

21 Ibid., pp. 52–57.

22 Ibid., p. 72.

23 The Philippine Executive Commission was established by the Japanese Military Administration in January 1942. It functioned as a de facto government until the inauguration of the so-called Second Philippine Republic on 14 October 1943.

24 Duran, P., Philippine Independence and the Far Eastern Question (Manila: University of the Philippines Press, 1935), pp. 125126.

25 Ramos, B., ‘Hitō ni okeru Beikoku no fuhai tōchi to warera no yōkyū’, Dai-Ajiashugi, vol. 3, no. 6, 1935, pp. 2229.

26 Goto, ‘Returning to Asia’, p. 145.

27 Matthiessen, S., Japanese Pan-Asianism and the Philippines from the Late Nineteenth Century to the End of World War II: Going to the Philippines is Like Coming Home? (Leiden: Brill, 2015), p. 192.

28 Takeuchi, T., ‘Appendix A: Manila Diary’, in The Philippine Polity: A Japanese View: Rōyama Masamichi and Takeuchi Tatsuji, trans. by Takeuchi, T., Friend, T. (ed.), Monograph Series No. 12, Southeast Asia Studies (New Haven: Yale University, 1967), pp. 209285.

29 Hartendorp, A. V. H., The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, vol. 1 (Manila: Bookmark, 1967), p. 449.

30 Constantino, R. and Constantino, L. R., The Philippines: The Continuing Past, 2nd edn (Quezon City: The Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1979), pp. 7576.

31 Kapisanan Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1943), p. 17.

32 Ibid., p. 19.

33 Ibid., p. 20.

34 Matthiessen, Japanese Pan-Asianism and the Philippines, p. 50.

35 K. Miki, Hyōron (3), vol. 15 of Zenshū, J. Hirosumi (ed.) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1967).

36 Kapisanan, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook, p. 21.

37 Sato, War, Nationalism and Peasants, pp. 11–12.

38 Ibid., pp. 12–13.

39 Kapisanan, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook, p. 12.

40 Werber, P., ‘Paradoxes of Postcolonial Vernacular Cosmopolitanism in South Asia and the Diaspora’, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Cosmopolitanism, Rovisco, M. and Novicka, M. (eds) (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 107123.

41 Bananal, E., Camilo Osias: Educator and Statesman (Quezon City: Manlapaz Publishing Co., 1974), p. 28.

42 Pomeroy, W. J., The Philippines: Colonialism, Collaboration and Resistance! (New York: International Publishers, 1992), p. 118.

43 Kapisanan, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook, p. 3.

44 Ibid., p. 23.

45 Takeuchi, ‘Appendix A: Manila Diary’, pp. 209–285.

46 Romulo, C. P., I Saw the Fall of the Philippines (Sydney: Harrap, 1943), p. 35.

47 Constantino, R., ‘The Miseducation of the Filipino’, in The Filipinos in the Philippines and Other Essays, Constantino, R. (ed.) (Quezon City: Malaya Books, 1966), pp. 3965.

48 Kapisanan, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook, p. 50.

49 Ibid., p. 51.

50 Takeuchi, ‘Appendix A: Manila Diary’, p. 15.

51 Philippine Executive Commission, ‘Executive Order No. 156. Amending Certain Sections of Executive Order No. 109 Dated December 4, 1942, so as to Authorize the Establishment of a Junior KALIBAPI and the Appointment of an Assistant Director-General and Four Directors-at-Large’, The Official Journal of the Japanese Military Administration, vol. 12, The Bureau of Publicity, The Department of General Affairs and The Japanese Military Administration (eds) (Manila: Nichi Nichi Shimbunsha, 1942), p. 33.

52 Kapisanan, The KALIBAPI Worker's Handbook, p. 22.

53 Recto, C. M., ‘Report of the Commissioner of Education, Health and Public Welfare’, Historical Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 5, 1967, pp. 409451.

54 Rōyama, Kyōiku oyobi shukyō.

55 Y. Hayashi, ‘Speech by Major-General Hayashi: Director-General of the Japanese Military Administration at the First Meeting of the Provincial Governors, City Mayors and Treasurers’, The Official Journal of the Japanese Military Administration, vol. 4, The Bureau of Publicity, The Department of General Affairs, and The Japanese Military Administration (eds) (Manila: Nichi Nichi Shimbunsha, 1942), pp. xiii–xvii.

56 Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation, p. 450.

57 S. Kuroda, ‘Message of His Excellency, the Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines (at the Luncheon Party in Honor of Representatives of the KALIBAPI and the Members of the Preparatory Commission for Philippine Independence. 20 June, the 18th Year of Syowa)’, The Official Journal of the Japanese Military Administration, vol. 13, The Bureau of Publicity, The Department of General Affairs, and The Japanese Military Administration (eds) (Manila: Nichi Nichi Shimbunsha, 1943), p. i.

58 Homma Masaharu (1887–1946) was commander of the 14th Imperial Army in the Philippines from November 1941 until August 1942.

59 Yamashita Tomoyuki (1885–1946) was commander of the 14th Imperial Army in the Philippines from September 1944 until August 1945.

60 Nakano, S., ‘Appeasement and Coercion’, in The Philippines under Japan: Occupation Policy and Reaction, Ikehata, S. and José, R. T. (eds) (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1999), pp. 2158.

61 Y. Nagano, ‘Cotton Production under Japanese Rule’, in Ikehata and José, The Philippines under Japan, pp. 171–195.

62 S. Ikehata, ‘Mining Industry Development and Local Anti-Japanese Resistance’, in Ikehata and José, The Philippines under Japan, pp. 127–170.

63 Sanbō Honbu Dai-Ichi-bu Kenkyūhan, ‘Tai-Bei sakusen ni tomonau Hitō shori hōsaku-an’, in Nanpō sakusen ni okeru senryōchi gyōsei tochi yoko-an, Tokyo, 31 March 1941.

64 Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation, p. 451.

65 Constantino, R., The Second Invasion: Japan in the Philippines (Quezon City: Karrel, 1989).

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Modern Asian Studies
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