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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