Japanese occupation of Hong Kong

The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong began with the surrender of the British and Canadian troops who had defended Hong Kong for 18 days against the invading Imperial Japanese Army. On 25 December 1941 gave the Governor of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong Sir Mark Young the Empire of Japan. The following has been cast by many survivors later only according to their duration as the “three years and eight months” (designates).

Background of the Battle of Hong Kong

In the fall of 1941 who conquered the German Reich territories had reached its greatest extent: Large parts of Western Europe were under German occupation, the Wehrmacht had advanced in the war against the Soviet Union until Leningrad, Moscow and the Don River and the German Air Force was in spite of the lost Battle England yet to act.

After the initial success of the Imperial Army in the war against China, a stalemate had set. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 Japan in December 1941 was also in the war against the U.S. and the Western Allies. Less than eight hours later, began on 8 December at 8 am Hong Kong time clock with the attack of the 38th Division of the Imperial Army with approximately 50,000 men under Lieutenant General Takashi Sakai, the Battle of Hong Kong. The defenders were among about 15,000 units of the British Army, the Canadian Active Service Force, the British Indian Army, the Royal Air Force and the assembled volunteers from Royal Hong Kong Regiment, they were commanded by Major General Christopher Michael Maltby. An important defensive position was the Gin Drinkers Line.

After the Japanese troops, the New Territories and Kowloon had overrun, they exceeded 18 Victoria Harbour in December and opened so that the battle for Hong Kong Iceland. After heavy fighting, the only fresh water supply and a final defensive position at the Wong Nai Chong Gap took place on 25 December capitulation. The colonial administration officials, led by Governor Sir Mark Aitchison Young, she personally completed the third floor of the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon. On 20 February 1942 started with the appointment of the first Japanese governor Isogai Rensuke Hong Kong, the nearly four years of occupation administration.


Throughout the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong was under martial law. General Isogai Rensuke led the construction of the administration of a command post at the Peninsula Hotel. The military administration was divided into departments for policy, civil affairs, economic, legal and navy. It issued strict orders and established executive offices to exercise extensive control over all Hong Kong residents. In addition to Governor Young 7,000 British soldiers and civilians were held in POW and internment camps where malnutrition and disease were the rule. Severe cases of malnutrition were for 1945 as stated in the inmates of the camp of Stanley. The Japanese military government exercised control over the storehouses of the city and blocked Victoria Harbour.

In early January 1942, former members of the Hong Kong Police Force, including Indians and Chinese, were recruited for the Japanese military police Kempeitai. This took over all police stations and divided into five police districts Hong Kong: Hong Kong East, Hong Kong West, Kowloon, New Territories and coastal police. The police headquarters was built in the former building of the Supreme Court.

With the inauguration of the Japanese governor Isogai began a systematic replacement of management. Japanese officials who were dependent instructions of Tokyo, took over all the important posts in the governor’s office and its departments, the Chinese were able to take only low and medium income. Administratively divided the Japanese Hong Kong Iceland in twelve districts, six in Kowloon.


All economic activities were closely monitored, and the majority of industrial enterprises fell under direct Japanese control. The Hong Kong dollar was banned and punished with torture his property. All banks and shops lose their assets. Instead, the Japanese occupiers led military currency (jap Gun’yō Shuhyō, short gunpyō, called Engl military yen, “Militäryen”) by a mandatory exchange. The thus gained Hong Kong dollars were used to finance the war effort. The new money was the only military in June 1943 officially legal tender. Because of its increasing devaluation, prices rose rapidly until the military currency was virtually worthless.

Given the fuel shortages and increasing attacks by the USAAF air transport and utilities of the city were increasingly useless. Tens of thousands of residents were left homeless, many of whom were recruited by the Japanese shipbuilding and construction projects. The Racecourse Fanling and the airfield in Kam Tin were used for experimental rice cultivation. To gain additional space, the Japanese also considered a sprojekt land reclamation in the harbor of Tai Po Hoi.

To increase Japanese influence on the Hong Kong economy, two banks, the Yokohama Specie Bank and the Bank of Taiwan, reopened, while the other banks were liquidated by the Japanese. British, American and Dutch bankers were billeted in a small hotel, some were executed as enemies of Japan. As of May 1942, the settlement was funded by Japanese companies. In October 1942, a cartel of Japanese firms was constructed, which should control the entire overseas trade.

Resettlement, public service and health care

Food shortages and resettlement

Throughout the occupation, the Japanese operated a “repatriation”, forced evictions of unemployed Hongkongern especially on the Chinese mainland to counteract the chronic food shortages and to depopulate the city against a possible Allied counter-attack. The population increased by 1945 from 1.6 million to 600,000. The occupiers took advantage of public and private institutions regardless of their need for civilian purposes. For the expansion of the airport Kai Tak as the historic site of the Sung Wong Toi Monument and parts of Kowloon Walled City were destroyed. Some prestigious secondary schools were converted into military hospitals, including the Jesuit School Wah Yan College, Diocesan Boys ‘School, the Central British School (now King George V School), the Anglican St. Paul’s Girls’ College, and La Salle College.

Many Hong Kong residents did not have enough to eat, and there were many deaths due to malnutrition. Because of the shortage of food staples were rationed by the Japanese authorities. The families were 6.4 taels per person per day (0.24 kg) of rice to ration card. The rationing system was abandoned in 1944.

Charitable Organizations

Under Japanese occupation charitable activities were severely restricted. Although an endowment fund was established for the collection of charitable donations, but the funds were forwarded to the Japanese government and not used for the Hong Kong population. Only after an appeal by the Bishop and the Chinese Representatives’ Association Governor Isogai promised in September 1942 by Government support page, under the condition that all funds collected would first pass through the newly created Far East Foundation Fund to its management.

The organization Po Leung Kuk played an important role in the care of orphans. Due to the Japanese occupation they could not access their accounts and had to deal with financial difficulties. Only through the donations of Aw Boon Haw, a longtime supporter of Po Leung Kuk, they could continue their work

Hospitals and health care

During the occupation of access to hospitals for most people was very limited. The Kowloon Hospital and Queen Mary Hospital were like the Tung Wah Eastern Hospital used by the Japanese as military hospitals.

Despite the lack of medicines and funds, the Tung Wah Hospital and Kwong Wah Hospital continued their service to the public continued limited. They gave food, medicine and clothing to the needy and organized funerals. Although they received government funding, they had great financial difficulties, they had to raise money for charity events such as music and theater performances.

Schools, media and propaganda

By the schools, the mass media and other means of propaganda, the Japanese tried to gain control over public opinion in Hong Kong so as to strengthen their occupation regime. Japanisation different areas of daily life, which was also used in other colonies and occupied territories of Japan, was intended to supplant the local culture and to demonstrate the superiority of Japan.

Schools and education

According to Japanese belief that education was a key tool for strengthening of the Japanese influence. Japanese language education was compulsory, and students with poor test results in Japanese threatened corporal punishment. Newly taught private language schools should promote the use of oral Japanese. English was not allowed to be taught. The military government also controlled the training of teachers and required all Japanese a test, who did not pass the test, had to attend a three month course. In addition, Japanese culture, values ​​and practices should be introduced into the education. This Japanisierungspolitik should people drive to learn Japanese, increase control over the population and facilitate the establishment of the Greater East Asia Prosperity Sphere.


The Japanese occupation forces used a bilingual system of English and Japanese to communicate with the population. English signs and advertisements of the shops were removed, and in April 1942 all roads and buildings were in the district of Central Japanese name, the Queen’s Road became the Showa dori, the Des Voeux Road to the Meiji-dori, the Peninsula Hotel was now Matsumoto and the department store Lane Crawford Matsuzakaya.

The aim of the Japanese propaganda was also to highlight the superiority of Japanese lifestyle and values ​​over the western materialism. The maintenance of Japanese rituals on the occasion of festivals, state occasions, holidays and military victories should strengthen the Japanese influence in Hong Kong. For example, a Yasukuni were hard to honor the war dead and 11 February, a “Day of Empire” committed to the worship of the Emperor Jimmu. Even newly built shrines and a monument should honor the Japanese war heroes.

Media and Entertainment

The Hong Kong News, a Japanese newspaper before the war, was re-released in January 1942. Of the ten Chinese newspapers in May were only five left, and these were censored. Radio receivers were used to disseminate Japanese propaganda. Entertainment continued to exist, but were available only for wealthier. Horse races were held still. In the cinemas, only Japanese films were shown, including “The Battle of Hong Kong: The day when England was shaken” (Honkon Kōryaku Eikoku Kuzururu no Hi), the only film during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong was produced. The film was produced and directed by Shigeo Tanaka of the Dai Nippon Film Society and had a purely Japanese occupation. Few hongkong employees were involved in the production. The film was released on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Japanese attack.


In the 1930s there had been a revival of the Chinese national consciousness in the face of aggressive Japanese expansionism. Many unions regrouped. The patriotism manifested itself in anti-Japanese boycotts, strikes and goods. With the start of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, this anti-Japanese activities shifted into the ground.


In January 1942, the Communists founded Guangdong Renmin Kangri guerrilla movement to strengthen anti-Japanese forces in the Delta of Pearl River and East River. Their third and fifth division were transferred to Hong Kong and Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade were considered (since Gangjiu dui) known. Under the leadership of Wong Kwun Fong and Lau Hak Tsai, she worked in the underground against the Japanese military. As they extended their activities in April 1942 on Lantau Iceland, the communication possibilities of the guerrilla force improved with Macao and Guangzhou. The Gangjiu since dui helped to collect information about Japanese war plans for southern China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and played a central role in the rescue of British and other foreign supporters of the Allies.

Dongjiang guerrillas

The Dongjiang guerrillas was a military resistance group, which was originally founded in 1939 by Zeng Sheng in Guangdong and mainly consisted of peasants, students and sailors. When the war reached Hong Kong in 1941, the group has grown from 200 to over 6,000 members. During the British retreat, the members gathered up abandoned weapons and established bases in Kowloon and the New Territories. With classical methods of guerrilla warfare, they killed Chinese collaborators attacked the police station of Tai Po and the Kai Tak airport. They freed a number of prisoners of war, including Sir Lindsay Tasman Ride, Sir Douglas Clague, Professor Gordan King, and David Bosanquet. The most significant contribution of Dongjiang-guerrilla troops to the Allied war effort was the rescue of 20 American pilots who had landed after its launch with the parachute in Kowloon.

British Army Aid Group

After the fall of Hong Kong all British Army personnel were sent to POW camps in Hong Kong and Kowloon Iceland. The British Army Aid Group was formed in July 1942 at the initiative of Colonel Lindsay Ride, who had escaped from his camp. He fled to Chongqing and established the unit, the headquarters was set up in Guilin, near the southern front. The group of freed prisoners, smuggled drugs and other supplies into the warehouse and business intelligence for the Allies. The group often patrolled the East River, which is an important source of fresh water for Hong Kong.


Japanese Surrender

The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong ended in 1945. After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on 16 August 1945. Thus the British sovereignty over Hong Kong was restored.

The anniversary of the Victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War was public holiday in Hong Kong before he was through Labor Day, and later replaced the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. He was celebrated on the Saturday before the last Monday in August.

Restoration of the British administration

After the Japanese surrender, the question of the political future of Hong Kong presented new: Several years ago, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had proposed to the British to hand over the crown colony after the war, the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek, although the British lease with China is still a had remaining maturity of 51 years. However, the British soon worked hard to restore its control over Hong Kong: After the Japanese surrender was announced, the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong Franklin Charles Gimson left his prison camp and declared himself as acting governor. He set up a provisional government, which received a British fleet in the port of Hong Kong a few days later. Their commander, Rear Admiral Cecil Halliday Jepson Harcourt took then officially accepted the surrender of the local Japanese troops. Harcourt was until 1946 head of a military government in Hong Kong.

Isogai 1946 was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chinese national-martial.

The recovery of Hong Kong in the post-war period was fast. The population reached again in no time their pre-war level. Eight months after the Japanese surrender the civil administration of Hong Kong was restored. In a break with colonial traditions of pre-war restrictions on the Chinese inhabitants were soon repealed: They could be involved in all aspects of management or acquire land in areas previously reserved for foreigners from the West, including the Victoria Peak.

Hong Kong’s history

Japanese military history

Pacific War

Policy (Hong Kong)

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