• Identity and Ideology in Sakura Katakana Shimbun

    Rei Kurohi (see profile)
    History, Japan, Area studies, Mass media, Propaganda, Southeast Asia, World War (1939-1945)
    Item Type:
    National University of Singapore
    identity politics, Japanese occupation of Singapore, language ideologies, pan-asianism, Japanese studies, World War II
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    This thesis focuses on Sakura Katakana Shimbun, a children’s newspaper published in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation, as an example of Japanese imperial propaganda targeted specifically at children. In Japan, child-oriented propaganda was widespread in the form of kamishibai paper plays, but in occupied Southeast Asia, Sakura is perhaps the only such specimen. In examining the discontinuities between the first and second halves of Sakura’s publication run, this thesis aims to shed light on the roles and ideologies of Japanese propagandists in wartime Singapore. In addition, it considers how local children’s identities were imagined, constructed, and manipulated by the authors of Sakura to various ends. When the 25th Army captured Singapore, they sought to Japanise it not only by making formal changes to its systems, institutions, and name but also by transforming the minds of its people. For military leaders and conscripted literati, this meant implementing a strong Japanese language policy. Sakura was one such tool used to educate the local children in both Japanese language and cultural knowledge. The use of music and visually attractive illustrations in Sakura created a pleasant aesthetic and made it a relatively successful example of Barak Kushner’s definition of effective propaganda. However, as Japan’s success in the war began to falter, a strategy of manipulating children’s subjectivities emerged in the second half of Sakura, with propagandists attempting to instil in local children a sense of collective will. They started to encourage a pan-Asian identification, with more content catered specifically to the local context as compared to previous efforts. They also began to view local children, especially Malay boys, as potentially useful future soldiers. However, more blatant applications of propaganda slogans and imperialist ideology may have made the second half less effective overall.
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    4 years ago
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