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apanese occupation of the Philippines

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Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

Part of the Pacific theater of World War II

A Japanese soldier standing in front of an American propaganda poster

during the occupation of the Philippines in 1943.

Date 8 May 1942 – 5 July 1945

Location Philippines
1941–42: Japanese victory[show]

1944—1945: Allied victory[show]


United States Japan

 Commonwealth of the  Second Philippine

Philippines Republic


Unaffiliated Moro Musliminsurgents

Commanders and leaders

GA Douglas MacArthur Lt Gen. Masaharu

(26 July 1941 – 30 June 1946) Homma

Pres. Manuel L. Quezon † (3 Jan. 1942 – 8 June 1942)

(15 Nov. 1935 – 1 Aug. 1944) Gen. Shizuichi Tanaka

Pres. Sergio Osmeña (8 June 1942 – 28 May 1943)

(1 Aug. 1944 – 28 May 1946) Gen. Shigenori Kuroda

Maj Gen. Basilio J. Valdez (28 May 1943 – 26 Sept. 1944)

(1 Jan. 1939 – 7 Nov. 1945) Gen. Tomoyuki


(26 Sept. 1944 – 2 Sept. 1945)

Chairman Luis Taruc
Pres. José P. Laurel

(14 Oct. 1943 – 17 Aug. 1945)

Moro leaders[show]

Units involved

Armed Forces Imperial Japan[show]

Second Philippine Republic
United States[show]

 Bureau of

Resistance and Constabulary (until 1944)

Irregular Forces[show]

Hukbalahap fighters

Moro Juramentados


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The Japanese occupation of the Philippines (Filipino: Pananakop ng mga Hapones sa

Pilipinas; Japanese: 日本のフィリピン占領; Hepburn: Nihon no Firipin Senryō) occurred between
1942 and 1945, when Imperial Japan occupied the Commonwealth of the Philippines during World
War II.
The invasion of the Philippines started on 8 December 1941, ten hours after the attack on Pearl
Harbor. As at Pearl Harbor, American aircraft were severely damaged in the initial Japanese attack.
Lacking air cover, the American Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines withdrew to Java on 12 December
1941. General Douglas MacArthur was ordered out, leaving his men at Corregidor on the night of 11
March 1942 for Australia, 4,000 km away. The 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino
defenders on Bataan surrendered on 9 April 1942, and were forced to endure the infamous Bataan
Death March on which 7,000–10,000 died or were murdered. The 13,000 survivors on Corregidor
surrendered on 6 May.
Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, until the surrender of Japan. A highly effective
guerilla campaign by Philippine resistance forces controlled sixty percent of the islands, mostly
jungle and mountain areas. MacArthur supplied them by submarine, and sent reinforcements and
officers. Filipinos remained loyal to the United States, partly because of the American guarantee of
independence, and also because the Japanese had pressed large numbers of Filipinos into work
details and even put young Filipino women into brothels.[1]
General MacArthur kept his promise to return to the Philippines on 20 October 1944. The landings
on the island of Leytewere accompanied by a force of 700 vessels and 174,000 men. Through
December 1944, the islands of Leyte and Mindoro were cleared of Japanese soldiers. During the
campaign, the Imperial Japanese Army conducted a suicidal defense of the islands. Cities such
as Manila (the second most destroyed Allied city in WWII) were reduced to rubble. Between 500,000
and 1,000,000 Filipinos died during the occupation.


 1Background
 2The occupation
o 2.1Resistance
 3End of the occupation
 4See also
 5References
 6Further reading
o 6.1Primary sources

Main article: Philippines Campaign (1941–1942)
Japan launched an attack on the Philippines on 8 December 1941, just ten hours after their attack
on Pearl Harbor.[2]Initial aerial bombardment was followed by landings of ground troops both north
and south of Manila.[3] The defending Philippine and United States troops were under the command
of General Douglas MacArthur, who had been recalled to active duty in the United States
Army earlier in the year and was designated commander of the United States Armed Forces in the
Asia-Pacific region.[4] The aircraft of his command were destroyed; the naval forces were ordered to
leave; and because of the circumstances in the Pacific region, reinforcement and resupply of his
ground forces were impossible.[5] Under the pressure of superior numbers, the defending forces
withdrew to the Bataan Peninsula and to the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila
Bay.[6] Manila, declared an open city to prevent its destruction,[7] was occupied by the Japanese on 2
January 1942.[8]
The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of U.S.-Philippine forces on the Bataan
Peninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May.[9] Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by
the Japanese at Bataan were forced to undertake the infamous "Bataan Death March" to a prison
camp 105 kilometers to the north.[9] Thousands of men, weakened by disease and malnutrition and
treated harshly by their captors, died before reaching their destination.[10]Quezon and Osmeña had
accompanied the troops to Corregidor and later left for the United States, where they set up
a government-in-exile.[11] MacArthur was ordered to Australia, where he started to plan for a return to
the Philippines.[12]
Main articles: Philippine Executive Commission, Second Philippine Republic, Japanese war
crimes, Manila Massacre, and Moros during World War II
The Japanese military authorities immediately began organizing a new government structure in the
Philippines. Although the Japanese had promised independence for the islands after occupation,
they initially organized a Council of State through which they directed civil affairs until October 1943,
when they declared the Philippines an independent republic.[13] Most of the Philippine elite, with a few
notable exceptions, served under the Japanese.[14] The puppet republic was headed by
President José P. Laurel.[15] Philippine collaboration in puppet government began under Jorge B.
Vargas, who was originally appointed by Quezon as the mayor of Greater Manila before Quezon
departed Manila.[16] The only political party allowed during the occupation was the Japanese-
organized KALIBAPI.[17] During the occupation, most Filipinos remained loyal to the United
States,[18] and war crimes committed by forces of the Empire of Japan against surrendered Allied
forces[19] and civilians were documented.[20]
Large number of local women were forced to work as so-called comfort women, the Bahay na
Pula is an example of it.[21]
Main article: Philippine resistance against Japan
Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by active and successful underground and
guerrilla activity that increased over the years and that eventually covered a large portion of the
country. Opposing these guerrillas were a Japanese-formed Bureau of Constabulary (later taking the
name of the old Constabulary during the Second Republic),[22][23] Kempeitai,[22] and
the Makapili.[24] Postwar investigations showed that about 260,000 people were in guerrilla
organizations and that members of the anti-Japanese underground were even more numerous.
Such was their effectiveness that by the end of the war, Japan controlled only twelve of the forty-
eight provinces.[25]
The Philippine guerrilla movement continued to grow, in spite of Japanese campaigns against them.
Throughout Luzon and the southern islands, Filipinos joined various groups and vowed to fight the
Japanese. The commanders of these groups made contact with one another, argued about who was
in charge of what territory, and began to formulate plans to assist the return of American forces to
the islands. They gathered important intelligence information and smuggled it out to the U.S. Army, a
process that sometimes took months. General MacArthur formed a clandestine operation to support
the guerrillas. He had Lieutenant Commander Charles "Chick" Parsons smuggle guns, radios and
supplies to them by submarine. The guerrilla forces, in turn, built up their stashes of arms and
explosives and made plans to assist MacArthur's invasion by sabotaging Japanese communications
lines and attacking Japanese forces from the rear.[26]
Various guerrilla forces formed throughout the archipelago, ranging from groups of U.S. Armed
Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) forces who refused to surrender to local militia initially organized to
combat banditry brought about by disorder caused by the invasion.[27] Several islands in
the Visayas region had guerrilla forces led by Filipino officers, such as Colonel Macario
Peralta in Panay,[27][28] Major Ismael Ingeniero in Bohol,[27][29] and Captain Salvador
Abcede in Negros.[27][30]
The island of Mindanao, being farthest from the center of Japanese occupation, had 38,000
guerrillas who were eventually consolidated under the command of American civil engineer
Colonel Wendell Fertig.[27] Fertig's guerrillas included many American and Filipino troops who had
been part of the force on Mindanao under Major General William F. Sharp. When Wainwright had
ordered Sharp's forces to surrender, Sharp considered compelled to obey this order. Many of the
American and Filipino officers refused to surrender, since they reasoned that Wainwright, now a
prisoner who could be considered under duress, had no authority to issue orders to Sharp. For
several reasons it was unknown how many did not surrender, although probably around 100 to 200
Americans ended up with Fertig's guerrillas. The names of new Filipino recruits were purposefully
left off the lists of men to be surrendered. In other cases, documents were fabricated to report fewer
men than were actually under Sharp. Other troops died for various reasons after getting away and
others left Mindanao entirely.[31]
One resistance group in the Central Luzon area was known as the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan
Laban sa Hapon), or the People's Anti-Japanese Army, organized in early 1942 under the leadership
of Luis Taruc, a communist party member since 1939. The Huks armed some 30,000 people and
extended their control over portions of Luzon.[32] However, guerrilla activities on Luzon were
hampered due to the heavy Japanese presence and infighting between the various
groups,[33] including Hukbalahap troops attacking American-led guerrilla units.[34][35]
Lack of equipment, difficult terrain and undeveloped infrastructure made coordination of these
groups nearly impossible, and for several months in 1942, all contact was lost with Philippine
resistance forces. Communications were restored in November 1942 when the reformed
Philippine 61st Division on Panay island, led by Colonel Macario Peralta, was able to establish radio
contact with the USAFFE command in Australia. This enabled the forwarding of intelligence
regarding Japanese forces in the Philippines to SWPA command, as well as consolidating the once
sporadic guerrilla activities and allowing the guerrillas to help in the war effort.[27]
Increasing amounts of supplies and radios were delivered by submarine to aid the guerrilla effort. By
the time of the Leyte invasion, four submarines were dedicated exclusively to the delivery of
Other guerrilla units were attached to the SWPA, and were active throughout the archipelago. Some
of these units were organized or directly connected to pre-surrender units ordered to mount guerrilla
actions. An example of this was Troop C, 26th Cavalry.[36][37][38] Other guerrilla units were made up of
former Philippine Army and Philippine Scoutssoldiers who had been released from POW camps by
the Japanese.[39][40] Others were combined units of Americans, military and civilian, who had never
surrendered or had escaped after surrendering, and Filipinos, Christians and Moros, who had initially
formed their own small units. Colonel Wendell Fertig organized such a group on Mindanao that not
only effectively resisted the Japanese, but formed a complete government that often operated in the
open throughout the island. Some guerrilla units would later be assisted by American
submarines which delivered supplies,[41] evacuate refugees and injured,[42] as well as inserted
individuals and whole units,[43] such as the 5217th Reconnaissance Battalion,[44] and Alamo Scouts.[44]
By the end of the war, some 277 separate guerrilla units, made up of some 260,715 individuals,
fought in the resistance movement.[45] Select units of the resistance would go on to be reorganized
and equipped as units of the Philippine Army and Constabulary.[46]

End of the occupation[edit]

Main article: Philippines Campaign (1944–1945)
When General MacArthur returned to the Philippines with his army in late 1944, he was well supplied
with information; it is said that by the time MacArthur returned, he knew what every Japanese
lieutenant ate for breakfast and where he had his hair cut. But the return was not easy.
The Japanese Imperial General Staff decided to make the Philippines their final line of defense, and
to stop the American advance toward Japan. They sent every available soldier, airplane, and naval
vessel to the defense of the Philippines. The Kamikazecorps was created specifically to defend the
Philippines. The Battle of Leyte Gulf ended in disaster for the Japanese and was the biggest naval
battle of World War II. The campaign to re-take the Philippines was the bloodiest campaign of the
Pacific War. Intelligence information gathered by the guerrillas averted a disaster—they revealed the
plans of Japanese General Yamashita to trap MacArthur's army, and they led the liberating soldiers
to the Japanese fortifications.[26]
MacArthur's Allied forces landed on the island of Leyte on 20 October 1944, accompanied
by Osmeña, who had succeeded to the commonwealth presidency upon the death of Quezon on 1
August 1944. Landings then followed on the island of Mindoro and around Lingayen Gulf on the west
side of Luzon, and the push toward Manila was initiated. The Commonwealth of the Philippines was
restored. Fighting was fierce, particularly in the mountains of northern Luzon, where Japanese
troops had retreated, and in Manila, where they put up a last-ditch resistance. The Philippine
Commonwealth troops and the recognized guerrilla fighter units rose up everywhere for the final
offensive.[47] Filipino guerrillas also played a large role during the liberation. One guerrilla unit came
to substitute for a regularly constituted American division, and other guerrilla forces
of battalion and regimental size supplemented the efforts of the U.S. Army units. Moreover, the
cooperative Filipino population eased the problems of supply, construction and civil administration
and furthermore eased the task of Allied forces in recapturing the country.[48][49]
Fighting continued until Japan's formal surrender on 2 September 1945. The Philippines had
suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction by the time the war was over. An
estimated one million Filipinos between military and civilians had been killed from all causes; of
these 131,028 were listed as killed in seventy-two war crime events. Hundreds of heritage cities and
towns throughout the country lay in ruins due to intentional fire and kamikaze tactics imposed by the
Japanese and bombings imposed by the Americans. Only a single heritage town, Vigan, survived.
The government of the Empire of Japan never gave any compensation for the restoration of Filipino
heritage towns and cities. While the United States only gave minimal funding for two
cities, Manila and Baguio. A decade after the war, the heritage landscape of the Philippines was
never restored due to a devastated economy, lack of funding, and lack of cultural experts during the
time. The heritage zones were effectively replaced by old shanty houses and ugly cement houses
with cheap plywood or galvanized iron as roofs.[50] According to a United States analysis released
years after the war, U.S. casualties were 10,380 dead and 36,550 wounded; Japanese dead were
255,795. Filipino deaths, on the other hand, has no official count but was estimated to be more than
one million, an astounding percentage of the national population at the time. The Philippine
population decreased continuously for the next 5 years due to the spread of diseases and the lack of
basic needs, far from Filipino lifestyle prior to the war where the country used to be the second
richest in Asia, ironically, next only to Japan.[50]
In Baguio, remembering
the Japanese forces' World
War II surrender
The US embassy commemorates in the Ambassador's Residence in Camp John Hay
the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Japanese forces during World War II

Published 2:49 PM, September 05, 2015

Updated 2:49 PM, September 05, 2015

COMMEMORATION. United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg is flanked by two
World War II veterans Graciano Clavano (left) and Sabas Hafalla during the commemoration of the 70th
anniversary of the surrender of the Japanese forces in the country – in the same room where this photo is
taken in Baguio City. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – In the middle of the forest of John Hay in Baguio is a literal
piece of America. If you step behind its gates, you would technically be on American

It is the Ambassador’s Residence, and this is where American ambassadors have been
entertaining guests. Many of Baguio's prominent residents have been invited here
during the Holidays and, sometimes, during Thanksgiving.

But last Thursday, September 3, Ambassador Philip Goldberg invited a select group of
guests to what he said wasn’t a celebration but a commemoration.

It was the commemoration of the 70th year of the signing of the Instrument of Surrender
of the Japanese and the Japanese-controlled Armed Forces in the Philippine Islands to
the Commanding General of the United States Army Forces of the Western Pacific.

The surrender document was signed by Major General Edmond Leavey, Deputy
Commander of the US Army Forces for Western Pacific, and General Tomoyuki
Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army and Denhici Okochi, Vice Admiral of the
Imperial Japanese Navy.

The signing took place in the living room of the Ambassador’s Residence. Yamashita
knew the place too well – it was also his headquarters when Japanese forces invaded
the Philippines. In fact, the look of Bedroom Number 5 has been more or less preserved
as it was 70 years ago, with Japanese linen and bed covers.

You have to look at the painting by Fernando Amorsolo, commissioned by at least 8

Filipinos, above the fireplace of the residence to see how it was then. Amorsolo based it
on the photograph supplied by the Americans.

At the back of the viewer is Yamashita and his men. Facing Yamashita is not Lieutenant
General Jonathan Wainwright, who was assigned by General Douglas MacArthur as his
emissary, but British General Sir Arthur Percival. Wainwright, who spent 3 years in
Japanese detention, decided to give Percival the privilege because, in 1942, Percival
yielded Singapore to Yamashita. But a painting of Wainwright is displayed in the living

At 10 minutes past noon, Yamashita presented their swords and signed the two-page
document. By 12:10 pm, September 3, 1945, the surrender of all Japanese forces in the
Philippines was completed.
Present during the 70-year commemoration last Thursday were members of the Baguio
media and artists, officers and cadets of the Philippine Military Academy,
representatives of the National Historical Commission, the Japanese military attaché,
and two men in their 80s.

Both Privates Graciano Clavano and Sabas Hafalla were in their teens when they joined
the guerrilla forces, and 19 when the Japanese surrendered. Hafalla, father of famous
Cordilleran photographer Tommy Hafalla, was then recuperating from injuries when
Japanese forces bombed his “Charlie” company in Mankayan, Benguet. He had been
shot in April 1945 and again on June 25.

Clavano, originally from Dumaguete City, was at that time in Zamboanguita, Negros
Oriental, providing security to the American forces.

“I didn’t know that the war had ended. I was sleeping beside corpses of Japanese
soldiers,” Clavano recalled.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to join you here today as we commemorate the
courage and sacrifice of the Americans and Filipinos who liberated these islands, many
of whom perished in or were wounded doing so,” said Goldberg.

He said that the present generation is benefitting from those sacrifices.

“It was the relentless and indomitable spirit of a generation from both our nations that
forged a great alliance – the US-Philippine alliance – which is the oldest in the region
and has helped preserve and protect the security and stability of the entire Pacific
region,” he added.

To the people at Thursday's gathering, the international news featuring China's lavish
military parade commemorating the defeat of Japan in World War II didn't matter. At that
moment at the place where everything ended and started, everyone was solemn under
the evening rains of Baguio. – Rappler.com