BATTLE OF ASIA: Light of the South

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A tank detachment scuttered into the town. A train rumbled across the repaired causeway. A fleet steamed up the harbor to the naval base. Singapore was Japanese.

It was, in fact, no longer Singapore. Imperial Headquarters, with a go-ahead from the Emperor, had renamed the island, its harbor and its city Shonan. Sho was from Showa, which designates the enlightened era of Hirohito. Nan means south. Singapore was now Light of the South.

The light shone dim. Its harbor was like a grotesquely huge rice paddy, so many were the masts sticking up from its brown water. The British bank vaults were full, not of documents and specie, but of prisoners of war. Japanese troops dismantled barbed-wire, emptied sandbags, tidied up collapsed walls.

Singapore, its booty and its beauty alike, were Japanese. It would be seen very soon that this great fortress, which so long and so ironically had been dedicated to defensive purposes, could be turned inside out and used for offense.