OCCUPIED ASIA: It Is Difficult

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"It is difficult," said the radio voice of Tokyo recently, "to tell you our objective in the south in simple words. I don't know it myself." Tokyo's difficulty was suggested by news leaking out of Japan's "Co-Prosperity Sphere":

> The 550,000-acre Philippine sugar-cane industry, deprived of its U.S. market and unable to compete with The Netherlands East Indies, Indo-China and Formosa, appeared to be doomed. To support 3,000,000 sugar workers, Japan was frantically trying to make headway with a five-year cotton-growing plan.

> Siam's Premier Luang Pitul Songgram (pronounced Lwong Peboon Song-kram) was proving a capper, zealous little quisling. Japanese occupation forces were careful to remember that it is against Siamese custom to pat children on the head. But raging floods had driven thousands of Siamese from their homes, destroyed half the rice crop, brought on a famine which was increased by the shipping shortage. The Japanese felt it necessary to deny, by radio, that they were responsible for the drenching skies and swollen rivers.

> In Singapore, renamed Shonan (Light of the South), the slim statue of the modern city's founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, had been moved indoors to serve as a curio in the museum. Failure of imports threatened the city with famine.

> In The Netherlands East Indies the Japanese economized by paying native laborers 35¢ (Dutch) a day, as against the Dutch rate of 75¢. Discipline was encouraged by public beheadings. Oil was said to be flowing toward Japan. Japanese-language study and close haircuts á la Nippon were ordered for Java's millions of schoolboys. The Japanese were reported confident enough to abolish blackouts, curfews. But the warehouses were jammed with tin, tea, coffee, tobacco, sugar and coconuts, and there were no ships to move them. The U.S. submarine campaign (see p. 27) was helping to keep Japan from reaping the spoils of victory.

> Burma, before the war the world's largest rice exporter, could feed much of the "Co-Prosperity Sphere"—if there were ships. Among their rotting crops, millions of little Burmese rice farmers contemplated the beauties of Japanese rule.

> The Tokyo Stock Exchange was said to have tumbled sharply after U.S. planes bombed Chinese coalfields near the port of Chinwangtao (see p. 31). From these fields Japan gets its best coking coal for steel manufacturing. The falling market may have reflected serious damage to the pumping system, which is necessary to keep the mines dry and workable.

To ease Japan's huge new administrative job, Tokyo last week announced the formation of a new Ministry of Greater East Asiatic Affairs. This will give the Co-Prosperity Sphere a management of its own, apart from the Foreign Office. The new Ministry may also be intended to help free Japan's military masters from the nuisance of Foreign Office bureaucrats. First head of the new Ministry is Kazuo Aoki, 53, longtime Finance Ministry official, who has recently risen fast as an aggressive-minded favorite of the Kwantung Army clique.

Japan was about to multiply its propaganda in the Co-Prosperity Sphere by the simple process of turning the conquered press over to Japan's great newspapers.