- Japan Society for Southeast Asian Studies
- 東南アジア -歴史と文化- (ISSN:03869040)
- vol.1971, no.1, pp.79-100, 1971-10-28 (Released:2010-03-16)
Because she was not a Western colonial country, but an Asian Kingdom and a member of the Axis Power, wartime Thailand was free from Japanese military administration and a able to keep aloof from warfare after the friendly entry of the Japanese army, Thai political leaders assumed a pattern of “compromise” rather than “hostility” in response to the Japanese impact. Although intellectually, most Thai leaders did not agree with the Japanese idea of “The Great East Asia Go-prosperity Sphere, ” they accelerated an allied relationship with Japan to avoid a possibly critical situation of Japanese militarism sweeping all over the country. For her own national benefit in facing increasing Japanese power in Southeast Asia, Thailand put pressure on the anti-Japanese boycott movement of the Chinese within a country, sat on her fence of neutrality and tried to remain out side the Japanese military occupation until the opening day of the war. Even after December 8, 1941, when she recognized the friendly entry of the Japanese army, Thailand tried hard to stand behind the bay line by contributing economic ally to the Japanese military operation in Burma, Malaya and Singapore.In wartime, Pibul Songkram, Prime Minister of the Government, promoted Rathaniyom (Patriotic Movement) and Thai Yai (Great Thai Nation Movement through which he wanted to keep national stability based on of traditional Thai sentiment rather than the idea of individual freedom from the Constitutional Revolution in 1932. In terms of motivation, therefore, these movements were quite different from the Japanese idea of the “Co-prosperity Sphere.” Meanwhile, the dynamics of the anti-Japanese “Free Thai” movement were accelerated by Thai elites and university students then in the United States and the United Kingdom. There they carried out the actual plan to develop their resistance against Japan. On the other hand, Thai leaders, except several domestic “Free Thai” leaders, outwardly continued their friendly relations with the Japanese while secretly linking up with the “Free Thai” members in order to find a new place for themselves after the war. With the benefits of this duality, they reserved their own clear cut opinion and left rooms for changing attitudes to their advantage.Chinese leaders in economic circles also had similar patterns of response. Although they started the anti-Japanese National Salvation Movement in 1937, which was motivated from loyalty to their native land, they joined neither the all Chinese united front in Southeast Asia nor the overseas Chinese good-will tour party to Chungking and Yennan in 1938. However, from 1938 the Chinese in Thailand began cooperating with the national policy of the Thai government and, after war erupted, made contributions by procuring for the Japanese army. In reply to a requisition for labour for army railway construction between Burma and Thailand in 1943, the Chinese again tried to keep their security in the country by means of economic cooperation in offering munitions war, rather than by sending labour power for dreadful construction. In the meantime, however, they donated funds secretly to members of the “Free Thai” movement. Chang Lan-ch'en, former President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, was a leader of pro-Japanse group during the war, but was able to return to the some position again in 1948 and held thee post until 1961 when he died. Pibul was also reinstalled in his former position in 1948 and was Prime Minister until 1957. These two political and economic leaders began to leave room for changing attitudes by the end of the war, to enhance their reinstatement in the post-war period.