Japanese Imperial War Propaganda in the Penang Daily News
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
Located in the Straits of Malacca, Penang is an island state of the Federation of Malaysia. From 1786 until the early 1940s, it was a colonial outpost of the British Empire. All of that would change dramatically on 19 December 1941 during the Battle of Malaya when the British fled the island and Japanese military forces quickly invaded. For the local residents, the Japanese occupation of Penang, especially in 1942, was a time of fear, imprisonment, torture, and executions.
A completely different perspective is presented in the Penang Daily News, a newspaper in English issued by the Japanese forces (Tech Tuyo Moh for the Chinese Committee), recently acquired by McMaster University Library (12 March-14 August 2602, the Japanese imperial date for 1942). Initially, consisting of 1 sheet, the newspaper sold for 2 cents; in the ensuing months, the price was raised to 3 cents, then 5 cents, and the paper expanded to 6 pages and later to 8 pages with a slighter larger format. The reporting in the Penang Daily News is decidedly political in nature, all favourable to Japanese military expansionism and the apparent successes of the Axis in Europe. On 15 March 1942, people are warned about the dangers of Communist and “Anti-Nipponese literature”, that such material must be destroyed, and that the possession of any documents of this nature is subject to severe punishment. Japanese soldiers are praised for their heroic attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, and Churchill are called cowards. References are made to the “sinking” of the Queen Mary and the loss of 10,000 Australian soldiers. War prisoners in Malaya and Java are said to have experienced a gala holiday. The newspaper also contains advertisements, listings of official radio programs, and reports of sporting events. Although a microform of the Penang Daily News (according to WorldCat, there were 273 issues, the last issue being 7 December 1942) is to be found at the Library of Congress and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, McMaster University Library appears to have the only surviving copy of this newspaper in its original form. The Japanese remained in Penang for the duration of World War II, surrendering to British forces on 4 September 1945.