The Dai Nippon War In Vietnam Indochina 1941-1945

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1.I have the complete collection of postal and ocument history during Dai Nippon Occupations Java Island 1942-1945, chronology day per day from the Capitulation day on March,8th.1945 to August,17th,1945(2605) ,also until The Japanese Army back Home to their homeland Dec.1945 but the Dai nippon revenue still used by Republic Indonesai until 1947.

2. Now I only add the 1942(2602) Collections, and if the collectors want the look the complete collections ,not only from Java island  but also from sumatra Island, please subscribe as the blog premium member via comment,and we will contack you via your airmail. We will help you to arranged the very rare and amizing collections of Dai Nippon Occupations Indonesia postal and document special for you.

3.I had add in my block the articles odf Dai nippon war from all east asia countries, many collectors and friend asking me to edited  that all information in one book, and now I have finish that amizing book.

4.Not many Historic Pictures durting this period, if we found always in bad condition and black  _white  as the book illustrations, I hope someday the best colour pictures will exist to add in the book.

5.This book is the part of the Book :”THE DAI NIPPON WAR”

6. My Collections still need more info and corrections from the collectors of all over the world,thanks for your partcipatnt to make this collections more complete.

Jakarta, April 2011

Greatings From

Dr Iwan Suwandy


“The Dai nippon Occupation Vietnam French Indochina 1941-1945″


DURING WW II (1941-1945)


a.France controlled Vietnam until World War 2, when the Japanese began occupation. In 1941 Ho Chi Minh joined other resistance leaders, forming a nationalist coalition known as the Vietminh, containing both communist and non-communist Nationalists.

b.The Japanese declared Vietnam a nominally independent state in 1945, under the last remaining Nguyen Emperor. The Vietminh quickly took action, calling for a national uprising which resulted in Ho Chi Minh declaring the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2nd 1945. However, at the end of the war the international community failed to recognise this party as the ruling government, allowing the French to regain control.

c.Emperor Bo Dai During Dai Nippon Occupation

  Emperor Bao Dai in Hue during World War II  
        Admiral Decoux tried to counter this by encouraging Indochinese pride, promoting local customs, festivals and ceremonies which often had an inherently monarchist spirit being as most, if not all, revolved around the role of the emperor and the dynasty. He encouraged the celebration of traditional hero figures such as the Trung Sisters as well as the Nguyen dynasty founder Emperor Gia Long as a way to promote patriotism rather than xenophobia which he associated with the anti-French attitude of the Japanese slogan of Asia for the Asians. Decoux was also an admirer of the chief of the State of France, Marshal Philippe Petain, and encouraged the spread of a sort of hero-worship of the new French leader. Some Vietnamese conservatives found this an ideology they could work with and noted that the Vichy slogans of labor, family and country fit in quite well with Confucian moral doctrine which had long stressed loyalty to the emperor, devotion to the family and the need for everyone to persevere in their own state in life. Royalist newspapers in Vietnam soon featured portraits of Marshal Petain and his image soon graced religious altars in Indochina. The noted monarchist Pham Quynh was an enthusiastic support of the Vichy regime and pointed out the many parallels between the style of the Petain government and the Confucian social order. He even gave lectures about the parallels between Confucianism and the writings of the noted French nationalist and monarchist Charles Maurras. Pham Quynh went so far as to openly state that the failure of the old French regime was the result of its republicanism and that the revival being carried out by Petain and Vichy needed to be replicated in Vietnam with a revival of traditional values, one of which was devotion to the Emperor and the Nguyen dynasty.  
         Admiral Decoux also maintained a rather high opinion of Emperor Bao Dai during this time and did not believe he was lazy or disinterested in government affairs as many claimed. However, he also did not believe that imperial prestige had suffered by association with the French which, though unfortunate, was certainly not true. Admiral Decoux wrote that Emperor Bao Dai was the ideal combination of east and west which French Indochina needed and he also expressed dissatisfaction with the rather erratic behavior of the French in regard to the Nguyen monarchy which alternated between treating the emperors with great respect and treating them as either unimportant window dressings at best or threats to them at worst. Decoux himself was determined to treat the Vietnamese Emperor as well as the Lao and Khmer kings with the utmost respect and felt it was in the best interests of France to do so. Indeed, his reflections after first meeting Emperor Bao Dai were practically glowing. He spoke of the Emperor as a very intelligent, well informed and pleasant man who possessed great talents which should have been put to better use.  
         Emperor Bao Dai became much more visible during the war years and royalist newspapers reported extensively on his comings and goings and often tried to link the image of the Vietnamese emperor with that of the French Chief of State Petain. Emperor Bao Dai made many trips throughout the Annam region during the early war years and cultivated an especially good relationship with the youth, especially through his son Prince Imperiale Bao Long, and supported youth movements and organizations meant to encourage feelings of civic duty, sports, athletic competitions, educational activities and of course cultural appreciation and loyalty to the throne. However, the kind words of Decoux aside, the Governor-General and the monarch did not seem to get along very well. Decoux complained that he was not kept sufficiently informed about the movements of the Emperor, though one wonders why this was a problem as Emperor Bao Dai wrote that he had very little to do with Decoux and was never really made to be involved in national affairs. Decoux also did not much care for the presence of a Japanese mission at Dalat, where Bao Dai had a hunting villa, and the home government in Vichy also expressed her concerns about Japanese inroads to the Germans.  
         Nazi Germany, ever conscious of race, did not especially like the idea of Asians supplanting European control of Indochina but was not willing to risk difficulty with Japan over the issue and more or less ignored the French concerns. Meanwhile, 1941 saw a new wave of, admittedly rather minor, political changes in Vietnam. On orders from Vichy all elected assemblies throughout the country were abolished. Admiral Decoux welcomed this news and he preferred to give more direct control to local village chiefs and strengthen his ties with them rather than tolerating the elected talking shops like the CRP. The court went on as it had with some minor streamlining in May of 1942 with a few ministers resigning and Pham Quynh being moved from the post of Minister of Education to the more prestigious Minister of the Interior. All the while the Japanese continued to foster ties with the various nationalist groups operating throughout the country.  
         In 1943 the Japanese made some efforts to bring these groups together and under greater Japanese control. This idea was fostered by the retired General Iwane Matsui who saw the potential for new Japanese allies in her Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and advocated working with these groups to overthrow colonial rule by European countries. As a result the Japanese became more protective of their Vietnamese allies who the French regime were inclined to see as enemies. They had some contact with Ngo Dinh Diem who was banished to Quang Binh as well as Huynh Phu So, founding leader of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, and the scholar Tran Trong Kim who the Japanese helped to move to Singapore to escape French animosity. They also kept in touch with Prince Cuong De as a sort of insurance policy should they need a pro-Japanese figure to take the imperial throne. Diem had contact with the prince as well and it was this, as well as his leadership of a Catholic, nationalist bloc, which prompted his exile to Quang Binh in 1944.  
         By that time the Japanese had effectively occupied French Indochina, though they allowed the French colonial regime to carry on for the time being. Decoux had given in to Japanese demands for the use of bases and air strips in Vietnam for their conquest southward toward Singapore, but when they judged Decoux to be insufficiently cooperative they poured Japanese troops into Vietnam and even gave their blessing to the Kingdom of Thailand, an ally of Japan, to attack French Indochina to regain previously lost territories in the west. The French were not molested by the Japanese but were certainly not happy with this turn of events and complained bitterly that though the Japanese left them to govern the country they established a seminary (as they called it) in Hue under the auspices of the Japanese consul to turn Vietnamese members of the civil service to their side. Some French officials suggested Emperor Bao Dai might be useful in improving matters but moved so slowly and did so little for fear of making things worse that such talk remained almost entirely academic.  
         In March, 1945, the Japanese finally decided to do away with all pretenses and took control of Indochina directly. The colonial forces were easy enough to overcome, some did not resist at all, French nationals were rounded up and Japan gained control of the region following an ultimatum presented to Admiral Decoux on March 9, 1945. Japan also announced their support for the independence of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam within the their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of course. Emperor Bao Dai knew nothing of this turn of events until he and Empress Nam Phuong were stopped by Japanese troops on his way back to the Forbidden City and told that Japan had taken control of Vietnam. What exactly the Emperor truly thought about this turn of events is hard to ascertain as he wrote very little about it in his memoirs. Whatever the case, he announced, with Japanese support, the abolition of all treaties and agreements previously made with the French and proclaimed the independence of the Empire of Vietnam as a member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. In September of 1944 such a move had been advocated by the Japanese foreign minister but had been met with opposition by the military. It had been no different in Manchuria where the Japanese civil authorities favored working with native leaders in independence movements whereas the army favored allowing the generals to take direct control of conquered and occupied regions.  
         Emperor Bao Dai did say that he expressed concerns as to whether or not Japan was truly committed to genuine independence for Vietnam especially in regards to their longtime support for the pretender Cuong De. He was told that the marquis had only been an instrument to use against the French and that he had the full support of the Japanese. Others claimed that Japan had threatened to replace Bao Dai with Cuong De if he did not cooperate (which may have been true but probably was not actually said) but Japanese accounts say that by 1945 Japan was in a far from secure position and did not wish to make any unnecessary trouble by changing monarchs when Emperor Bao Dai seemed willing enough to go with the flow rather than make trouble for them. Emperor Bao Dai seemed to take a very practical approach as he had at least the hope of independence to be gained by cooperating with Japan whereas resisting them would have meant possibly losing everything. Prince Cuong De, though his longed for return to Vietnam never happened, also made no trouble on the issue and put out a message to his followers that he had never desired the throne for himself but that his highest aspiration was for independence and if that had been obtained by the Japanese working through Bao Dai he was perfectly willing to declare his allegiance to the Emperor. On March 11, 1945 Emperor Bao Dai issued the formal royal ordinance which abolished the French protectorate and proclaimed Vietnamese independence. Little did he know there would be an even more consequential Vietnamese declaration of independence before the year was up.

2.Before Japanese came


(1)From 1941 to 1945 almost all of Indochina stamps were designed by vietnamese painters ans printed in Vietnam as well (D)

(2)Ho return to Vietnam and form the Viethminh to fight both Japan and Franch.(D)


Dai nippon Field Army entered Saigon

  Japanese imperial troops occupy Saigon


Dai nippon Truck

(3)March.14th 1941
The Receipt of house rental paid, stamped Cantho Village du thoi than.

life at mekong river can tho village now

Life on the Mekong River at Can Tho

(4)March,31th 1941

The Certicate(acte) in french language  from Tourane( now Danang)

(5)July. 5th 1941
The rare vintage Chinese Certifacate of Registration at Cholon saigon, name Ly Chu Yen , writting in chinese character and Chinese Kuomintang (Star) emblem, with Light brown 20 cent Chinese Fiscal revenue design old chinese native building , Chinese consulate cholon saigon stamped .
( I found one complete certificate and one uncomplete half certificate without photo but the Chinese consulate stamped on revenue more clair. The very fine show piece. I have a visit at the Saigon(now Ho Chi Minh City)’s Consulate PR China ,to get fast one day visa two entree with four times cost than normal one weeks finish visa one entree, but the service very best, and I used that visa to see the Histroric Nguyen trai and Le loi Langson border between PR China –south autonon Quanshi’s province with the north area of Vietnam, they called the Freedom border -auth)

The rare Postal Recepisse(Reciept) “a remettre au depossant”, name and destination : Phan Ky Che Ban bien Place de Ai Section Rach –gia, send from CDS Cantho Cochinchine 30.8.41.

cantho now

Can Tho City
Can Tho City is dubbed as Tay Do ( The Capital of the Western region), lying in the heart of the Mekong Delta through which the Hau River flows. Main arteries running through the city are the national highways No.1A, 80 and 91.Can Tho is celebrated for Ninh Kieu Quay, Binh Thuy Communal House, Orchid Garden and Bang Lang stork sanctuary to mention only a few.Can Tho Ancient MarketVom MarketNinh Kieu QuayCan Tho is a regional cultural hub characterized by unique agricultural traits of the Southern farmers practicing wet rice plantation. Can Tho has specific streghths for tourism developement not only in a quite complete infrastructure but also in rich and diverse tourism potentials. Can Tho has been striving for a modern city im bued with benevolence and marked by the Mekong Delta’s special features that promises to become the nation’s most attractive river and countryside – based eco – tourist destination. Can Tho City from airplaneDraft of Can Tho Airport 


(1)June.30th 1941
The very rare Postal Recepisse no 671 postal cancel CANTHO-COCHINCHINE 9.30 , 30-6.1941.
Recipesse, remettre de L’object Valeur declare remboursement Poid.
(1) Voir notice e speciale au veran
(2) Coller 1e1 L’etiquette gommes du G-20

In The Back :
Notice Speciale
Si L’object ne porte pas de declaration de va-
Leur et n’est pas greve de remboursement biffer
Par deux forts traits de plume,Les emplacement
Reseves pour L’inscription de la valeur declaree
Ou du montant du remboursment.
Le delai se prescription des valeurs de toute
Nature confie’ens a’ La Poste est est d’un on.
La designation de L’expenditeur peut e’tre faite
Au moyen d’une griffe.
En vuebd’eviter le stationement au guichet,
Les expenditeurs sont prie’s d’affranchix regulie’re-
Ment leurs envois avant le depo’t.)


Recipesse, return ao applicant,
(A rempiir allow the sender.)
Name and address of destinatire (the destination address): Chan Ky chee Bon Bien
Street: Pace of the Section ‘Rachgia.(To be completed per agent of Posts.
Nature of the objective value declared Weight refund.
(1) See note at special e veran
(2) The label gum paste 1e1 G-20In The Back:
Special Notice
If the object does not file a will
And their strike is not redemption delete
With two thick strokes of the pen, the location
Reseve for registration of the declared value
Or the amount of the Money Back.
The delay is prescribed values ​​of any
Nature confie’ens a ‘La Poste is a one.
The designation of expenditeur can e’tre made
Using a claw.
Vuebd’eviter in the parking lot at the counter,
The expenditeurs’s requests are for-affranchix regulie’re
Ment before their shipments depo’t.)

(The Best postal History postal cancel of Cantho Cocchinchine during WWII with Speciale notes in French , as the postal History of French hegomony and historic colonial in Cochinchina , also very impostant to the comparative study postal cancelled of the postal used covers in Indochina after the war, because two many fake falsifiaction bogus postal used covers, I will showed this very rare postal history, not put on my blog because someone will made falsification fake cancel on covers-auth)


Japanese Navy Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Expeditionary Fleet, Saigon, Vietnam, 16 Nov 1941

Caption     Japanese Navy Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Expeditionary Fleet, Saigon, Vietnam, 16 Nov 1941
More on…    
Jisaburo Ozawa    Main article   Photos  
Added By   C. Peter Chen

The light green paper receipt of land’s house rental tax paid, sign by Nguoi than with red French liberty stamped of Cantho vIllage du Tan Buoi(D)


1) 1942

rare japanese occupation serial number paper moner circulated in Vietnam during Japanese occupation 1942-1945,same with Dai Nippon occupation Malaya and singapore area.

(1)June.19th 1942
The red paper receipt of Land House tax paid,handwritten , signed Nguoi Than with very light red franch liberty square stamped of Cantho Village du Tan Buoi ( Rare document during WWII – Vietnam Francaise indochina as the Protectorate Dai Nippon , Vietnam still used the same stamped of Indochine cantho village-auth)

December,27th 1942

The anniversary of  Saigon expoxition 1942  stamps first day issued on the picture postcard of Bouleveard chanier Saigon.


Souvenir de la Foire-Exposition de Saïgon du 20.12.1942

Kỷ niệm Hội Chợ – Triển Lãm Sài Gòn

vietnam -China bridge 1943

(1)August,4th 1943
The light pink paper receipt of land-house tax paid signed nguoi thanh with very very light franch liberty stamped of cantho village red stamped.
(Very rare document during WWII 1943 from The Indochine protectorat Dai Nippon village ‘s stamped still used -auth)

3)Late 1943

three B-24 Liberators were shot down in a single raid over Haiphong

US bombing of the rail line may not have been the critical factor in starving the north of southern rice, especially as it appears that north-south communication was not completely ruptured in the run-up to March-April the peak of the northern famine. But, combined with attacks on coastal shipping, it impeded Japanese and French authorities efforts to deal with transport and food issues. As Mickelson explains in a rare study of Allied bombing of Vietnam during the Pacific War, Americans did not control the skies over Vietnam. Facing down both Vichy anti-aircraft batteries and Japanese fighters the Americans suffered 414 casualties in the course of these missions, alongside a host of downed fliers. For instance, in late 1943, three B-24 Liberators were shot down in a single raid over Haiphong by 35 or more Japanese fighters. For a time, Mickelson also argues, the Americans were diverted from the main mission by acts of “vengeance” against the Vichy French who betrayed the downed American aviators, just as a turn-around in attitude by Admiral Decoux was one of the leading reasons behind the Japanese decision to carry out the March 1945 coup and assume direct military rule




The great famine was never construed as a war crime by the Allies, yet the question of blame, alongside agency or lack of it, was an issue between the French and the Viet Minh in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender and entered into propaganda recriminations. Indeed, as written into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) declaration of independence, both Japan and France were jointly blamed for the disaster. South Vietnam (the Republic of Vietnam) also raised the famine issue in postwar reparation negotiations with Japan. While such charged issues as the Nanjing Massacre, the comfort women, forced labor and unit 731 have long been the subject of intense debate in the historical memory wars, in textbook controversies and museum exhibits, the Vietnamese famine, and Japan’s role in creating it, appear to have disappeared from Japanese war memory and commemoration whether in textbooks or museum representations. 

It may nevertheless be asked, why is it important now to apportion blame? I would argue that the great Vietnam famine of 1944-45 is at least one of the underwritten tragedies stemming from the Pacific War. Outside of Vietnam, very few articles or studies have sought to contextualize this event, whether from the side of Vietnamese history, or from the perspective of Japanese and/or French and American responsibility. No doubt a court of law would seek to distinguish between deliberate policy, benign neglect, and/or the unanticipated consequences of social action. But, rather than pinning blame as with a court of law or a war crimes trial, what I seek here is closer to a truth commission-style investigation that precisely seeks to uncover a number of thinly veiled truths that could possibly stimulate further research, not only on war and memory issues related to the famine, but also in the field of famine prevention. 

Background to the Famine

The background to the great famine in northern Vietnam is the increasing scale and character of Japanese military intervention in Indochina from 1940 down to surrender in September-October 1945.


The Japanese military took over full administrative responsibility alongside local puppet regimes as with the Tran Trong Kim cabinet in Annam, under a pliant Emperor Bao Dai. Economically, Japan had used Indochina under the Vichy administration as a source of industrial and food procurement, from coal to rubber, to a range of industrial crops and, especially rice from the surplus-producing Mekong delta region. Though notionally under French administration, Japanese military requisitions profoundly distorted the colonial political economy, shattered the import-export system, and eroded many bonds across communities and classes, sowing the seeds of disasters to come. Even with French administrative services continuing, including dike repair, the monitoring of agricultural activities, and the collection of taxes, the rural population, increasingly bereft of cash as market mechanisms collapsed, was obliged to cope in a situation of virtual economic autarky just as Indochina came to be subordinated within Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.5

Towards the end of the war, US bombing raids, mounted from India and Yunnan in China as well as the Philippines, and from carrier-based aircraft, also took a toll on infrastructure, targeting the TransIndochinois rail line, linking north and south Vietnam, as well as mining harbors and launching submarine raids on Japanese and local coastal shipping. With all but a few French administrators behind bars, administrative services deteriorated, both central (run from Hanoi) and local, whether run from Hanoi, Saigon or Hue. In this environment, customary rural statistical surveys were rarely conducted. Japanese military authorities, moreover, paid scant attention to local needs across Vietnam, not to mention traditionally rice-deficit Laos, and even rice surplus Cambodia, which was also ruthlessly exploited of its rice resources. The priority was fulfilling Imperial imperatives designed to feed Japan’s own on the battlefronts and at home.

Colonial Famine Protection

From time immemorial coastal Vietnam had suffered frequent droughts, floods, and typhoons, inflicting misery and suffering. According to Nguyen dynasty chronicles as interpreted by Ngo Vinh Long, destructive floods occurred on average every three years, usually around the seventh or eighth months, but sometimes in the forth and fifth months as well. Prolonged droughts proved even more disastrous to crops. Added to that were crop failures due to locusts and other insects.6 In official French discourse, protection of the population against threats of famine was a constant preoccupation of the administration. The colonial administration did not neglect the new and expanding modern communication links to re-supply afflicted regions. The need to diversify crop production was not ignored given understandings of the risks of monoculture in situations of crisis and food insufficiency, and close monitoring of agricultural production and human needs became a finely honed bureaucratic procedure at the local, regional and federal (Indochinese) levels. Nevertheless, the colonial economy was above all geared for export of rice, especially from the rice surplus Mekong River delta area of southern Vietnam.

Writing half a century prior to the great disaster, Governor General Jean Baptiste Paul Beau (October 1902-February 1908) reflected that there was no unique solution to the famine problem. One speaks of irrigation works as a solution, he opined, but Tonkin or northern Vietnam had not generally suffered drought over a ten-year period commencing in 1896. On the contrary, it had suffered an excess of water over this period, whether caused by heavy rainfall or floods. Irrigation systems, he argued, did not have incontestable value and could only be viewed as a partial solution to the famine problem. As well understood, several regions in Annam, the central region of Vietnam with its capital in Hue, supported excessive population densities. Prone to famine, it was not then possible to render assistance to these remote areas by either land or sea. At the time of Beau’s writing, only northern Annam remained outside of access to the new colonial railway system. But thanks to the extension of the rail head to this area, timely rice assistance provided by the Hue government had helped the population of Thanh-Hoa, then suffering famine. Similarly, in Annam wherever the rail head reached, relief could be speedily arranged. Alongside new transportation routes, the old system of rice stores that the imperial government hosted in each of the provinces was deemed a less practical solution, even though some individuals demanded their restoration. High population density in parts of Tonkin likewise aggravated the effects of famine. Alongside experiments in relocating emigrants from Tonkin to western Cochinchina – as the French called their colony in the south – incentives were also offered by the administration to peasant cultivators to move away from rice monoculture.7

Throughout the colonial period, a large number of irrigation works were created in northern and central Vietnam, in particular, using conscript labor and drawing upon local budgets with both flood control and expanded cultivation as objectives.8 Nevertheless, famine did occur in the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh in 1930-1931. Combined with falling rice prices and a constant tax burden, the result was to ignite mass peasant protest along with communist-inspired attacks on the administration.9 It is true that the French introduced a range of plantation or export crops, as with rubber, tobacco, coffee, etc., but neither, as demonstrated below, did colonial economic managers ignore the need to maintain a basket of food crops to tide over emergencies, such as fitting long-established peasant cultivator practice.10 Generally, the paix Français in Indochina was marked by its managerial response to famine and hunger, even as large numbers of people, particularly mountain-dwellers and those in more marginal settings, barely survived in the natural economy.

Origins of the Great Famine of 1944-45

According to Pham Cao Duong,20 a standard interpretation is that the origins of the famine of 1945 lie with the crop failures of 1943-45; this was compounded by lack of dike maintenance following US bombing of the north and the catastrophic rainfall of August-September 1944 causing flooding and loss of rice plants. There are merits in a multi-cause approach to the famine. In the following few paragraphs I reassess some of the dominant arguments.


For Nguyen Khac Vien, a generally reliable source from the Hanoi-side,21 the heaviest burden on the people under Japanese rule was the compulsory sale of rice to the state. Even Tonkin, where food was tragically scarce, had to supply 130,305 tonnes in 1943; and 186,130 tonnes in 1944. Whether the crop was good or bad, each region had to supply a quantity of rice in proportion to the tilled acreage at the derisory price of 19 piasters a quintal, a small fraction of the market price. In lean years, people had to buy rice on the market at 54 piasters to meet that obligation. To provide gunny bags for the Japanese economy, people were obliged to uproot rice and plant jute. In 1944 when US bombing cut off northern supplies of coal to Saigon, the French and Japanese used rice and maize as fuel for power stations. They vied with each other to store rice. During that time dams and dikes were neglected. The slightest natural calamity caused food shortages. Starting in 1943, famine began. It became more serious from 1944 onward.

Historian of Vietnam, David Marr,22 contends that the prospect of dearth in Tonkin had been creeping up for some years prior to the climax. He asserts that paddy output had been slipping over two decades owing to gradual reductions in acreage and a failure to introduce new cultivation methods. In addition, a still small percentage of land had been given over to the production of industrial crops. Meanwhile, the northern population had increased by 36 percent, forcing increased dependence on imports of Cochinchina rice. Drought and insects reduced the 1944 harvest by 19 percent over the previous year, with typhoons damaging the autumn crop. Farmers across northern Vietnam realized by October that they could not fulfill tax obligations, including obligatory deliveries to the government, and feed their families. While peasants started taking customary evasive actions, and while hoarders and black marketers thrived in this environment, the French and Japanese continued stockpiling rice, with General Tsuchibashi Yuichi, commander-in-chief of the occupation army in Indochina and pro-governor general after March 1945, planning 6 months (or 3 years) stockpiling ahead of an anticipated Allied invasion.

Without citing sources, although offering statistics, Pham Cao Duong23 argues that the decrease in crop yield during these crisis years was not drastic and there was still sufficient rice to avoid starvation. Rather, he sees the cause of the shortage as stemming from the practice of converting rice to alcohol used as a substitute for gasoline; illegal exports of rice by Chinese merchants and coastal traders; and US interdiction of north-south communication routes cutting off the north from rice imports from Cochinchina (estimated at 100,000 tonnes a year). Added to that, Vichy French Governor General Jean Decoux ordered the stockpiling of rice (500,000 barrels), a necessary measure in the circumstances, while the Japanese collected rice. But it was the human factor, he claims, namely intensified speculation, inflation and scarcity, which drove up the price of rice. “The more the price of rice rose, the more the grain became scarce because of stockpiling.” In 1944, traditional mechanisms of reciprocity linking large landowners to tenant farmers broke down. As Duong asserts, in 1944, all large landowners were obliged to deliver the bulk of their supplies to the French administration, while all paddy on the market was monopolized by Vietnamese and Chinese merchants.


According to Ngo Vinh Long, “beginning in late 1942, largely because of the Japanese demand for rice, the French colonial administration imposed upon the population “the forced sale of given quotas of rice, depending upon the area of land cultivated.” In 1943, this amount reached three-fourths of income for many, even exceeding the amount that some peasants could harvest, forcing purchase on the market to resell to the administration. While the procurement price was minimal, the black market price spiraled upwards. Long asserts that there was coastal junk navigation available but the French either discouraged this transport or taxed it heavily as a disincentive to operators. With Pham Cao Duong, he holds that the use of rice to make alcohol to run machines was “one of the major causes of death from starvation.” Another was the French storage of rice and export to Japan (including the export of 300,000 tonnes of maize from 1942 to early 1945), along with Japanese demands to plant industrial crops.24

For Brocheux and Hémery,25 two close students of Vietnam’s social and political landscape, the background to the crisis was essentially demographic (they assert that the mishandling was Japanese). Public health programs and vaccination campaigns did control mortality stemming from terrible cholera epidemics and, after 1927, there were no longer any catastrophic ruptures of dikes in Tonkin, at least until the dramatic flooding of August 1945 when 230,000 hectares were submerged, the most serious flooding of the century. But, in the course of a century of French contact, the population of Vietnam had increased by a factor of six, and cultivated surface by two. The balance of population and grain production therefore became extremely uncertain and the peasants were periodically wracked by agro-ecological crisis. Starting before 1930, vast areas of rural misery expanded in the regions where the ratio of population to cereal production was most strained, namely the Red River, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, and Quang Ngai. In 1937, there were from 2-3 million agricultural day laborers and more than a million unemployed in the Red River Delta. There was also extreme parcelization of land ownership, and a rising class of Chinese-style big landlords. Taken together, they argue, the situation approximated that of “agricultural involution” such as described by Clifford Geertz in his study of late colonial-early postwar rural Java.


Source: Brocheux and Hémery, Indochina: An Ambiguous Colonization, 1858-1954.


What went wrong? American bombing, and resistance activities in the mountains by Free French and Viet Minh guerillas aside, the Red River delta region and northern Annam was not a major conflict zone. David Marr26 contends that the only way that mass famine could have been averted would have been to arrange supplies of 60,000 tonnes relief from Cochinchina by October 1944. Citing a French source, he demonstrates that, owing to American submarine operations, air patrols and harbor mining exercises, the amount of rice shipped from south to north dropped from 126, 670 tonnes in 1942 to 29,700 in 1943, to 6,830 in 1944. Given hazardous junk transport and the need for porterage between unbroken sections of the rail link, the challenge was formidable. The knowledge and capacity were there but, he asserts, neither the French nor the Japanese had the will to achieve this goal. Both remained preoccupied with military logistics. Following the 9 March 1945 takeover, the Japanese ignored famine warnings for at least two weeks. By Tet (March) of 1945, thousands, especially rural Vietnamese were dying. The Japanese did release some grain from captured French depots to urban people, in part to discredit the French. After much hand wringing and remonstrations, suggesting administrative malfeasance, relief started to be organized. Eventually, in late June, junks from Cochinchina bearing rice for Tonkin arrived, but by this time the worst of the crisis was over.

Having asserted the dual role of the French and Japanese in stockpiling rice, Marr makes no attempt to disentangle French and Japanese motives. In contrast to the Japanese motive of preparing for future battles and securing supplies for their armed forces, French stockpiling could not have had a primarily military intent. Surely the Japanese would not have allowed French military stockpiling when they were calling the shots. A case could equally be made that the French stockpiling of rice, at least while they were in charge, was an administrative response to a looming crisis and, indeed, a reversion to traditional practice. (As noted, the French, in the early decades of the 20th century, had done away with the traditional practice of the imperial Vietnamese authorities in hosting rice stores in all provinces, suggesting that the Vichy French revival of this practice had some logic.) It also has to be said that French agricultural organization excelled precisely in monitoring deficits and surpluses across Indochina through regular and intensive statistical surveys, dike control, and the development of rapid communications. Space precludes analysis, but French colonial administrative prowess in this area was no less than say, the British in Malaya or, indeed, the Japanese in Taiwan.

In fact, French and Japanese motives and actions were entirely at variance. According to a Free French intelligence report of September 1944 (derived from an anonymous American informant), on top of an economic agreement contracting 1,200,000 tonnes of rice, the Japanese demanded an additional 400,000 tonnes for military provisions. Undoubtedly sensitive to the intolerable pressures that this would impose upon Vietnamese producers, the Vichy administration under Admiral Decoux balked. The Japanese answered with an ultimatum. In a highly exceptional display of autonomy, the Vichy administration sardonically replied that, if the Japanese wanted the rice then they would have to take it and bear full responsibility for the consequences.27

All elements of Pham Cao Duong’s argument are cogent and convincing, as the paradox of food availability and unaffordability still haunts international relief agencies confronting analogous situations to the present day. (For instance, overproduction of grain can translate into famine as in Ethiopia in 2003.) Nevertheless, Duong is reluctant to attribute primary cause of the famine cause to Japanese policies, which shattered the market mechanisms that the French had superimposed on traditional practices, albeit these were made more efficient by Indochina-wide stocktaking, stockpiling, and modern transport. Behind Decoux of course it was the Japanese military that had siphoned off rice surpluses and it was Japanese orders that forced Vietnamese farmers to plant industrial crops and convert paddy to biofuels. In general, Decoux was obliged to follow Japanese orders on rice requisition, whatever the consequences, although the Japanese correctly assumed that the Vichy French were also subverting their orders towards the end.

A full accounting would also have to examine the specific stages in the development of the famine in northern Vietnam, from the first crop failures of 1943-44 to the abrupt transition from Vichy French administration to Japanese military rule in March 1945, to the period of social breakdown (August-October 1945), to the complex transition to Viet Minh rule, as well as partial French administrative responsibility (March-November 1946), coinciding with the re-entry of French forces into the Red River delta area following Japan’s defeat. The issue of who controlled the keys to the rice stockpiles is also important. If, as Brocheux and Hémery28 assert, the Japanese lacked the shipping capacity after 1943 to send rice north owing to losses incurred due to US air raids and submarine attacks, then it does seem likely that rice stocks were accruing in the south rather than declining. Even so, Japan was still leaching food out of Indochina, overland via Cambodia or, via the sea route, notwithstanding the American submarine risk.

American Bombing

Although the bombing of strategic Japanese targets in northern Vietnam started in 1942, first by the American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the “Flying Tigers,” the tempo increased under the Yunnan-based China Air Task Force (CATF) of the Tenth Air Force, and later by the Fourteenth Air Force, as with the bombing of the Hanoi-Haiphong area in April 1944. Additional attacks were made by B-29s of the XX Bomb Group flying out of India and by Liberators, Mitchells, and Lightnings belonging to the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces operating from bases in the Philippines. Beginning in December 1944, attacks on Japanese targets in southern Vietnam were made by the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet’s Catalinas, B-24s, and Privateers as well as by carrier aircraft from Admiral William Halsey’s Third Fleet.29

Beginning in April 1944, US India-based B-29’s targeted the Saigon Naval Yard and Arsenal. Cap St. Jacques (Vung Tau) also became a bombing target with 5-7 Japanese ships sunk in a raid of 15 April 1944, just as American submarines began to take their toll on both Japanese and French shipping (delivered by Decoux to the Japanese, notwithstanding the resistance of French crews). For example, on 29 April 1944, two French ships heading north were sunk by submarines off the coast of Vietnam, one a French destroyer lost with all hands, the other a merchant vessel which, according to Allied intelligence, was “carrying badly needed rice to Tonkin and Annam.” This is an important revelation – or admission – as the Allies would have known something of the human consequences of their actions beyond the mere sinking of ships. Notably, on 12 January 1945, US T-38 aircraft attacked four large enemy convoys off the Vietnam coast sinking 25 vessels and severely damaging 13. Among the losses was the French light cruiser, Lamotte-Picquet. Shipping losses along the coast were reported as heavy, just as port arrivals in Saigon-Vung Tau began to trend downwards. The French announced their losses while the Japanese remained silent.30

The above leads to the question of what kind of shipping was entering Indochinese ports, for what purpose and to what destination? Saigon and its ocean-going port of St. Jacques/Vung Tau were the most important for Japanese shipping between Taiwan and Singapore with shipping movements in 1943-44 averaging between five (Saigon) and 13 (Cap St. Jacques) ship visits a day. As the assembly point for Japanese convoys plying between the South Seas and Japan, during the same approximate period up to 33 ships a day sometimes anchored off Cap St. Jacques. Allied intelligence offers highly detailed weekly summaries of shipping movements into and out of these ports. In April-June 1944, a large number of Japanese troop-carrying vessels reportedly arrived in the Saigon River and immediately reloaded with rice from barges floated down from Mekong delta rice fields. Summarizing from a single day’s maritime activity out of Saigon in early August 1944, Allied intelligence stated that the Japanese were shipping considerable rice from Saigon to occupied Java, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai as well as Japan. In August 1944, Macau Governor Gabriel Teixeira gained Japanese agreement to send a vessel (the SS Portugal) to northern Vietnam to load coal and beans for shipment to Macau at a time when the Japanese choke on Portuguese-controlled Macau had reduced sections of the population to cannibalism.31 The picture that emerges through 1944-early 1945, besides intense Japanese naval activity in and around Saigon port, is one of near total command of rice produced in rice-surplus Cochinchina and Cambodia and its export under Japanese military auspices to virtually all parts of the Japanese empire.32

 But with US interdiction of Japanese shipping taking its toll, the deployment of shipping also added to the problem of servicing the coastal trade. Dated 19 July (1944), an unreliable Allied intelligence source stated that at Saigon, “there are 300,000 tons of rice awaiting shipment, part of which is rotting on the quays. Even if the figure covers all Japanese-held rice in Saigon including quantities earmarked for local Japanese consumption and production of alcohol,” the account continued, “the accumulation during the first six months of 1944 amounts to over a quarter of the total tonnage scheduled for shipping this year.”33 With a superabundance of rice rotting in the harbor, we may ask, why wasn’t even a proportion of this food surplus freighted north to cover the then apparent rice deficit in northern Annam and the lower Tonkin delta?

Another measure undertaken to alleviate the shortage of shipping was a concerted attempt by the Japanese authorities in Saigon to construct some 200 wooden ships of 500-ton capacity, an enterprise involving over 1,000 local Chinese and Vietnamese craftsmen. Mitsubishi even set up an engine plant while other engines arrived by freighter from Hong Kong. But rather than deploy these vessels in the coastal trade, the first four were dispatched to Singapore carrying a total of 900 tons of rice. One foundered and two others returned to port badly leaking. Other motor-driven wooden ships were directed towards Thailand and the Khra Isthmus. On 2 September 1944, the Japanese commandeered four Chinese-owned steamships to carry military personnel and supplies between Phnom Penh and Saigon. Although we lack parallel data for Haiphong port, the point is that almost all of this maritime activity was geared to meet Japan’s greater strategic needs, while coastal navigation such as would connect up the south, center and north of Vietnam, apparently still undertaken by the French, was neglected, fatally as it turned out.34

Nevertheless, the main transport conduit for the domestic movement of rice was the rail system. Rail transport was the more reliable north-south communication link especially during the typhoon season (July-October), when all maritime activity was hazardous. The Saigon-Hanoi TransIndochinois was single track, meter-gauge, with double track at all stations. The steepest gradient was 1: 100. Normally – or before the bombing started to interrupt the timetable – a journey from Saigon to Hanoi took 42 hours, at an average of 42 km per hour with somewhat lower speed on newly opened track between Nha Trang and Quang Ngai. The capacity of the line was six trains in each direction every 24 hours. According to an Allied intelligence report of 1944, express trains ran daily between the two centers.35

Obviously with such an efficient transport system in place there should have been no technical obstacle to moving food from surplus to deficit areas. But, decisions about use of the line also needs to be considered. According to an unconfirmed Chinese intelligence report of late 1944, owing to the movement north of 50,000 Japanese troops from Saigon to Hanoi, all civilian traffic on the line was suspended through 7 September 1944.36 Whatever the veracity of that report, it does fit generalized accounts contending that the Japanese military subordinated use of the line to military needs, both before and after the 9 March 1945 coup de force. Undoubtedly, the Allies were also acting upon this kind of assessment, in targeting the TransIndochinois line.

There is also some conflict in Allied intelligence reporting. A report from September 1944 indicates that American bombing and strafing attacks destroyed or damaged several bridges on the Saigon-Hanoi line resulting in dislocation of transport services. The tenor of this account is confirmed by a 10 October 1944 report citing the “poor condition” of the line, making possible a maximum of 4,000 tons of cargo monthly with possibilities of repair “negligible.” But, we know that different sectors of the line were not subject to irreparable damage (Saigon-Danang-Ninh Binh), and that repair and porterage were also ways to minimize the problem. According to an intelligence assessment of January 1945, the Japanese army had demanded of the French (still technically in charge of the line), that six pairs of trains per week should run between Saigon and Tourane (Danang), with one train a day running in both directions from Vietri (northwest of Hanoi) to Laokay (at the Vietnam terminus of the Haiphong-Kunming line).37 This assessment suggests that there was no breakdown in the rail transportation system at this stage, and there is no reason why rice could not have been entering this traffic if there had been the will.

Chronologic Informations

April 1944

Boombing Hanoi-Haiphong

the American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the “Flying Tigers,” the tempo increased under the Yunnan-based China Air Task Force (CATF) of the Tenth Air Force, and later by the Fourteenth Air Force, as with the bombing of the Hanoi-Haiphong area in April 1944


on 29 April 1944, two French ships heading north were sunk by submarines off the coast of Vietnam, one a French destroyer lost with all hands, the other a merchant vessel which, according to Allied intelligence, was “carrying badly needed rice to Tonkin and Annam.” This is an important revelation – or admission – as the Allies would have known something of the human consequences of their actions beyond the mere sinking of ships. Notably,30





(1) Vo Nguyen Giap forms Vietminh Army(D) and the vintage photo of him (P)

(2) November,30th.1944

On 30 November 1944, the railway was also damaged at Phu Ly (mid-way between Ninh Binh and Hanoi in the mid-lower delta). If these two sections of the line had not been speedily repaired, traffic in and out of the southern Red River delta would have been drastically interrupted. Much of course would also have depended upon non-rail transport from Phi Lu to local markets and the administration and distribution of rice within the deficit zones. Summarizing, we can state, with the famine crisis beginning to bite, rail traffic was still reaching Ninh Binh from Danang via Hue, Vinh, Dong Hoi, and Thanh Hoa, without major interruption.38


(3)November 1944

By 29 November 1944, however, traffic over the railway bridge at Ninh Binh (in the lower southwestern Red River delta) had been stopped by aerial bombing, two railway cars destroyed. Against the view that the French and Japanese, and perhaps even the Americans, all shared responsibility for the tragedy which is found in a number of official Vietnamese and other writings, a contrarian view suggests a high degree of Japanese responsibility. Bui Ming Dung41 argues – and I agree – that the Japanese exacted rice not only for their local use or exports to Japan, but for other parts of the empire, even at the height of the starvation. At the heart of Dung’s analysis is a refutation of certain of the more enduring explanations of the famine. First, he dismisses the argument that Tonkin (as opposed to Annam) suffered a subsistence crisis (Tonkin rice production exceeded that of Annam, while population increase was greater in Annam than Tonkin). Second, he refutes the arguments of certain Japanese interlocutors (General Tsuchibashi Yuichi included), who assert that bad weather or typhoons were decisive: the big floods actually occurred in August after, not before, the famine. Third, inflation, he argues, hit urban rather than rural dwellers harder. Fourth, to the extent that the French were active under Japanese duress, that of course ceased abruptly after 9 March with Japanese seizure of direct power. Nor does he find the French complicit in the making of the famine. To the extent that the French implemented policy changes, they were ordered to meet Japanese not indigenous demands. Fifth, notwithstanding American bombing, the transport system did not entirely collapse. It was simply reoriented to Japanese military use (rice transport took less volume than other commodities). Sixth, the Japanese forcibly introduced not only jute, but cotton, vegetable oil plants and other industrial crops in northern Vietnam at the expense of maize, rice and other food crops. Maize also began to supplant rice in exports to Japan and the Philippines in 1945, although rice was also exported to other places during this year. Seventh, the Japanese stockpiled rice in Laos right up to the point of their surrender. Finally, overarching all considerations, the export of Indochinese rice to Japan and the empire appears to have been a Japanese policy throughout.


In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, according to Marr,42 famine survivors most readily blamed the French, who were still in charge until March 1945, and were less inclined to blame the Japanese. According to Marr, no blame was attributed to the Allied forces in destroying infrastructure or the Viet Minh who were supporting Allied actions. Also, as mentioned in the DRV Declaration of Independence of 2 September 1945, both the French and the Japanese were targeted. From 1940, it asserts, “Our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that from the end of last year to the beginning of this year from Quang Tri province to the north of Vietnam, more than two million of our fellow citizens died from starvation.”43

While responsibility for the famine remains controversial, there is no question that the Viet Minh derived maximum propaganda advantage from the tragedy. In an undated memorandum addressing a Viet Minh allegation that it was the French who were to blame for the famine of 1944-45, French intelligence responded that, to the contrary, owing to the fact that the harvest of the 10th month of 1944 had resulted in a shortfall, the French administration had built up reserve stocks in each province. However, the Japanese had distributed most of these stocks. Moreover, the Japanese had reduced rice production and area under cultivation owing to a switch to industrial crops to service their own requirements. In defeat, according to French intelligence, the Japanese had removed rice stocks and thrown them into the Mekong River at Thakek and Paksane in southern Laos. This vandalism condemned thousands of Indochinese people to die of famine. The harvest of the 10th month of 1945 revealed another compromise owing to the floods which ravaged the rice fields of the Red River delta causing major losses of life. While the postwar French administration in central and south Vietnam exercised protective measures, by provoking or encouraging “disorder and pillage,” the “provisional government,” namely the Hanoi authorities, “also hampered French government assistance in these regions. It is they who should be held responsible for launching the famine as much for its aggravation and continuing disorders.”44


(4)By the end of 1944,

US Forces under General Douglas MacArthur had fought their way through the Pacific and werereconquering the Phillipines. Rumor spread that bthey would debark in Indochina in their first assaut against the Asian continent.
General de Gaulle, determined to regain Indochina for France, feared that vthe Americans would favor the Vietnamese nationalist.
He parachuted Franch agents and arms into the area with orders to attack the Japanese as the US troops hit the beaches. Soon Saigon buzzed with talk of the forthcoming French Operation.

4) 1945-The end of WW II and Franch resettlement and Vietnam Independent war was begun.
A. Before Dai Nippon take over the Government.

1)January 1945

(1)January 4th 1945
The Very rare & veryfine condition Gia Dinh reciept 55$ and 9$32 from Li Van San (Nhan lanh cua M) for “Pr le compte de li r Nang & Ho-thi Dau (?) , ve thue dat nha/pho, so bo thue —,nam- 1944. (no revenue exist.)
Ngay 4-1-1945
Violet Gia Dinh –Binh Bhoa Ya ‘s square stamped design bird and chinese char.
(Very rare extrafine village Bin Hoa ya of Gia Dinh province (after that Saigon-Cholon) ‘s document during Dai Toa Senso- Great East Asia War 1942-1945-, the latest document before the France administration was took over by Dai Nippon in March 1945-auth)



In March, 1945, the Japanese finally decided to do away with all pretenses and took control of Indochina directly. The colonial forces were easy enough to overcome, some did not resist at all, French nationals were rounded up and Japan gained control of the region following an ultimatum presented to Admiral Decoux on March 9, 1945. Japan also announced their support for the independence of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam within the their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of course. Emperor Bao Dai knew nothing of this turn of events until he and Empress Nam Phuong were stopped by Japanese troops on his way back to the Forbidden City and told that Japan had taken control of Vietnam. What exactly the Emperor truly thought about this turn of events is hard to ascertain as he wrote very little about it in his memoirs. Whatever the case, he announced, with Japanese support, the abolition of all treaties and agreements previously made with the French and proclaimed the independence of the Empire of Vietnam as a member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. In September of 1944 such a move had been advocated by the Japanese foreign minister but had been met with opposition by the military. It had been no different in Manchuria where the Japanese civil authorities favored working with native leaders in independence movements whereas the army favored allowing the generals to take direct control of conquered and occupied regions.  

March-April 1945

The deaths stemming from the great famine of 1944-45, which reached its zenith in March-April 1945 in Japanese-occupied northern Vietnam, eclipsed in scale all human tragedies of the modern period in that country up until that time. The demographics vary from French estimates of 600,000-700,000 dead, to official Vietnamese numbers of 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 victims.1 Food security is an age-old problem, and dearth, famine, and disease have long been a scourge of mankind across the broad Eurasian landmass and beyond. While more recent understandings2 recognize that famines are mostly man-made, it is also true that in ecologically vulnerable zones, alongside natural disasters, war and conflict often tilts the balance between sustainability and human disaster.3 Allowing the contingency of natural cause as a predisposing factor for mass famine, this article revisits the Vietnam famine of 1944-45 in light of flaws in human agency (alongside willful or even deliberate neglect) as well as destabilization stemming from war and conflict. While I avoid the issue of impacts of the famine in favor of seeking cause – the human suffering of the famine has not been effaced by time. It was recorded in Hanoi newspapers at the time. It survives in local memory and in fiction by Vietnamese writers

In mid-April 1945,

 precisely at the peak of the famine, Australian commandos landing by American submarine inside Danang Bay sabotaged a train or, at least, a locomotive (one of two trains observed heading north). Their mission was directed at northbound trains. As observed, the first two carriages of this 10-18-carriage train held passengers with – as surmised – the remaining covered carriages reserved for troops. While the Australian commandos reckoned they only immobilized the line for 24 hours, the picture they offer of Danang (lights blazing) and rail activity at full spate was one of near normalcy. They also observed an extremely well maintained track. The view from the submarine periscope was one of active and organized offshore night fishing activity by multi-sailed boats all along the coast from Saigon to Danang Bay (200-300 fishing vessels, all numbered as if part of a fishing cooperative exercise). This suggests some degree of food self-sufficiency along the coastal literal of Vietnam, but that would also depend upon distribution networks, markets, and many other factors.

A Contrarian V

1) March,9th.1945

the Japanese military subordinated use of the line to military needs, both before and after the 9 March 1945 coup de force. Undoubtedly, the Allies were also acting upon this kind of assessment, in targeting the TransIndochinois line
(b)The Japanese lost no time in reacting .On the evening of March.9th 1945 , after strategically deploying their forces, they instructed the French govenor to place his army under their command.
(b) In Hanoi , they ceremoniously intrened the French soldiers who had surrendered without fighting. But in oother place ,those who resisted were wiped out to the man. They imprisoned several hundred French civilians , many of whom were totured to death by the same native jailers employed by the colonial adminis-tration to brutalize Vietnamese nationalist.
(c) Overnight , French power had cumbled, and the Japanese seemed to be doomed to defeat. Which Vietnamese faction would fill the void?.

 January 1945
(a)When the influence of World war II affected the French Indochina, the French Government issued a catagory of notes in which the ame of the issuing organ, Le gouvernment General de I’Indochine, at time from 1940 onward . the paper quality became worse than before, the paper was carelessly presented in IDEO(imprimerie d’Extreme-Orient _far east Printing House ) Hanoi.

(b)During this period , there were still metalcurrency, the leads coins were moulded with a paddy ear on one side . Especially there were issued lead coins with a paddy cluster moulded on the back side. A popular saying in relation to currency was orally propagated to stir up among people the anti-French Resistence for Independece :” When the paddy grows on the lead, elephants tram papers, the Monk shall have to disappear soon”(D)

(c) Worried by the growing Japanese influence, the French encouraged their own youth groups. But the Vietminh quickly infiltrated them and also seeded its cadres in japanese-sponsored associations. So, with no more than five thousand members in early 1945, the vietminh has a web of activitits all cross Vietnam, ready to act as events unfolded(D-ibid stanley Karnow p-159)


(2a) January,12th.1945

 on 12 January 1945, US T-38 aircraft attacked four large enemy convoys off the Vietnam coast sinking 25 vessels and severely damaging 13. Among the losses was the French light cruiser, Lamotte-Picquet. Shipping losses along the coast were reported as heavy, just as port arrivals in Saigon-Vung Tau began to trend downwards. The French announced their losses while the Japanese remained silent.

(2b)January ,31th.1945
The Diploma from Guberneur General Indochina sign under delegetion to Secretary General with Indochina Goveuneur general stamped , at hanoi 31 Jan 1945, during Indochina as Protectorate Dai Nippon.

 The complete diploma in france :

Republique Francaise
Diploma D’Etudes Primaires Superiures Indochinoises
La Gouverneur General de Indochine.
Vu les directs du 20 octobre 1910:
Vu le direct du 2 mai 1920 ,modifie par le decret du 18 october 1922,
Vu Le Reglement General de l’Instruction Publique en Indochine :
Vu Le process-verbal de l’examen subi par Mn Nguyen van Loi ne le 7 Juin 1925,
Par leguel la Commission de l’examen atteste que le Diplome d’Etudes primaires superieures.
A Thoibinh,Cantho a ete juge d’obtenir le (epreuve facultative ————–) avec La mention Passable—–
Delivre a Mr “Nguyen van Loi “ Le present diploma pour servir et valoir ce que de droit.

Enregistre saus le no.1191 La Directeur pi Fait a hanoi 31 Jan 1945
(Direction de l’Lnstruction deI’Instruction Le Gouverneur General
Publique) Publique en de I’Indochine,
Indochina PAR Delegation
Secretary General
du Gouvernerment General I’Indochina


Republique Francaise
Primary school diploma Superiures Indochinese
The Governor General of Indochina.
Given the direct October 20, 1910:
Given the direct May 2nd, 1920, as amended by Decree of 18 october 1922
Given the General Regulations of Public Instruction in Indochina:
The process saw the report of examination performed by Nguyen van Act does Mn June 7, 1925,
Leguel by the Commission of the review confirms that the primary school diploma education.
A Thoibinh, Cantho has been to get the judge (with optional test —–) Mention Fair –
Issue to Mr “Nguyen Van Loi” The present diploma to serve, and argue that law.Saves the saus no.1191 The Acting Director Done at Hanoi January 31, 1945
(Directorate of Lnstruction deI’Instruction Governor General
Public) in the Public I’Indochine,
Indochina BY Delegation
Secretary General
the General Gouvernerment I’Indochina

(The very rare historic document before the Dai nippon took over the French administration in 1945 , the last French administration during WWII-auth)


1)The Japanese lost no time in reacting .On the evening of March.9th 1945 , after strategically deploying their forces, they instructed the French govenor to place his army under their command.
2) In Hanoi , they ceremoniously intrened the French soldiers who had surrendered without fighting. But in oother place ,those who resisted were wiped out to the man. They imprisoned several hundred French civilians , many of whom were totured to death by the same native jailers employed by the colonial adminis-tration to brutalize Vietnamese nationalist.
3) Overnight , French power had cumbled, and the Japanese seemed to be doomed to defeat. Which Vietnamese faction would fill the void?.

4)Japanese took over the Government administration through out Indochina. (D)

5) Phung Thuong, as a boy before WWII , he had felt no particular resentment against the French, whom he rarely saw. But the famine of 1945 arused his hostility to both the Japanese and the French, and Vietminh agents entered the villages, urging the peasant to organize. They evoked Ho Chi Minh, a name then unknown to Khang. Even so, he agreed to head a platoon of seventry peasant armed with machetes and scythes, with only tw musket among them . They fortified the villages, building staves in hole covered with foliage. One night, in ambitius eneavor , they had fired six of their seven bullets. (D)

2. March,9th.1945

While the Vichy French regime in Indochina and Japan existed in a tense albeit unequal cohabitation with Japanese forces, matters changed absolutely on 9 March 1945, when Japan mounted a coup de force, militarily attacked and interned all French military personal who did not escape to the mountains, and sequestered all French civilians.

2b. March,11th. 1945
Bao Dai proclaims the indepen-dence of Vietnam under Japanese auspices.
Bo Dai, the indolent puppet emperr, had been hunting during the Japanese cuop.(D)

The Japanese coup of 09 March 1945 caught the Viet Minh by surprise. But if the Japanese thought the removal of the French would win over the Viet Minh, they were soon disabused of that notion. The Viet Minh publicly objected to the Japanese coup, seeing it as a substitution of one colonial master for another. The Japanese viewed the Viet Minh dissatisfaction as sour grapes at being left out of the action. The investiture of Bao Dai in Hue and the cabinet under Pham Quynh was greeted by opposition, public meetings, and demonstrations in Hanoi organized partly by the Viet Minh. So serious was this opposition that Bao Dai dissolved his cabinet on 19 March 1945 and installed a new one under Tran Trong Kim, an academic of modest nationalist tendencies with no stomach for the snake pit of Indochinese politics.

Within two days of the Japanese acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, the Viet Minh began to take power in the cities of Indochina. In Hanoi, a Political Action Committee was formed to facilitate cooperationwith Bao Dai’s government.” By 23 August 1945, Hue was solidly Viet Minh, as was Saigon, where the Executive Committee of the South Vietnam Republic was established. The Viet Minh seized the government buildings in Hanoi on the 19th.

Bao Dai, apparently convinced that a united and independent nation offered the only possibility of preventing the return of French control, decided to abdicate. Recogniting only the nationalist character of the Viet Minh movement and assuming that it had Allied support, he abdicated. in its favor on August 25, 1945 ; and handed over his imperial seal and others ymbols of office to representatives of the newly proclaimed Provisional Government of the Republic of Vietnam.

3) April 1945
No collections and information-auth

4) May 1945
No collection and information-auth

5) June 1945
No collection and infornation-auth

6)July 1945
(1)The allied leaders had met in Postdam, a Berlin suburb, to plan the future. There they had devised a schemed to disarm the Japanese in vietnam- aminor item on their agenda- by dividing the country at the sixteenth parllel. The British would take the South, the Chinese Nationalist the north, it was a formula for catastrope.

(2)The British commander, General Douglas Gracey, was miscast. A colonial officer with limited political experience but a genuine affection for his Indian troops, he held the parenalistic view that “natives” should not defy Europeans. Officially, his was not to reason why, he had been plainly told by Lord Louis Mountbatten, the allied commander for Southeast asia ,to avoid Vietnam’sinternal problems and merely handle the Japanese. But Gracey, guidednby his prejudices , (D)

7)August 1945

(1) August.14th 1945
Ir Soekarno and Drs Mohamad Hatta (Indonesian National’s leader during Dai Nippon Military Adminis-tration in Indonesia) went by flight to Saigon and by road to Dalat , where they have a meeting with Marskal Tarauchi (the command of Dai Nippon Military Administration in Saout East Asia ) and they have The Indonesia Indepen-dence’s mandat (D)
( Read the detail history in Unique Collection’s. Blog(By Dr Iean S.) “ Indonesia Independent War document and Postal History“-auth)

(2) When and Where the DaiNippon surrender in Vietnam ?-auth

1)August 1945


(2)By the summer of 1945 , flood aggravated the already serious food shortage as the Red River dikes , neglected by local officials, burst in several spot. In Nothern Vietnam, poor in the best of circumstances, two million people out of a population of ten million starved to death.
Not far from Hanoi , a leathery old peasant by the name of Duong Van Khang recalled years afterward that so many of his fellow villagers died :” We didn’t have enough wood for coffins and buried them in bamboo mats.”

(3)Condition were no better in the cities. Dr Tran Duy Hung, mayor of Hanoi at the time, recollected the scene in an interview decade later.

(4) Starving peasant in several places attacacked French post and stromed Japanese granaties.

(5) With the news of Japan’s surrender in August, the uprising spread. Vietminh agent mved quickly to take advatage of the Turmoil. A villager recounted the events of that period in a district of Thai Binh province, in the Red River delta :
“The Village marketplace was jummed. A man in brown pants and a cloth shirt climbed onto a chair, and guards armed with machetes spears and sticks surrounded him. He delivered a speech, saying that the Japanese had capitulated to the allies, and that the time had come for Vietminh to seized power . I was just a teenager in ragged clothes, and I asked a schoolmate, “ Now that we’ve seized power, who will be the mandarin?” He replied :”Get this.the mandarin is just apeassant-really ordinary”

Di Nippon Surrendered at Saigon

  Former Emperor Duy Tan in the Free French service, former Emperor Thanh Thai arriving in Saigon in 1945 and Emperor Bao Dai escorting former Emperor Thanh Thai


(6) The Vietminh leader the marched to the district headquaters; the procession behind him swelled as nearby villagers joined in. The local chief had fled. The Vietminh leader seated himself in the district chief’s chair t dramatize his new authority. The next day, Vietminh agents put a village official on trial before five thousand peple assembled on a soccer field.
They read the charges. He had been an accmplice of the Japanese pirates. He had forced the peasants to pull up their rice and plant jute and peanuts, enriching himself even though the people were miserable and dying. He admitted that he had worrked for the Japanese but claimed that he was just carrying out orders. But they announced that his crime was very serious because he had opposed the revolution and helped the enemy. So They sentenced him to death and shot him right there.
This really fired up the people. They went after the henchmen of the Japanese, dragging them out of their housees, making them lower their heads and beating them. That finished their prestige, and the fervor of the massed kept rising.(D)

(7) August.16th 1945
To keep pace with the momentum, Ho Chi Minh summned sixty comrades to Tran Tao, a village in Thai nguyen province, North of Hanoi.
The time had come to grab power and greet the allies on the arrival. Ho formed a National Liberation Comittee with himself as president, calling it “The equivallent of a provisional government “ appealing for a general insurrection, he proclaimed in classic revolutionary style “ The oppresed the world over are wresting back theirindependent. We should not lag behind.(D)
Clad in coarse khaki uniforms or black pajamas, the first Vietminh detachments entere Hanoi on August 16, raking over publics buildings as Japanese troops stood by.
The emperor ‘s delegate, a symbol of imperial authority, resigned to a Vietminh-run committee of citizens which promptly announced its seizure of power from a balcony of the Hanoi opera house, a model of French gingerbread architecture

the end @ copryright Dr Iwan Suwandy 2011

4 responses to “The Dai Nippon War In Vietnam Indochina 1941-1945

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