Japanese Blood Debt Issue During the Era of Tunku Abdul Rahman

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2015

13 Pages










Behind the country’s Pro-Western policy due to the Cold War era, diplomatic relations was established between the Federation of Malaya with Japan that has economic motives in order to reduce dependence on British. It became clear to the country's leadership that the war compensation issues will affect the common economic interests of both parties. British also saw Japan approach to the region is inevitable and decided not to stop it by the year 1954. American capital, Japan technical skills and Southeast Asia resources must be connected to fight Communism. The methodology used is based on the research methods of the resources available in libraries and the National Archives of Malaysia.

Keywords: Blood debt, Japan, Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, War Reparation


In terms of Tunku Abdul Rahmanpd background, he was a member of the aristocratic elite who is accustomed to a luxury life from his youth (Faridah, 2007). His English background, personal principle that anti-Communist, and his commitment to reconciliation, Tunku Abdul Rahman has made a Westernized foreign policy, not to mention he had to operate in an environment of the Cold War years in five and six decades (TR 2: 3: 62 , 1978). When the Federation of Malaya was still in the process of achieving independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman express his sincere appreciation to the British who always cooperated (TAR 1: 2: 57, 1981), especially in terms of finance and expertise to develop the armed forces, to stem the communist influence and build basic infrastructures (TAR 2: 3: 57, 1981) and the establishment of the Reid Commission in helping develop the country's constitution (TAR 3: 2: 57, 1981). He also believes the familiarity between the independent of Federation of Malaya and the British will remain strong, as the British had been protecting the privileges and interests of the Malays from the control of foreign races in Malaya (TAR 1: 7: 57, 1981).

In his declaration of the Federation of Malaya’s independence on 31 August 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman appreciates British that have keeping well Malaya behind the memory of the First and the Second World War (TAR 8: 8: 57, 1981). He then had to make sure the Federation of Malaya and then Malaysia in favor of Western either in the United Nations politics, the opposition of bloc ideology or regional cooperation. He shamelessly to express pro-Western stance and openly opposed international communism. At the same time, due to his suspicion of neutrality policy, whatever comes from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will be disputed, and labeled as a line or a communist puppet (Faridah, 2007).


Japanese foreign policy in Southeast Asia after the Second World War is based on the Yoshida Doctrine. After the defeat of Japan, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida declared that economic development will be a priority in Japan. At that time, Japanese interest in Southeast Asia, particularly with regard to raw materials is one of the tools to build the national economy (Adiasri Putri Purbantina, 2013). British officials then saw the Japanese approach to the region is inevitable and decided not to stop by the year 1954. American capital, Japanese technical skills and of Southeast Asia resources must be connected to fight Communism (The Singapore Free Press, 29 May 1957). British also welcomes the development of the Southeast Asian market through Nobusuke Kishi development plan under the South-East Asia Development Fund (SEADF) because it will improve Britain's economy grip too (Junko, 2000). Nobusuke Kishi's intention for Japan to take a leading role in helping to ensure that Southeast Asia remain in the Western camp (The Singapore Free Press, 6 September 1957). SEADF described as Japanese efforts to rebuild the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, this time under the auspices of the United States (The Straits Times, 5 November 1957).

Despite the bad memory of the Second World War, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s government saw the need of the Federation of Malaya to re-establish relations with Japan (Mohd, 1995). Only a few months after the Federation of Malaya’s independence in 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman had already praised the success of the Japanese economy (Junko, 2000). He invites people to pay attention to what the Japanese doing in the construction of economic and industrial achievements so that they can follow the path in the direction of the developed world (The Straits Times, 25 November 1957). Tunku Abdul Rahman did not want to see economic relations between the Federation of Malaya and Japan affected by any claims of damages (Khadijah & Lee, 2003).

Compared to other countries in Asia and Africa that after independence is still not stable and continues to struggle against capitalism and imperialism, the Federion of Malaya’s government declared their foundation is developing society, especially those living in rural areas. Tunku Abdul Rahman create a policy and philosophy that easy to understand, "the police we put the interests of the food, not a bullet, not a barracks housing, clothing rather than uniforms." (Zainuddin, 2004). Following the government's accomplishments in less than two years after independence, in 1959, Tunku Abdul Rahman declared that he was the happiest Prime Minister in the world. He has good reason to rejoice because the money is flowing into the country, the business has grown, new industry was created and the country is in a state of peace and harmony (ibid.).

Following the increase in the prices of rubber and tin, within two years after independence, the Federation of Malaya’s government was able to store surplus state revenues by approximately $ 200 million, a remarkable thing that rarely happened in any other country. Given this strong position, the Federation of Malaya’s goverment has got full confidence and high opinion from other countries. With that belief the foreign investors are racing to come to the country to open a company and invest in them. The Federation of Malaya was seen as an emerging star in Southeast Asia (TAR: 2: 4: 60, 1985).

Starting in 1962, the Federation of Malaya’s government step to promote understanding of Asian countries, especially Japan to the people of this country is through study tours. A total of $ 1 million provided by the government to sponsor society delegates that are made up of various groups. In addition to government funding, there also are group of teachers that active in organizing tours to Japan during their vacations using their own expense (TR 2: 4: 63, 1980).

On 24 August 1963, 34 representatives of the Association of Chinese Commerce Chambers asked the Japanese government to pay as much as $ 50 million for the completion of bloodshed. Its chairman, Senator Chan Kwong Hon said they did not want to discuss any legislation on compensation for war with Japan because the matter has been settled between the British and the Japanese before. They want Japan to be responsible for killing the Chinese in Malaya during the war. This is a violation of international law. It is the Japanese moral responsibility for resolving the bloody debt especially after the Federation of Malaya was so generous with providing opportunities for the Japanese economy to expand in Southeast Asia. By signing trade agreements with the Federation of Malaya, the Japanese managed to join the GATT organization that they failed to join before even with the help of the United States (The Straits Times, 24 August 1963).

The Government is willing to resolve the issue of Japanese government blood debt if necessary. The Government intends to maintain and continue the good relations that have long existed between the two countries, and any level of government negotiations with foreign countries should only be carried out by the central government (The Straits Times, 15 September 1963). Vice President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), V. Manickavasagam expressed MIC support with the Indian Chamber of Commerce on blood debt claims from Japan. But his party will submit this issue to be solved by Tunku Abdul Rahman (The Straits Times, 16 October 1963). Representatives of Malaysia and Japan in the first round of discussion on the issue of blood debt in Kuala Lumpur agreed that although the payment of this money will not be able to eliminate the suffering and death in the local community as a result of the war, but the token is a sign of reconciliation can help eliminate the sad memory of the past and build the foundation of friendship genuine and lasting between two countries (The Straits Times, 25 October 1963). Chinese Chamber of Commerce will not drop the charge of murder from Japan, but they took Tunku Abdul Rahman’s advice to wait for a more appropriate time (The Straits Times, March 2, 1966).

Fortune magazine in its December 1964 issue stated that Malaysia is moving towards the second advanced economies in Asia other than Japan. The magazine quoted an American investment analyst who called Malaysia as the safest bet for foreign investment in Southeast Asia. This is because the economy is stable and the currency is strong. Malaysia also has a transport system, power and the best transport in Southeast Asia. Foreign entrepreneurs can expect the best service from the courts and public services in Malaysia. The main credit for this positive atmosphere should be given to Tunku Abdul Rahman who believes the best way to ensure national unity and salvation is through the rapid increase in the standard of living of its citizens. Although Malaysia has some serious economic problems, but unlike its neighbors, the Malaysian government take realistic steps to resolve it. Like most developing countries, Malaysia dependent on exports of commodities to reduce dependence on rubber and tin. Government officials are now expanding the country's agricultural base (The Straits Times, 23 November 1964).

Malaysia does not have to lead to murky relationship with Japan as a result of the blood debt issue. Tunku Abdul Rahman confirmed to have received a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Sato who agreed to honor the debt (The Straits Times, 25 November 1966). The Malaysian government must determine the amount of damages and how it should be paid because the Japanese government can not hand over money without seeing how the appropriate payment (The Straits Times, 24 December 1964). Tunku Abdul Rahman sees it more as a goodwill payment (The Straits Times, May 7, 1964) from Japan and is willing to accept any reasonable amount. Furthermore Japan had paid a large sum to the British on the atrocities committed during the war (The Straits Times, 15 December 1966).


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Japanese Blood Debt Issue During the Era of Tunku Abdul Rahman
National University of Malaysia
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Blood Debt, Japan, Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, War Reparation
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Uqbah Iqbal (Author), 2015, Japanese Blood Debt Issue During the Era of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/298969


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