The Japanese Occupation of the Andaman Islands
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The Japanese Occupation of the Andaman Islands

The Imperial army occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and brought untold misery on the inhabitants.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are a set of over 500 islands that are on the edge of the Bay of Bengal. The islands were administered by the English with their headquarters at Port Blair. This place is famous for the Cellular jail which housed political prisoners from India , whom the British felt were inconvenient. Persons who had committed heinous crimes were also interred in this notorious jail, often referred to as ‘kala Pani’

Japanese Attack

In 1942 the Japanese invaded the islands. The Commissioner at that time was Charles Francis Waterfal. He headed the defence of the Islands which was in the hands of 300 Sikh Militia. However once the Japanese task force commenced bombardment the Sikhs simply surrendered and some of them joined the  Japanese.The islands were then came under the occupation of the Japanese and Shigeru IshiKawa became the Military commander of the Islands.. However this was  a tortuous period and the local inhabitants were subjected to great cruelity.Initially some of the local Indians were given some responsible posts, but the streak of cruelty that has come to fore of the Japanese in other theaters of the war emerged here also and when the going became tough for the Japanese, they suspected a conspiracy and resorted to large scale massacres. In addition the Japanese naval Commander deported 236 Indians to Havelock Island of whom only 13 survived. In addition the Japanese enforced slave labor conditions on the islands and the Indians were made to toil for 12 hours a day and paid a shilling for it

It should not be forgotten that the Philippine population decreased by 17% during the Japanese occupation.

Japanese Atrocities

Another aspect of the Japanese occupation force was the procurement of local girls as comfort women for their soldiers. This facet of Japanese character is hard to explain. In fact, when I was in the Air Force I frequently flew to the Air Force base at Car Nicobar. In one of my chats with a village head man, I received a startling bit of information. He informed me that in a number of cases the Japanese soldiers massacred educated Car Nicobar residents and impregnated hundreds of women with a view to change the race of the island. This aspect needs to be documented for posterity.

Bose and the Islands

A particular galling experience is the conduct of Subhas Bose. He is reported to have visited the island once in1943 and hoisted the tricolor( The Indian National Flag) there. But he must have been a naive man to be taken in by the Japanese who shielded him from the local populace. Bose made no attempt to meet the local residents who wished to brief him about the Japanese atrocities. He swallowed the Japanese line and went away. This aspect of Bose visit is not adequately commented by historians.It shows the Indian leader in very poor light.

Last Word

The occupation of the islands by the Japanese is thus a dark period in the history of this region.Perhaps it is good that they lost the war, for one cannot imagine what would have happened if they had won. Lastly Bose by aligning with the Japanese betrayed his convoluted logic. In any case he was defeated and even the so called Andaman Islands which were supposed to be ‘free’, slipped further into slavery and servitude during the occupation by the Japanese Army. But after the war the Japanese Naval Commander Vice Admiral  Teizo Hara and 5 members of his staff were sentenced to be hanged to death.

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