Empire Under Construction: The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in Singapore

20 February 2019 (Wed), 7 - 8:30 PM
At Saga Rector's Commons

Saga Rector’s Tea with Clay Eaton – Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Humanities, Yale-NUS College 

Before the Second World War, Singapore was the centre of British imperial power in Southeast Asia. In 1942, a Japanese invasion severed the city’s connections to the British Empire and the surrounding region. But, as the daily struggle for survival during the next three-and-a-half years of occupation dominated the lives of many local residents, Singapore’s Japanese occupiers held grand ambitions to turn it into a new kind of imperial city. It would be Syonan, the “nerve centre” of Japanese rule in Southeast Asia. Even as their control over the region unravelled, Japanese administrators clung to the idea that they were “constructing” a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” with Syonan as its regional capital.

This talk will review the many ways in which the effort to build this co-prosperity sphere shaped the occupation of Singapore and, by extension, the daily lives of the people who lived through it.