FROM PRIDE TO HUMILIATION AND EVENTUAL REDEMPTION: THE EXPULSION OF JAPANESE RESIDENTS AND SIEZURE OF JAPANESE PROPERTIES IN THE MANILA AREA, 1945-1947
Keywords:Japanese community, Japanese residents, growth, expulsion, return
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Philippines hosted a significant Japanese presence. The city of Manila hosted the second largest Japanese community in the islands after the Davao region. Japanese residents numbered around 5,000 compared to Davao’s 25,000. The Japanese came to the Philippines because of economic opportunities the islands presented under the American administration. Originally they came as temporary workers and businessmen later some of them settled as more permanent residents. After establishing small businesses the local Japanese were joined by branches of big Japanese corporations. Some of the small businesses even grew to become large and profitable establishments. The Japanese commercial presence in the islands diversified the cultural makeup of cities like Manila. The Japanese businessmen studied Filipino buying habits and preferences and learned from them. As a result their establishments became progressive, rivaling even the more established Chinese businessmen. The Japanese community faced the challenges to their presence in the islands. The endured discrimination and outright hostility from the Chinese following the start o the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. They also adjusted to the wave of economic nationalism from the Filipinos following the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth. The Japanese community and their enterprises became a significant element in Philippine society in less than fifty years. However the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941 changed all that. Following the Japanese occupation of the islands, Japanese residents were required to assist and serve the invaders. Many of the residents served out of pride and others because of duty. The war automatically made the Japanese enemy aliens that by the end of the war the Japanese community was expelled from the Philippines and their properties were seized by the Philippine government. The expulsion of the Japanese community changed forever the cultural and commercial make-up of Manila. Anti-Japanese sentiment remained strong and this was reflective of the country’s foreign policy towards Japan. The Japanese community eventually returned but not to the same vibrancy as in the pre-war years.