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Title: British policy and the repatriation of Japanese forces from southeast Asia, 1945-47
Author: Connor, Stephen Bernard
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2011
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Following the surrender of Japan in August 1945 Britain accepted responsibility for the repatriation of over 750,000 Japanese military personnel and tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in Southeast Asia. This process did not proceed smoothly, nor was Britain's policy towards the Japanese without controversy. Short of manpower and resources in the colonies of Burma and Malaya, and in its French and Dutch Allies' contested territories of Indonesia and Vietnam, Britain found it expedient to side-step established international standards relating to prisoners of war (PW). The Geneva Convention was effectively suspended and repatriation deliberately delayed, even though this obligation had been formally undertaken at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. Instead of being classified as PW the vast majority were declared 'Japanese Surrendered Personnel' (JSP), a status outside the PW Convention. Subsequently Britain used Japanese forces in military operations against Asian nationalists and detained over 100,000 Japanese for labour without pay. These extreme measures-and frequent pleas for cheap American repatriation shipping-underlined Britain's lack of military capability and starkly limited strategic and economic options in immediate post-war Asia. The resultant administrative failings, supervisory lapses, questionable opportunism and deliberate deceits over the JSP issue reveal how Britain's Government struggled to reconcile broader policy issues, Great Power status and diplomatic priorities. As a consequence of its unilateral policy, Britain found itself facing criticism from the United States, the International Committee for the Red Cross, General MacAlihur's General Headquarters in Japan (GHQ SCAP), the Japanese Government and even the Vatican, none of which were sympathetic or swayed by Britain's pleading of special circumstances. Despite increasing administrative complications, diplomatic embarrassment and potentially spiralling costs it was only with great reluctance and for the sake of closer Anglo-American relations that Britain finally fulfilled its obligations towards the captive Japanese in late 1947.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available