Japanese occupation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak

Japanese occupation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Japanese occupation Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak
partof= Battle of Malaya, Second World War

caption=Japanese Navy A6M Zero fighters of 22nd Air Flotilla at Sultan Ismail Petra Airport after it was captured from Allied forces.
date= 8 December 1941
place= British Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak
result= Japanese Withdrawal From British Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak
Indian 9th Division
Twenty-Fifth Army
commander1=flagicon|United Kingdom Arthur Percival
flagicon|United Kingdom Arthur Barstow
flagicon|United Kingdom Berthold Key
flagicon|United Kingdom Arthur Cumming
commander2=flagicon|Japan Tomoyuki Yamashita
flagicon|Japan|naval Shintarō Hashimoto
flagicon|Japan Hiroshi Takumi
flagicon|Japan Masanobu Tsuji
casualties3=100,000 civilian killed

Throughout much of World War II, British Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak were under Japanese occupation.


Military response

During the occupation a guerilla resistance force battled the Japanese from the jungles of Malaya. Groups such as the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) and Force 136 were involved in the bulk of anti-Japanese resistance during the occupation.

Living conditions

Living conditions under the Japanese were brutal with frequent reprisals against the ethnic Chinese population by both the occupying Japanese army and the secret police (Kempeitai).

Replacement rate

The population growth rate of Malaya prior to the Japanese occupation was approximately 100,000. By the end of the Japanese occupation the population of Malaya was experiencing a decrease of approximately 10,000 people a year.Fact|date=March 2007

North Borneo

On January 1, 1942, the Japanese army invaded Labuan Island, the beginning of their campaign to capture Borneo. The sole Allied infantry unit on the whole island of Borneo was the Indian Army's 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment. For 10 weeks they resisted a Japanese independent brigade, known as the Kawaguchi Brigade, under Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi.

Following the Allied surrender, on May 16, 1942, Borneo was under Japanese rule. Under the Japanese occupation, it was divided into two divisions; the west coast including the interior and Kudat was named "Sheikai Shiu" and the east coast was called "Tokai Shiu".

The occupation was resisted by guerilla groups. Among the rebellions were the Kinabalu Guerrillas led by Albert Kwok in the west and another led by Datu Mustapha in the northern part. However, the Kinabalu Guerrillas movement ended with the mass killing of Kwok and its members in Petagas on January 21, 1944. See also Petagas War Memorial

During 1942-45, Japanese positions on Borneo were bombed by Allied air forces from the South West Pacific Area command, including devastating attacks on Sandakan, Jesselton and Labuan.

On June 10, 1945 the Australian 9th Division began landings at Brunei and at Labuan, preludes to a campaign to retake North Borneo.

The war in North Borneo ended with the official surrender of the Japanese 37th Army by Lieutenant General Baba Masao on Labuan on 10 September 1945.


Before the Japanese invasion, the Brooke family that ruled the Kingdom of Sarawak, fled for Australia.


During the war an estimated 100,000 people were killed.

ee also

*Borneo campaign (1945)
*Japanese occupation of Singapore

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