Film and forum on Japanese Occupation here

Session at SCCCI auditorium tomorrow to mark end of World War II 70 years ago

A new documentary of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore will be screened today, with a public forum afterwards, to mark the end of World War II 70 years ago.

The film's producer, the World War II History Research Association, a civil society, is showing the 45-minute film and holding the public forum, both in Mandarin, at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) building's auditorium from 2pm to 4.30pm. Admission is free.

The president of the three-year- old civil society, Mr Kek Boon Leong, 66, said more than 500 people have pre-registered to attend.

He said the documentary, Singapore.1942, which received a $50,000 grant from the National Heritage Board in addition to other sponsorships, includes interviews with war survivors and scholars who specialise in that period of Singapore history.

An estimated 50,000 local civilians were said to have been killed by the Japanese during their 31/2-year occupation from Feb 15, 1942. Atomic bombs dropped by the allied forces on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 led to the Japanese surrender on Aug 15 that year.

Four speakers - independent scholar C.C. Chin, former journalist Han Tan Juan, and the civil society's founding members Li Yeming and Zou Lu - will share their views on the war before taking questions from the floor.

"We are organising both the events to create greater awareness of Singapore's past, especially the Japanese Occupation years, and the importance of peace," said Mr Kek, who also leads the Nanyang Confucian Association.

Mr Chin, 74, an independent scholar of leftist history, said he would be speaking on the impact of World War II on Singapore and the world, and recent developments in security issues involving Japan.

Mr Kek said his association had originally wanted to start a petition for an open letter to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who they felt was unremorseful over Japan's past aggression against other nations, including Singapore, after the forum today.

The petition in English, Japanese, Chinese, Malay and Tamil would condemn his government's Security Bill to let Japan exercise its right of collective self-defence and defend a friendly nation under attack.

But after hearing Mr Abe apologise and express his remorse over Japan's past mistakes yesterday, the association's members held a meeting and decided to call off the petition, Mr Kek said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Film and forum on Japanese Occupation here'. Print Edition | Subscribe