HomeManilavol. 7 no. 1 (2011)

The Japanese Community of Manila Through the Eyes of a Japanese Resident

Augusto V. De Viana

Discipline: History



Numbering around 4,500 residents, the City of Manila hosted the second largest Japanese community in the Philippines before the outbreak of the Second World War. The Japanese had 250 registered businesses ranging from offices of big Japanese companies to shops and bazaars. There were certainly more which were not officially listed. Together with the expatriate community, the Japanese formed the bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere of Manila. The outbreak of the Second World War abruptly changed the busy commercial scene. Japanese residents were rounded up by the police and the Philippine army and their businesses ransacked by mobs. When they were released by their own soldiers, the Japanese detainees returned to their old businesses. By that time Manila had changed. Businesses were not as brisk as before and armed Japanese soldiers manned checkpoints at every corner. The resident Japanese were obliged to assist their military. The Japanese residents served an important role during the occupation period. They helped confiscate for the military administration important properties such as buildings. They served as mediators between their country’s military and the Filipino civilians and even enticed Filipino political leaders to collaborate with Japan. The impending return of the Americans spelled doom for the Japanese residents as they were ordered to arm themselves and resist the enemy until the last man. Many of the Japanese residents fled the city; some of them were never to be seen again. This paper narrates the story of the Japanese community of Manila during the Second World War. Mainly based on the story narrated by Kiyoshi Osawa, a Japanese resident who lived in the city since the 1920s and was one of the leaders of the Japanese community in the city, this paper discusses what happened to the Japanese businesses in the city after the War. Other sources include the various vesting orders issued by the American government.