Speech by Major Suga
15th August 1942
The honour of being appointed C O of the newly established Borneo PoW Internment Area has fallen to my unworthy self.
With your co-operation I intend to make it my aim so to handle the PoWs that they may be used to the best advantage in exploiting and developing those natural resources so essential for our country’s defence, in stimulating industrial activity, improving and extending communications, and in all other enterprises vital to the successful prosecution of the war. At the same time it is my object to make good use of them in the war of ideas, as an agency for the diffusion of the principles of the Imperial way, thus killing two birds with one stone.
This being the object, each PoW camp becomes as it were, a gymnasium in which the PoWs are to be trained to appreciate and subscribe to the Japanese spirit, their fundamental misconceptions of Japan corrected, and the doctrine of white superiority thoroughly rooted out; so that the true inwardness of our Empire in its progress in the paths of righteousness and duty may through their agency be comprehended by all the nations of the earth, and Japan may be held in progressively greater esteem.
I expect each and every one of you to display enthusiasm and patience in carrying out the scheme outlined above.
Salient points for you to bear in mind in carrying out this policy are enumerated below.
- In your dealings with PoW eradicate from your demeanour every slightest trace of adulation of American and Englishmen. Conduct yourselves in the spirit of, and in a manner befitting a citizen of the first of nations.
- The slightest negligence can entail far-reaching consequences. In dealing with PoWs, never relax your vigilance in the least particular. Always keep careful lookout for spy activities and leave nothing to be desired in the matter of maintaining military discipline.
- Accord the PoWs fair treatment and strike the happy mean between harshness and leniency. To show maudlin sympathy or to lapse into sentimental indulgence, thus creating the impression that you can be influenced like a little child, is extremely reprehensible. But at the same time it is equally unpardonable to bolster feelings of enmity with personal or regional animosity and to vent you private spite in excessive harshness. This is an attitude unworthy of a citizen of a great country. In your conduct towards the PoWs you must strike a balance between benevolence and sternness.
- The one essential in handling PoWs is not to be capricious. Rewards must be uniform and punishment relentless. Let there be no half measures in carrying out official duties. if a PoW attempt to escape, shirk their work or defy orders, deal with them in a decisive manner. Every effort must be made to prevent the commission of crimes by PoWs, particularly that of escaping. It is natural reaction on the part of PoWs to be constantly on the lookout fro a chance to escape. To counteract this, they must all be called upon to sign an undertaking renouncing all intention to attempt a getaway.
- the PoW must be taught to put up with a simple life and feel thankful for that. The people of our victorious Empire, soldier and those on the home front alike, must learn to forgo luxuries to make do with less food, to lead the simple life and to put forth their most earnest efforts for the good of the nation. Shall those who have fallen into our hands whilst trying to resist be allowed to lead an indolent life of sloth and luxury ? They must be made to feel the realities of their position and to understand they hardly can expect to be better fed and clothed then our own soldiers.
- In their attitude to us the PoWs must be made to show due deference. There must be nothing discourteous or irregular in their manner. It is permissable for us to act as to inspire the PoWs with a liking for us, but nothing must be done to encourage them to treat us with familiarity.
- So far as is compatible with efficient administration the PoWs must not be caused mental discomfort. Their usuages , customs, religious practices, musical proclivities and the like must not be interfered with. Whena PoW are unlucky enough to fall sick or to be afflicted with any other misfortune which calls for sympathy, they must be given the moral support of kind treatment. If you are to handle them successfully, you must enter into their state of mind. They also are human, and if we treat them compassionately, they will respond by placing their confidence in us.
- The PoWs must be made to use the Japanese Language as much as possible. Words of command will naturally be Japanese. The PoWs must also be taught everyday phrases, and be encouraged to use them as much as possible, so that the knowledge of our language may be spread, and the prestige and influence of our country extended.
- You must make every effort to keep in close touch with the PoWs and try to grasp what the situation among them is; for as they are so different from us in language, customs and habits, they frequently misinterpret our intentions and are inclined to become uneasy. Thus arise unrest and disorder of all kinds and the success of the work we are carrying on is hindered.
So do your best to get acquainted with them and understand their psychology. This will help to handle them effectively, and enable us to achieve what we purpose in using them on labour projects.
The above points to be born in mind when you are carrying out your duties embody my conception of our function and sufficiently elucidate my policy.
In carrying out this important mission on the lines indicated, you will be expected at all times to conduct yourselves in a manner befitting the citizens of a great country, to show qualities of leadership and to set a good example. Always act with a proper pride in your Japanese nationality, and work to further the aims of the Emperor. Preserve discipline and decorum and strive to fulfil triumphantly the great mission which has been entrusted to you. You have been sent out to this newly acquired country lying athwart the equater, to undertake new duties. Approach your task with firm dtermination. Look after your health. Don’t allow your morale to flag. And work together harmoniously to achieve our object.