The French Colonization and Japanese Occupation of Indochina during the Second World War: Encounters of the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese
- Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 8, Number 2, November 2019
- pp. 518-547
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This article seeks to clarify the relationships that formed among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese when they coexisted in Indochina during the Second World War. The French and the Japanese jointly ruled Indochina, due to their respective interests in preserving suzerainty and securing bases for the Pacific War. These two groups maintained constant mutual awareness in this complicated and unstable relationship while avoiding conflict and seeking the support of the Vietnamese population. However, despite efforts of French and Japanese authorities, the contradiction of mutual coexistence between France, as the "missionary of civilization," and Japan, as the "liberator of Asia" from Western colonialism, could not be concealed. Whereas the Japanese government's policy of "maintaining peace" in Indochina ensured that interactions between the Japanese and Vietnamese were limited, the relationship between the French and the Vietnamese shifted during this time, with the effect of stimulating the local population's identity and leading to France laying the groundwork for postwar decolonization. By examining the quotidian facets of the Franco-Japanese rule of Indochina, this article reveals how mutual encounters among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese undermined French colonization and Japanese occupation.