On This Day

Japan’s Propaganda Press in Occupied Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 7 February 2020

YANGON—On this day 77 years ago, the occupying Japanese government in Myanmar began publication of its propagandist newspaper and the only English-language newspaper in Myanmar at the time, Greater Asia. Japanese editor Hori led an editorial team of three Myanmar editors. 

The newspaper, run by the Japan propaganda department, was published three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The price was 20 cents per copy. It had a circulation of 7,000 copies per day and most of its readers were Burmese and Indian. 

After 1944, the newspaper reduced its page count and publication rate due to increasingly intense bombings by the Allies and a shortage of paper. The publication ran for two years and two months and ceased distribution in April 1945 after Japanese forces withdrew from Myanmar. 

Myanmar published over 30 newspapers before World War II, but under Japanese rule, the country could only publish 10 newspapers, including seven Burmese-language newspapers, one Japanese newspaper, one Chinese newspaper and one English newspaper, Greater Asia.

Japanese rulers engaged in pre-publication censorship of newspapers, but also granted some freedoms and arranged licenses and paperwork for newspapers that voiced favorable views about Japanese rule. The censor board did not hesitate to rebuke newspapers for reports deemed to be against Japanese interests. Newspapers were forced to publish military reports sent via telegraph by Dōmei News Agency on their front pages.

You may also like these stories:

The Day Dag Hammarskjöld Visited Myanmar

The Day Author and Traveler Somerset Maugham Revisited Myanmar

After Four Years in a British Prison in Uganda, Myanmar’s ex-Premier Came Home