Port Cities Under Military Occupation: Reapproaching the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong from Spatial Perspective

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Much has been written about the Japanese occupation of major cities in China and Southeast Asia during the war between 1937 and 1945, especially the atrocities done by the Japanese forces and the extractive economic policy adopted by the Japanese occupation authorities. However, we know little about how these cities were managed and run to support the Japanese war effort, the resulting transformations of the urban space, and the impact of such changes. This paper, the result of a Spatial History project about the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from 25 December 1941 to 30 August 1945, attempts to use Geographic Information System (GIS) to obtain new insights into the Japanese occupation from a spatial perspective. It looks at the Japanese civil-military administration of the city, the distribution of the Japanese forces and their bases, the Japanese logistics and economic activities, and the Allied resistance and military actions. A closer look at the spatial distribution of the Japanese military and civilian apparatus and activities in Hong Kong deepens our understanding of Japanese civil-military relations, inter-service cooperation, occupation state-building, elite and grassroots collaboration, resistance, the role of the private sector, and the impact of military rule on the residences. This paper argues that while the Japanese occupiers controlled the Hong Kong population with little input of manpower and resources through local administration, violence, and a system to reward collaborators, their rule was mired in a lack of coordination between the state, the military services, and the private sectors.


ConferenceInternational Conference on Port Cities in Comparative Global History 2023
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


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