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Japan and Vietnam's Caodaists: A Wartime Relationship (1939–45)

  • Tran My-Van (a1)

Abstract

The study describes an asymmetric relationship between Vietnamese Caodaists, followers of the Cao Dai religion, and the Japanese during World War Two. The Caodaists maintained a pro-Japanese stance throughout the occupation, based on their judgement that they could in this way advance the nationalist cause and achieve independence from French rule. The position of the Caodaists immediately after the end of World War Two was adversely affected as a result of their wartime collaboration.

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1 Nitz, Kiyoko Kurusu, “Japanese Military Policy towards French Indochina during the Second World War: The Road to the Meigo Sakusen (9 March 1945)”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 14, 2 (Sep. 1983): 328–53; Shiraishi, Masaya, “The Background to the Formation of Tran Trong Kim Cabinet in April 1945”, in Indochina in the 1940s and 1950s (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1992): 9142; Smith, Ralph B., “The Japanese in Indochina and the Coup of March 1945”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 9, 2 (Sep. 1978): 268301.

2 Between 1604 and 1616, 53 Japanese ships were recorded as visiting Vietnam; 11 in the North and 42 in the South. Quoted in Hai, Duong Lan, Quan he cua Nhat Ban voi cac nuoc Dong Nam A sau chien tranh the gioi thu hai, 1945–1975 (Hanoi: Vien Chau A va Thai Binh Duong, 1992), p. 24.

3 Bang, Do, “Quan he va phuong thuc buon ban”, in Do Thi Co Hoi An (Ha Noi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1991), pp. 231–45. Hung, Nguyen Quoc, Pho Co Hoi An (Da Nang: Nha Xuat Ban Da Nang, 1995), pp. 3536.

4 A few Japanese individuals, e.g., Sone Toshitora, drew public awareness to Indochina, by writing articles for Japanese newspapers. Interestingly, Sone was a former naval officer, known as a China expert, and a Confucian at heart. His little book harshly criticised his government's indifference to the fate of Vietnam.

5 Nitz, Kiyoko Kurusu, “Independence without Nationalists? The Japanese and Vietnamese Nationalism during the Japanese Period, 1940–45”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 15, 1 (March, 1984), p. 110.

6 De, Cuong, Cuoc Doi Cach Mang Cuong De (Saigon: Trang Liet, 1957), p. 15.

7 Chau, Phan Boi, Nguc Trung Thu, Doi Cach Mang, trans. Nhat, Dao Trinh (Saigon: Vi Nuoc, 1983), p. 43.

8 For information on the relationship between the Japanese and the Chinese nationalists, see Jansen, Marius B., The Japanese and Sun Yat-sen (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967).

9 Cuong De, Cuoc Doi Cach Mang, pp. 31–33.

10 Cuong De revealed that Inukai was most sympathetic to him. He personally provided 100 yen monthly to Cuong De from 1915 to the time of his assassination in 1932. Cuong De was deeply grieved over his benefactor's death. See his, Cuoc Doi Cach Mang Cuong De, p. 95. “For information on the history, development and religion of Cao Dai, see Smith, R.B., “An Introduction to Caodaism; Beliefs and Organisation”, Bulletin ofthe School of Oriental and African Studies 33 (19691970); Tan, Dong, Lich Su Cao Dai (Saigon, 1967); Werner, Jayne S., Peasant Politics and Religious Sectarianism: Peasant and Priest in the Cao Dai in Vietnam (New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies No. 23, 1981); Oliver, Victor L., Caodai Spiritism: A Study of Religion in Vietnamese Society (Leiden: Brill, 1976); Gobron, Gabriel, Histoire du Caodaisfne: Bouddhisme Renovi, Spiritisme Annamite (Paris: Dervy, 1948).

12 For the role and power of Cao Dai leaders, see, Caodaism 3rd Amnesty of God in the East, Phap-Chanh-Truyen: The Religious Constitution of Caodaism (Wiley Park, NSW: Caodaist Association of Australia, NSW Chapter, 1992).

13 Vy, Nguyen, Tuan: Chang trai nuoc Viet, Vol. 2 (Saigon: Dai Nam, 1988), p. 476.

13 Devillers, Philippe, Histoire du Vietnam de 1940 à 1952 (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1952), p. 89.

15 Thanh at the age of 10 was sent to Japan (1908). He was placed under the care of Cuong De. He received Japanese education. After graduating from Waseda University, Thanh left for Peking t o teach Japanese. In 1938 while he was in Yokohama, working for the local authorities, due to his language skill and background Cuong De put him in charge of the external relations for the Phuc Quoc. Cuong De, Cuoc Doi Cach Mang, pp. 132–33.

16 Shiraishi, “The Background to the Formation of Tran Trong Kim Cabinet in April 1945”, p. 115.

17 Vy, Nguyen, Tuan Chang Trai Nuoc Viet, Vol. 2 (Saigon: Dai Nam, 1988), pp. 473–74.

18 Dai Dao Tarn Ky Pho Do Tao Thanh Tay Ninh, Hoi Ky Cua Phoi Su Thuong Vinh Thanh, Tran Quang Vinh, 1897–1975 (Tay Ninh: Toa Thanh Tay Ninh, 1972), p. 32. This is Tran Quang Vinh's Hoi Ky (Diary). Hereafter the work is quoted as Tran Quang Vinh, Hoi Ky. Page reference is to the reprint of his Hoi Ky by Thanh That Vung (Washington, 1994). I should like to express my appreciation to the Caodaist Association of Australia for making this source available to me.

19 From Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh [Report], p. 10. The Report, which was written in 1946 for Pham Cong Tac upon his return from exile, dealt with the political and military affairs of the Cao Dai religion during the period of Japanese occupation. It was later published as Lich Su Dao Cao Dai Trong Thoi Ky Phuc Quoc 1940–1946 (Saigon: by the author, 1967). Hereafter the work i s quoted as To Phuc Trinh. Page references are to a copy of the To Phuc Trinh in my possession.

20 Tran Quang Vinh, Hoi Ky, pp. 47–50. The message was received in the form of a poem during a seance on 28 Oct. 1942.

21 Vinhjoined the Cao Dai in 1927 at a seance presented by Pham Cong Tac. In 1931 in his capacity as representative of the Cao Dai Cambodian branch Vinh attended an exhibition held in Paris. During his nine month stay in France from 7 Mar. to 5 Dec. 1931 he developed contact with many French politicians, academics, journalists and authorities to build their recognition and sympathy for the Cao Dai religion. For 22 years he worked as an officer in the French administration. In Jul. 1942 he was forced to retire prematurely by the French authorities due to his activities. Consequently he was able to devote most of his time to the Cao Dai mission. See Tran Quang Vinh, Hoi Ky, part 2, p. 34.

22 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 11.

23 Ibid., p. 14.

24 Ibid., p. 18.

25 Cuong De, Cuoc Doi Cach Mang, p. 139.

26 Decoux, J., À la Bane de L'Indochine, Histoire de mon Gouvernement General en Indochine (1940–1945) (Paris: Librarie Plon, 1949), p. 492.

27 Tran Quang Vinh, Hoi Ky, pp. 67–70.

28 Ibid., p. 30.

29 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 27.

30 Ibid., p. 30.

31 Nam, Nguyen Long Thanh, Phat Giao Hoa Hao Trong Giong Lich Su Dan Toe (California: Tap San Duoc Tu Bi, 1991), p. 301.

32 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, pp. 32–34.

33 Ibid., p. 34.

34 Nguyen Long Thanh Nam, Phat Giao Hoa Hao, p. 337.

35 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 32.

36 Masaya Shiraishi, “The Background to the formation of Tran Trong Kim Cabinet in April 1945”, pp. 121–32; Smith, “The Japanese in Indochina”, p. 288.

37 Dai, Bao, Con Rong Viet Nam Hoi Ky Chinh Tri 1913–1987 (Nguyen Phuoc Toe Xuat Ban, 1990), p. 165.

38 There has been debate whether Diem was in fact approached by the Japanese on behalf of Bao Dai to come forward and form a government.

39 Kim, Tran Trong, Mot Con Gio Bui (Saigon: Vinh Son, 1969), pp. 5054.

40 For more information, See Shiraishi, “The Background to the formation of Tran Trong Kim Cabinet in April 1945”, pp. 121–40; Kiyoko Kurusu Nitz, “The Japanese and Vietnamese Nationalism”, pp. 108–132.

41 Tsuchihashi, Memoir, pp 51–53. Quoted from Shiraishi, “The Background to the Formation of Tran Trong Kim Cabinet”, p. 135, and in Nitz, “The Japanese and Vietnamese Nationalism”, p. 29.

42 For information on the background to and the famine, see Nguyen The Anh, “La famine de 1945 au Nord Viet-nam”, The Vietnam Forum 5 (1985): 81–100, and Bui Minh Duong, “Japan's Role in the Vietnamese Starvation”, Modern Asian Studies 29,3 (Mar. 1995): 573–618.

43 For information on the Indochinese Communist Party and the Viet Minh, see Khanh, Huynh Kim, Vietnamese Communism 1925–1945 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982); Marr, David, Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 152240; Tønnesson, Stein, The Revolution of 1945, Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh and de Gaulle in a World at War (London: SAGE, 1991), pp. 114–55.

44 Iran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 40. According to Nitz, Tsuchihashi agreed at the beginning of June 1945, to offer Cuong De the title of Grand Duke and to appoint him Chairman of the Privy Council. See “The Japanese and Vietnamese Nationalism”, p. 129.

45 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 43.

46 Ibid., p. 49.

47 See Brocheux, Pierre, “L'Occasion Favorable 1940–1945”, in L'Indochine Française 1940–1945, ed. Isoart, P. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), pp. 131–71; Marr, Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power, pp. 347–01.

48 To, Nghiem Ke, Viet Nam Mau Lua (Los Alamitos: Xuan Thu, 1989), p. 44.

49 Devillers referred Matsushita as “chef d'espionage civil dans le Sud de L'Indochine”. See his Histoire du Vietnam, p. 89.

50 Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, pp. 65–66.

51 Ibid., p. 77.

52 Tran Quang Vinh, Hoi Ky, pp. 41–51. “Tran Quang Vinh, To Phuc Trinh, p. 98.

Japan and Vietnam's Caodaists: A Wartime Relationship (1939–45)

  • Tran My-Van (a1)

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