Thanks to the initiative of the Hirohito government, the army of the Japanese Empire reached Vietnam. This was the largest of all the conquests of Asia in the entire history of mankind. Obviously, Hirohito tried to become famous as the second Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but fate was not favorable to him. Indeed, along with the Japanese, devastation, famine and genocide came to the territories of Southeast Asia. Inhuman fanatics, subordinate to the emperor personally, staged a large-scale massacre in almost every city. Women were usually raped, and men were killed or imprisoned in cruel camps, where they subsequently died. Almost all the civilians of the occupied lands fled from the Japanese. Even the local troops were afraid of the rage of the former samurai. Although, it would be unwise to call them samurai.
Few people know that in 1945 a puppet state was proclaimed in Cambodia, which existed for only a few months. It could be compared to the Baltic Duchy, as in the case of the First World War. But only in the Baltic Duchy such atrocities were not arranged as in the Japanese Kampuchea. Sihanouk, appointed by King Norodom, the future monarch of Cambodia, was not really a sovereign ruler. He acted as the de facto governor of the captured colony. In those days, Vichy France no longer existed as a state. But still, colonial issues were relevant to her. The new French government did not want to lose its lands overseas, obtained in due time by sweat and blood. The Japanese seized the chance to take over Cambodia and staged a coup. Having quickly dealt with all enemies.
On March 9, 1945, Cambodia was renamed Kampuchea and became an independent state; independent only on paper, but in reality – an ordinary Japanese colony. The government of the newly formed country tried to draw attention to the ancient history of the Khmers. Attempts to romanize local languages were no longer carried out. Yet the economy was ruined, and the local people were ruined by countless clashes. Military power remained with the forces of the Empire of the Rising Sun. Therefore, the power of Sihanouk and his accomplice Son Ngoc Thanh was carefully controlled from the outside. However, at the same time, the Americans were attacking Japan, the Chinese were taking revenge on all previously occupied territories, and Soviet troops were approaching from Siberia. Many in Hirohito’s camp began to realize that the empire was already doomed. Accordingly, the colonies may lose their former importance.
The puppet state of Kampuchea existed until September 1945. It was then that Hirohito officially proclaimed the defeat of Japan. The largest cities of the empires of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were subjected to atomic bombings. It was no longer possible to keep colonies in Southeast Asia. French troops managed to capture Kampuchea and rid it of the Japanese armies. Many local residents were even glad that they were captured by the French, and not by the inhuman executioners of Hirohito. In the fall of 1945, the rule of the Empire of the Rising Sun was eliminated, and Cambodia again became a French colony. A year later, the Fourth Republic entered into an autonomy treaty with Japan’s former ally Sihanouk. But the full independence of Cambodia from the European colonialists came only in 1955.
During the stay of the Japanese in Kampuchea, there were massive ethnic cleansing and massacres of the local population. Atrocities were committed almost regularly. Khmers remember this time as the most eerie in their history. There are many eyewitness accounts who still cannot forget those terrible days. However, what then happened in Cambodia was no less terrible.
The kingdom experienced the oppression of the dictatorial government of Lon Nol, and then was almost destroyed, thanks to the power of Pol Pot. Sihanouk, on the other hand, became famous as an extremely controversial politician who was inclined to alliances with the Japanese emperor, communist dictators and overseas democrats. We can say that the adage “both ours and yours” is very suitable for this person. But that’s a completely different story.
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