Singapore's Oscar Schindler
The first thing that strikes you after reading this book is that the history books have not told the whole story.
From the writings of the author, Mamoru Shinozaki, we are able to see the Japanese capture, occupation and subsequent surrender of Singapore through Japanese eyes. But while not shying away from the brutality his countrymen displayed, he also showed the other side - one of disgust and shame over the atrocities committed in the name of empire.
In the book, Shinozaki traces his time in Singapore from being imprisoned in Changi prison for alleged espionage, to his liberation by Japanese troops, to the Sook Ching (or Clean-up) incident where many ethnic Singapore Chinese were massacred, to the formation of the Overseas Chinese Association and their 50 million dollar tribute to the emperor, to the setting up of agricultural colonies in Endau and Bahau, and finally the Japanese surrender and prosecution of war criminals.
According to the author, not all Japanese were agreeable to the treatment of the Chinese by their military, but most were unable to help much for fear of their own lives. He also highlights incidents during that dark period when individuals would help to overturn or subvert directives issued by the Army command. One funny incident related was the order to remove the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. Upon receiving the order, the Marquis Tokugawa, the director of the museum promptly had it stored safely in one of the storerooms there, only to put it at its rightful place when the war ended.
As for the author, he was responsible for issuing many "Good citizen" cards especially to members of the Chinese population. This no doubt saved many lives. He also applied his powers of persuasion to rescue many who were interned by the infamous Kempeitai or Japanese military police famous for their brutality in torture.
All in all, this book is a fascinating read and a must for all history buffs interested in the British empire and the Japanese experience in World War 2.