in the face of famine, the Japanese army and the French colonial government not only did not provide disaster relief, but stepped up the search and storage of food. They would rather store the food until it was moldy and rotten than distribute it to the victims. At that time, Vietnamese historians estimated that the number of people who died in the famine should be between 1 million and 2 million. Some scholars in northern Vietnam prefer the figure of 2 million.
in northern Vietnam at that time, the scene of ragged farmers picking up their young, leaving their homes and wandering around can be seen everywhere. In the face of famine, the Japanese army and the French colonial government not only did not provide disaster relief, but stepped up the search and storage of food. They would rather store the food until it was moldy and rotten than distribute it to the victims.
a few days ago, Jeffrey Gunn, an Australian and professor of international relations at Nagasaki University in Japan, wrote an article on the Japanese academic online magazine “focus Japan” about a great famine in Vietnam from 1944 to 1945. The cause of the famine was that the Japanese military authorities implemented the policy of “controlling the economy” and turned Vietnam into a source of “fuel” to maintain the operation of the war machine. Under the false hands of the French colonists, Vietnam’s strategic materials such as rice, rubber and coal were continuously transported from the Southern Mekong Delta to northern Vietnam, and the rice in the hands of the Vietnamese was forcibly expropriated, This has resulted in a shortage of rice and soaring food prices in Vietnam. Coupled with natural disasters and wars, a rare famine in Vietnam’s history occurred. It is said that 2 million people died in the famine.
1. The Vietnamese people were forcibly tied to the chariot by Japan.
to talk about the great famine in Vietnam during World War II, there is an unavoidable topic: the aggression of the French. In 1884, the French army occupied all the territory of Vietnam.
more than 50 years later, in June 1940, facing the iron hoof of the Nazi German army, it was France’s turn to taste the bitterness of being imprisoned. However, the Germans still gave French face and did not divide the French colonies. Therefore, in Vietnam, thousands of miles away from France, the French admiral Jean de Gu continued to be his “Indochina” (the Vietnamese, Laos, Kampuchea) governor of the South China Peninsula. Even after 3 months, the Japanese Army invaded Vietnam, and he only surrendered to the Japanese army in the name of “governor of Indochina”. The position of governor was saved, and the French army, as a colonial army, remained in Vietnam.
why did the Japanese army allow French forces to remain in Vietnam? This was mainly because the Japanese army stretched the front too long, so that there was not enough strength to replace the rule of France and control the situation of the whole Indochina Peninsula at that time; In addition, Japan has to take care of the face of its ally Germany. After all, the French Vichy government was “covered” by Germany at that time. In addition, the French colonial government in Vietnam had to give in to the strong Japanese army, so the Japanese army was more happy to maintain the status quo in Vietnam.
of course, in order to control and gradually weaken France’s power in Vietnam, at the beginning of the occupation of Vietnam, the Japanese army pretended to sign a “common defense agreement” with the French colonial government, called “common defense”, which actually ruled Vietnam with the power of French people. Although the French colonial government saw through the attempt of the Japanese army, it was helpless. The Vichy government in France can only swallow the actions of the Japanese army in Vietnam. In this way, Vietnam immediately showed the situation of double headed rule by Japanese and French forces.
the Vietnamese people who have been colonized by France for decades are now forcibly tied to their chariots by Japan. Vietnam’s otherwise self-sufficient economic system is on the verge of collapse. This also foreshadowed the great famine.
2. Both the Japanese army and the French colonists were hoarding grain.
after the Japanese army invaded Vietnam, they implemented a “controlled economy” and turned Vietnam into a “fuel” source to maintain the operation of the war machine. Rice, rubber, coal and other strategic materials are continuously transported from the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam to northern Vietnam. At that time, southern Vietnam was nominally controlled by the French colonial government. The Japanese army obtained these strategic materials in the hands of fake French colonists.
according to the Japanese army’s “economic control” policy, the monthly rice supply of urban residents has been sharply reduced from 15 kg to 7 kg; Vietnamese shall not transport more than 50 kilograms of rice at a time within a province; The purchase of rice is monopolized by provincial banks and rice associations…
these policies mean: first, reducing the total supply of rice, so that more rice can be collected; 2、 Urban residents have no surplus food to help their relatives and friends; 3、 The circulation of food is prohibited, that is, when there is a famine in a place, there is no way for the outside world to carry out rescue.
Vietnamese farmers generally have the tradition of storing rice for famine years, but the Japanese army’s “compulsory grain sales” system makes this tradition difficult to sustain. Farmers can only keep a small amount of rice in their homes, and the rest are levied.
Ruan Keyan, a famous scholar in modern Vietnam, once pointed out in an article that in the Japanese occupation period, among the most unbearable burden of the Vietnamese people, “compulsory grain sales” system ranked first. Ruan Keyan said that in the Japanese controlled Tokyo area of Vietnam (referring to the north and south of Vietnam), the Vietnamese people “voluntarily” sold 130000 tons of rice to the Japanese army at a very low price in 1943, but by 1944, it soared to 186000 tons. Some farmers were forced to buy rice at three times the price of “voluntary” sales because they could not afford to pay the specified amount of rice, and then hand it over to the Japanese army.
are collected from the Japanese army, besides supplying Japanese troops in Indochina. They also supply Japanese troops far away in China, Burma, Pacific Islands and even Japan. In addition, the Japanese army also sold part of the rice collected to urban residents at high prices to make a fortune, and then used the money to buy other military materials.
the French colonists also had their own small abacus, that is, accumulate strength, find opportunities, wait for the Allied troops to land on the Indochina Peninsula, get up and echo, and expel the Japanese army. Therefore, while collecting food for the Japanese army, they also stored a large amount of food for the future.
“Instead of looting and distributing food to the destitute peasants in the northern part of Vietnam, the French government would “not only seize the rotten food and vagrants everywhere, but also face the situation of famine.”
3. It would be better for food to rot than disaster relief
just as the Japanese army and the French colonial government stepped up their search for the Vietnamese people, the great famine came at the turn of spring and summer in 1944.
in 1943, affected by drought and insect disasters, the grain production in northern Vietnam decreased significantly. However, at this time, the Japanese army’s grain collection has not reached the peak, and there is still a little surplus food in people’s homes, so they can barely cope with it.
But in 1944, the situation was different. Because many people ate the rice left as seeds the previous year, the sown area of rice decreased a lot, Vietnam’s food supply was suddenly tight, and some people began to starve to death in some areas along the northern coast. In August and September, the typhoon brought heavy rain to Vietnam, and the flood disaster led to the lack of food production in many places. From October 1944, Famine finally broke out in northern Vietnam.
in northern Vietnam at that time, the scene of ragged farmers picking up their young, leaving their homes and wandering around can be seen everywhere. Some people fall to the ground as they walk and can no longer get up… Thousands of families, families and villages have lost their homes. The
famine lasted until May 1945. According to a survey by Dr. Chen Shirong of the Southeast Asia Research Institute of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, the famine spread all over northern Vietnam, including areas where food can be obtained from oceans and forests and areas close to cities, and the most serious is the northern coastal provinces. The death rate of Xiliang commune in Taiping province accounts for 2 / 3 of the total population. The mortality rate in the Red River Delta is also very high. Although the mortality rate in Hanoi and Haiphong suburbs is lower than that in neighboring provinces, it also reaches a considerable proportion, ranging from nearly 10% to nearly 30%.
in the face of famine, the Japanese army and the French colonial government not only did not provide disaster relief, but stepped up the search and storage of food. They would rather store the food until it was moldy and rotten than distribute it to the victims. At that time, the governor of Indochina and the French admiral de Gu said, “we need to store 500 thousand tons of rice.” This naturally makes the food price in the market higher.
4. Grain production decreased, but consumption increased.
in addition to the grain collection action of the Japanese army and the French colonial government, another important reason for the famine is to replace other agricultural products with jute. Due to the needs of the war, the Japanese asked the French to force the Vietnamese to replace rice with economic crops such as jute (which can be used to weave military sacks) and rubber. According to French statistics, the area planted with these crops (mainly jute) in 1944 was 45000 hectares, nine times the area in 1940. In some provinces in North Central Vietnam, people had to pull out corn and plant jute instead, resulting in tight food supply.
the bombing of the US Army also indirectly aggravated the famine. Since 1942, the “American Volunteer air force” (i.e. “Flying Tigers”) began bombing transportation hubs in northern Vietnam, and many roads and bridges were destroyed. This delayed the delivery of war materials by the Japanese army, but also made it extremely difficult for rice to be transported from the south to the north. It is estimated that the rice transported from the south of Vietnam to the north will be reduced by about 100000 tons a year due to the US military bombing.
some water conservancy projects in northern Vietnam were also bombed. Therefore, when the rainstorm came in August and September 1944, the flood overflowed and the rice to be harvested was washed up in an instant.
grain production decreased, but consumption increased. After the outbreak of the Pacific War, Japan could no longer import oil from the United States and Mexico. Although the Japanese army controlled the Sumatra oil field in Indonesia, the U.S. Army threatened the Japanese army’s maritime transportation line and forced the Japanese army to look for alternatives to oil. In this context, many rice in Vietnam was used by the Japanese army to make alcohol to replace oil. This undoubtedly makes Vietnam more short of food.
in March 1945, the Japanese army became more and more worried that the French colonial army would oppose itself after the landing of the US Army. On March 9, 1945, the Japanese army launched the so-called “March 9 coup” and took over Vietnam, supporting the establishment of the “Vietnamese Empire” with Ruan Fu as Emperor (the year name “Baoda”, which was the last emperor of Vietnam) and Chen Zhongjin as prime minister. After the founding of
and “Vietnam Empire”, they tried to eliminate the great famine, but at that time, the Japanese army was in a tight war and plundered rice and other materials more cruelly, so the efforts of “Vietnam Empire” finally came to naught. It was not until Japan surrendered that Vietnam gradually came out of the quagmire of famine.
5. Japan later lost $39 million
. In addition, the plague came with the great famine. Because the corpses were not treated in time and sanitation, the water source and environment were polluted, resulting in the epidemic of plague. According to rough statistics, the death toll caused by the plague accounts for 1.63% of the total death toll.
there are no accurate statistics on how many people died in the great famine in Vietnam from 1944 to 1945. In May 1945, according to the death report of 20 provinces in Vietnam, a total of 380000 people died of famine and another 20000 died of disease, reaching 400000 in total.
and in October 1945, the French colonial government claimed in an official military report that about 500000 people died of famine. Teguh, the governor of the French colonial government, said in his collection of cages in Indochina that about 1 million of the northern Vietnamese died of famine.
at that time, Vietnamese historians estimated that the number of people who died in the famine should be between 1 million and 2 million. Some scholars in northern Vietnam prefer the figure of 2 million. However, this difference in understanding was soon unified: on September 2, 1945, the father of Vietnam declared