Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Singapore’s Japanese war hero: Shinozaki

War extracts a terrible cost from humans, victors and vanquished. Nonetheless, it is often during extreme situations such as war that humans demonstrate extraordinary qualities. The case of Mamoru Shinozaki during the Japanese occupation of Singapore (1942-45) is just such an example.

Shinozaki's case warrants greater attention within Singapore. Sure, there is a small exhibit about the 'Japanese Schindler' inside the National Museum of Singapore but Shinozaki deserves more.

Mamoru Shinozaki: the Japanese Schindler
Hence, I sent the following letter to the Straits Times Forum. Singapore's lone general news broadsheet, in its infinite wisdom, decided my idea is unworthy and did not publish the letter. Perhaps the war wounds are still raw? 

Below is the text of my letter.

"In Singapore, street names are gaining greater currency as a means to explore the country's history. Naming roads is a way to honour significant personalities, both domestic and international. For example, there is Zubir Said Drive named for the composer of Singapore's national anthem. Located in the Yio Chu Kang area is Iqbal Avenue, named after Pakistan's national poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal.

It is time for the Singapore authorities consider naming a street after Mamoru Shinozaki (1908 – 1991). During World War Two, Shinozaki was singly responsible for innumerable acts of kindness and mercy during the Japanese occupation of Singapore. Some estimates place the number of civilians saved by Shinozaki's liberal issue of government passes as high as 20,000 persons, mainly Chinese and Eurasian. The list of individuals contains many prominent persons, including prominent social worker and educator, Mr. Lim Boon Keng.

It is no coincidence Shinozaki is known as the 'Japanese Schindler.' Through Shinozaki's memory, Singaporeans can be reminded that even in the dark days of the war years there were Japanese individuals prepared to risk their lives and reputations to help the city's residents."

Imran is a Singapore Tourism Board Guide licensed guide. He is also a business and management consultant. For personalized tours or consultancy opportunities, Imran can be reached at imran@deodaradvisors.com