Monday, June 1, 2020

Aung San Letting Japanese Kill Me & My Family?

As the situation deteriorated day by day the Japanese drove themselves harder and wanted the Burmese to do the same, and when we could not do it to their extent and in their way they grew morbidly suspicious of us. With every setback their suspicions increased till it made them lose all judgment in their relations with us the Burmese.

They simply could not understand that the only way to win over our people was to demonstrate to them that they were really independent and that their independence was being threatened by the British enemy. Instead, the militarists acted as if we existed only to carry out their orders without questioning.

It created a moral deadlock, for the Burmese felt that if they had to fight the British it would have to be for themselves primarily. Soon both sides were moving in a vicious circle. The more the danger from the enemy (the British Army) drew closer the more stories were spread by the enemy’s secret agents and partisans that many of us in the government were collaborating with the British, and the more these stories were believed by the militarists generally.

Again, the more we tried to rouse the old anti-colonial emotions by making our independence real and visible, the more the militarists were convinced that we were trying to desert them in their defeat. It, created a mental panic among the Japanese which paved the way for the eventual resistance against them. They began to see a secret enemy in every member of the Burmese government who acted independently of them or even asked too many questions, and needless to say I was regarded as the principal enemy agent.

A clique within the Japanese army led by the highest officers, General Kawabe, the commander-in-chief, General Isomura, the deputy chief-of-staff, and Ozeki, the chief of the civilian political section, decided to change the situation by getting rid of me anyhow.

First of all, Ozeki tried to persuade U Nu to agree to take my place, but U Nu saw the Japanese game, refused to play it, and promptly informed me of it. I was so disgusted with this perpetual tussle with the militarists that I once asked U Nu to tell the Japanese that I would be only too willing to give up my position to anyone among us who was willing to have it.

U Nu had carried my offer to the Japanese, but they would not accept it because that way of disposing of me would have brought upon them the displeasure of the highest personages in Japan and Singapore. They wanted a Burmese group to do it. When they failed to find one they became so desperate that they decided to do it themselves by assassinating me, the customary method by which the (Japanese) militarists found a way out of difficult situations in Korea and Manchuria.

Rightful heir to the Burmese Throne.
An elaborate plan was prepared to carry it out, and then to change the regime altogether in order to get rid of the whole of my government. I was to be killed ostensibly by the Burmese army, to prove which Aung San would accompany the Japanese assassin. 

The next day a mass meeting would be held at the Shwedagon Pagoda, and under the shadow of that great national shrine the Burmese would with a single voice demand the restoration of the monarchy in the country.

Taw Payagyi, the oldest grandson of Thibaw, the last Burmese king, would then be proclaimed the new king of Burma, a new administration would be installed, new relations with the Japanese army would begin, and so a new Manchukuo would be created in Southeast Asia as an example to be followed later by the other Southeast Asian peoples.

Taw Payagyi was a young man without any political background or ambitions, so he was just the' kind of nominal ruler the Japanese militarists wanted. The young man was completely unaware of the destiny which these militarists were preparing for him, nor did he have any real desire for it; incidentally, his wife was a niece of mine, and he was deeply attached to me.  With their plans ready they struck on the night of February 15, 1944. General Isomura, the hidden hand behind it all, had sent for a man, Captain Asahi, from Singapore, to carry out the assassination.

Isomura was shrewd enough to keep the Japanese army in Burma out of the affair, but he was also sufficiently crass not to see that a total stranger from abroad could not have thought of committing such a desperate crime by himself, but must have been acting for a powerful clique in Burma. The Burmese government already knew of the existence of such a clique, and also knew that they would strike sooner or later. Many ministers wondered for a long time how I could take it so coolly.

Asahi, arrived in Rangoon a few days before the attempt to kill me. He actually stayed with Isomura. Meanwhile, he visited Kyaw Myint, a leader of the East Asia Youth League, which, as I have mentioned before, was a creation of the Japanese and was therefore believed to be easily influenced by them.

Kyaw Myint, who is naturally a timid man, was panic-stricken when Asahi disclosed to him his plans. He was really against such a foul design, but was too weak to oppose it openly or even to inform me about it.  In the evening of the chosen day Asahi, accompanied by Kyaw Myint, visited Aung San.

He told Aung San of his intention to finish me and asked him to join him in carrying it out. Aung San was aghast, but, like Kyaw Myint, his reflexes went dead so totally that it also did not occur to him that he could warn me at once by telephone of the danger.

“Asahi's words took me so completely by surprise, ” he explained to me a few hours later, “that I could not think clearly for some time. All I could do was to ask him if the Japanese commander-in-chief knew of the plan, to which he very quickly replied that none in the Japanese army knew anything about it. I told him to go in advance in order to get rid of him.”

I pointed out to Aung San (later) that his blunder was in creating an impression in Asahi that he would be in it, or at least that he was not against the assassination.

Just at that moment the air-raid siren sounded, which stopped all traffic. Asahi then left by himself, asking Aung San to follow after the all-clear signal was given. Even after Asahi had left, Aung San and Kyaw Myint had not recovered from the shock enough to remember the telephone, or it may have been that they did not believe that the man would pursue his plan alone.

General Aung San
But Asahi was not acting alone, and so he arrived at my gate with another Japanese soldier. He told the Burmese military guard on duty at the gate that there was an American spy hiding within my compound whom they must hunt down and kill, and that General Aung San himself would join them as soon as the air raid was over. Aung San’s name led these raw, simple-minded boys to believe Asahi and put themselves in that man’s hands. They were ordered to surround my house and shoot down anyone who came out.

What saved me was that the air-raid alarm proved to be false. It was fearfully hot and stuffy within the air-raid shelter that night, and there was no sign of any enemy bombers coming, so we returned to the house before the all-clear was sounded and locked up for the night.

Within a few minutes of our return the Burmese boys quietly surrounded the house, and Asahi and his Japanese companion rushed into the air-raid shelter where he had ascertained beforehand that I and my family would be at the time. With their guns and bayonets at the ready they searched everywhere for me.

When Asahi did not find me there he came to the house and tried to force the doors, but stopped doing so when the Burmese boys protested. He was then seen by the servants, who shouted out to me that a drunken Japanese soldier was disturbing the house. Thereupon I rang up Kempetai (Japanese-Military-Police) Colonel Hiraoka to come over and remove the drunken fellow.

Col. Hiraoka at once scented what was really happening; he rushed to the Kempetai Headquarters, collected a small Kempetai force, had the houses of Aung San and a few other Burmese army officers watched, came with the other Kempetai men to my residence, found Asahi waiting for Aung San, as he explained, disarmed and arrested him, sent away the Burmese boys and posted the Kempetai round the house, and when all that was done he came into the house and told the servants to lock and bolt the doors securely. It was only then that I realised how very narrowly my family and I had escaped death that night.

Then followed a stream of visits and inquiries and congratulations from the Japanese military command. Kawabe and Isomura were among the first to arrive and to talk most of their surprise and horror, but they did not promise to take any action against any Japanese involved in the crime or to conduct any inquiry that would get to the very bottom of it. I listened to them coldly. Aung San also arrived that night, looking dazed and rather shame-faced.

I told him I was convinced that he was not in the least involved in it, “but your trouble was that you lost your head at a critical moment." He was still too confused by events to speak much, but inwardly he had learnt his lesson, for a few months later he visited me one morning to tell me that a Japanese officer he had never seen before had come to him the previous night and spoken about the need to liquidate me.

“You need not actually do it yourself,” the man had told him, “but we will do it in the name of the Burmese army. We just want one or two of your men to be with us.” This time Aung San’s reflexes worked much more swiftly. He scowled and said absolutely nothing so that the Japanese should know that he would never agree to their proposal. The man had mentioned that I was in the habit of taking an evening walk round the race course, so Aung San strongly urged me to stop those walks.

Adipadi Dr. Ba Maw.
The repercussions following this incident were wide. Premier Tojo and many within the Japanese government sent me the warmest messages expressing their horror at the attempt made on my life as well as their happiness at my narrow escape. Isomura, looking thoroughly beaten, conveyed to me a message which mentioned the Emperor’s displeasure at the occurrence, which for the Japanese was the ultimate form of condemnation.

I was also informed that Field Marshal Count Terauchi had ordered the cancellation of all formal social activities for a month, or some said more, in the armies in Rangoon and Singapore. Within the next months Ozeki left Burma, General Isomura was sent away to a remote post in Indonesia, and in September 1944 General Kawabe was replaced by General Heitaro Kimura. At about the same time Itaro Ishii was appointed ambassador to Burma jointly with Renzo Sawada.

These were hopeful signs of a change in Japanese policy in Burma. But it did not turn out to be quite so, for within the same period General Tanaka, a blood-thirsty, bull-headed militarist who was even worse than Isomura, arrived as the chief-of-staff. In the final phase of the campaign he advocated a no-retreat policy to defend Rangoon to the last. He proposed to sacrifice us and our cities completely, as I will relate later. I had to go to Tokyo personally to avert such a calamity from the Burmese,

Coming back to the attempt to assassinate me, a Japanese military court tried the culprits. The outcome was that the two Burmese implicated in the offence were set free and Asahi, the principal culprit, was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. But after the sentence was passed he was seen living comfortably with some other officers in Rangoon. I learnt that he was subsequently sent back to Japan. If so, I am sure he was released there.

(FromWikipedia: The Kempeitai "Military Police Corps" was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. It was not a conventional military police, but more of a a secret police like the Gestapo. Therefore, while it was institutionally part of the Imperial Japanese Army, it also discharged the functions of the military police for the Imperial Japanese Navy under the direction of the Admiralty Minister (although the IJN had its own much smaller Tokkeitai), those of the executive police under the direction of the Interior Minister, and those of the judicial police under the direction of the Justice Minister. A member of the corps was called a kempei.

The Kempeitai maintained a headquarters in each relevant Area Army, commanded by a Shosho (Major General) with a Taisa (Colonel) as Executive Officer and comprising two or three field offices, commanded by a Chusa (Lieutenant Colonel) and with a Shosa (Major) as executive officer and each with approximately 375 personnel.

The field office in turn was divided into 65-man sections called 'buntai'. Each was commanded by a Tai-i (Captain) with a Chu-i (1st Lieutenant) as his Executive Officer and had 65 other troops. The buntai were further divided into detachments called bunkentai, commanded by a Sho-i (2nd Lieutenant) with a Junshikan (Warrant Officer) as Executive Officer and 20 other troops. Each detachment contained three squads: a police squad or keimu han, an administration squad or naikin han, and a special duties squad or Tokumu han.

Kempeitai Auxiliary units consisting of regional ethnic forces were organized in occupied areas. Troops supplemented the Kempeitai and were considered part of the organization but were limited to the rank of Shocho (Sergeant Major).

The Kempeitai had 315 officers and 6,000 enlisted men by 1937. These were the members of the known, public forces. Allies estimated that by the end of World War II, there were at least 7,500 members of the Kempeitai, figuring in undercover personnel and so on. This number might be even higher.

Our Dr. Ba Maw, the author, was apparently guarded by, because of complex political and military situations, Burma Area Kempeitai since from the very beginning till he fled to Japan after Japan was defeated by the Allied.)
What Happened to Prince Taw Phaya Gyi?

Prince George Taw Phaya Gyi (6 May 1922 – 9 April 1948) was a Burmese prince, the heir to the defunct throne of Burma (abolished in 1885). He was the eldest son of Princess Myat Phaya Galay and the grandson of King Thibaw and Queen Supayalat.

Taw Phaya Gyi was born on 6 May 1922 in Rangoon, British Burma to Ko Ko Naing, a former monk and Princess Myat Phaya Galay, who was the fourth daughter of King Thibaw and Chief Queen Supayalat. He studied at St Patrick’s High School Moulmein, St Paul’s School in Rangoon and graduated with a baccalaureate from Rangoon University in 1945.

He served as Petrol Rationing Officer with the Departtment of Civil Supplies, when he was assassinated by Communist insurgents, who mistook him for a police officer at Tatkon, Central Burma in April 1948.

He married twice; his first wife (married in Rangoon, 1945) was Khin Kyi who is the mother of his eldest surviving son, Soe Win, born 1947, a former diplomat and pretender to the throne, as one of the most senior male members of the Konbaung Dynasty. He married secondly, Hlaing Hlaing, leaving another son, Myo Naing, born 1948.
Prince Taw Phaya Gyi, his wife Khin Kyi and son prince Soe Win.