by SGM Herbert A. Friedman

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A Japanese Samurai destroys the H.M.S. Repulse and the H.M.S. Prince of Wales
while a German, Italian and Japanese flag wave in the background
North of Singapore, the South China Sea - 10 December 1941

Note: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History requested and received permission to use images from this article in a lesson plan which will compare and contrast Allied and Japanese propaganda posters and be available to educators who wish to download the lesson. In addition,some images from this article were used with permission in the book "Japanese Invasion Money" by Gregory Hale. In 2014, Images from this article were used to produce posters for a re-enactment of the Japanese occupation of Singapore, and the Filipino website FilipiKnow used images from this article in a story entitled “9 Fascinating Facts You didn't Know About Christmas in the Philippines.” Author Adam Øster Posselt requested the use of images from this article for use in his 2116 book about the 100 days immediately after the end of WWII, entitled “End of Empire.” The Vibal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Vibal Group of Companies dedicated to preserving and promoting Philippine heritage and culture, requested the use of images from this article for the book “Arts of the Philippines: From Prehistory to Now.”  In 2019, Catherine Shin, a producer for a Travel Channel series that examines little-known stories behind historical objects wrote to ask about Japanese anti-US propaganda items produced in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. Annette McCoy Oeser, a Clinical Translational Research Coordinator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center requested the use of images from this article for a presentation titled “Words Matter - Dehumanization in the Past…and Today?” Graham Shaw used this article as a reference in his article: A LITTLE-KNOWN DIMENSION OF INDIAN FREEDOM MOVEMENT ICONOGRAPHY: Indian-language leaflets printed by the Japanese during the Second World War. Some material and leaflet images from this article were depicted in the YouTube film called PLAYING MIND GAMES, TACTICAL PSYOP IN WWII by Dr. Joseph Fischer, part of the Ft. Leavenworth Series: "Selected Topics on WWII."

I must preface this article with the admission that I am not an expert on the internal civilian and military Japanese psychological operations (PSYOP) organizations and that I do not speak or read Japanese. The definitive study of Japanese PSYOP will be written by someone else. My expertise is the history of PSYOP, and I can tell and show the reader numerous examples of Japanese propaganda used against the Allied powers and the conquered civilians under Japanese rule. We usually attempt to translate the leaflets that are illustrated, or at least give their title. In this case, that will sometimes be impossible. I do invite those that read Japanese or any of the other languages of the occupied nations under “The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” and might wish to translate some parts of the leaflets depicted, to write to us at the address listed below. We are very grateful for any information sent to us, and will credit the correspondent if requested. We are lucky in that most of the Japanese leaflets are very visual and their message can be clearly defined even if we cannot read the text. This article is a work in progress. We will add new and important data as it becomes available. We have numerous more leaflet illustrations that have not been depicted due to the amount of memory required and to make the story load more quickly. In the future we might add more of these illustrations if there is a demand for them.

The Japanese approach to psychological operations was mentioned by Dr. Joseph Fisher in a lecture titled Playing Mind Games, Tactical PSYOP in WWII. He found the following quote in a Japanese military manual:

The main objects of an army’s propaganda are to destroy the will to fight of the enemy and of the inhabitants on the enemy’s side; To deceive the enemy concerning our movements; and to make the inhabitants of the battle area respond to ideological and ethical appeals. It is important that the enemy and the inhabitants on the enemy’s side should be made to revere us by skillful dissemination of propaganda relating to our military glory, and we should practice military virtues so that they will be glad to serve us.

Robert J. Bunker wrote about Japanese Psychological Warfare in World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 2001.

Japanese psychological warfare operations were modeled on campaigns conducted by the British in World War I and the Germans in World War II. The Germans established a branch of their propaganda ministry in Japan, which resulted in close psychological warfare collaboration between these two Axis powers. As a result, their propaganda themes, such as both nations having divine or semidivine rulers and being populated by super races whose destiny was to rule the world, were strikingly parallel.

Psychological warfare served four general goals of the Japanese war effort: to weaken and destroy the morale of the Western powers, to encourage the resistance of friendly forces in territories occupied by the Western powers, to promote dissension between Western government military forces and their home fronts and allies, and to keep neutrals neutral or to procure their active cooperation against the West. The Japanese conducted three general forms of psychological warfare, which were primarily coordinated by the Cabinet Information Board. However, the headquarters of the Japanese army remained autonomous and conducted its own psychological operations.

Strategic propaganda was directed against the home fronts, political leadership, and status of the Western powers in Asia. The Japanese had defied these Western powers by invading the Chinese territory of Manchuria in 1931 and, as a result, gained a powerful psychological advantage over them. They capitalized upon it with the slogan "Asia for the Asiatics." Although most of the Japanese leadership, both political and military, seemed sincerely to believe in the slogan's sentiments, it was nonetheless used as a pretext for Japan's policy of military expansion. Japan's intent was to be viewed as the liberator of the Asiatic peoples and to show that the rule of the Western powers in Asia was now over.

In the decade preceding their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese preyed upon the split in American public opinion between isolationists and interventionists to further their policies. Ambiguity, threats, and promises of goodwill were elevated to an art form. These made possible the continued provision of strategic resources such as fuel oil and scrap iron to the Japanese economy, as well as the secret fortification of the islands mandated to Japan by the League of Nations.

I always thought it was interesting that the two Japanese envoys to the United States and Admiral Yamamoto were so vilified for their treachery. Looking through Japanese documents it is clear the envoys and the admiral were against the war. They were innocent victims of the war clique in Japan.

Jean Senat Fleury says in The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire: 

Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura wrote, on October 23, 1941: "I don’t want to be the bones of a dead horse. I don’t want to continue this hypocritical existence, deceiving other people…Please send me your permission to return to Japan."

To which Togo replied the same day: "I appreciate the efforts you are making…We express our hope that you will see fit to sacrifice all your own personal wishes and remain at your post."

In October 1940 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto with good sense warned that: "To fight the United States is like fighting the whole world…Doubtless I shall die aboard the Nagato [his flagship]. Meanwhile, Tokyo will be burnt to the ground three times."

Two months before Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto predicted: "It is obvious that a Japanese-American war will become a protracted one. If the tides of war are in our favor, the United States will never stop fighting. Consequently, the war will continue for several years, during which material will be exhausted, vessels and arms will be damaged, and they can be replaced only with great difficulties. Ultimately, we will not be able to contend with the United States. As a result of war, the people’s livelihood will become indigent… and it is hard not to imagine that the situation will become out of control. We must not start a war with so little chance of success."

Japanese leaflets directed at U.S. troops invariably depicted the Americans clad in World War I style uniforms, complete with "soup bowl" helmets, equipment not seen in that army since the fall of the Philippines. The iconography was usually Oriental, and the "English" text fractured. American troops eagerly gathered such efforts and traded them like baseball or bubble-gum cards, not for their “political” content but for their graphic pornography and hilarious texts. Surrender appeals ("You will be treated in accordance with the principles of Bushido") were unlikely to have much appeal to troops who knew about the Bataan death march and the torture-murders of captured Americans on Guadalcanal.

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Japanese War Bond Propaganda

This iconic image of a Japanese tank was used on postcards and posters to advertise and encourage the purchase of war bonds.It was also used on a matchbook with slightly changed text. The text is:

Home Front Defense – Serve the country by saving. The 3rd and 4th sale of saving bonds.

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A Japanese 20 Yen War Bond

A reader wrote to me saying:

My dad served in the South Pacific during WW2, stationed in New Guinea with the 15th Weather Squadron. Going through a trunk today I found what appeared to be a Japanese bill of some kind. I thought it might be some sort of a facsimile used as a souvenir. On your site I didn’t see the same image as what I have. If you have the time, could you please tell me what this was? My dad (now deceased) left no information about how he came to have it. I wonder whether it was one of the “propaganda” notes described in your website.

The item is a Japanese war bond. As a child in the United States during WWII we were asked to bring in 25 cents every week to buy a bond stamp. That was placed in a booklet. When the stamps totaled $17.50 we were given a $25 U.S. War bond in exchange. That bond was to be saved and cashed in after the ultimate victory.

The Japanese also financed their war with bonds. These war bonds started with the invasion of China in 1937, and continued through World War Two. Commemorative bonds and overprints were issued to encourage further purchases. The Hypothec Bank was a government bank that issued war bonds. These bonds have a vignette of a battleship at the left, and a tank on the right. Bonds were issued in denominations of 10, 20, 30 and 50 Yen between 1942 and 1945. The bonds were sold at 70% of their face value and matured in 10 years and 2 months, yielding about 3.6% to maturity.

In 2022, Joe Boling wrote about these in an exhibit of his bonds at Washington University in St. Louis. He said:

The Japan Greater East Asia War Discounted Treasury bond issued June 22, 1942. This series of bonds was issued after the widening of the war in December 1941. Bonds sold for 70% of face value and could be redeemed ten years after issue. Bonds were issued in 10, 20, 30, and 50-yen denominations. The Kiku-mon (chrysanthemum crest) or Japanese Flag shows this is Treasury bond issued by the Japanese government. Japanese war bonds were widely purchased by the Japanese populace; indeed, after 1941, the balance of government bonds surpassed national income in Japan. All of these became worthless due to post-war inflation, in which the face value of a 10-yen bond fell from about $3.50 to $0.028, a loss of more than 99%.

Josei shingun poster of Japanese female war worker

In WWII as men went to fight at the front women had to replace them in industry. There is a famous "Rosie the Riveter" poster that encouraged women to leave their homes and take part in the war effort. The poster above was exhibited by the Newman Numismatic Portal located at Washington University in St. Louis and funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. The poster depicts a Japanese woman that is working a machine to help the Japanese war effort. The Newman Portal says about this poster from the Joseph Boling collection:

Josei shingun poster of Japanese female war worker. All citizens were encouraged to proactively contribute to war efforts. This female who works at factory with a description of "women advance," in the military sense of marching into battle, indicates wartime propaganda to promote female contribution on the Japanese home front.

Paul M. A. Linebarger depicts a PWB G-2 (Intelligence Section) chart of the Japanese Board of Information (Joho Kyoku) in Psychological Warfare, Washington Combat Forces Press, Washington D.C, 1948. The chart indicates that there were three divisions.

The First Division prepared war guidance and propaganda planning and public relations control.

The Second Division was responsible for government announcements, newspaper communications, expositions and exhibitions. In addition they watched radio broadcasts, motion pictures, drama, and music. They were also responsible for censorship and weekly newspapers and pictorial reviews.

The Third Division covered foreign developments such as overseas broadcasts, cultural affairs and propaganda.

Linebarger says about the Japanese system, “the Japanese developed a close-knit system that combined public relations of both army and navy, all domestic government publishing, complete control of book publishing, magazines, press, radio, and film, propaganda intelligence and over-all psychological warfare.”

I remember shortly after the war when I was stationed in the Pacific that Japanese were at risk when visiting the Philippines. We often read about a Japanese metal scavengers or salesman going missing. The Filipinos hated the Japanese after WWII, and it was a while before they got over their memories of the bestiality of the Japanese troops. Stephen C. Mercado mentions this treatment in the Shadow Warriors of Nakano: A History of the Japanese Army Elite Intelligence School. I have edited his comments for brevity.

The Japanese Army’s frequent brutality soon made the new overlords objects of hatred for many Filipinos. Many Japanese soldiers continued their army’s habit of slapping local men in the streets who failed to bow to them, raping women, and stealing what appealed to them. Spain had bequeathed Christianity in three hundred years of rule. The United States had given the island roads, cars, and Hollywood movies in 50 years of colonial administration. The Japanese, however, had only taken from the islands in their brief administration. As popular hatred of the Japanese grew, the Japanese army struggled to contain an insurgency

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Rise of Asia

This 1943 Japanese leaflet proclaims her role as Asia’s leader, breaking the chains of European domination and occupation.

He credits the Japanese system of organizing “independent” governments in the former colonial territories that they "liberated." Some of the so-called independent governments are Manchuko, Inner Mongolia, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Indonesia, the Free Indian government-in-exile, and the independent Kingdom of Cambodia.

These puppet governments would have been wonderful PSYOP and made strong allies, except the Japanese were unwilling to give these new nations any true freedom. Although these governments were allegedly independent, the Japanese simply replaced the old colonial governors with their own people. Linebarger continues, depicting a situation that we would call “the loss of hearts and minds” today. “They bankrupted all non-Japanese business so that Japanese carpetbaggers could buy their way in cheap; businesses owned by white foreigners were expropriated out of hand.” He concludes, “Japanese psychological warfare failed because the real warfare behind it failed. The Japanese could not whip their over-docile troops into a fighting frenzy without allowing those troops to behave in a way which made deadly enemies for Japan among the people she came to ‘liberate.’ The Japanese did not have enough sense to be satisfied with 100% return per year on their money, but wrecked the conquered economic systems with inflation, poor management, and excess exploitation. Even the quislings became restless under the poor occupation policies of the Japanese, and before the war was over a considerable number of the Japanese quislings re-quislinged back to the United Nations side.”

John W. Dower mentions the puppets in War without Mercy – Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon Books, NYC, 1986:

In China, the Japanese had persuaded Wang Ching-wei to head their puppet government. After Pearl Harbor, Indian and Burmese patriots formed independent nationalist armies in collaboration with the Japanese, while in Indonesia pro-Japanese sentiments were expressed by the rousing triple slogan of the AAA movement: Japan the leader of Asia; Japan the protector of Asia, and Japan the light of Asia. The Burmese Prime Minster spoke repeatedly of the solidarity of, “A thousand million Asians. President Roosevelt thought the same and told a confidant, “1,100,000,000 potential enemies are dangerous.”

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Churchill and Roosevelt feast on bones

This poster depicts caricatures of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt feasting on the bones of their victims. The text is:

Their true character is that of devils and beasts

Anthony V. Navarro discusses Japanese propaganda in "A Critical Comparison Between Japanese and American Propaganda during World War II." He says:

Throughout the war and the years leading up to it, Japan maintained that its campaign through Asia was virtuous and that their Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere would, in the long run, do good for all of Asia under their guidance. Seeing what Western countries were doing to Asia—the French presence in Southeast Asia, the British in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the United States in the Philippines—Japan sought to "liberate East Asia from white invasion and oppression." In 1942, the Japanese government published a booklet entitled The Greater East Asia War and Ourselves (Dai Toa Senso to Warera) describing how the relationship between Asian countries would be like that of a "branch family."

A Japanese 1941 military booklet titled Read this Alone and the War can be Won said about the Japanese and the Americans: 

We Japanese have been born in a country of no mean blessings, and thanks to the august power and influence of His majesty the Emperor our land has never once, to this day, experienced invasion, and occupation by a foreign power. The other people of the Far East look with envy upon Japan; and honor and trust the Japanese; and deep in their heart hope that with the help of the Japanese people, they may themselves achieve national independence and happiness.

Our opponent [the Americans] are even more feeble than the Chinese army. They are very effeminate and very cowardly and have an intense dislike of fighting in the rain or the mist, and at night. 

Jack Wikoff said about the Japanese:

The Japanese portrayed the enemy as demons, cannibalistic ogres, gangsters, Napoleonic megalomaniacs, and even dandruff.

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What is the New Order in Greater East Asia?

We find the Japanese talking about “Greater East Asia” in many leaflets. In this 4-page leaflet dropped on San Miguel on 15 December 1941, they first claim that Asians are spiritually and culturally superior to Europeans, but the Europeans were superior in aggression, exploitation and weaponry. The Japanese have an answer to this problem:

Japan will utilize her arms to destroy the wrongs and establish the right…The oppressed must be emancipated from the oppressor…To bring this end is the task and an honor given to Japan today…Drive out the White tyranny of England and America! Let us overthrow the old regime and establish a NEW ORDER in Asia!

Japan promoted the idea that under their leadership, East Asia would come to know greater economic prosperity free from Western influence and independent of Western economic bureaucracy. Japan’s "Outline of Economic Policies for the Southern Areas" describes Japan’s plans "to assist the economic expansion of the Japanese people in the southern areas on the bases of overall national planning, and to advance economic changes within the Co-Prosperity Sphere." However, underneath all the rhetoric of a "Greater East Asia" lay hidden agendas as well.

Rei Okamote wrote a paper entitled "Iconography of Japanese Propaganda leaflets During World War II" for Northeastern University where he discussed the purpose of the Japanese propaganda. He said:

During World War II, numerous propaganda leaflets were produced by the Japanese military and distributed from airplanes to the Asian populace and enemy troops. The purpose of the leaflets for the former was to evoke antagonism toward the Western powers, while for the latter, to discourage the morale of enemy soldiers. These leaflets, which often contained full color cartoons, were secretly produced by the drawing group under the eighth section of the army general staff.

Cartoon leaflets were a means by which the state’s propaganda efforts were achieved through the use of iconography. Japan’s use of full-color cartoons on the leaflets stood out among countries involved in the war, in terms of the quantity and quality of production. Those designed for Asian populations contained messages aiming to pacify the local populace and accusing the Allies of being invaders and oppressors of Asians. On the other hand, those targeting enemy troops, often containing pornographic images of their wives and sweethearts in infidel situations, meant to lower the morale of the soldiers.

Barak Kushner says in The Thought War – Japanese Imperial Propaganda, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2006:

For Japan, the entire process of convincing China that Japan’s mission was to liberate Asia hinged on the idea of the “thought war” or “Shisosen.” The Japanese consistently used the phrase “thought war” to describe the fight for ideological supremacy in Asia and later against the West…The Japanese people believed the propaganda because the image reflected a Japan that could guide Asia through the twentieth century.

The Japanese military dropped Chinese–language propaganda leaflets that cited Confucian principals on Chinese civilians. Basic Confucian ideology held that when leaders failed their people morally, the dynasty toppled, having lost the “mandate of Heaven,” and new leadership took over. The Imperial Japanese military also attempted to bolster its support among the Chinese by offering rewards to Chinese citizens who reported broken power lines or train lines…Japanese propaganda photos showed Chinese POWs having fun in Japanese-supervised POW camps…Picture leaflets showed women crying, worrying about their men…The Japanese military carpeted villages in China with handbills and leaflets…extolled the virtues of the peace Japan had brought to Asia.

A general word about Japanese propaganda. It is quite different from that of the Allies. During WWII the American and British propagandists told the Japanese that they were fighting for a small military clique, that their equipment was inferior, that they were outnumbered, cut off, and would surely lose the war. The Japanese claimed to be fighting a war of liberation, promised to free the colonial peoples from their masters, said that the Allies were fighting a war of profit for big business, and used a divide-and-conquer technique to split up the Australian, British, and American forces arrayed against them. They insulted their enemies, called them cowards, and prepared sexual leaflets very much like their German allies. In fact, the Japanese PSYOP is like the German in that both nations prepared a great number of leaflets and posters with messages that attempted to drive a wedge between or claim that profit was the true motive of their enemy.

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The Japanese Practice "Military Virtue."
An Australian POW, Sergeant Leonard Siffleet,
captured in New Guinea, about to be beheaded by a Japanese officer with his gunto, 1943.

The Japanese explained their theory of combat propaganda in an October 1937 army artillery manual published in Tokyo:

The main objects of an Army’s propaganda are to destroy the will to fight of the enemy and of the inhabitants on the enemy’s side; to deceive the enemy concerning our movements; and to make the inhabitants of the battle area respond to ideological and ethical appeals. It is important that the enemy and the inhabitants on the enemy’s side should be made to revere us by skillful dissemination of propaganda relating to our military glory, and we should practice military virtues so that they will be glad to serve us.

Philip M. Taylor discusses Japanese propaganda in Munitions of the Mind: A history of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day, Manchester University Press, UK, 2003:

The rivalry that existed between the Japanese Army and Navy meant that, both armed forces had their own propaganda organizations. The military control of the government also meant that all national propaganda was subject to the same control, and consequently was a victim of the same rivalry. Japanese overseas propaganda was also hampered by the shortage of broadcasters with appropriate accents and understanding of western civilization and it was too quick to invent unlikely victories and atrocities that once exposed, critically devalued future propaganda efforts. The absence of any clear philosophy concerning a “strategy of truth” or “propaganda with facts” was to be a major weakness, as one Japanese writer subsequently realized:

Japan was hopelessly beaten in psychological warfare, not because of any particular adroitness on the part of the Allies, but because the Allies based their propaganda on truth – whereas Japan was unwilling to deal in truth, almost from the outset.

Dower points out that just as the Americans were shown propaganda documentaries like Capra’s Why we Fight; the Japanese were issued patriotic propaganda products to prepare them for warfare, including two well-known publications.

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Read this and the War is Won

The first was Kore dake Yomeba Ware wa Kateru (Read this and the War is Won). It was a 70-page pamphlet written by Colonel Tsuji Masanobu and his intelligence unit.  It was a small book handed out to all the soldiers before being sent off to the war in South and Southeast Asia. It told the Japanese soldier why he was fighting the war. The white Westerners were rich, arrogant colonists who subjugated the native people while they reaped the riches and lived lavishly above the poor. It was Japan’s duty to free the poor Asians from the grip of colonialism. 

Shinmin no Michi (The Way of the Subject) was issued by the Ministry of Education and directed toward Japan’s population to teach them what they should aspire to be as a people, nation and race.  The Allied powers were depicted as evil greedy people evident from their colonization of Asian countries. American history was discussed and its record of atrocities when dealing with slavery to blacks and the mistreatment of minorities and immigrants in their own country including Asians. They read about racially motivated violence and the herding of tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants into internment camps. The objective was clear. It was Japan’s divine purpose to defeat the enemy.

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Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek – Time Magazine 1 June 1942

What seems very strange is that although the Japanese people were propagandized against the enemy almost every day of their lives they also propagandized themselves. When the Japanese military or civilian government agencies, volunteer organizations, clubs and fraternities produced pro-war propaganda they considered it honest enlightenment. They had no Propaganda Minister like Goebbels. When the enemy distributed their message that was purely propaganda. The Japanese believed they were a noble people, far too honest and pure to lie, so when the world turned on them after the Nanking Massacre in 1937 where they raped, looted and murdered an estimated 260,000 civilians, they believed that it was because the Chinese had better propaganda. The fact that Chiang Kai-shek or members of his family appeared on a half-dozen American Time Magazine covers indicated to the Japanese that Chinese propaganda must be superior to their own. It never occurred to them that the world might have turned on them simply because of the nature of their actions. They did not look to change their methods; they looked instead for a better way to explain the rightness of their cause. For instance, they bribed newspaper and magazine reporters around the world to write pro-Japanese articles. They were quite successful in this, but the photographs of dead women and babies on the streets of China overcame any flowery stories, no matter how well written.

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The First Japanese Leaflet of WWII Aimed at the United States?

A U.S. Navy photograph of a dirty oil-stained Japanese propaganda leaflet was forwarded from Hawaii to San Francisco on 27 December 1941. The official U.S. Navy caption is:

Japanese flyers who bombed pearl harbor on December 7 came equipped with more than just high explosives. They carried crudely phrased propaganda leaflets and supplies of concentrated provisions for forced landings. Pictured here as it was reproduced by duplicating machines on rough foolscap, the propaganda leaflet advised in its English heading, “You Damned! Go to the devil!” Beneath this greeting were drawings of an aircraft carrier and battleship exploding, a fish spitting destruction and a caricature of President Roosevelt. In Japanese characters, a further admonition appeared, reading “Listen to the voice of doom. Open your eyes, blind fools.”

The photograph was distributed in January 1942 by the San Francisco Bureau of Wide World Photos who added their caption:


Honolulu T.H…Intended as awe inspiring warnings to the Hawaii population and armed forces, propaganda leaflets of a crude sort, as reproduced here, were dropped from Japanese bombers in the attack on Pearl harbor. In Japanese characters read “Listen to the voice of doom. Open your eyes, blind fools.” Accompanying are drawings of an aircraft and battleship exploding, a fish spitting destruction and a caricature of President Roosevelt.

The Manila Tribune said on 9 December 1941:

Japanese planes made a pamphlet raid on La Union…Army Headquarters revealed that Japanese planes flew over Ilocos Norte and dropped leaflets.

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Crush Anglo-Americans

This 1943 Japanese poster shows a Japanese soldier over an encircled map of the Philippines and the text, “Build up the new Philippines.”

The Philippines 

The first concentrated use of Japanese PSYOP occurred just days later when the Japanese bombed the Philippine Islands on December 8 and invaded on December 10. The 25,000-man American and 100,000-man Philippine military were not reinforced and as a result were gradually pushed back over a period of weeks to the peninsula of Bataan and to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. The defenders of Bataan were forced to surrender on 9 April, 1942. The troops on Corregidor, although encircled and isolated, held out until 6 May.

The Japanese used a great deal of PSYOP in the Philippines. This was discussed in a 25 February 1945 classified document entitled Japanese Propaganda in the Philippines prepared by the Civil Censorship Detachment of Headquarters, United States Army, Far East. The report notes that the Japanese organized a Propaganda Section along the following lines:

  1. Headquarters – Planning and control of the affairs of the Army Propaganda Section.
  2. Cultural Propaganda Department - Propaganda for the enlightenment and culture of the Philippine people.
  3. Overseas Propaganda Department – Radio propaganda to foreign countries and areas,  especially India, Australia, Chungking and the Near East.
  4. Intelligence Department – Collection of propaganda information by interception of radio and telegraph broadcasts from India, Australia, Great Britain, America, Chungking, Germany, and liaison between army organizations.
  5. Materials Department – Collection of propaganda material and preparation of propaganda.

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Japanese all-text Leaflets asking for Philippine Support

As mentioned below, the Japanese wanted the Philippine people to rally behind their empire in a new all-Asian empire in the Pacific. The two leaflets below were directed directly toward the Filipinos and asked for their loyalty. They are illustrated in the William J. Sebald Papers of the Nimitz Library Digital Collection. There are some grammatical errors and I quote the text as written:

Dear Filipinos!

Have no fear any more! Fighting is now over! American Forces who have been squeezing your land and people with honey words and threatening swords for a long time have now entirely been driven away, by Protecting God of Asia, the Japanese Forces. The only aim of the Imperial Japanese Forces is to free Filipinos from the oppression of white men and establish a paradise for Filipinos on this beautiful land of Philippines.

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To the Citizens of the Philippines

Another leaflet says:

To the Citizens of the Philippines

The fighting is over. The tyrannical U.S. forces have been completely driven out of the Philippine Islands. Now comes establishing of the truly pleasant land of the Philippines where there is neither exploitation nor oppression of the white men. You, people of the Philippine Islands who are taking refuge, return to your homes promptly. Resume your former business, and work hard in confidence of the Japanese Forces. The Imperial Japanese Forces will swear to fully co-operate with you in reconstruction of the New Philippines.

America has abandoned the Philippines

Technical Sergeant T/3 Ferris B. Louks served with the 1st Army Portable Surgical Hospital beginning in August 1943 and took part in most of the major battles on New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon from November 1944 to VJ Day. He found the above leaflet on one of the Philippine Islands. His son Paul was kind enough to send it to me.


To The American Soldiers!

Many of these early leaflets were very crude. Many were all text but a few had an image of sorts. This folded leaflet depicts what seems to be a pencil sketch of three American soldiers on the front, perhaps reading a Japanese leaflet. The leaflet is folded so there are three pages of text on the inside and back. Some of the text is:

My country ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty,

So sang your forefathers…..those great men who created a government of the people, for the people and by the people.


What kind of government are you, Soldiers of the U.S., obeying and fighting for?

Roosevelt, no less a dictators than Hitler or Stalin has sent you to your death, while at home he is sending more to their death…at the point of a bayonet…

And don’t deceive yourselves by thinking the Filipinos are with you. These islands belong to them, and they are fed up by Roosevelt’s false slogans of peace, liberty and Democracy. They will stab you in the back (thousands are cooperating with us) and then what a pitiful sight you will be…..you, soldiers of Democracy who are made to believe that you are fighting for the freedom and welfare of the Filipinos.

It is interesting to see that the Japanese thought the Americans had been forced into the Army at the point of a bayonet, when the Japanese sneak attack on Pearly Harbor had thousands of American volunteers clamoring to get into the fight at recruiting centers all across the USA every day.

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This leaflet was dropped on American and Filipino soldiers as they were pushed down the Bataan Peninsula. It is all text with a message on the front. The back is blank. The message says in part:


You are now having but one poor meal a day, aren’t you? And this daily ration will even be cut to no ration at all in a few days more, because the USAFFE’s provision, for lack of replacement, has almost dwindled to nothing.

Worse than that, you are trapped in one corner of Bataan with a steel-ring of heavily-armed Japanese soldiers surrounding you…

…Your only salvation lies in laying down your arms and surrendering without hesitation. If you do so, the Imperial Japanese forces will not only take a very good care of you but will also assure your full safety and protection.


[Note] The USAFFE was the “United States Armed Forces Far East.” The new command's headquarters was created on 26 July 1941, in Manila, Luzon, the Philippines, with General Douglas MacArthur as commander.

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Those Who Come Over To Our Side Can Be Alive

This leaflet is more in the form of as safe conduct pass, but we can tell that it was dropped on Bataan by a handwritten note at the top that says in part:

Dropped from plane near KP -703 Bataan – turned over by 1st Lt Winn – 7th Chemical Company……29/Jan/42…

The leaflet is printed on the front and the back is blank. It says in part:

Hongkong has already surrendered! The fall of Singapore is close at hand. Furthermore, the Philippine Islands are already surrounded on all sides by millions on the Imperial Japanese Forces. The fate and issue of the hostilities has already been decided…

…You, wise warriors, if you want to surrender, bring this “Surrender Card” or come over to our side waving a white flag or your hands up….

The Commander of the USAFFE is a Big Liar 


This is an interesting piece that we know little about. It seems to be in reply to an American leaflet or perhaps speech by an Americal officer. It rebuts his claims that the Philippines will be reinforced, and the best part is that any soldier killing his commander will be rewarded. 

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In this leaflet we see that the Americans and Filipinos have been almost forced off the Bataan Peninsula and pushed back to “Fortress Corregidor” where they intended to make a last stand. No relief was coming from the United States so the troops were eventually forced to surrender. The leaflet bears text only on the front; the back is blank. The leaflet says in part:

Bataan Peninsula is about to be swept away; important points of southern Luzon between Ternate and Nasugbu are in the hands of Japanese Forces and mouth of Manila Bay is in complete control of the Japanese Navy. Hopes for the arrival of reinforcements are quite in vain. The fate of Corregidor is sealed…

…Your commander will sacrifice every man and in the end will surrender in order to save his own life. You, dear soldiers, take it into consideration and give up your arms and stop resistance at once.

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You are doomed…

This folded leaflet depicts what appears to be an American soldier surrounded by a skeleton and a skull. The image on the front has the text:

YOU ARE DOOMED – Now is a chance to SURRENDER

When opened, the leaflet has anti-American, pro-Japanese text in both English and several Philippine dialects. The English message says in part:

To the U.S. and Filipino Officers and men in Maribeles, Corregidor, and Visayan Islands!

The Imperial Japanese forces who landed on Malay Peninsula, defeating the enemies everywhere, advanced 1,100 kilometers like raging billows in 50 days since the landing and on the 31st January last they marched as far as the opposite side of Singapore. Now the Fortress of Singapore is on the brink of fall.

After the fall of Singapore, hundreds of thousands of the forces there will reinforce the forces of 400,000 men now operating, and the combined forces will attack the Philippine Island and will annihilate all the soldiers who have not yet surrendered to the very last one soldier.

The U.S. Naval force who, attempted to come help the USAEFFE was completely destroyed off the Marshall Islands on the 2nd inst, by the combined forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the great Air Corps which were awaiting there for them…As for Australia all the people as well as the authorities of Navy and Army are thrown into great awe and trembling for fear of Japanese forces…Now is the best chance for you to surrender under the banner of Justice of Japan.

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While there is life…

This image is more classical in format. We see what appears to be an American soldier holding a white cloth helping what appears to be a smaller soldier (perhaps a Filipino) that has been wounded. Fire and explosions are hinted at in the background but the two soldiers move forward knowing that surrender is their only option.

The Japanese published a “Most Secret” document that explained the basis of their PSYOP. I quote a few important points:

We must promptly revive in the Filipinos the spirit of the Far East. We must encourage them to live and die along with us by rousing their racial pride and valor and by getting them to blend those characteristics with the spirit of Imperialism and militarism.

Propaganda must be promptly adapted to the characteristics of the area, to the existing attitudes of the people, particularly where they are concentrated. If there are deeds worthy of praise, by all means see that they are praised. In every case where evil is to be punished and good rewarded, do so with concrete examples so that the people will be left with indelible expressions. Even though our speech might not be fluent, we must captivate the people with our sincerity.

The Japanese Chief of Staff adds:

Emphasize that America is responsible for starting the war. Disclose the history of the clever oppression and exploitation of the Philippines by America. Emphasize the futility of dependence on American resistance to Japan. Crush enemy propaganda and destroy faith in it.

Early Japanese anti-American propaganda made use of such terms as “American exploitation,” “American Imperialism,” and “American tyranny.” The Japanese even made use of anti-Semitism, using the German concept of the Jews running America and claiming that “It is a Jewish war led by the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt.” Other propaganda statement pointed out that Filipinos were not allowed into exclusive social clubs like the Army and Navy or Elks clubs. Much was made of the land owned by big American corporations and the lack of cheap housing and electricity by the Filipinos. The people were told that they were free and now their own masters.

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This leaflet promises the Filipinos independence. Of course, it will be “Japanese independence” and come with many strings attached. The leaflet depicts Filipinos charging forward with flags that say “Complete independence,” “Stop war,” and Listen to Japan” with the text:

The time has come! The whole islands have started the real move to the Independence! Join now!!

On 14 October 1943 the Japanese marched out their token President of the Republic of the Philippines, Jose P. Laurel who stated in part:

Today we have proclaimed our independence. This independence is real, complete and total. The Republic of the Philippines is to be run by Filipinos for Filipinos.

Once the Japanese believed that the Philippines had been conquered and fooled into believing that they were truly independent they put in motion the third step of their propaganda campaign, the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” This was to be a “one for all and all for one” system, but the Japanese slyly introduced an addition to the concept, “under the leadership of Japan.” We find that subtle statement in all of the Japanese propaganda comments of the time. For instance:

This is true independence and freedom never before offered by any other people in the history of the world. It is very clear, that the role of the Philippines is one of collaboration with all member peoples benefit, under the leadership of Japan. Distribution, it goes without saying, will be fair and compensation always equitable, under the benevolent leadership and direction of Japan.

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1943 Painting by Fernando Amorsolo

U.P. Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center

A wonderful piece of propaganda artwork was painted by Fernando Amorsolo. The University of the Philippines says about this painting in part:

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was the propaganda campaign of the Japanese to convince the Filipinos to believe in a unified Asia under the Japanese Empire. Many artists were “recruited” to be part of the campaign, and Fernando Amorsolo was one of these artists. In this painting, Amorsolo captures a moment where the Japanese Premier, Hideki Tojo promises the long awaited Philippine Independence to Jorge Vargas, who was the chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission.

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This colorful and attractive Japanese leaflet also features the theme of independence. It depicts a Filipino soldier raising their flag of independence while Japanese and Filipino soldiers cheer in the background. The text is:

Japan’s greatest joy is to give you the complete Independence by defeating America, yours and our common enemy.

To the American Soldiers

This leaflet seems to be clearly made by the same artist who did the one directly above it. President Roosevelt is seen enraged at the right while Japanese warships force American soldiers to jump into the sea at the left, and in the center a Filipino boy happily holds his flag aloft. At some later time these leaflets were made into postcards and sold as souvenirs.

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Japanese Liberation Leaflet

Curiously, when the Japanese granted the Philippines their version of Independence, they handed out these leaflets that actually bore a part of the song Pambansang Awit ng Pilipinas, (National Song of the Philippines). The two words on the leaflet are:


A Filipino wrote on the side of the leaflet:

The Puppet flag was given to us by the Japanese when they gave us the Puppet Independence of last October 14, 1943.

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Join the Constabulary

A Japanese propaganda poster placed throughout the cities of the Philippines by the puppet collaborationist government to encourage Filipinos to join the Constabulary Force for the maintenance of peace and order.

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Significance of Army Day

Since we mention the Japanese use of race as a propaganda theme in the paragraph below, we should depict this leaflet where the Japanese brag about beating the Russians in 1905 and state that this shows that not only are Asians equal to Europeans, but in fact, better than Europeans. The Japanese claim to be fighting the Anglo-Americans for all Asians and ask for Philippine loyalty. A penciled note on this leaflet indicates that the Japanese dropped in on 10 March 1944.

Japan now entered the final step of the propaganda campaign, the complete and total willingness of the Filipino people to submit to the guidance and leadership of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese reminded the Filipinos that they were Asians, the same race as the Japanese; and that it was the courage of the Japanese that had liberated them; that Japan was a loyal and faithful friend of the Philippines; and that Japan had lifted them to the exalted position of an honored member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Commander of the Japanese occupation forces stated:

Always bear in mind that Philippine Independence was made possible by the life and death struggle which Japan is now waging at a tremendous sacrifice.

The problem is that although the Japanese propaganda machine ran day and night, the treatment of the Japanese Army toward her new “ally” was such that the Filipino population quickly saw through the lies. They waited patiently for the return of the Americans, knowing that eventually true liberation and freedom would be theirs.

From a U.S. Officer’s Diary

This is a rather strange leaflet. I have written about Japanese leaflets for forty years and know just about all of them. I had never seen this one. The front shows a beautiful woman, probably saying goodbye to her husband who is leaving for the war. You cannot see his face well, and the helmet he is wearing looks more like a WWI “Doughboy’s” helmet. And yet the leaflet has good provenance, so I assume it is genuine. The general appearance of the leaflet is German; that is, they made many leaflets that look like this one. There is no text on the front. The back is all text:

I shudder to recall the landing in the Philippines. Hell on earth it was! Many of my men were killed. Poor devils!

Wonder what Kay is doing now? I still remember our hasty farewell at the embarkation point that chilly morning. As I embraced Kay my steel helmet touched her cheek, and the shock of the cold metal suddenly released her tears. What a touching sight it was!

It seems we are marooned on this distant island, and the enemy’s attacks are as fierce as ever. Shall I be lucky enough to live through this? My God! Is it worth all I am going through and must go through…until death?

From a U.S. Officer’s Diary

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Broken Beyond Repair

I have probably seen about a hundred Japanese leaflets used in the Philippines. This one is ironic because it depicts Japanese aircraft and submarines disrupting the supply lines to the Americans in the Philippine Islands. Just a few short years later the United States will starve the Japanese by sinking their ships and stopping the flow of oil and supplies to their home islands. This leaflet is printed on the front only, the back being left blank.

Stanley Sandler mentions this leaflet in Cease resistance: It's Good for You: A history of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 1999. Sandler says:

The 'Battling Bastards of Bataan” (No Poppa, No Mamma, No Uncle Sam) were subjected to Japanese leaflet and loudspeaker propaganda which correctly summarized their hopeless position and played on the themes of abandonment and homesickness. Other messages portrayed the enemy as “liberating” the Filipinos. Two tiny leaflets proclaimed truly enough, “Last Hope for Retreat Shattered,” and (referring to any supposed reinforcements from the States) “Broken Beyond repair.”

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Useless to Oppose…

This very impressive image depicts a lone American garrison trying to oppose the Japanese fleet in the middle of a vast lonely ocean. It is rather moving.

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Crime does not Pay

The Japanese leaflet is in the form of a cartoon. A farmer is asked to join the guerrillas and fight the Japanese. He is informed that he can make lots of money by sabotaging Japanese communications. He tries to do so and is shot dead. The Japanese moral is stated by a Filipino husband and wife:

Yes. You’re right dear. Let’s be honest and happy!

Poor fool – If only he worked honestly!

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Another cartoon – Turkey-less Christmas

This is almost a little comic book. It shows an American wife home with the kids having Christmas dinner with empty plates and says that the turkeys have gone to the black market or been confiscated by the Army. This is a strange leaflet to be prepared by a people who were forced to eat less and less rice as a wartime sacrifice. Civilians expect to make sacrifices and have food rationed in a time of war. I can remember as a kid going to the butcher with a few dollars and a hand-full of ration stamps hoping to find some beef or poultry. The back of the leaflet has a propaganda message:

Stockholm – December 3: A Swedish correspondent reports from New York that the American public is faced with a serious shortage of foodstuffs to prepare for the coming Christmas season. Cigars, cigarettes, beverages and other little luxuries of life are also extremely difficult to get. Scarcity of meat, butter and sugar has long been felt generally. Chicken has been so scarce on the market that the Government, in order to keep the Army well-nourished and strong, had to result in commandeering it from large poultry farms in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and other poultry producing states. However, meagre supply of poultry to the public is due more largely to the activity of those profiteers who are adding a great deal of their ill-gotten fortunes by marketing at illegal prices. As a result, only a small number of privileged wealthy families can enjoy the luxurious life of prewar days.

Sandler goes on to describe a surrender pass:




Follow These Instructions:

1. Come towards our lines waving a white flag.

2. Strap your gun over your left shoulder muzzle down and pointed behind you.

3. Show this ticket to the sentry.

4. Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket.


(Signed) General Homma

Sing your way to pray for peace.

Here is what I said about the above leaflet back about 1960:

During the morning of 29 January 1942, three Japanese bombers dropped leaflets on American troops on Corregidor titled “Ticket to Armistice.” Thousands more of the same leaflet were dropped over Bataan.

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Another Safe Conduct Pass

Richard Connaughton mentions another safe conduct pass in MacArthur and Defeat in the Philippines, The Overlook Press, NY, 2001. The leaflet has Japanese and English-language text. It is, "Surrender card. Any Filipino or American soldier and their friends will received (sic) special consideration by presenting this card to the Imperial Japanese Forces." Connaughton says about the use of the card, "Three Japanese bombers dropped propaganda leaflets over Corregidor and Bataan, targeted at the Filipinos, urging them to surrender."

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Some of the surrender leaflets were very colorful. This leaflet shows Filipinos surrendering to a lone Japanese soldier. The text is a bit broken but the image is very good.

Your life is too precious to loose (sic) in the meaningless war. Quit fighting and come like in this picture. We’ll teat you good and right.

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The Vargas Leaflet

One all-text Japanese leaflet was signed by Jorge B. Vargas, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Provisional Philippine Council of State. The leaflet was later used as evidence when Vargas was tried for collaboration after the war. The text is long and therefore we will just mention the first two paragraphs which will give the reader the "flavor" of the collaboration:

To Our Sons and Brothers In Bataan. On behalf of the Filipino people, and as Chairman of a Provisional Philippine Council of State, I urge you to lay down your arms immediately and abandon cooperation with the American Army.

The present war was forced upon Japan by the American Imperialists headed by President Roosevelt who, under the hypocritical claim that they are fighting for democracy, wish to rule and dominate the whole world. America is now master of the Western Hemisphere which is one half of the world and the British Empire which one fourth of the area of the earth is now virtually a colony of the United States. Therefore, America controls three-fourths of the world today. And yet, she still craves for the remaining fourth, which is the Orient, because her greed is insatiable.

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This very strange Japanese consolidation leaflet mentions both Bataan and Corregidor, depicts an American soldier as death, and has black crows circling overhead with messages (perhaps the black crow had some significance to the Filipino people?), and shows a Filipino named Juan being dragged forward by the American soldier with a skull for a head. The text points out that even with their strong defenses, the American and Filipino forces were defeated by the Japanese. It tells the people not to be fooled by the Americans anymore and promises a better Philippines under the new and greater Asia to be built by the Japanese.

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Will the U.S. Army Come Back?

A similar long all-text leaflet is entitled “Will the U.S. Army Come Back?” The message is in English on one side and Tagalog on the other. The leaflet attempts to demoralize the Filipino patriots and American guerrillas fighting in the jungle by telling them that they are abandoned and the American Army will never return to the Philippines. Some of the text is:

…for America was completely defeated by Japan...We cannot ignore the fact that Japan now commands the sea and the air of the Pacific Ocean. No wonder that the American aid could not come here against the invincible armada of Japan in the Pacific Ocean

There is still less possibility as to the sending of many troops, for if they should try to come, they must be buried in a watery grave. IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE FOR AMERICA TO COME BACK HERE…

Hasn’t God sent Japan to liberate us from the prison of materialized civilization of America...Yes; the first step towards our independence is to make ourselves aware of our present actual situation. Brothers of the Philippines know well that you are an Oriental race, and an Asiatic people!

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The 40th Division

The Japanese produced many of these long all-text message leaflets. This one was found by a member of the American 40th Infantry Division in the Philippines. The division took part in the invasion of Lingayen, Luzon, on 9 January 1945. It took part in the battle for Manila, then on 15 March 1945 cut behind the Japanese and landed on Panay Island. The leaflet is a very interesting one, allegedly from a Filipino Christian. It blames the American for bringing the horror of war to the Philippines and says that the Japanese are such ferocious soldiers that more death and destruction can be the only result of the battle.

Other typewritten leaflets have similar messages. One double-spaced leaflet says in part:


Have you ever thought of your folks back at home? Your dear mother, wife and children are praying for your safe return, not knowing that your fate is doomed in this decisive campaign. How grievous they will be to find your name coldly printed on the casualty lists among the victims who have perished…

Another typewritten leaflet, apparently from the same organization says in part:


You ventured deep into the Luzon plain. But how long will your supplies continue to arrive from your homeland thousands of miles away?

Within 40 days of your landing on Luzon since January 9, over 40,000 American soldiers were killed and wounded according to reports we have received from our fronts. As the war develops the rate will be higher. Are you prepared for such a severe toll…?

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You are our pals

Another leaflet mentioned by Sandler depicts a Japanese soldier lighting the cigarette of Filipino soldier while the American Army retreats in the background with the text, “You are our pals. Our enemy is the Americans.” One of these leaflets was handed to a Filipino family on 4 January 1942 at a Japanese checkpoint. They were also dropped by Japanese aircraft in December 1941. The back of this leaflet was allegedly left blank for additional messages that the Japanese might want to add at a later date.

He also quotes a leaflet entitled “TO THE FILIPINO SOLDIER.” The grammatically incorrect text of this leaflet is:

All banks in the City of Manila are under the regulation of the Japanese forces, and newly issued war note is controlling more and more the financial activities of Manila day after day. For this reason, the money you are receiving from the American forces for salary is losing its value and will be wastepaper in the near future. In a word, you are exposing your life in danger without any remuneration. There is nothing so foolish as this! In Manila your fellow-countrymen are living peacefully with full co-operation with the Japanese forces. Give up useless fighting and surrender immediately to the Japanese forces.

Curiously as the war neared end, the American PSYOP to those peoples under Japanese occupation was very similar. The Americans told the Filipinos, Burmese, Malayans, and others that the Japanese occupation currency was worthless and urged them not to trade with the enemy or accept their money.

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Our Enemy is only the Americans

Another Japanese leaflet to the Filipino soldiers and civilians had almost the same title as the previous leaflet. It depicts Japanese artillery firing at American and Filipino troops. The text points out that the Japanese do not want to hurt any of the locals, but if they are with the Americans than they could be killed. The text is:

We do not wish to point our guns at you, as shown in the picture. But it is impossible to avoid only you. Brother Filipinos, understand our real intention and escape from the American force. Join us immediately and be safe.

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To Deal the Foe the Fatal Blow

This is a great piece of propaganda by the Japanese military. It depicts battleships and submarines and goes on to tell the Philippine people that the Japanese Navy works so hard that there are no weekends. Their week consists of Monday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday.” Other such Navy songs are Through the day, throughout the week, which also implies that the Japanese Navy never rests. The song also pretends to ignore the threat of the American and Filipino guerrillas by saying:

The Imperial Navy of Nippon does not make a fuss about the enemy’s challenge for petty guerilla warfare…

I think they do protest too much.


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The Japanese knew that the Americans and Filipinos had a long history of friendship. One of their first missions was to turn the people against the Americans. They thought that a handsome reward might do the trick. One three-panel leaflet depicts Filipinos finding an American soldier and turning him over to the Japanese. The Text is:


1. If you capture an American parachutist and deliver him to the Japanese forces.

2. If you report any knowledge of spies in American service.

3. If you inform promptly of any movement of American troops, whether land, sea, or air forces.


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Don’t wait to die

One morale leaflet dropped on American soldiers on Bataan pictured a woman at the left, troops in a ditch below, and the text:

Don’t wait to die.

Before the bombs fall, let me take your hand and kiss your gentle cheeks and murmur….

Before the terror comes, let me walk beside you in garden deep in petalled sleep….

Let me, while there is still a time and place. Feel soft against me and rest…rest your warm hand on my breast….
Come home to me, and dream with me.

The back is all text in English and Japanese. It is a safe conduct pass:



Follow these instructions:

Come towards our lines waving a white flag.
Strap your gun over your left shoulder muzzle down and pointed behind you.
Show this ticket to the sentry.
Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket


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Remember Caloocan

(Courtesy of Rod Oakland)

Another leaflet depicted a pile of skulls with American soldiers firing. The text is:

Remember Caloocan! To such inhuman deeds Theodore Roosevelt, the then President of the United States sent a congratulatory message to General Leonard Wood reading, ‘I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they as well upheld the honor of the American flag.’ History repeats itself but only to the heedless. Beware of American soldiers. They would be last to respect the chastity of Filipino women.

The battle of Caloocan was the bloodiest battle of the “Filipino Rebellion” and a victory won by the Americans in 1899. The Japanese obviously hoped to open old wounds and divide the Philippine and American forces guarding Bataan. The ploy did not work. The Filipinos remained faithful.

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HELLo Doughboys…

Another Japanese leaflet that utilizes a skull and bright red color has the text:


Doughboys! I’ll be your guide from now on!

The large 9 x 13-inch leaflet is blank on the back. It may have been used as a poster too.

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What are you fighting for?

A Japanese leaflet for Corregidor depicts several Americans on the tiny island surrounded by barbed wire. All around them are images of foods and desserts and drinks. The text is, “What are you fighting for?”

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Beware of the Triple Threat!

The above leaflet emphasized  the hardship that the American could expect to face while defending the Philippines.. The text on the back reads:


Hi Joe, I sure hate to be in your shoes! Your commander certainly chose a helluva place to land. Don't you know what dangers confront you in Mindoro?


The Tamaraos are the fiercest animal on earth, found only in Mindoro. When you march through the jungles, look out! They come at you unawares and you’re a dead man before you know what hit you.

The Anopheles mosquitoes are veritable "malaria bombers." And believe me, they don't give a damn when or where they hit and once hit, you're a goner.

And the Japanese soldiers! They're even worse than the tamaraos or the anopheles mosquitoes. You should know without my telling you.

By the way, Joe. Mindoro means "mina de oro" or "mine of gold" in your lingo. Dig for some in your spare time. Even if you fail to locate any, the hole will still serve as your grave. So long, pal.

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For the most part, Japanese leaflets did not show any great ingenuity. However, on rare occasions they attempted to produce "black" leaflets to turn the Filipinos away from their American allies. A case in point is a fake leaflet allegedly printed by the U.S. Army and insulting the morality and intelligence of Philippine women. The text is:


Lately there has been a great increase in the number of venereal diseases among our officers and men owing to prolific contacts with Filipino women of dubious character.

Due to hard times and stricken conditions brought about by Japanese occupation of the islands, Filipino women are willing to offer themselves for a small amount of foodstuffs. It is advisable in such cases to take full protective measures by use of condoms, protective medicines, etc.; better still to hold intercourse only with wives, virgins or women of respective character.

Furthermore, in view of the increase in pro-American leanings, many Filipino women are more than willing to offer themselves to American soldiers, and due to the fact that Filipinos have no knowledge of hygiene, disease carriers are rampant and due care must be taken.


This leaflet was disseminated by the Japanese during the Leyte campaign.

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American Gobs

Another interesting sexual leaflet might be considered “Grey.” The Japanese do not pretend that it is American like the one above, but they don’t mention themselves or make any reference to Japan. Instead, the leaflet leaves it up to the finder to decide who produced and disseminated it. The leaflet depicts a young American sailor dancing with a Filipino woman. It attacks the morality of the Americans and says in part:


Yankees’ love of women is a widespread knowledge and they would stop at nothing in order to satisfy their desires. Whether she be a virgin or a wife makes no difference to them…American boys have strewn a countless number of “war babies” and broken hearts in their wake…

So beware you fellas. Hang on tight to your sweethearts, fiancés and wives. Let’s not allow them to repeat the tragedies they have sown and are sowing in Europe and Australia.


In another clever leaflet, the Japanese try to teach the American soldiers how to fake neurosis and other problems that might have them medically removed from the front lines. The British and Germans regularly dropped such leaflets on each other in Europe, but this is a rarity in the Pacific. The front on the folded leaflet depicts a beautiful girl reading a letter and the text: PLEASE DO NOT OPEN. The back depicts a claw-like hand. When opened, the leaflet is entitled: IT IS DANGEROUS TO READ THE FOLLOWING, and contains 13 paragraphs that contain various hints on how one might be medically diagnosed as neurotic. Curiously, the Japanese never tell the soldier to use any of the methods or even recommend that the soldier act in a cowardly way. The paragraphs tell him what not to do. Of course, they hoped that the finder would realize that by reversing the message and acting in the ways identified, the soldier might be hospitalized and be one less that the Japanese would have to face on the firing line. One wonders where the Japanese determined these medical facts. Three of the thirteen paragraphs say:

Don’t fall into the habit of glancing sideways at your comrades-in-arms. Your surgeon dislikes such a habit, as it predicts the approaching menace of neuroses.

Don’t eat your own excrement or drink your own urine in the presence of others. If you do, you are sure to be branded as a lunatic, however warmly you may protest.

Don’t mumble the same words immediately after you have spoken them. If you practice it repeatedly, your surgeon’s verdict will inevitably be neurosis.

The Japanese disseminated this leaflet during 1944-1945. Paul Linebarger adds:

One of the favorite targets of black propaganda is the malingerer. Suspicion of successful malingering inevitably hurts the morale of a unit. Even if the enemy's instructions are not followed, the troops may suspect genuine psychoneurotics of having faked their troubles. Almost all participants in World War II issued such instructions.

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Deadly Snakes

Another interesting black leaflet was meant to terrify the Americans of the hazards of the jungle and slow both their advance and their retreat. It is a simple white leaflet with the text:




A Strange Handwritten Leaflet said to be Japanese

This hand-written leaflet is said to have been dropped from a Japanese aircraft during the battle of Leyte Gulf. It uses terrible spelling and grammar and was certainly not an official leaflet prepared by the Japanese forces. If genuine, it is more likely to have been written by some patriotic Japanese pilot that wanted to give his opinion of the American forces, not unlike the first leaflet we show at the start of this article. The leaflet was written on a standard 8 x 10-inch piece of paper. The original leaflet has a tear at the upper left corner, but to highlight the actual message I have cropped it.

Black to the Japanese

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This is one of the few pieces of Japanese black propaganda that is known. The same text is in Japanese on one side and English on the other. The black letter appears to be from the Japanese Army and berates the Americans who they acknowledge treat the Japanese prisoners well, for implying that the Japanese do not treat the Americans the same way.The letter, addressed to “Americans,” tells the Japanese that they will be treated well when captured by the Americans, and then claims that Americans receive the exact same good treatment when captured by the Japanese. This, by the same barbaric military that killed American and Filipino prisoners during the Bataan Death March. Just as the Indians used to tell the British that they were civilized while the English were still painting themselves blue, the Japanese tell the Americans in part:

Even though you are our enemy we appreciate the good treatment you are giving Japanese soldiers…However, we cannot condone your wanton lies about Japan violating international law and treating American prisoners atrociously like barbarians…American prisoners in our hands are receiving good treatment and living a peaceful and happy life…

Our history is ten times older than yours. While your ancestors were roaming around as savages, Japan was already civilized. We are civilized much more than you Americans.


The true purpose of this propaganda leaflet is to make the Japanese soldier think that his government has acknowledged the good treatment of Japanese prisoners of war and this make it easier for the solider to make the decision to surrender.

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The Ace of Hearts Leaflet

This is a rare WWII Japanese leaflet that uses the ace of hearts to spread its propaganda message to American troops trapped on the Philippine Islands during the early days of the war. The message is full of spelling and grammatical errors. We have edited it to make it more readable:


You have reached the Philippines at long last. We can well imagine the big-shots who planned the Philippine operations bottoms-upping comfortably back at home. But have you front-line soldiers ever stopped to think about the enormous losses America has suffered so far? The amount of material already consumed if used otherwise, might have turned some South American countries into first class nations. How about human lives? Your comrades have been killed in as great a number as the cattle butchered at the Chicago stockyard. The number of maimed and disabled men, or of those driven insane, exceeds by far the total capacity of all hospitals in the U.S., and yet this stupendous sacrifice of men and material has not put an end to this war. Even a greater exhaustion is just beginning as the war rages on a far greater scale than here-to-fore. This you know better than anybody else because you are standing at the head of a long procession of final victims.

But why are you marching to the southwestern Pacific? Because it is the will of your country. Then, why must you obey the will of your country? Because you, and all your fellow-countrymen as well, share in the benefit of your country. But can those people who decide the will of the country he never under any delusion? Sometimes they are, it is true. BECAUSE, AS IT HAPPENS TO BE TRUE HERE, IT IS POSSIBLE FOR ONE LEADER ALONE, WHEN OBSESSED BY DELUSIONS, TO SEND MILLIONS OF INNOCENT MEN INTO THE JAWS OF DEATH.

The Marine Hymn

An unnamed Marine from the 4th Marine Division wrote the following lyrics to the tune of the ' Marines' Hymn,' just before going into battle in Corregidor. The author of "The Corregidor Hymn" was captured by the Japanese in the battle, which ended 6 May 1942, and was never seen again. Note the mention of propaganda leaflets in the text:

First to jump for holes and tunnels
And to keep our skivvies clean,
We are proud to claim the title
of Corregidor's Marines.

Our drawers unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun.
We have jumped into every hole and ditch
And for us the fightin' was fun.

We have plenty of guns and ammunition
But not cigars and cigarettes,
At the last we may smoking leaves
Wrapped in Nipponese propaganda leaflets.

When the Army and the Navy
Looked out Corregidor's Tunnel Queen,
They saw the beaches guarded
by more than one Marine!

The Japanese used a Christmas card motif on a number of their propaganda leaflets in December 1944 during the American liberation of the Philippines. Five cards are known at present.

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Best Wishes

1. A Christmas card with blue bell and red ribbon formed into "Best Wishes" on front, and three bells on back. The card opens to reveal a biblical quote on the left from Matthew 10:36, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household", and an anti-American message on the right, "So it is with a country's foes. Of course you know that under the guise of Democratic America, there is a Plutocratic Dynasty of America's sixty wealthiest families, such as the Morgans, the du Ponts, the Rockefellers, the Drexels, the Sloans, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts etc., etc. It is these dynasty rulers, you may well know, that plunged America into war in order to reap its fruits by the toil, sweat, blood and tears of you American soldiers."

2. A Christmas card on red paper with a candle lantern and "Greetings" on the front, holly and stars on the back. The card opens to reveal the same biblical quote from Matthew 10:36 at left, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household." An anti-American message on the right states, "Your foes are they of your own country – American Big Business which is driving you to the gigantic slaughter-house the world has ever known."

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Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men

3. A Christmas card with an identical vignette on each side showing an outdoor scene of a house covered with snow. The text "Goodwill to Men" is on one side and "Peace on Earth" is on the other. The card opens to reveal a biblical quote at left "Ye cannot serve God and mammon. St. Matthew 6. 24," and on the right, "President Roosevelt cannot serve the people and the Big Business." 

4. A Christmas card with a large English town scene in the style of Currier and Ives on the front with the text "Greetings," and a smaller similar scene on the back. The card opens to reveal the full text of the Henry W. Longfellow poem "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and a boxed anti-American quotation, "America provoked Japan to such an extent that Japan was compelled to attack the Americans at Pearl Harbor." Oliver Lyttleton, British Minister of Production allegedly made the comment at a luncheon arranged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in London on June 20, 1944.

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Life for Christmas

5. A Christmas card with a large red bell with the text "LIFE for Christmas" on the front. The card opens to reveal the text: “HERE's ALL YOU DO! 1. Come towards are lines waiving a white flag! 2. Strap your gun over your left shoulder, muzzle down and pointed behind you. 3. Show this ticket to the sentry. 4. Any number of you may surrender with this ticket. Japanese Army Headquarters.”

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Deep Sea Diver Leaflet

Another Japanese propaganda leaflet dropped on U. S. Troops in the Philippines. depicts an American deep sea diver going into a cave marked "PHILIPPINES." Numerous deep sea creatures attack his air hose, placing his life in danger. The text alludes to the Americans being cut off in the Philippines without hope of survival. The back of this leaflet is blank.

Last Hope

Another cruder leaflet depicts an American soldier and sailor looking seaward as the American fleet is sunk by Japanese aircraft. The leaflet is printed on the front only, the back being blank. The ocean is labeled “Philippine Deep,” and the text at the bottom of the leaflet is:


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Capitalists Demand Red Endlessly 

Another leaflet to the Philippines depicted a hand squeezing blood out of soldiers almost like a tube of toothpaste. Dead soldiers are shown at the right and the word "Philippines" at the left. The text is:

CAPITALISTS DEMAND RED ENDLESSLY! It’s your blood doughboys! But more and still more is to be squeezed out.

2nd Class Petty Officer Frank Hoeffer took part in the Bataan Death March and was a prisoner of war of the Japanese for 42 months during WW2. He wrote a journal of his activities in the Philippines during WWII. He mentions propaganda leaflets, "Japanese dive bombers flew over American lines and dropped pamphlets, filthy postcards, and crude drawings supposedly sent by America Prisoners of War in Manila who had been captured with the surrender of Manila. They were supposed to be having the time of their lives after being treated royally by the enemy. Of course, the fighting Americans and Filipinos ignored this kind of propaganda. Before long, pamphlets were dropped to front line troops and on them were printed in English, the following: "American soldiers: arise, kill your officers, cease fighting and suffering. Give yourself up! Your officers are sacrificing you to preserve their own skins! They care nothing for you. While you are starving, they are gaining weight!" The Allies would drop very similar leaflets later in the war when the Japanese troops were starving on bypassed islands.

In his book But not in Shame, John Toland tells of a Japanese campaign waged in the Philippines. He states "The crudest leaflets featured sex. The most effective of these was a "striptease" series. First, the picture of the face of a beautiful woman was dropped from planes. Next came a view of the same woman from the waist up, with a shawl just covering her large breasts. The third showed the woman, full length, draped seductively with a shawl. In the fourth picture, the shawl was gone. The final picture showed the sex act."

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Farewell American Soldiers!

Late in the war as the Japanese saw the Americans approaching the Philippines they produced this leaflet in an attempt to threaten the Allies with the combined population of Asia. By this time most of their subjugated people in the Co-Prosperity Sphere had already turned on the Japanese due to harsh treatment and the realization that they were no better than the former European colonial powers. Some of the text is:

You are still alive! What a miracle! And marching, too. But WHERE? To the Philippines? To Tokyo? But do you know what awaits you in the Philippines? Let me tell you. It is the Japanese forces with the combined support, both moral and material, of all the awakened Asiatics - the Manchukuwans, Chinese, Filipinos, Annamese, Thailanders, Burmese, Indians, Malayans and Indonesians.

There is another thing waiting for you along the Philippines front. What is this thing? I will again answer you. It is your grave. YOUR GRAVE! You are heading west for your grave – as positive as the sun sets in the west. ..Today you are with the living – tomorrow with the dead. So again goodbye American soldiers! Farewell! Farewell!

General Marshall and General MacArthur can enjoy their reputations as heroes only because they are alive. But you... you continue to march westward to sure death, to keep your rendezvous with the grave. The same holds true for your comrade-in arms who are pathetically struggling to escape their ultimate fate. The graves await you, and you, and ALL OF YOU! So, officers and men, I bid you a pitiful goodbye.

Japanese Propaganda as Art

I thought the readers might be interested in this interpretation of Japanese wartime propaganda as art. In 2021 I saw this image of a modern room featuring the propaganda leaflet Farewell American Soldiers! as part of the Claude E. Hawley collection

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The Tribune

This is an amazing leaflet mostly because of the speed with which the Japanese printed and disseminated it. Japanese General Yamashita had just captured the British bastion of Singapore (mostly by bluff, which we might call psychological warfare – but it worked), on 15 February 1942, and it was apparently immediately heralded in the Manila Tribune and a leaflet was prepared and dropped the following day. We seldom see such speed in leafleting except when used in tactical operations. Along the top, a finder wrote:

The leaflet edition of the Tribune was dropped in the Philippines on Monday February 16 1942.

The Japanese used the Tribune newspaper for their propaganda on a regular basis. For instance, on 22 January 1942 they printed the headline “Japan Promises Philippine Independence.” On 23 January 1942 they printed “Vargas, Aquino, Urge full Collaboration,” and on 24 January 1942 they printed “Japanese Army forms Civil Administration.” On 21 May 1942 they published a photo and the signature of an infantry officer identified as Lieutenant David M. Kirk who had surrendered and allegedly was quoted as saying in part:

I have been treated fairly by my captors according to the rules of war. In fact, I eat the same food afforded their own soldiers and sleep in quarters as good if not better. This same treatment is given to other American soldiers of all ranks taken captive.

Why should you sacrifice yourselves by continuing to fight outnumbered, outgunned, outgeneraled and with no hope of succor in this land so far from our native soil? I hear you say, “Let us be manly, let us die a soldier’s death killing as many of the enemy as possible before we inevitably die.” These are brave words, brave spirit, but so useless, so misplaced. Why waste American blood on Philippine soil? You have done all that can be expected of flesh and blood.

Accept the inevitable and surrender to a far superior force. Soon you will be out of food, out of ammunition and no more will be coming across the Pacific now dominated by the Japanese Navy. Place your trust in the hands of the Japanese and surrender. They are not the people our propagandists told us they were. They are a proud and honorable race who will treat their prisoners fairly and repatriate us as soon as peace comes.

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The Tribune II

More than one leaflet was prepared using as a theme the Philippine newspaper Tribune. This leaflet, dated 7 September 1943 tells the Filipino’s that their government has ratified a new Constitution. This leaflet was dropped over the city of Manila.

A 3 January 1942 article in the Tribune stated:

Yesterday at noon Nipponese airplanes flew over Manila and dropped leaflets addressed to the Filipino people. One of the leaflets urged the extension of friendly hands between the Philippine and Japanese peoples in the conversion of the Orient into a world paradise. Another urged the Filipinos not to shed blood for America but to remain in their homes.

Advance units of the Japanese forces from the north which entered the city yesterday afternoon distributed leaflets as they passed through Rizal Avenue and Quezon Boulevard in their military trucks. The text of these leaflets is in part:

The Japanese Armed Forces wishes to share the well-being with the officials and peoples of the native land. Await the arrival of the Japanese troops with confidence and ease. Regardless of nationality, no one need flee. Making resistance or taking hostile action against the Japanese in any manner, will lead the whole native land into ashes. Therefore, all should come under the protection of the Japanese Armed Forces without seeing even one drop of blood and should continue daily business as usual….

There are many other Japanese propaganda leaflets and even series of leaflet for the Philippines and the other Asian nations coveted by the Japanese. I have fairly extensive files and one Japanese-language file mentions no less than 181 leaflets in all. For example, one series of leaflets for the Philippines was printed in English and seven different Philippine languages. The leaflet depicts a Filipino pointing at the reader and the text in part:


The independence of our beloved country is at hand. It will be complete and absolute. It rests with us Filipinos to make it real and enduring, truly the cherished fruit of the sacrifices of our heroic forefathers and brothers who died in our long struggle for racial vindication.


Another series of leaflets depicts the Philippine flag and text in at least four local languages.

There are a number of patriotic song sheets prepared by the Japanese for the Filipinos such as: Pambansang Awit Ng Pilipinas [The Philippine National Anthem], Martsa Ng Bagong Pilipinas [Philippines March - 1942], Awit Sa Paglikha Ng Bagong Piipinas [Hymn of the Birth of the New Philippines - 1942], Kimigajo [Japanese National Anthem]and Aikoku Kòshinkyoku [Patriotic March - 1937].

The Japanese produced a 1944 illustrated calendar for the Philippines. The cover depicts a bustling metropolis and the text:

Without the victory of Japan the independence of the new Philippines cannot exist.

The back depicts a farmer with an ox, all twelve months of 1944 and the text:

Our salvation lies in the soil. We must plant, sweat and work: President Jose P. Laurel

There are four inside pages each containing three months; January to March, April to June, etc., and a different illustration. The text on the pages is:

The new Philippines - like the bright sky.
To work hard makes you happy and gives glory to your country.
Children are the jewels of the country. Let's look after them to be healthy.
Close cooperation with Japan makes our country happy and prosperous.

There is even a set of pictorial calisthenics charts designed by the Propaganda Corps, Imperial Japanese Forces, to be used with a daily Japanese exercise broadcast on Radio Taisu.


Roosevelt, the World Enemy No. 1

Another leaflet from the from the William J. Sebald Papers of the Nimitz Library Digital Collection. There are apparently at least three leaflets all done by the same artist and I assume all from the same Japanese propaganda unit. Each leaflet has been highlighted with some red color and caricatures U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first is entitled “Roosevelt, the World Enemy No. 1.”

The leaflet depicts Roosevelt at the upper left looking down on a dead Filipino while his wife and daughter cry. The text is:

We the Japanese forces, pay the deepest homage to those who wounded or die on the battle fields. We pledge ourselves to make reprisal on our common enemy, America.

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To the American Soldiers!

Another leaflet is entitled “To American Soldiers!” It depicts Roosevelt at the upper right, American ships sinking in the center, and a Japanese warship and a Filipino holding the Philippine flag at the left. There are some grammatical errors. The text is:

Japan has started its furious attak on you. There won’t be anything left for you but to collapse. With your handful force, you won’t get any place. While you still have your life, it is best for you to go home. Recognize the Japan’s New Order in Asia, and give the independence to Philippine. And if you wish to know, that is called the real Monroe Doctrine.

The third leaflet depicts Roosevelt pushing a Filipino into the tracks of an advancing Japanese tank. The text is rather long so I will just quote a few lines:

Tragedy of the Brother Filipino;

Look at this! It is pitiful to see the same Asiatic people suffer. We heartedly have sympathy for all of you. Japan’s enemy is only America. The American policy is to make you die for their own interests and nothing more. It is another form of the same “lynch” that you are facing right now...

[Authors note] The Japanese make an interesting argument in the first leaflet that they are the friends of the Filipinos and will revenge those killed by the Americans. And yet, it is the Japanese that are bombing the Philippines and killing its citizens. I doubt that many Filipinos wanted reprisals against their “common enemy, America” as Japanese bombs fell on their homes. The controversial Monroe Doctrine mentioned in the second leaflet declared on 2 December 1823 that efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention. The Japanese are saying that the Pacific is theirs and no Americans will be allowed to interfere with their control. The term “lynch” in the third leaflet is in regard to the lynching of blacks in the American South. The Japanese are telling the Filipinos that the Americans regard them as slaves to be sacrificed at will.

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What is concealed…

Another Japanese leaflet to the Philippines features Roosevelt standing in formal dress and top hat, surrounded by sinking American warships with the Philippine island of Leyte in the background. This appears to be a late leaflet, but since it mentions a 4th term, clearly Roosevelt is still alive. The code is AB.115, which is unknown. The Americans printed some AB (Atom Bomb) leaflets for Japan, but I have never seen this code on a Japanese leaflet. The back of the leaflet mentions the Germans destroying Great Britain. The text on the front is:


For my reelection for the 4th term, I have no time to be thinking of tens of thousands of American youths who have been sacrificed in the battles off Formosa and off the Philippines.

The back of the leaflet also bears an interesting image. It shows Great Britain at the top and mentions the V-1 rocket. At the bottom it shows Indian factories and warns of their destruction. It says “Fellow countrymen” so wants the reader to believe it was printed by a Filipino. The text is:


Heavy industries in England are threatened to be smashed by German V-1s

Munition factories in India will be shortly reduced to ashes by the powerful
Japanese Air Units.

Fellow Countrymen! Keep away from all military objectives!


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This leaflet would seem to be a bit later in the war. Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon is dead in a coffin (He died August 1, 1944). The new President Sergio Osmena has been sworn in and is now America’s puppet and he and the American Army and Navy are controlled like puppets on a string by President Roosevelt.

That could be General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz as the military leaders, but if so, no attempt has been made to make them recognizable. This leaflet was printed on the front only; the back is blank.

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In this odd cartoon-type leaflet Roosevelt is shown as a “jack in the box” with death where the back of his head should be. The box is labeled “U.S.A.” so the symbolism is clear: Stick with Roosevelt and the U.S.A. and you will find only death.

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An Appeal to American Friends

This Japanese leaflet, allegedly from a Filipino Christian was clearly dropped after the American return to the Philippines and attempts to make the Americans feel guilty about all the death and destruction that will arise from their liberation of the islands. It also implies that the Americans have underestimated the power of the Japanese force. It goes on to bless the American troops and pray for their safety. It is an odd leaflet with a very mixed message.

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With the American Forces in Mindoro

One of the latest WWII Japanese leaflets I have seen is dated 10 January 1945 and appears to be a Black propaganda piece entitled “With the American Forces in Mindoro.” The leaflet claims to be from a message from a Filipino named Isidoro L. Javier who happily went to the Americans when they landed, only to be insulted, mistreated and have several members of his family killed. His own life was saved by a friendly Japanese doctor and he now encourages his friends and fellow Filipinos to help drive the Americans from his shores. This is a very interesting leaflet. Notice the stains from the tape used to attach this leaflets to a file.

The following two leaflets look like Japanese leaflets to the Filipinos but they also could be from the Philippine collaborationist government working with the Japanese after the occupation. Whoever printed them, they are worth reading.

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Don’t be Afraid

The leaflet tells the Filipinos that the Japanese are trustworthy and they should come to them in a friendly manner. Those that run away will be shot. The Americans used the same sort of propaganda during the Vietnam War when the farmers were told to stand still when the Americans approach because should they run they could be shot as Viet Cong guerrillas.

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Philippine Independence Near

This leaflet tells the Filipinos that the Japanese will grant real independence, with the implication that it will not be the American kind of protectorate. It asks those misguided Filipinos in the bush to return to the fold and live a happy life.

Before we end this look at the Philippines, I want to mention Lieutenant Onoda, a very patriotic Japanese Intelligence officer who was left behind to continue the fight against America, no matter how long it took. In this case, the Filipinos and Americans used leaflets to get him to surrender. Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer who fought in World War II and was a Japanese holdout who did not surrender at the war's end in August 1945. After the war ended, Onoda spent 29 years hiding in the Philippines until his former commander travelled from Japan to formally relieve him from duty by order of the emperor in 1974. He held the rank of second lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army. He was the second to last Japanese soldier to surrender. Mercado mentions Onoda and the leaflets used against him (edited for brevity):

On Lubang, Lieutenant Onodo first received notice of the war’s end in late August. Filipino troops exchanged fire with his little band, then dropped leaflets before withdrawing. Onodo chose to disregard the leaflets as a ruse, At the end of 1945, American B-17 flew low over Lubang, scattering more leaflets. Written on them was a letter from General Yamashita to surrender. Onoda and his men decided that the leaflets were yet another forgery to trick him into surrendering. For him the war had only just begun.


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