French Colonization and Japanese Occupation

Vietnam has a long history of opposition to colonial rule, beginning with its struggles against Chinese imperial ambitions as early as 111 B.C. Most Vietnamese never accepted its position as a French colony. Resistance began in the 1860s and continued to gain strength throughout the 20th century. Educated in Europe, Ho Chi Minh became a revolutionary leader who founded the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1945. He was especially drawn to Marxist ideals that encouraged members of the proletariat, or working classes, to shake off the economic oppression imposed by the bourgeoisie and members of the ruling classes.

Read this article which describes how French and Japanese imperialism influenced Vietnam's history and culture. How did colonialism affect the people of Vietnam?


This article seeks to clarify the relationships that formed among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese when they coexisted in Indochina during the Second World War. The French and the Japanese jointly ruled Indochina, due to their respective interests in preserving suzerainty and securing bases for the Pacific War.

These two groups maintained constant mutual awareness in this complicated and unstable relationship while avoiding conflict and seeking the support of the Vietnamese population. However, despite efforts of French and Japanese authorities, the contradiction of mutual coexistence between France, as the "missionary of civilization," and Japan, as the "liberator of Asia" from Western colonialism, could not be concealed.

Whereas the Japanese government's policy of "maintaining peace" in Indochina ensured that interactions between the Japanese and Vietnamese were limited, the relationship between the French and the Vietnamese shifted during this time, with the effect of stimulating the local population's identity and leading to France laying the groundwork for postwar decolonization. By examining the quotidian facets of the Franco-Japanese rule of Indochina, this article reveals how mutual encounters among the French, Japanese, and Vietnamese undermined French colonization and Japanese occupation.

Keywords: Indochina, Japan, Vietnam, French colonization, Japanese empire, Second World War, Pacific War, colonization, decolonization

Source: Chizuru Namba,
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