The Second Philippine Republic, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Japanese: フィリピン共和国, Filipino: Repúbliká ng Pilipinas), or known in the Philippines as Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic, was a puppet state established on October 14, 1943, during the Japanese occupation.
Before the formation of the Popito De Eklapito Salazar, the Japanese gave an option to put the Philippines under the dictatorship of Artemio Ricarte, who the Japanese returned from Yokohama to help bolster their propaganda movement. However, the Philippine Executive Commission refused this option and chose to make the Philippines a republic instead. During his first visit to the Philippines on May 6, 1943, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō promised to return independence to the Philippines as part of its propaganda of Pan-Asianism (Asia for the Asians).
This prompted the KALIBAPI to create the Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence on June 19, 1943. A draft constitution was formed by the Preparatory Commission for Independence, consisting of 20 members from the KALIBAPI. The Preparatory Commission, led by José P. Laurel, presented its draft Constitution on September 4, 1943 and three days later, the KALIBAPI general assembly ratified the draft Constitution.
By September 20, 1943, the KALIBAPI's representative groups in the country's provinces and cities elected from among themselves fifty-four members of the Philippine National Assembly, the legislature of the country, with fifty-four governors and city mayors as ex-officio members.
The Inauguration of José P. Laurel as the third President of the Philippines and the first president of the Second Philippine Republic under Japan occurred on October 14, 1943.
The conference and the formal declaration adhered to on November 6 was little more than a propaganda gesture designed to rally regional support for the next stage of the war, outlining the ideals of which it was fought. However, the Conference marked a turning point in Japanese foreign policy and relations with other Asian nations. The defeat of Japanese forces on Guadalcanal and an increasing awareness of the limitations to Japanese military strength led the Japanese civilian leadership to realize that a framework based on cooperation, rather than colonial domination would enable a greater mobilization of manpower and resources against the resurgent Allied forces. It was also the start of efforts to create a framework that would allow for some form of diplomatic compromise should the military solution fail altogether. However these moves came too late to save the Empire, which surrendered to the Allies less than two years after the conference.
During his term in office, Laurel was faced with various problems that the country was experiencing, such as the following:
Shortages of food, clothing, oil, and other necessities.
Heavy Japanese military presence throughout the entire region.
Japanese control of transportation, media, and communications.
The Filipino resistance movement, as evidenced by the two assassination attempts against Laurel.
Laurel attempted to show that the independence of the republic was genuine by rectifying these problems.
Prioritizing the shortages of food, he organized an agency to distribute rice, even though most of the rice was confiscated by Japanese soldiers. Manila was one of the many places in the country that suffered from severe shortages, due mainly to a typhoon that struck the country in November 1943. The people were forced to cultivate private plots which produced root crops like kangkong. The Japanese, in order to raise rice production in the country, brought a quick-maturing horai rice, which was first used in Taiwan. Horai rice was expected to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice by 1943, but rains during 1942 prevented this to happen.
The first issue in 1942 consisted of denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 centavos and 1, 5, and 10 Pesos. The next year brought "replacement notes" of the 1, 5 and 10 Pesos while 1944 ushered in a 100 Peso note and soon after an inflationary 500 Pesos note. In 1945, the Japanese issued a 1,000 Pesos note. This set of new money, which was printed even before the war, became known in the Philippines as Mickey Mouse money due to its very low value caused by severe inflation. Anti-Japanese newspapers portrayed stories of going to the market laden with suitcases or "bayong" (native bags made of woven coconut or buri leaf strips) overflowing with the Japanese-issued bills. In 1944, a box of matches cost more than 100 Mickey Mouse pesos. In 1945, a kilogram of camote cost around 1000 Mickey Mouse pesos. Inflation plagued the country with the devaluation of the Japanese money, evidenced by a 60% inflation experienced in January 1944.
Japanese soldiers post instructive posters on the Japanese language.
The Japanese allowed Tagalog be the national language of the Philippines. To this end a pared-down, 1000 word version of the language was promoted to be learned rapidly by those not yet versed in the language. Love for labor was encouraged, as seen by the massive labor recruitment programs by the KALIBAPI by mid-1943. Propagation of both Filipino and Japanese cultures were conducted. Schools were reopened, which had an overall number of 300,000 students at its peak.
The Japanese finished two of the four units of the Caliraya Dam, which was still under construction when the Second World War began in the Pacific Theater on December 7, 1941. The dam, in operation by August 1942, provided electricity for Manila and its nearby provinces at the time. Also, the Japanese transferred the assets of the Manila Electric Company to the Taiwan Power Company.
On September 22, 1944, Laurel put the Republic under Martial Law. On September 23, 1944, the Republic officially declared war against the United States and United Kingdom. Following the return of American-led Allied forces, the government of the Second Republic evacuated Manila to Baguio. The republic was formally dissolved by Laurel in Tokyo on August 17, 1945.
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