THE HISTORY OF THE GREATER EAST ASIA CO-PROSPERITY SPHERE IDEA
There are several important previously studies that touched on the concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, namely Joyce C. Lebra (1975), Abdul Ghapa Harun Rupawan Ahmad (1996), Peter Duus (2008) and Janis Mimura (2011). The difference with this study is the use of local primary sources that have not been used. Paul H. Kratoska in his writing, The Japanese Occupation of Malaya 1941-1945 and Yoshimura Mako in his writing, Japan's Economic Policy for Occupied Malaya and Japanese Occupation and Economic Policy in Malaya, they concluded that Malaya was subjected to the Japanese during the Second World War because Japan needs to get raw materials, particularly tin reserves and vast farmlands in Malaya. Malaya also regarded as an important geographical position for Malayan Military Administration (MMA) military purposes. In the long term if Japan succeeded in the war, the supply of Malaya’s tin and rubber can be used by Japan's industrial sector in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The new contribution of this study is to demystify the concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in Japan’s effort to expand its investment in Malaya.
THE HISTORY OF THE GREATER EAST ASIA CO-PROSPERITY SPHERE IDEA
One of the earliest ideas that define Japan's relations with Asia is the idea for the establishment of Federation of East Asia that was pioneered by Colonel Ishiwara Kanji and Masayoshi Miyazaki in their writing Theory of East Asian Federation (1936). They see that Japan will eventually have to deal with one or more European imperialist powers, including the Soviet Union. Thus Japan should avoid war with China, but formed an alliance with China and Manchukuo. In this way Western imperialism will be eroded from East Asia. Federation of Eastern Asia Society was founded in 1939 by Colonel Ishiwara to fight for the idea of East Asian Federation evenly. Prime Minister Konoye impressed with this idea but Tojo and the leadership of the Ministry of Defence did not approve it.
Written in the mid-1930s, a Japanese thinker, Yanaihara Tadao expresses his views on the future of Japan. According to him, since there is a close relationship in terms of geography and history between Japan and Southeast Asia, it is natural that the country should try to find a position in the South Seas to ensure continuity of its abundant population and capital accumulation. Japanese mainland itself consists of narrow islands. From the political point of view of geography, Japanese expansion is naturally in this direction.
Such opinion is familiar and have support among the Japanese people. This expansion movement is closely linked with illegal organizations or secret organization that fights for the Japanese imperialist agenda. The economic importance of the south development, called in Japan as nanshin, featured in the arguments that justifying and promoting this action. By late May 1936, it appears that the 'South Seas Policy' was adopted by the Japanese government to 'peace economic development'. Masanori Ito, a well known Japanese journalist also confirmed this through his articles in Japan Times. North China Daily News newspaper under the article “The Problem of the Pacific” stated that the United States does not consider Japan whether alone or associated with Britain or the Soviet Union as a rival or threatens the expansion of the United States influence in Asia. This is because the United States real contender is British. As long the United States can bring British and Japanese into its financial system, it will allow both to determine the direction of their colonies.
One supporter of the South Sea policy is Koichiro Ishihara, who expressed his ethnocentric view in his writings that have been published widely in Osaka Jiji newspaper, who later became the unofficial channels for lobbying the Japanese expansion to the south. Along with the other writings from members of the Showa Kenkyukai (Institute to Promote Pacific Relations), a think tank organization founded in 1937, Ishihara view to some extent affecting military planning group in Tokyo. Ishihara in his writing, Japan at the Crossroads (1940) claimed that some of his views have been adopted by the Cabinet of Japan at that time (the second cabinet of Prince Konoe from July 1940 to October 1941). Even Prince Konoe, Admiral Suetsugu (then Minister of the Interior) and Lieutenant General Tanaka Kunishege (co-founder of Merinkai) has written the introduction in Ishiwara’s chauvinistic work titled The Building of New Japan (1934), where most of the work is based on the idea of Japan at the Crossroads work.
The Director of Asahi newspaper, Bunshiro Suzuki state more frequently British newspaper attacked the image of Japan as a result of the conflict with China, it would bring Japan into the camp of Germany and Italy. It is normal with a small area, Japan should expand its activities towards the nearby continents. No country can criticize Japanese action as selfish as it also the nature of each countries. Japan wants free trade system and its people also can migrate freely. If the world does not want to understand the needs of Japan, then Japan had to battle to develop its economy.
Japanese interests in extending its economic interests in the South Seas further emphasized by Managing Director of Nanyo Kyokai (Association of South Sea), Ryozo Iizumi in an article published in the Japan Times. According to him, the Japanese investment in the South Seas are in the rubber, other agricultural enterprises, mining and fishery sectors and the total is more than 200 million yen. South Sea is the center of Japan's second most important investment after Manchukuo. While countries in the South Seas have supply abundant natural resources, they lack of capital and technical know-how to develop it. They only drew attention to the production of materials to the extent necessary. With that many natural resources remain untapped. Japan should take this opportunity to cooperate with countries in the South Seas for the advancement of its industrialization and economic development of countries in the South Seas.
Masanori Ito’s article, a famous Japanese journalist in Japan Times also stated the East Indies (Malaya, Siam, the Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China and the Philippines) is the granary of the world. Japan's development is dependent on imports of important industrial materials from the East Indies. He argued that Japan was destined compared to other world great powers to achieve greatness through entry into the East Indies. On 22 December 1938, Prime Minister Konoye Fumimaro declare the New Order in East Asia as a solution to a conflict with China and establish cooperation in East Asia Cooperation Agency through the East Asia Coexistence Sphere on the one hand and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere on the other. This New Order covers only Japan, Manchukuo and China, does not include any Southeast Asian countries. Konoye main focus is addressing the issue of security against communism and access to raw materials..
Ozaki Hotsumi, a scholar and theorist in Showa Kenyukai through his article The Concept of the Toa Kyodotai and the Objective Bases for its Establishment (1939) stated that Japan through East Asia Cooperation Agency must expel European colonial oppression from Asia and promoting the communist revolution in Asia. It is also a practical method to handle Chinese nationalism and strengthen Japanese defense and economy. The concept of East Asia Cooperation Agency subsequently touched by Professor Emeritus Shinmei Masamichi in his writing, Ideals of the East Asia Cooperative Body (1939). A group of Japanese politicians led by Yusuke Tsurumi also declared that the South Sea belongs to the Far East and Japan are entitled to share in the wealth of this region that have been taken by Europe.
Professor Kamikawa Hikomatsu in his writing, The American and Japanese Monroe Doctrines (1939) focuses on the origins and development of American Monroe Doctrine. As the United States develop regionalism as a policy of the Monroe Doctrine, he expects the United States will sympathize with the Japanese concept of regionalism in East Asia. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Hachiro Arita Japan state Japan’s belief since its establishment is that every country should be able to take their place in this world. With this spirit Japan is now involved with efforts to establish the New Order in East Asia. Countries in East Asia and the South Sea were destined to cooperate and meet their needs for well-being and prosperity together as well as develop security in their region. For the stability purpose of both regions, consolidation should be done in a sphere.
The main objective of the south expansion policy is to create a New Order in East Asia known as the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a phrase generated by Matsuoka Yosuke (1880-1946), Minister of Foreign Affairs in the second cabinet of Prince Konoe. He first announced this concept on 1 August 1940 with two goals, namely freeing Southeast Asia from the the exploitation of Western powers and launched the 3 A Movement. Japan assume that they are the leader, protector and light of Asia. At this time countries in Southeast Asia was colonized by the Netherlands, the United States, France and Britain. The colonies viewed Japan as a savior and really hope the Japanese movement can help them to gain independence. For these reasons, the Emperor of Japan is determined to maintain a policy of "Asia for Asians" who will bring peace in Asia. Asia's global effort will be led by Japan and it will be known as the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. According to Japan, the system includes a combination of regional, cultural, economic and defense under Japan's efforts that will be made as a buffer against the expansion of Western imperialism.
At first this sphere will include Japan, Manchukuo and China as the core area, the South Sea area consisting of French Indochina, Thailand and the Dutch East Indies as a second region. Then in September 1940, Malaya, Borneo and India have also been included. Because of Malaya’s important to the Japanese, it is placed in group A under the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The policy to this group is to get as much of the country's natural resources and restrict the outflow of resources from the country. In the long term, if Japan succeeded in the war, the supply of Malaya’s tin and rubber could have been used by Japanese industry in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
With the changing of international situation, the Japanese government has decided to increase the defense of the country and establish a new political structure of authority. The basic aim of Japan’s national policy is the establishment of a peaceful world in accordance with the Hakko Ichiu spirit (eight corners of the world under one roof). The first step to ensure this success is to establish a New Order in East Asia, with essentially located in Japan, Manchukuo and China. Japan will move its energy entirely to meet the country's energy policy through the establishment of its own national structure that can meet the needs of domestic and overseas development. Japan’s Foreign Minister, Yoseuke Matsuoka stated that Japanese mission is to declare and show 'Kodo' or Imperial way in creating world peace.
On 3 August 1940, the Japanese Foreign Office spokesman claimed the French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies will be included in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere as predicted by the Foreign Minister, Yosuke Matsuoka a day before. Japan only can solve the complicated international situation and future development that is not necessarily through the establishment of a new political structure, strengthen national defense, develop national resources and the construction of the Greater East Asiatic sphere in collaboration with East Asiatic countries for mutual prosperity. In order to establish the Greater East Asiatic sphere, the Japanese government will work with as many foreign powers who shared their views with the Japanese side in addition determined to set aside all obstacles. Japan's immediate aim in foreign policy under the new government is established the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere with Japan, Manchukuo and China as a liaison. In this environment, a system of self-sufficiency will prevail. Japan also will not give up to make friends with countries that refuse to cooperate with them.
 Joyce C. Lebra (editor), Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II: Selected Readings and Documents, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1975.
 Abdul Ghapa Harun Rupawan Ahmad, Imperialisme Jepun dan Konsep Lingkungan Kesemakmuran Asia Timur Raya in Jebat: Malaysian Journal of History, Politics and Strategic Studies 24, 1996, pp. 3-20.
 Peter Duus, The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere: Dream and Reality in Journal of Northeast Asian History 5 (1), 2008, pp. 143-154.
 Janis Mimura, Planning for Empire: Reform Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press, 2011. See also Janis Mimura, Japan’s New Order and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: Planning for Empire in The Asia-Pacific Journal 9 (3), 2011.
 Paul H. Kratoska, The Japanese Occupation of Malaya 1941-1945, London, C. Hurst Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 1998.
 Yoshimura Mako, Japan’s Economic Policy for Occupied Malaya in Yoji Akashi Yoshimura Mako (editors), New Perspectives on the Japanese Occupation in Malaya and Singapore, 1941-1945, Singapore, NUS Press, 2008, pp. 113-138.
 Yoshimura Mako, Japanese Occupation and Economic Policy in Malaya in Sejarah - Jurnal Jabatan Sejarah Universiti Malaya 10, 2002, pp. 21-51.
 See also Yee Siew Kee, The Japanese in Malaya before 1942 in Journal of the South Seas Society 20 (12), 1966, pp. 48-88. See also Yuen Choy Leng, The Japanese Community in Malaya Before the Pacific War: Its Genesis and Growth in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 9 (2), 1978, pp. 163-179.
 Joyce C. Lebra (editor), Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II: Selected Readings and Documents, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 3.
 Ooi Keat Gin, The Japanese Occupation of Borneo, 1941-1945, Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London, Routledge, 2010, p. 20. See also Anonymous, DANGER ZONE OF FUTURE. Conflict in Pacific Predicted in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 12 March 1925, p. 10.
 Ooi Keat Gin, The Japanese Occupation of Borneo, 1941-1945, Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London, Routledge, 2010, p. 20.
 For more information about his opinions, kindly see Anonymous, JAPAN’S ADVANCE TO SOUTH. To Explore Wealth of Malaysia. TOKIO VIEW EXPLAINED. in The Straits Times, 17 September 1936, p. 17.
 Anonymous, THE PROBLEM IN THE PACIFIC. A Japanese Analysis. STRUGGLE FOR SOURCES OF RAW MATERIAL. in The Straits Times, 9 December 1930, p. 4.
 Ooi Keat Gin, The Japanese Occupation of Borneo, 1941-1945, Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London, Routledge, 2010, p. 21. For more information about Ishihara and other thinker opinions, kindly see Joyce C. Lebra, Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II: Selected Readings and Documents, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1975, pp. 44-45, 64-67, 99-103, 116-117.
 Eric Robertson, The Japanese File: Pre-War Japanese Penetration in Southeast Asia, Singapore, Heinemann Asia, 1986, p. 5.
 For more information about Merinkai, kindly see ibid., p. 4.
 Ooi Keat Gin, The Japanese Occupation of Borneo, 1941-1945, Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London, Routledge, 2010, p. 21.
 See Anonymous, “BRITAIN DRIVING JAPAN INTO MILITARY CAMP.”. Tokio Newspaper Chief On Far East Crisis in The Straits Times, 16 December 1937, p. 12. Bunshiro Suzuki views on 16 December 1937, See also Anonymous, “WHY THE JAPANESE ARE ANTI-BRITISH”. Rangoon Chinese View Of The Crisis in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 11 September 1937, p. 7.
 Anonymous, Japan Attaches Great Import To Her Interests In The Indies. “SOUTH SEAS REGION LINKED IN MANY WAYS WITH EMPIRE. Nearly 200 Million Yen Invested There in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 5 January 1938, p. 3.
 Anonymous, JAPAN’S AIMS IN EAST INDIES. Important Articles By Tokio Publicist. “PROVIDENCE FAVOURS US MOST.” in The Straits Times, 17 September 1936, p. 11.
 Joyce C. Lebra (editor), Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II: Selected Readings and Documents, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 68.
 Ibid., p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Anonymous, Japan’s Policy In The Indies. Views Of U.S. Journalist Who Spent Two Months In N.I. in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 17 July 1940, p. 4.
 Joyce C. Lebra (editor), Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II: Selected Readings and Documents, Kuala Lumpur, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 25.
 See Anonymous, Mr. Arita’s Speech On Japanese Policy. East Asia The Future in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 2 July 1940, p. 4. Hachiro Arita views in June 1940.
 The 3 A Concept or Three Movement has been implemented with the slogan "Asia for the Asians', Japan also claims to liberate Asia from Western colonialism because Japan wanted to get rid of all Western influence feeling the effects of anti-British and anti-American that appears.
 Victor Purcell, South and East Asia Since 1800, London, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 180.
 J.C. Libra, Jungle Alliance, Singapore, Asian Pacific Press, 1971, p. xi.
 Hara Fujio, Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in Ooi Keat Gin (editor), Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Volume I, Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-Clio, 2004, p. 554.
 See Anonymous, Japan’s Policy In East Asia. National Basic Programme in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 3 August 1940, p. 4. Japanese government statement on the country’s basic policies as a result of sharing agreement reached between them and the Royal General Headquarters in a conference held at the Royal Palace on 2 August 2 1940.
 Anonymous, New Statement On “Great East Asian Sphere” in The Straits Times, 4 August 1940, p. 1.
 See Anonymous, Matsuoka’s New Warning To Great Powers. “JAPAN DETERMINED TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES” in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 13 August 1940, p. 3. Statement by Foreign Minister of Japan, Yosuke Matsuoka on 12 August 1940.
 See Anonymous, JAPAN TO SET UP A “GREATER ASIAN SPHERE”. Foreign Minister On New Cabinet’s Policy. REGION TO EMBRACE INDO-CHINA AND MALAYSIA in The Straits Times, 2 August 1940, p. 16. Statement by Foreign Minister of Japan, Yosuke Matsuoka on 19 August 1940.