Lottery in Japanese Occupied Singapore

IMG_1865 IMG_1866It is hard to fathom any enthusiastic punter when faced with the prospect of hardship and suffering during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in the 1940s. But only several months after the fall of Singapore in 15 February 1942, the Central Military Administration (known in Japanese as the Gunseikanbu or 軍政監部) started issuing lottery tickets, administered by the Yokohama Specie Bank (横浜正金銀行) Ltd. Syonan Branch. This first series of lottery was termed the 昭南證券 (Syonan Shoken) which actually meant “Syonan Securities” that is specific to Syonan-To (昭南島; new name of Singapore given by the Japanese). Another popular series of lottery was termed the 興南彩券 (Konan Saiken) which is now aptly named “Konan Lottery” (Konan meant “Southern Region”.) that is used in Malaya and which was meant for the purpose of reconstruction and aid relief; this lottery is drawn in Syonan-To as well as other branches in Malai.  There are also lotteries meant for other crown colonies like Penang.

The Syonan Shoken, valued at One Dollar ($1 or 1弗) is serialised and bears the name and the seal of the Gunseikanbu. The ticket has a warning against any forgery or alterations, with severe punishment to be dealt with. The Gunseikanbu unlike the Municipal counterpart known as the Tokubetsu-shi (特別市) were not merciful in their dealing with the natives and often have brutal punishments like death as a deterrent. At the back of the ticket are conditions been laid out. The winner of the first price stands to win $100,000, which is an immense fortune in those days. The drawing of the tickets are held at Syonan Gekijo (昭南劇場), formerly known as the Victoria Theatre on the 10th August 2602 (2602 is based on the Japanese Imperial calendar which actually meant 1942). Prizes will be paid out between 12 August and 11 September. According to popular beliefs, top prizes were never really given out in this lottery, as it was really a ploy to fund the military.

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