Vietnamese Famine of 1945

Last updated

The Vietnamese Famine of 1945 (Vietnamese : Nạn đói Ất Dậu - Famine of the Yiyou Year) was a famine that occurred in northern Vietnam in French Indochina during World War II from October 1944 to late 1945, which at the time was under Japanese occupation from 1940 with Vichy France as a puppet government. Between 400,000 and 2 million people are estimated to have starved to death during this time. [1] [2] The demographics vary from French estimates of 600,000-700,000 dead, to official Vietnamese numbers of 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 victims.

Vietnamese language official and national language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a first or second language for the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. As a result of Vietnamese emigration and cultural influence, Vietnamese speakers are found throughout the world, notably in East and Southeast Asia, North America, Australia and Western Europe. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

The sexagenary cycle, also known as the Stems-and-Branches or ganzhi, is a cycle of sixty terms, each corresponding to one year, thus a total of sixty years for one cycle, used for reckoning time in China and the rest of the East Asian cultural sphere. It appears as a means of recording days in the first Chinese written texts, the Shang oracle bones of the late second millennium BC. Its use to record years began around the middle of the 3rd century BC. The cycle and its variations have been an important part of the traditional calendrical systems in Chinese-influenced Asian states and territories, particularly those of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, with the old Chinese system still in use in Taiwan.

Famine widespread scarcity of food followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality

A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was generally Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s.

Contents

According to a 2018 study, the primary cause of the famine were typhoons that reduced the availability of food. Japan's occupation, American attacks on the Vietnamese transport system, and French colonial administration hindered an effective famine alleviation response. [3]

Causes

Vietnamese villagers attacking a rice warehouse built by Japanese forces during the Japanese occupation, 1945 Rob the rice warehouse at Vietnam 1945.jpg
Vietnamese villagers attacking a rice warehouse built by Japanese forces during the Japanese occupation, 1945

There were many causes of this famine. The direct cause was the effects of World War II on French Indochina. The involvement of France and Japan in Vietnam caused detrimental effects to the economic activities of the Vietnamese. Military and economic changes[ specify ] caused the northern part of the country to plunge into famine. In 1944, after US bombing cut off supplies of coal from the north to Saigon, the French and Japanese used rice and maize as fuel for power stations. According to diplomat Bui Minh Dung, “the Japanese occupation of Vietnam was the direct cause, in the final analysis, of several other factors, in turn affecting the famine, but their military efforts together with their economic policy for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere per se seem to have systematically played a role considerably greater than any other factors in the Vietnamese starvation.” [2]

Vichy France officially the French State, was France during the regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain, during World War II

Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Indirectly, the mismanagement of the French administration in Vietnam played a role. The French reformed the economy in order to serve the administration and to meet the needs of war, because they were being invaded themselves. Natural causes included natural disasters such as droughts and floods destroying northern crops.

Drought extended period when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply

A drought or drouth is a natural disaster of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics significantly increase the chances of a drought developing and subsequent bush fires. Periods of heat can significantly worsen drought conditions by hastening evaporation of water vapour.

The crop failures of 1943-45 were compounded by lack of dike maintenance following US bombing of the north and the catastrophic rainfall of August-September 1944, causing flooding and loss of rice plants.

Effects of the French colonial administration

After the Great Depression in the 1930s, France returned to its policy of economic protectorate and monopolized the exploitation of natural resources of French Indochina. The people in French Indochina had to increase the economic value of the area by growing cash crops in place of lower-value agricultural produce, but only the French and a small minority of Vietnamese and Hoa and some people in the cities benefited.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Exploitation of natural resources

The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resources for economic growth, sometimes with a negative connotation of accompanying environmental degradation. It started to emerge on an industrial scale in the 19th century as the extraction and processing of raw materials developed much further than it had in preindustrial areas. During the 20th century, energy consumption rapidly increased. Today, about 80% of the world’s energy consumption is sustained by the extraction of fossil fuels, which consists of oil, coal and gas. Another non-renewable resource that is exploited by humans is subsoil minerals such as precious metals that are mainly used in the production of industrial commodities. Intensive agriculture is an example of a mode of production that hinders many aspects of the natural environment, for example the degradation of forests in a terrestrial ecosystem and water pollution in an aquatic ecosystem. As the world population rises and economic growth occurs, the depletion of natural resources influenced by the unsustainable extraction of raw materials becomes an increasing concern.

Cash crop an agricultural crop which is grown to sell for profit

A cash crop or profit crop is an agricultural crop which is grown to sell for profit. It is typically purchased by parties separate from a farm. The term is used to differentiate marketed crops from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family. In earlier times cash crops were usually only a small part of a farm's total yield, while today, especially in developed countries, almost all crops are mainly grown for revenue. In the least developed countries, cash crops are usually crops which attract demand in more developed nations, and hence have some export value.

A similar poor harvest as in the famine had happened in 1937, but the administration had managed to counter it with prepared food reserves and a series of public works projects for poor farmers akin to the New Deal. [2]

New Deal Economic programs of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt

The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1936. It responded to needs for relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression. Major federal programs included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). They provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly. The New Deal included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply. New Deal programs included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Effects of World War II

When the war started, France was weakened. In East Asia, Japan began to expand and viewed French Indochina as a bridge into Southeast Asia and a means to isolate and further weaken the Nationalist government of China. In mid-1940, metropolitan France was occupied by Germany and Japan increased pressure on France and entered French Indochina that September. Vietnam was pulled into a wartime economy, with France and Japan competing in administration. Japanese troops forced farmers to grow jute instead of rice, thus depriving them of needed food, but in reality France had started the same policy earlier to a smaller degree. The land set aside for growing staple crops such as maize and potatoes was decreased to make land for growing cotton, jute, and other industrial plants. Because of the decreased land available for growing, harvests of staple crops decreased considerably. Crops were also exported to Japan.

The militaries of both France and Japan forcibly seized food from farmers to feed their troops.[ clarification needed ] By 1941 there were 140,000 [4] Japanese troops in French Indochina. During the occupation of French Indochina by Japan, the Allies made frequent air strikes against roads, warehouse and transportation facilities. This made the transport of rice from the south to the north extremely difficult. In the meantime, the puppet Vichy French civilian administration was dysfunctional, unable to distribute remaining food stocks to areas where needed. In March 1945, the Japanese-sponsored Empire of Vietnam headed by Trần Trọng Kim supplanted the French administration. While this new government made efforts to alleviate the famine,[ dubious ] the inadequate food supply, coupled with hoarding of food by the Imperial Japanese Army, made their efforts futile.

Natural disasters

In northern Vietnam, a drought coupled with pests caused the winter-spring harvest of 1944 to decrease by 20%. After that there was a flood during the harvest season, causing the crisis to occur. This hence led to the famine in 1945.

Consequences

Severely malnourished village children in Hai Hau, Nam Dinh Province, August 1945. Impoverished villagers suffered the most from the famine, with various sources estimating the number of people starving to death at approximately one to two million. Famine in Vietnam, 1945 (6).jpg
Severely malnourished village children in Hải Hậu, Nam Định Province, August 1945. Impoverished villagers suffered the most from the famine, with various sources estimating the number of people starving to death at approximately one to two million.

The exact number of deaths due to the 1944-1945 famine is unknown and is a matter of controversy. Various sources estimate between 400,000 and 2 million people starved in northern Vietnam during this time. In May 1945, the envoy at Hanoi asked the northern provinces to report their casualties. Twenty provinces reported that a total of 380,000 people starved to death, and 20,000 more died because of disease. In October, a report from a French military official estimated half a million deaths. The French Governor General Jean Decoux wrote in his memoirs A la barre de l'Indochine that about 1 million northerners starved to death. Modern Vietnamese historians estimate between 1 and 2 million deaths. Ho Chi Minh in his Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945, used a 2 million figure.

The famine played a part in the coming war between the French and Viet Minh. In March 1945 the Viet Minh (a Communist-controlled common front fighting for the independence of Vietnam) urged the population to ransack rice warehouses and refuse to pay their taxes. Between 75 and 100 warehouses were consequently raided. This rebellion against the effects of the famine and the authorities that were seen as responsible for it bolstered the Viet Minh's popularity and they recruited many members during this period.

See also

Related Research Articles

French Indochina Federal state in Southeast Asia

French Indochina, officially known as the Indochinese Union after 1887 and the Indochinese Federation after 1947, was a grouping of French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.

Bảo Đại Vietnamese emperor

Bảo Đại, born Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, was the 13th and final Emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam. From 1926 to 1945, he was Emperor of Annam. During this period, Annam was a protectorate within French Indochina, covering the central two-thirds of the present-day Vietnam. Bảo Đại ascended the throne in 1932.

Ho Chi Minh Vietnamese communist leader and Chairman of the Workers Party of Vietnam

Hồ Chí Minh, born Nguyễn Sinh Cung, also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành,Nguyễn Ái Quốc, Bác Hồ or simply Bác, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was Chairman and First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam. He was also Prime Minister (1945–1955) and President (1945–1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 at the Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi as well as the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

Việt Minh national independence coalition

Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pác Bó by Hồ Chí Minh on May 19, 1941. The Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội had previously formed in Nanjing, China, at some point between August 1935 and early 1936 when Vietnamese Nationalist or other Vietnamese nationalist parties formed an anti-imperialist united front. This organization soon lapsed into inactivity, only to be revived by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) and Hồ Chí Minh in 1941. The Việt Minh established itself as the only organized anti-French and anti-Japanese resistance group. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. The United States supported France. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China. After World War II, the Việt Minh opposed the re-occupation of Vietnam by France and later opposed South Vietnam and the United States in the Vietnam War. The political leader and founder of Việt Minh was Hồ Chí Minh. The military leadership was under the command of Võ Nguyên Giáp. Other founders were Lê Duẩn and Phạm Văn Đồng.

Tonkin northern part of Vietnam, to the west of the Gulf of Tonkin

Tonkin, also spelled Tongkin, Tonquin or Tongking, is in the Red River Delta Region of northern Vietnam.

First Indochina War 1946-1954 war between France and Ho Chi Minhs forces

The First Indochina War began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Bảo Đại's Vietnamese National Army against the Việt Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People's Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.

August Revolution

The August Revolution, also known as the August General Uprising, was a revolution launched by Ho Chi Minh's Việt Minh against French colonial rule in Vietnam, on August 14, 1945.

Bengal famine of 1943 World War II famine following the Japanese occupation of Burma

The Bengal famine of 1943 was a major famine of the Bengal province in British India during World War II. An estimated 2.1–3 million, out of a population of 60.3 million, died of starvation, or of malaria and other diseases aggravated by malnutrition, population displacement, unsanitary conditions and lack of health care. Millions were impoverished as the crisis overwhelmed large segments of the economy and social fabric. Historians have frequently characterised the famine as "man-made", asserting that wartime colonial policies created and then exacerbated the crisis. A minority view holds that the famine arose from natural causes.

The Indochina Wars were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia from 1946 until 1989, between communist Indochinese forces against mainly French, South Vietnamese, American, Cambodian, Laotian and Chinese forces. The term "Indochina" originally referred to French Indochina, which included the current states of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In current usage, it applies largely to a geographic region, rather than to a political area. The wars included:

Japanese <i>coup détat</i> in French Indochina

The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen, was a Japanese operation that took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. With Japanese forces losing the war and the threat of an Allied invasion of Indochina imminent, the Japanese were concerned about an uprising against them by French colonial forces.

Trần Trọng Kim Vietnamese Prime Minister

Trần Trọng Kim, courtesy name Lệ Thần, was a Vietnamese scholar and politician who served as the Prime Minister of the short-lived Empire of Vietnam, a state established with the support of Imperial Japan in 1945. This came after Japan had seized direct control of Vietnam from the Vichy French colonial forces during the Second World War. He was an uncle of Bui Diem.

Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

The Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was written by Hồ Chí Minh, and announced in public at the Ba Đình flower garden on September 2, 1945. It led to the independence of Vietnam.

Rice production in Vietnam in the Mekong and Red River deltas is important to the food supply in the country and national economy. Vietnam is one of the world's richest agricultural regions and is the second-largest exporter worldwide and the world's seventh-largest consumer of rice. The Mekong Delta is the heart of the rice-producing region of the country where water, boats, houses and markets coexist to produce a generous harvest of rice. Vietnam's land area of 33 million ha has three ecosystems that dictate rice culture. These are the southern delta, the northern delta and the highlands of the north. The most prominent irrigated rice system is the Mekong Delta. Rice is a staple of the national diet and is seen as a "gift from God".

North Vietnam Former socialist republic in Southeast Asia

North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), was a country in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975.

War in Vietnam (1945–46) Prelude to the Indochina Wars

The War in Vietnam, codenamed Operation Masterdom by the British, and also known as Nam Bộ kháng chiến by the Vietnamese, was a post–World War II armed conflict involving a largely British-Indian and French task force and Japanese troops from the Southern Expeditionary Army Group, versus the Vietnamese communist movement, the Viet Minh, for control of the country, after the unconditional Japanese surrender.

After World War II and the collapse of Vietnam's monarchy, France attempted to re-establish its colonial rule but was ultimately defeated in the First Indochina War. The Geneva Accords in 1954 partitioned the country temporarily in two with a promise of democratic elections in 1956 to reunite the country. However, the United States and South Vietnam insisted on United Nations supervision of any election to prevent fraud, which the Soviet Union and North Vietnam refused. North and South Vietnam therefore remained divided until The Vietnam War ended with the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

French Indochina in World War II

In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina passed to the French State. In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire and simultaneously the USA. This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.

1940–1946 in the Vietnam War

1940—1946 in the Vietnam War focuses on events influencing the eventual decision for military intervention by the United States in the Vietnam War. French Indochina in the 1940s was divided into five protectorates: Cambodia, Laos, Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina. The latter three made up Vietnam. In 1940, the French controlled 23 million Vietnamese with 12,000 French soldiers, about 40,000 Vietnamese soldiers, and the Sûreté, a powerful police force. At that time, the U.S. had little interest in Vietnam or French Indochina as a whole. Fewer than 100 Americans, mostly missionaries, lived in Vietnam and U.S. government representation consisted of one consul resident in Saigon.

Tonkin (French protectorate)

Tonkin, or Bắc Kỳ (北圻), was a French protectorate encompassing modern Northern Vietnam.

References

  1. Charles Hirschman et al. "Vietnamese Casualties During the American War: A New Estimate" Archived June 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine . Population and Development Review (December 1995).
  2. 1 2 3 Gunn, Geoffrey (2011) ‘ The Great Vietnamese Famine of 1944-45 Revisited’, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 9(5), no 4 (31 January 2011). http://www.japanfocus.org/-Geoffrey-Gunn/3483 http://japanfocus.org/data/japanese_indochina.png http://japanfocus.org/data/indochina_map.png http://japanfocus.org/data/faminevictims_1.jpeg http://japanfocus.org/data/famvic.2.jpeg http://japanfocus.org/data/agricultural_hydrolics_indochina.png http://japanfocus.org/-Geoffrey-Gunn/3483 http://defence.pk/threads/the-great-vietnamese-famine-of-1944-45-revisited-must-read.164790/
  3. HUFF, GREGG (2018). "Causes and consequences of the Great Vietnam Famine, 1944–5". The Economic History Review. doi:10.1111/ehr.12741. ISSN   1468-0289.
  4. Reid, Anthony (2015). A history of Southeast Asia : critical crossroads. John Wiley & Sons. p. 323. ISBN   978-1118513002 . Retrieved 24 September 2018.