Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

November 4, 1942

The official journal of the Japanese Military Administration (Vol. 6) carried what may be called the Bases for the Structuring of Oriental Asia. It was noted previously that these were placed in Tokyo by the Council Ministers and their Japanese advisers without consulting the representatives of the regions which were called brother-members of the Sphere. Japan is not only the first among equals, as they tried to appear in their official commitments, but is also the formulator and legislators of laws, devising and implementing the policies to be observed, and enjoying the harvests of the occupied fertile regions.

The first part of the ministerial proclamation is written in very vague general terms. It says, in effect, that the economic reconstruction of the Sphere will be accomplished in two phases. First, the development of mineral and war materials production; and second, the construction of an industrial machinery in a harmonious manner, according to the needs and aptitudes of each region, with Japan as the nucleus of the Sphere.

The second part of the document is more explicit and intelligible. It postulates that Japan being the controlling nation and center of the Sphere, should set the example by putting into practice the different norms adopted, while the other countries revolving around the Empire of the Rising Sun must show maximum cooperation, that is, they should submit fully to all the laws imposed on them.

As to the financial aspect, the following points, among others, were established:

  1. A money market must be created around Japan to unite the East Asia Bloc solidly and organically.
  2. In establishing the relationship between Japan and the other southern nations, the old political practice of depending on funds to settle obligations must be abandoned. Rather, means must be sought to effect these settlements through new approaches, controlling at the same time, pecuniary problems with other countries outside the Sphere. This point is rather ambiguous.
  3. In the different areas within the Sphere, the accumulation and reinforcement of funds over a collective base will be provided, and at the same time, measures will be taken which would benefit each area
  4. Monetary and banking systems will be installed to put currency into circulation in each area according to its political and economic The currency released by these banks will be the only legal tender within that area. Its value, however, will be pegged to the Yen.
  5. The value of the currency in each area shall be determined and maintained according to how the collective plan for materials and labor in East Asia is to be realized.
  6. The settlement of obligations among members of the Sphere, and between these members and other countries outside the Sphere, shall be based on the Yen.
  7. The monetary value in each area will be graduated according to the progressive control of money by Japan, and according to the industrial and economic conditions in each district.

As to the financial structure, the following salient points could be gleaned:

  1. Investments within the different areas of the Sphere and outside it will be controlled by Japan.
  2. With regards to the annual revenues of each area, the measures adopted for the security and development of the economic power and the collective national defense of East Asia will be strictly applied according to the standard of living in each area. Each member is to maintain its financial independence, and will adjust its collective finances to the cooperative effort of all the others in the area, with Japan as the nucleus. (Were the members economically independent or not? This and other points could not have been more vague).
  3. With respect to the distribution of national wealth, an effective control will be exercised, based on a collective plan.

The decree was more specific regarding the commercial relations of these newly-conquered nations:

  1. A collective plan for commerce among the members of the Sphere will be formulated in accordance with the bases for the industrial reconstruction of each area under the guidance and control of the Japanese Empire.
  2. The commercial plan within the Co-Prosperity Sphere will be harmonized with the industrial reconstruction and its supplies of materials to the Empire. The principle of reciprocity between these areas and the Japanese Empire will be maintained.
  3. To effect this plan, a control will be exercised over all importation and exportation to and from different areas of the Sphere, under the supervision of Japan.
  4. For the production and distribution of goods in said areas, Japanese businessmen will see to it that the distribution would be equitable.
  5. There will be a readjustment of customs duties both for the goods to be transacted among members, as well as between members and other countries. Both kinds of duties will be controlled by Japan.

The excerpts from the Ministerial decree, although written in confused terms and have to be read between the lines, if not between words and letters, give some idea of the kind of economic independence the Filipinos would enjoy under the new regime, and of Japan’s intentions in liberating these Oriental races from the oppression of the Western people.