When I opened the exhibition “Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies” on Wednesday, I explained that we had designed this exhibition to capture the dark days of the Japanese Occupation, and remind ourselves never to take for granted our peace, harmony and sovereignty. 


2 Far from expressing approval of the Japanese Occupation, our intention was to remember what our forefathers went through, commemorate the generation of Singaporeans who experienced the Japanese Occupation, and reaffirm our collective commitment never to let this happen again.


3 The name of the exhibition reflected the time in our history when Singapore was forcibly renamed “Syonan”. We have used the word “Syonan” before to factually describe this difficult period. For instance, in 1992, for the 50thAnniversary of the Fall of Singapore, we held an exhibition at the National Museum, titled “When Singapore was Syonan-to”. 


4 But this particular exhibition name provoked a strong reaction. Over the past two days, I have read the comments made on this issue, and received many letters from Singaporeans of all races. While they agreed that we need to teach Singaporeans about the Japanese Occupation, they also shared that the words “Syonan Gallery” had evoked deep hurt in them, as well as their parents and grandparents. This was never our intention, and I am sorry for the pain the name has caused.


5 I have reflected deeply on what I heard. We must honour and respect the feelings of those who suffered terribly and lost family members during the Japanese Occupation. I have therefore decided to remove the words “Syonan Gallery” from the name of the exhibition, and name it “Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies”. 


6 The contents of the exhibition remain unchanged. They capture a painful and tragic period in our history which we must never forget, and which we must educate our young about. It is vital for us to learn the lessons of history, and reaffirm our commitment never to let this happen to Singapore again.


Speech by Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran at the Opening Ceremony of Asia TV Forum & Market and Screensingapore on 4 December 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 04 Dec 19
Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, at the completion of the Digital Archives of Singapore Tamil Arts on 30 November 2019 Speeches Libraries 30 Nov 19
Opening Remarks by SMS Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, at launch of AiSP’s Ladies In Cyber Mentorship Programme on 26 November 2019 Speeches Cyber Security 26 Nov 19
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Transcript of Minister Iswaran’s Dialogue with Mr Michael Lawrence, CEO Asia House at the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue on 7 November 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 07 Nov 19
Keynote address by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations, at the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue on 7 November 2019 Speeches Infocomm Media 07 Nov 19