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SHILLONG: A Japanese scholar has enlightened a group of audience in Shillong about the propaganda war launched by Japanese against the Indian army during Second World War.
‘Dentan’ in Japanese, is a type of ‘propaganda leaflets’ that were scattered by the Japanese Army to discourage the enemy soldiers in the battlefield during the Second World War.
Dentan, derived from Chinese, was not known to many here until Tomio Mizokami, Professor Emeritus, Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan, gave an informative insight into it through a talk titled ‘Anecdotes From History: Propaganda leaflets scattered by the Japanese Army in British India during World War II and specialties of Hindi used in them’ by Asian Confluence on Thursday evening.
Tomio, who teaches Hindi and Bengali languages in Japan, gave his speech in English with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation in actual Hindi and Bengali, to a select audience.
This was the psychological part of this War which could not ensure a Japanese win of course but this psychological war went down in history as ‘war by paper’. As the adage goes, “Everything is fair in love and war” he observed that at that period of time perhaps any army of any country would have adopted this method, and the Japanese army was not exceptional.
“At the present time, this war is fought by internet, which is called Cyber terror. A collection of those Dentans was published from a publisher in Tokyo in 1990, but this is out of print now,” he said. Informing further that it is available only in Amazon’s second hand books, he said that it has proved to be a very important historical document which is not easily available or obtainable.
Pointing to the Indian side of these Dentans, Tomio recalled how in his high-school days in the 1950’s he had seen some parts of these Dentans in an appendix of a cartoon magazine at a secondhand bookshop in Kobe, his native city. “I was more curious about those strange-looking Indian languages than the cartoons and designs used in them. Later I came to know that these languages were Hindi, Urdu & English. This was my first motivation to learn Indian languages and live to my academic life,” he said.
Speaking from his experience and according to this book, these Dentas were printed secretly by the 8th department or the secret agency of the General staff office of the Japanese Army.
“It is also said that at the time of air raid in Madras the propaganda leaflets were scattered in Tamil, but no Tamil document was available in this book,” said Tomio as his fascinating trip on these Dentans and his personal journey of discovering India and learning Hindi through this was well received by the packed audience.
Others who spoke on the occasion were former Consul General of India in Japan, River Wallang and Senior Lecturer, Suffolk Business School, UK, Atul Shah. .