Singapore

NLB on Syonan Gallery: No other name captured the time and all that it stood for

The National Library Board (NLB) said it was aware that the name Syonan Gallery, which it had picked for the newly revamped National Archives of Singapore museum, "could evoke strong emotions".

The name choice for the museum at the former Ford Factory in Upper Bukit Timah, had sparked an active debate with some saying that the word Syonan was fraught with negative connotations since it was the Japanese occupiers' name for Singapore during World War II.

Singapore was renamed Syonan-to by the Japanese in 1942, following the British surrender. It means "Light of the South".

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, NLB said that, after consulting historians and its advisory panel, it "decided that no other name captured the time and all that it stood for".

NLB added: "The period when Singapore was known as Syonan was a very important part of our history. The new name reminds us how brittle our sovereignty can be, as Singapore lost not only its freedom, but also its name during the Japanese Occupation.

"It is a sombre reminder not to take our peace and harmony for granted, and to appreciate the need to defend ourselves." - THE STRAITS TIMES

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