PM Lee: The name Syonan was meant to evoke that dark and traumatic period in Singapore’s history

Current sign for the war museum. Before the public complaints it was just "Syonan Gallery" After the complaints, NLB added "war and its legacies" and "an exhibition at Former Ford Factory" Image courtesy of The Online Citizen

Few things evoke the kind of sentiments that we have seen in the last few days – “the name Syonan was meant to evoke that dark and traumatic period of Singapore’s history,” said the Prime Minister in a Facebook post last night.

Syonan meaning “Light of the south” was the name used by the Japanese for Singapore during World War II.

The exhibition held at the Former Ford Factory was initially named “Syonan Gallery: War and its Legacies” and has been renamed to Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies on Friday after many Singaporeans opposed to the use of the name.


PM Lee said, “My colleagues and I honour and respect these deep feelings. So we have renamed the exhibition to bear witness to these painful memories.”

The reactions to his posts were mixed with one Japanese coming forward to apologize on behalf of her nation:

While others felt that there are some who are exploiting this event for their own political ends: