A scarce bilingual (Japanese and Portuguese) 1943 World War II-era city map of Macao produced by the Imperial Japanese Army's General Staff Office. During the war, the city played an important role as a haven for refugees as well as a conduit for weapons and money for the Chinese resistance. It was unique among foreign territories in China for never being occupied by Japan, though Japan did install military 'advisors' who effectively established a protectorate over the territory.
A Closer Look
Covering the main portion of Macao (variously called a peninsula or island), this city plan notes street names, the city's interior and exterior port, areas of elevation, the Hipodromo, and other features. Though there is no legend, the meaning symbols employed follow Japanese cartographic conventions, with 文 characters indicating schools, swastikas denoting Buddhist temples, and crossed lines (more like an 'x' than a Christian cross) representing Catholic Churches (including the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha on Penha Hill in the southern part of the city). Other symbols designate monuments, industrial facilities, banks, post offices, communications towers, and more (a full list can be found at ).
Macao during the Second World WarMacao's experience during World War II was emblematic of its long history as an entrepot, cultural meeting point, and geopolitical neutral ground. As Portugal was neutral during World War II, and, as a right-wing military dictatorship, generally sympathetic to Imperial Japan, Macao was not initially threatened or occupied during the conflict, even when other Western colonies and treaty ports were occupied in late 1941 - early 1942. As with nearby French Guangzhouwan, jurisdictional complexities provided opportunities for refugees, smugglers, anti-Japanese resistance fighters, and others. In particular, refugees from nearby British Hong Kong, which was occupied by Japan in December 1941, ran resistance operations from Macao, to the great annoyance of Japan's military. Still, unlike Portuguese Timor, Macao was never occupied by Japanese troops, though Japanese military 'advisors' were forcibly implanted in the territory in late 1943 to both overt and covert military activities by Chinese, British, and other Allied forces.
Publication History and CensusThis map was printed in July 1943 (Showa 18) by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office (参謀本部). The only other known example is held by the National Diet Library and it has no known history on the market. The map may be based on an earlier Portuguese map to which annotations were added, though if so, we have been unable to identify such a map in institutional collections. It most closely resembles the map Planta Geral da Cidade de Macau, undated but likely from the years just preceding the war, produced by the territory's Repartição Técnica das Obras Públicas, which is held by the Library of Congress (OCLC 34823783). But there are important and noticeable differences between the two maps, casting doubt on a direct connection between them.
Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office (大日本帝國陸軍参謀本部, initially as 參謀局; 1872 - 1945) was tasked with Imperial Japan's strategic planning and command functions, enjoying direct access to the emperor and freedom from oversight by the civilian government. While the War Ministry handled tasks like mobilization and logistics, the General Staff managed war plans, military intelligence, and cartography (through the Land Survey Bureau 陸地測量部). At the end of the Second World War, an early task of the U.S. occupation authorities was to dissolve the General Staff as part of a wider demilitarization of Japan. More by this mapmaker...
Average. Overall toning. Several areas of reinstatement. Closed Tears. Laid down and stabilized on archival tissue.
OCLC 675396913. Lopes, Helena F. S., Neutrality and Collaboration in South China: Macau during the Second World War, (Cambridge University Press, 2023).