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INDIA / BURMA: 國帝度印 [The British Raj].



A rare large format Japanese map of India and Burma, ‘pirated’ from a British map by the venerable bookseller Maruzen, issued during the height of World War II, as Japan conquered Burma and before its (ultimately ill-fated) invasion of India during ‘Operation U-Go’ (1944).


Colour print, folding into original printed paper sleeve (Very Good, some toning along old folds), 105 x 67 cm (41.5 x 26.5 inches).


1 in stock


This large-format map of India and Burma is a ‘pirated’ Japanese version of a British map (published in London by George Philip & Son, Ltd.), issued during the height of World War II, as Japan conquered Burma and threatened India.  It was printed by Maruzen Co., Ltd., one of Japan’s oldest and most venerable booksellers (founded in Yokohama in 1869) that still operates today. The colourful and attractive map shows the Subcontinent divided into colonial provinces and various princely stars, while all major cities and towns are marked, with key roads and railways delineated, while the inset in the lower-right details Burma.  While the title (upper left) and the imprints in the left-hand margin are in Japanese, otherwise the map features entirely English toponomy and is true to its antecedent (albeit with different printing quality and paper stock).  Given that Japan was then at war with Britain, Maruzen seemed not to be overly concerned with violating Philip & Son’s copyright!  India was then of great interest to the Japanese public, as it was in many ways the ultimate target for Japan during World War II, being the gem of the British Empire.  Moreover, India was of great material and strategic value to the Allies, as thousands of Indians fought bravely on the British side on four continents, with India being a staging point for British forces in the Southeast Asian and Pacific theatres.  Additionally, Burma was of interest, as it was incredibly rich in natural resources vital to any war effort, as well as occupying a strategically advantageous location.

Japan successfully invaded Burma and India’s Andaman Islands from January to May 1942 .  This created the real possibility that Japan would bomb Calcutta, and maybe even targets much deeper inside India.  So concerned were the Raj’s officials that they placed camouflage scaffolding over the dome of Taj Mahal in Agra!

While the bombing raids did not transpire, in what was called Operation U-Go (March to June 1944), Japan invaded the north-easternmost reaches of India, in Nagaland and Manipur.  However, the British-Indian forces defeated the Japanese at the key Battles of Imphal (March 8 – July 3, 1944) and Kohima (April 4 – June 22, 1944), pushing Japan out of India and down the road towards its total defeat in August 1945.

The map is rare, we could not trace any examples held by Western libraries.

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