Boys' Youth Group Uniforms: Asia


Figure 1.--Here we see a Japanese Boy Scout and Cubs. I'm not sure when this photograph was taken, probably during the 1970s. The Japanese Cubs had a blue uniform similar to the American Cub uniform.

Asia has more than half the world's population. We do not yet have a great deal of information about youth movements in Asia. Most of our information concerns the Scouts. Scouting is by far the most popular youth movement in Asia, at least the most important voluntary movemet. Most Asian countries have Scout organizations, but they tend to have limited numbers of boys participating. I am not entirely sure why this is. One factor is economic. Scouting is a largely middle-class program and some Asian countries are very poor, although thee has been considerable economic progress in the region. Another fsactor is that Scouting has a western image. Only families with some modicum of affluence can afford to the costs of participating in Scouting. The prominance of Scouting is complicated by the fact that China, the most populace largest country in the world, prohibits Scouting. Most of those which do not are the Communist countries (China, Laos, North Korea, and North Vietnam). These Asian Communist countries all have Young Pioneer movements, but it is unclear just how important or popular the Young Pioneers are. Membership is very substantial because participaton is vrtually mandatory. Somr asian countries have nationalist youth movements. We have very limited information on these movements.

Armenia

Armenia was an ancient kingdom conquered by a series of empires. In the modern era Armenians lived largely in the Russian and Ottomon Empires. The large Armenian population was masacred by the Turks during world war I in a grusome holocaust designed as a massive ethnic cleansing operation. Small numbers of Armenians managed to escape to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and the Balkans in Europe. Armenians in those countries formed separate Boy Scout units. The Armenians Boy and Girl Scouts in Bulgaria were called Zilia. The Soviet Union set up a separate Armenian Republic in the Caucauses. The children there joined the Young Pioneers. We have no information at this time on youth groups in modern Armenia.

Azerbaijan

We have little informstion about Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was part of the Tsarist Empire in the early 20th century. There may have been a small Scout movement which developed before World War I, but we have no information at this time. Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Soviet Union after the Civil War. As part of the Soviet Union, boys in Azerbaijan participated in the Young Pioneer movement. The Pioneer Movement was a mass youth movement, so large numbers of Azerii children would have participated. Azerbaijan began an independent country after the disolutin of the Soiviet Union (1992). We know less about youth groups since independence (1992). Apparently a Scout movement has been organized there, but we have very limited information. One source reports that there are efforts to build a Scouting movement. One reader has forward an image showing a group of Sea Scouts.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh was a part of the British Raj in the first half of the 20th century. A Scout movement would have been founded at that time, bt we know very little about it at this time.

Burma

The Boy Scouts were organized in British colonial Burma, but we have not infotmation pn the program. Under British rule there was as in India a strange mixture of political supression on natiinalist groups along side demoratic principles such as a relatively free press. The British tolerated a loosely-knit, but fervently nationalistic Student Movement (SM). They were active in many areas, such as organizing school strikes protesting an unpopular examination system or more openly political actions. The principal objective of many student activists was involvement in the national political movement protesting British colonial rule. Student activists were often manipulated of politicians. They often joined denonstrations of the pro-Independence Thakin Party. A OSS assessment suggests that during the Japanese occupation the original 5,000 recruits in the nationalistic Burma Independence Army (BIA) were probably cSM activists. [OSS] At the onset of the Pacific War, the Japanese invaded and occupied Burma (1942). Japanese authorities banned Scouting. They organized the "East Asia Youth League (EAYL). They found the EAYL difficult to control. Many of its members had been involved in the SM and were no more willing to acceot Japanese rule than British rule. Many objected to the treatment they received from the Japanese occupation authorities. The EAYL increasingly during the occupation resisted Japanese or Governmental direction. The OSS reported that they appears to have assumed an increasingly anti-Japanese point outlook (1944).

China

China as a Communist country has the Young Pioneer movement and does not permit Scouting. Once virtually all Chinese children wore their red Young Pioneer scarves to school and elsewhere, but this is no longer as common. All Chinese children have to belong to the Young Pioneers youth group. Scouting was founded in China during 1912, but has not been permitted in most of China since the Revolution (1949), but does operate in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Hong Kong

The principal youth group in Hong Kong has been the Boy Scouts, reflecting Hong Kong's status as a British colony. Scouting has proven very popular in Hong Kong. The major activity day is saturday and on that day Scouts can be seen all over Hong Kong. We believe there were also Boys' Brigade unit. we are less sure about the Young Pioneers. I do not know of any Young Pioneer units before the Chinese takeover in 199?. I am not sure if any Young Pioneer units have subsequently been organized.

India

India is the second most populace country in the world. And unlike China does not have restrictions on free asociation, especially associtions for children. We do not yet have much information on Indian youth groups. We are hoping that one of our Indian readers will ptovide some backgrond information. The most important and best known youth movement in India is Scouting, both the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. This began with British boys in India, but Indian boys soon got interested as well. Indian Scouts continue to be drawn by its traditional and abiding values. Avery small part of Indian boys participate in Scouting, still it is a sizeable movement. We suspect that the Christian-oriented Boys' Brigade is also active. Christianity is a small community in Ondia, but the country is so large that there is a substantial number of Christians available for the Brigade.. We also suspect that the BJP has some kind od youth wing. And there is a school cadet program, also part of India's British heritage.

Japan

The only uniformed youth movement in Japan that HBU is familar with is the Scouting movement. It was, however, not the first Japanese youth group. Reformers established the Seinen Dan in 1880 to promote social activities for youth in the new modernizing Japan. I do not know much about it. I think it was not political, and it aimed to assist young people adjust in mind and manner to rapidly changing new circumstances of the post Meiji-Ishin (Meiji Restoration). Right wing nationalist groups promoted the Seinen Dan during the 1920s-30s, but it never development into the powerful, comprehensive nationalist youth movement like the Hitler Youth in Germany. Scouting which was a realtively small movement was supressed during World War II. HBU has little information on Seinen Dan, but believes it was suppresed after World War II. Today in Japan, the Scouts are the only youth movement known to the authors. The demanding Japanese educational system, however, leaves children little time for extra-curruicular activities.

Korea

Japan seized control of Korea (1909), after which the country became a Japanese colony. We know relatively little about Korean youth groups. The Scout Movement of Korea (BSKI) was founded in October 1922. Sir Lee Sang-Jae is elected as the first President of the BSKI in March 1924. At the time there were many limitations on Korean Scouts. Korea was a Japanese colony and any demonstration of Korean nationalism was discouraged and dangerous. The Japanese prohibited Scouting in Korea during March 1937 as relations with western Goverments began to deteriorate as the Japanese militarists expanded their expanionist policies in Manchuria and China. Not only were the Japanese concerned about any expression of Korean nationalism, but Scouting' western image and internationalist principles were increasdingly alien to Japan's militant nationalism. Scouting was revived after the Japanese surrender and the American liberation of South Korea. At the same time the Soviet Union liberated North Korea. The Communist Government installed in the north founded the Young Pioneeer movement.

Malaysia

The Boy Scouts are the most important youth movementv in Malaysia. The Malaysian Scout association is the Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia (The Scouts Association of Malaysia). It includes both boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17. Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia (PPM) is part of the global Scouting movement and national member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). It is the only uniformed body in Malaysia to have been established and officially regulated by an act of Parliament through the Scouts Association Of Malaysia (Incorporation) Act 1968. The history of Scouting in Malaysia is a little complicated becuse Scouting was founded in the the country while it was still the British colon of Malaya. The colony was not a centalized colony, but a federation. And it included Singapore which is now an independent country. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country. There is a Christian community as a result of the British colonial period. We note a Boy's Brigade movement in Malaysia, but know little about it at this time. Both groups are a legacy from Malaysia's colonial past. We do not know of any other youth groups.

Maldives

The Maldives are an island group off the southern tip of Asia. At this time, the only youth group we know of is the Scouts. Scout units are active in many schools.

Mauritius

Mauritius is a small archepeligo country in the Indian Ocean. It is perhaps best know as one of the countries which could easily disappear if global warming raises sea level. Mauritius was dominated over time by various Arab and European powers. During the Napoleonic war, the British seized contolled and ruled until independendence (1967). We have very limited information about youth groups in Mauritius. The only group we know of at this time is the Scouts. We know the Scouts were active in the 1970s, but have no current information about Mauritius Scouting.

Mongolia


Nepal


Pakistan


Singapore

There are eight uniformed youth groups in Singapore. All these uniform groups are left behind as a relic of the British colonial rule, from which the county gained independence in 1965. The largest groups are the Ntional Police Cadets and the National Cadets. This is unlike many other countries, especially countries with British colonial backgrounds. There are both coed and single gender groups and there are groups with both primary and secondary school age membership and other that are restricted to secondary school members.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island country south of India in the UIndian Ocean. It used to be known as Ceylon. We have vey limited information on the Sri Lanka youuth movement. As it was a British colony, the Souting movement developed as the principal youth movement. We do not know much about Sri Lanka Scouting. Scouting is started in Sri Lanka during 1912. It is very popular among many school children. Boy Scouts between the ages of 11-15 are the largest, the Cub Scouts ages 7-11 comes second, and the Rover Scouts ages 15-24 comes third. The Scouts between 15 and 18 are referred to as Senior Scouts. In Sri Lanka all scouts should wear a standard uniform and the uniform varies according to their ages/levels. We notice some information on Cubs. Scouting is the only Sri Lanka youth movement we know of at this time.

Tajikistan

We have only limited information on Tajik youth groups. I have no indication that the Scouts were founded before Tajikistan was incorporated into the Soviet Union. For its modern history as part of the Soviet Union, the only youth group allpwed was the Young Pioneers. The Pioneers still function in Tajikistan. They now wear a kerchief in the Tajik national colors of red, white and green. It has also been renamed. The new name means King Somoni inheriters. It is hard to put English words to the concept.

Thailand

We have little infirmation on Thasi youth groups before World War II. The Boy Scouts were organized and received government sponsorship. It had a non-miltary oriented program similar to other Scout programjs around the wiorld. The Japanese negotiated with the Thai Government, the only indepebdent country in Southeast Asia, before launching the Pacific War. The Thais without the military capability to resist the Japanese and with a Fascist oriented government, joined the Axis. Thus the Japanese did not invade Thailand when they launched their Burma campsign from Indochina (January 1942). Rather the Thais allowed the Japanese to pass through their territory. They this did not interfere with the three youth groups operating in the country (Boy Scouts, the Yuachon, and the Military Cadet Corps) or sposor a new pro-Japanese group. Pro-Japanese Premier Pibul did significantly change Thai Government policy toward youth groups. The Pibul Government did not ban, but reduced government support for the Scouts. The Military Cadet Corpsunior officer training corps was an army youth program and not a real youth group. The Yuachon youth group was Fascist youth movement modeled on the NAZI Hitter Jugen and strongly promoted by the Pibul Government. The group was actually founded by Pibul5 when he was Minister of Defense (1935). The purpose was to promote physical culture, general discipline, and "organized cooperation". After Pibul became premier, the Pibul program began to change (1938). The program was expanded to include military courses. And the ethos of the group shifted to a kkind of blind obedience to Premier Pibul. It was not a mass movement. Membership was voluntary. There were several enducements appealing to some boys, including smart uniforms, raining with weapons and other military equipment, partial exemption from conscription, and the possibility of becoming an Army officer. Membership was about 6,000 boys (1941) and 25,000 (1944), about 90 percent in the younger age group. The Yuachon was jointly operated by the Ministries of Education and Defense, but at the end of rge War became a "department" of the Thai Army. It was enamed the Department of Preparatory Military Affairs. [OSS}

Vietnam

There was a Boy Scout movement in French Indochina. The French also promoted the organization of sports groups. The Japanese after the fall of France (June 1940) moved into Indichina and gradually expanded their role, becoming the occupying power. The Japanese began using the French sports group to build a pro-Japanese youth movement. There were Buddhisdt and Castholic SDcouts. We note Buddhist Boy Scouts protesting the South Vietnamese Government (1963). The Communists banned Scouting and founded the Young Pioneer Movement. Of course this meant tht there was no longer any protesrts against the Government.

Sources

Office of Strategic Services, Research and Analysis Branch. "Japanese attempts at indoctrination of youth in occupied areas, " R&A 2982S (March 23, 1945).







HBU






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Created: 10:27 PM 10/23/2004
Last updated: 3:34 PM 2/28/2014