In 1945, the Australian Imperial Forces were given the task of retaking from the Japanese the former British territories on the island of Borneo. To do this, the Australians had to first obtain as much intelligence as they could.

The wonderful people at the National Archives of Australia have digitized a lot of the materials that were produced at that time as part of the intelligence gathering effort.


I was looking at one report the other day which had a section on “Commercial Enterprises and Possible Cover Agencies.” This section contains a list of “Japanese firms operation in North Borneo. Captured enemy documents show that Japanese civilian firms are widely used as cover agencies for spies and subterranean movements.”

Here is the list:

Borneo Acquatic Products, Ltd

Borneo Daily News

Chosen Leather Co Ltd

Cider Factory

Fukuosho Co Ltd

Gaya and Co

Hattori Watch Store

Higashiyama Industry Co Ltd

International (Kokusai) Traffic Co Ltd

Imperial (Teikoku) Textile Industry Co Ltd

Jesselton Brewing Industry

Kansai Electric Current Distributing Co Ltd

Kato Industry Co Ltd

Kato Suiso Do

Mitsui Products Co Ltd

Mitui (Mitsui?) Agriculture and Forestry Co Ltd

Motion Picture Distributing Co

Nampo Dobatu

Nanri Industries Co Ltd

Nichimei New Agency Co Ltd

Nissan Norin Co

Nippon Hides Co Ltd

Nippon Line Stock Promoting Co Ltd

Nippon Publication Distributing Co Ltd

Nissa Co

North Borneo Association

North Borneo Daily News

North Borneo Material Supply Control Association

North Borneo Water Transport Section

Otsu Industry Co Ltd

Pilot Fountain Pen Co Ltd

Sankyo Traffic Co Ltd

Showa Commerce Co Ltd

Southern Development Case Office Ltd

Taiwan Fibre Co Ltd

Taiwan Colonial Co

Takashimaya-Iida Co Ltd

Takemura Cotton Industry Co Ltd

Tawao Cotton Industry Co Ltd

Tawao Industry Co Ltd

Tawao Sango Co

Tokio Marine Fire Insurance Co Ltd

Toyo Association

Toyoda Motor Trucks Co Ltd

Tozan Noji

Usira Coy


I’m attaching the images of this list below as it contains more information about some of these companies and their activities.

The Japanese occupation of Southeast Asian is a fascinating historical topic which has been researched to some extent, but there is much more that can be examined. What fascinated me about this list is that it points to an entire Japanese “business world” that must have existed in Southeast Asia at that time.

It would be wonderful if someone would research this topic.