Thailand and World War II by Direk Jayanama
Edited by Jane Keyes
In Thailand and World War II, Direk Jayanama provides a unique, first-hand account of Thailand's diplomatic, military, and economic history between 1938 and 1948. Based largely on diaries that he kept at the time, Professor Direk's memoirs offer an extraordinary range and depth unsurpassed by the many other official Thai records and memoirs written by government officials of this period.
Diplomat, statesman, academic, and writer, Direk Jayanama helped guide the Thai nation through a turbulent period in its history. He was Deputy Prime Minister when Thailand was forced on 8 December 1941 to accede to Japan's demand that its troops be permitted safe passage through Thai territory on their way to attack Singapore. In early 1942, under pressure from Field Marshal Phibun Songkhram, Direk reluctantly accepted an appointment as Thai Ambassador to Japan, affording us an inside view of relations between Thailand and Japan at that time. Returning to Thailand in July 1943 for health reasons, Direk went on to play a significant role in the Free Thai movement that sought to make contact with the Allies and overthrow the Japanese during the waning years of the war.
Direk Jayanama's remarkable skills were employed to their greatest extent in the immediate post-war years. He not only helped bring the state of war with Britain and Australia to a successful conclusion, but he also played a major role in enabling Thailand to obtain admittance to the United Nations in 1948 and resume its full standing in the community of nations.
These detailed and fascinating memoirs include additional chapters by key Free Thai members including Puey Ungphakorn, as well as extensive appendixes containing the text of international treaties and agreements to which Thailand was signatory.
Direk Jayanama, a leading figure in Thai foreign affairs for many years, first joined the foreign service in 1933. Between 1938 and 1941 he became first Deputy and then Foreign Minister of Thailand. In 1942 he was sent as Thai Ambassador to Tokyo, and after his return to Thailand at the end of 1943 served once again as Foreign Minister until August 1944, when he retired from public life in order to devote his energies to the Free Thai resistance movement. During the post-war years Direk served successively as Thailand's Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ambassador to England and later Ambassador to West Germany and to Finland. He also became a law lecturer and later Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, where he was well known for his writings on public affairs. Professor Direk died in 1967.
Jane Keyes has been engaged in research in and on Thailand and Southeast Asia since first becoming a Research Assistant in the Far Eastern and Southeast Asian Division of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. After completing her M.A. in Government at Cornell University in 1962, she collaborated with her husband, Charles Keyes, on several Thai research projects and has since held editorial positions at the Journal of Asian Studies.
Chiang Mai 2008