A Map of the Empire of Vietnam

The Empire of Vietnam was a short lived Axis state that lasted between March 11 to August 23, 1945. It was controlled mainly by Imperial Japan. As its name would suggest, it consisted largely of what is today modern Vietnam and, as such, inherited its jungle climate. It was located near the Dutch East Indies, just south of China.


Since the late 19th century, the region known as Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) had been under French colonial rule. With the fall of France and the takeover of the German supported Puppet Government, Vietnam found itself as an Axis occupied territory under Vichy rule.

On the 22 September, 1940 the Imperial Japanese Army invaded French Indochina, and in a matter of days had swept aside the colonial forces and taken control of the region. Owing to the fact that both Vichy France and Japan were part of the Axis powers, and thus supposedly allied, Japan allowed the French to maintain partial domestic control over the region, while the Japanese began using Vietnam as both a military base and a place from which to launch their ensuing assaults on the rest of Southeast Asia and parts of the Pacific.The uneasy relationship between the Vichy colonists and the Japanese Empire came to a head on March 9, 1945, when Japan cast aside its previous agreement with the French and took control of the entire region.

Hoping to gain support from the Vietnamese people, they declared Vietnam to be a sovereign nation, and appointed the renowned scholar Tran Trong Kim as prime minister to lead a pro-Japanese government under the newly instated Vietnamese emperor Bao Dai.[1]

Actions as an Axis Nation

As far as the war was concerned, the Empire of Vietnam did little to militarily aide their Japanese allies overseas. Instead, Tran Trong Kim focused more on domestic matters, such as reforming the educational system to abolish French language schools and bring back the pre-colonial aspects of Vietnamese culture. In addition, he ordered the release of many anti-French activists, which gave revolutionary groups like the Viet Minh larger numbers of support. These groups, although anti-colonial, were generally considered to be on the Allied side, having taken an anti-Japanese stance during the period of occupation. Because of this, many of Tran's newly freed prisoners began to work against him, resulting in skirmishes between the Empire's supporters and the Viet Minh guerillas.

Flag of the Empire of Vietnam

In response to the rising numbers of Allied rebels within his own country, Tran's government began to organize multiple para-military squads, primarily made up of youths from rural backgrounds, which were in charge of maintaining security in their local communes and combating Allied supported rebels (primarily Ho Chi Minh and his followers). In this manner, although the Empire of Vietnam did little to fight the Allies overseas, it still saw action against those among its own people who favored a victory over the Axis and their collaborators, similar to how the Vichy French authorities had fought against the Free French Resistance in Europe.

Fall of the Empire

Following the beginning of negotiations for a ceasefire between Japan and it's enemies, the Empire of Vietnam began to experience serious internal problems among its own government. With the Axis now virtually defeated, Tran Trong Kim and his followers were faced with the prospect of harsh reparations as a result of their collaboration with Japan. His government attempted to reason with the ever strengthening Allied Vietnamese guerillas, but to little avail.

In late August, following the start of a large scale uprising among the people, the prime minister was forced to hand over his power to the Viet Minh, signaling the end of the Axis government and the beginning of a war for independence between the Vietnamese people and the newly returned French colonialists, who attempted unsuccessfully to take back control over the region.[2]


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.