During WW2, Thailand declared war on England and US, collaborated with the Japanese in exchange for being able to invade Shan state westwards and north as far as China. Thai soldiers were ordered to fight alongside with Japanese in Malaya and Burma. Thailand was at least "allied with the axis".

After the war they just had to give back the territory and some bags of rice I think.

How come they were let off the hook so easily? Why didn't the allies go harder on their (former) enemy Thailand?

And also the leader Phibun just resigned. (To compare Quisling was shot.) (Personally I would just say that Buddhist mentality does not have death penalty as an easy option.)

My account of the history is highly simplified and may be wrong in some parts. I am a traveler and have seen these areas first hand and heard the stories, so therefore I am interested. I am no historian, I hope possible faults in my account will be corrected.

  • 1
    Related: history.stackexchange.com/questions/6176/…
    – Anixx
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 20:23
  • Thanks for reminder. I think the non-chosen answer has been rewritten. The scores for the two answers are now 5/7. I stick with my original choice.
    – cvr
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


One country that wasn't forced to pay "a lot" for joining the Axis in World War II was Finland. Thailand was probably viewed in much the same way.

Putting Germany and Japan aside, the third country that was considered part of the "core" Axis was Italy. That's probably because Italy by itself started a lot of wars in other countries; it attacked Abysinnia (Ethiopia) in 1934; it conquered Albania and attacked Greece in 1939; it attacked Egypt from Libya in 1940; it "stabbed France in the back" in 1940. Basically, Italy acted much like the two larger Axis nations in initiating conflicts, including some that were unwelcome to its German ally.

Thailand, like Finland, was more like a "fellow traveler" with the Axis than a true ally. Like Finland, it won some favorable "border adjustments" in exchange for some "cooperation." But apart from that, Thailand didn't do much against third parties and kept pretty much to itself during the war. Also, Thailand (and Finland) had a record of "non-aggression," so its actions during World War II were considered to taken out of necessity; that is, "eat or be eaten."

Note that America dealt more leniently with Thailand and Finland than some other Allies, but America was the most powerful one. Unlike the case of Finland (and Balkan countries such as Romania and Bulgaria), the Soviet Union was not part of Allied dealings with Thailand.

  • I agree there are parallels with Finland. (I was born in Sweden) Seen as a whole Finland had already lost a lot in both winter and continuation wars. They tried to get back Karelia that was taken from them and lost more.
    – cvr
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 0:57

Question can be trivially answered through Wikipedia.

"Thailand officially adopted a position of neutrality until it was invaded by Japan in December 1941."

"Moreover, the post-war accommodations with the Allies weakened the civilian government. As a result of the contributions made to the Allied war efforts by the Free Thai Movement, the United States, which unlike the other Allies had never officially been at war with Thailand, refrained from dealing with Thailand as an enemy country in post-war peace negotiations" Wikipedia

The referenced article contains more information and nuance.

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    The things you write are correct. But I think the reason the US was not "officially" at war was said to be that the Thai Ambassador failed to deliver the declaration of war as he had been ordered by Thai government. / I am sure an "official" version can be pieced together. But the situation seems more complex than that.
    – cvr
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 12:09
  • But "invasions" can be different. Norway had the government in London, they didn't try to expand territory, they didn't declare war on the Allies, Norwegian soldiers were not ordered to fight with the Germans (but naturally there were volunteers), they shot Quisling after the war. I don't think anyone would ever put up Norway as an Axis ally which I think I have seen in Wikipedia for Thailand.
    – cvr
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 0:50
  • Many groups of people in South-East Asia had little alternative but to collaborate with the Japanese, or at least appear to do so, after 1941. In Malaya the only serious resistance came from the local Chinese and Indian parts of the population (China itself being at war with the Japanese at the time), who organised themselves into a movement known as The Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army.
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 5:35

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