Total Defense Day

Total Defense Day is a holiday observed annually on February 15th, the day in 1942 when Singapore surrendered to Japan during World War II. The whole purpose of this holiday is not just to remember the victims of Singapore that resulted from the Japanese invasion but also to get the entire country on board with thinking about collective defense.

This country’s whole-of-society national defense system rests on six key tenets: military, social, civil, economic, psychological, and digital. This concept is further reinforced by the government’s message that there’s something for everyone in the country to do to ensure the defense of Singapore.

The History of Total Defense Day in Singapore

On January 22, 1984, Singapore declared its defense strategy that rested on five pillars. The Total Defence program was then rolled out in schools and communities all over the country. In 2019, digital defense was added to the program as the sixth pillar of defense. The strategy isn’t just theoretical, however.

It has been put into place during the 2003 SARS and the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemics. The holiday promoting this defense system has been in place for several years and was first added as a holiday in 1997 and was observed for the first time on February 15, 1998.

Observing Total Defense Day in Singapore

On this day, schools across Singapore conduct emergency preparedness drills and may schedule field trips to government exhibitions. The Defense Minister of Singapore also delivers a special address on this day, and a siren is sounded at 6:20 pm.

Another event that occurs on this holiday is a memorial service at War Memorial Park to honor all the civilians who lost their lives during the Japanese occupation of Singapore. This event usually draws quite a few people, with over 1,000 showing up for the services each year. On social media, the hashtag #TotalDefenseDaySingapore can be used to spread the word about this holiday.

Where is it celebrated?
Singapore (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
February 15 Thursday
Next year (2025)
February 15 Saturday
Last year (2023)
February 15 Wednesday