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Attitudes to the war
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war
This site seeks to explore aspects of Australian and Japanese attitudes to the Pacific War using archival material held by the Australian War Memorial. The site is divided into three sections, one Australian and two Japanese. The Australian section looks at the attitudes of Australian servicemen from the Second World War towards the Japanese through the words of the veterans themselves. It is based upon transcripts of interviews carried out with Second World War Australian veterans during the late 1980s. The original interviews make up part of the Keith Murdoch sound archive and remain available to researchers at the Australian War Memorial. While it makes no claims to being comprehensive this section provides an interesting sample of Australian attitudes and is organised into six main themes; Pre-war perceptions of the Japanese; Japanese fighting ability; impact of Japanese atrocities; treatment of Japanese prisoners of war; the use of the atomic bomb; and post-war attitudes towards the Japanese.

The Japanese sections each deal with an individual account of the war in New Guinea from a Japanese perspective, albeit two very different Japanese perspectives. The excerpts taken from diary of TAMURA Yoshikazu give us an insight into the life of the ordinary Japanese soldier. We follow him over an eight month period from April to December 1943 when it is presumed he was killed in action. During this time we read of his hopes and feelings, of life in the jungle, and his thoughts on war and death. The original diary was deposited with the Australian War Memorial, but has since been returned to TAMURA's surviving family in Japan.

By contrast Southern Cross is an account of the operations of the Japanese 18th Army in New Guinea as told by its former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General YOSHIHARA Kane. Here the emphasis is on describing the "big picture" of the Japanese war effort in New Guinea. As well as military operations YOSHIAHARA makes a number of detailed observations on the relationship with the local New Guinean and Papuan peoples, as well as the fauna and flora and general nature of the country. Nonetheless the bulk of his work is taken up with the task of recording the 18th Army's performance over three years of warfare and it is fascinating to see how the Japanese high command viewed the same situations and events in comparison to their better documented and more widely known Australian and American counterparts.

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Overview links

Attitudes links
Australian Attitudes
Tamura diary
Southern Cross
Midget Submarine

Click images to enlarge. The Australian hospital ship Manunda at anchor in Darwin harbour, where it was deliberately bombed by Japanese aircraft during the first raid on the city on 19 February 1942.  Four months later in Milne Bay the Japanese cruiser Tenryu focussed its searchlights on the Manunda but otherwise left it untouched while attacking other Allied shipping in the bay.  Acts like the latter led some Australians who witnessed them to question their stereotypes of Japanese behaviour.
AWM 303581

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