Australia-Japan Research Project

AustraliaJapan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial
The human face of war
Post-war Rabaul

Australian forces in the region to the north of Australia became responsible for accepting the surrender of over 350,000 Japanese service personnel after the radio broadcast by the Japanese emperor on 15 August 1945 signalling the end of the war. Contact was made by the Australians with Japanese formations in Borneo, the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea, New Britain, the Solomon Islands, and at Ocean Island and Nauru, and arrangements commenced for surrender, demobilisation and repatriation.

The largest concentration of Japanese troops in the region was around Rabaul in New Britain. The Australians had underestimated the size of the Japanese presence and were forced to maintain wartime self-sufficiency efforts and chains of command to support and control over 100,000 former soldiers, sailors and civilian workers in the Rabaul area. Nevertheless, many thousands died during the immediate post-war period from a combination of disease and malnutrition. Over 900 Japanese in the area faced investigations and trial for suspected war crimes, but most waited for an uncertain return to a country devastated by defeat and foreign occupation for the first time in their country’s history.

Printed on 09/27/2020 03:03:08 PM