RELATIONS between Australia and Japan are strong today, but there was a time not that long ago when it was not so.
The Japanese Consul General was in Bull Creek last week to celebrate the reconciliation of Australia and Japan after World War II with a visit to the Royal Australian Air Force Association (RAAFA) of WA’s Aviation Heritage Museum.
Masanobu Yoshii met with RAAFA residents, including 94-year-old Charles Cugley who served in the Air Force during the war, to view a collection of historic artefacts.
One artefact was the Flag of Peace, which holds the Kanji script signatures of 11 Japanese officers who were held as prisoners of war in Timor after the war ended.
Mr Cugley said how, when and why the flag came to be signed, and donated to the museum, had been a mystery until the 1990s, when he discovered the signatures belonged to Japanese officers from the 48th Battalion Cavalry Division as they waited for repatriation to Japan.
“The Red Cross flag would have been flying in these camps at some stage, and it is believed the officers, which included Major General Tanaka and Lieutenant Yamada, wrote their names on the flag in appreciation of the work of the Red Cross and the fair treatment given to Japanese prisoners,” he said.
“We believe the Flag of Peace could be one of the first gestures of reconciliation between Australia and Japan in the Pacific.”
“I feel as though I’ve done something towards (friendship between our countries), but likewise the Japanese have been very good.”