Fos­ter­ing re­la­tions

Cockburn Gazette - - CHRISTMAS -

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 col- lec­tion 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.”

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell­mu­ni­ d447441

Ron Onions, David Peet, Ja­panese Con­sul-Gen­eral Masanobu Yoshii, Charles Cu­g­ley and Richard Tal­bot.

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