Japanese naval assistance and
     its effect on Australian-Japanese relations

         Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 greatly changed the Australian view of Japan. The military, especially the Royal Australian Navy, started to examine the Imperial Japanese Navy, now emerging as a first rank power in the Far East. A naval exercise was held ~u i 895 with its object being to defend Sydney from a hypothetical attack by the Japanese Navy.1 Furthermore in 1896, being uneasy over the increasing power of Japan, the Australian parliament passed resolutions excluding all coloured races from Australia and urging Australia to abstain from participating in the treaty of Commerce and Navigation signed between Great Britain and Japan in 1894.

         In December 1902, the Immigration Restriction Act was passed which virtually prohibited the immigration of coloured peoples by forcing them to pass dictation tests given in European language, and in the same year a ”White Australian' policy” became an explicit part of the platform of the Australian Labour Party.2 After the annihilation of the Russian Navy in the Russo-Japanese War. Japan began to be Australia and New Zealand's 'real and only dangerous enemy';3 Despite this perceived threat to the Commonwealth countries. Britain gave up naval supremacy in the Far East by revising the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and withdrawing five battleships and six first class cruisers from the Pacific to secure the balance of power in home waters. 4

         Because of this Australia was forced to depend on Japan’s naval forces, even though she bad clashed with Japan over racial matters. Nevertheless,1908 saw the publication of The Australia Crisis by Frank Fox in which he exaggerated fears of the 'Yellow Peril'.5 At the imperial conference in 1909,the foundation of the Royal Australian Navy was recognized. In the following year. the Australian Parliament passed the Naval Defence Act. In 1911 the battle cruiser Australia was lunched and in 1913 she sailed from England to Australia accompanied by the light crutser.5 Sydney and Mefbourne.6 The motivation for this strengthening lay in the growth of German naval power, while five months before the outbreak of the war.

         Winston S. Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty,. claimed in the British Parliament that 'the navy would defend these regions (Australia and New Zealand) from Japanese invasion’.7 However, after the outbreak of the war,England withdrew most of her warships to defend the home islands and Australia had to rely for security on her potential enemy, Japan. This paper will consider Japanese naval operations in defence of Australia and New Zealand and their long term effects.

Japanese naval operation in the defence of Australia and New Zealand Early period: operation against the German Eastern Squadron

         Germany had a fortress and a naval base at Tsingtao on the Shangdong peninsula. In 1902 Japan concluded an alliance with Great Britain and due to this alliance, Japan declared war against Germany on 23 August 1914.The Japanese Navy deployed the Second Fleet in September in order to blockade the port of Tsingtao and bombard the fortress. Tsingtao was captured in December with a cost of 1,250 dead and wounded. Also the navy lost one cruiser, the Takachiho, and 280 crew members including the commanding officer, in blockade operations.8

         In the early stages of the war, the most important Japanese Navy operation was the pursuit of the German Far Eastern Squadron (Spee Squadron),which comprised the cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and light cruisers Nurnberg, Leipzig and Emden, commanded by Vice Admiral Maxmilian von Spee, to the Galapagos archipelago. The pursuit operation was conducted by a force of British, Australian and Canadian warships under the command of Vice Admiral Sir George Patey, and was supported by the Japanese American Expeditionary Squadron with the cruisers Izumo and Asama, and the later-added Hizen under the command of Rear Admiral Moriyama Keizaburo. For a time after the start of the war, the Allied forces were unable to find the Spee Squadron, but in early September 1914, it attacked the British on Fanning Island and destroyed the wireless station there. On 14 September, the Emden appeared in the Bay of Bengal, where she sank five merchant ships and captured a sixth by 19 September. Furthermore, on 22 September she bombarded Madras and on 27 September she attacked Penag and sank the Russian cruiser Zhemchug. While in the Pacific, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attacked Tahiti on 22 September, and sank the French gunboat the Zelee.9

         These intensive German naval activities caused so much concern in New Zealand that the populace came to oppose the dispatch of the ANZAC expeditionary forces, which were about to sail without escort for Europe.10 The British Admiralty thus requested escort ships for the ANZAC convoy.11 The Japanese Navy ordered the cruiser Chikuma to proceed to the Indian Ocean, and the Ibuki to Australia. The Ibuki sailed for New Zealand by way of Fremantle where she received a very enthusiastic welcome from the people who had feared that the Spee Squadron would attack their sea lanes.

        The commanding officer of the Ibuki, Captain Kato Kanji (later Admiral, Chief of the Naval General Staff), sent a report and commented that ‘there was a great city wide welcome which reached ecstatic proportions and the former fear of Japan was swept away to be replaced with an obvious genuine trust’.12 From Fremantle, the Ibuki, together with the Minotaur, sailed to Wellington and from there crossed the Tasman Sea with ten transports carrying the New Zealand ANZAC troops. A further twenty-eight troop ships were collected from various Australian ports and the entire convoy that set out for Europe numbered thirty-eight ships. Escort ships were the battle cruisers Ibuki and Minotaur, and light cruisers Sydney and Melbourne. However during the voyage to Aden, the Australian escorts were deployed elsewhere and in the end only the Ibuki remained. The battle between the Sydney and Emden occurred during the voyage, but the glory of sinking the Emden went to the Sydney as Ibuki remained to protect the convoy.13 This was in fact the first military honour for the Royal Australian Navy, and subsequently whenever the Japanese Navy’s ships visited Australia and New Zealand, they celebrated ‘the Samurai Spirit of the Ibuki’,14 as Ibuki made way for the Sydney to attack.Meanwhile, the Spee Squadron moved to the east and attacked Tahiti on 22 September, and then continued eastward to the coast of South America.

         It was pursued by the Australia and Japanese-American Expeditionary Squadron with the cruisers Izumo and Asama. On 19 October, the battle ship Hizen joined the American Expeditionary Squadron. This Squadron worked in conjunction with Patey’s Squadron and chased the Spee Squadron as far as the Galapagos Islands. With the British defeat off the Coronel coast on 1 November, the American Expeditionary Squadron moved to encircle the Spee Squadron adding the cruisers Chikuma and Yahagi and the battle cruiser Ikoma to the First Southern Expeditionary Squadron which had previously consisted of the battle cruiser Kurama, the cruiser Tsukuba, and two destroyers. The first Southern Expeditionary Squadron moved to the Fiji Islands by early December. With the destruction of the Spee Squadron (only the Dresden managed to escape) off the Falklands on 8 December, the British Navy left the mopping up of the German naval forces to the Japanese Navy and withdrew almost all of their naval forces to European waters. Until the Dresden was sunk in March 1915, the Japanese Navy deployed part of her American Expeditionary Squadron off the coast of South America and the Nishin at Fiji to guard the eastern coast of Australia and New Zealand.15

         Thus, from December 1914 to January 1915, the light cruisers Chikugo and Yahagi patrolled the coast off North Queensland. From May to July, the light cruisers Aso and Soya visited Rabaul and Fremantle. In the same year, the Japanese ships were attached to the China Squadron controlling the Malay Archipelago. In February 1915 the Japanese Navy also helped suppress the Indian soldier’s mutiny at Singapore, sending 158 marines from the cruisers Otowa and Tushima.16 At the first stage of the war, as the German Eastern Squadron was in the Pacific and the cruiser Emden was in the Indian Ocean, Allied marine traffic was maintained by the Japanese Navy. As the First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill, wrote in his memoirs, ‘warships flying the Japanese flag committed themselves to escorts for most of the transportation in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean’.17

Later period: operation against the commerce raiders

          With the elimination of the Spee Squadron, the Third Squadron, stationed at Singapore after the request of British Admiralty, was given the task of watching forty or so German merchant ships that could be converted into commercial raiders, which were lurking in the ports of the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies and other neutral countries. In March 1916 reports were received that German merchant ships in neutral countries were armed to act as surface commerce raiders. At Britain’s request the Japanese Navy sent cruisers to defend the shipping lanes between Australia and Aden and destroyers to guard the Straits of Malacca. On receiving this request the Japanese Navy enlarged the operational area of the Sixth Squadron, which was commanded by Rear Admiral Nomaguchi Tadashiro and composed the cruisers Niitaka, Tone, Tushima and Akashi. The Tone and Tsushima were dispatched to the Indian Ocean while four destroyers were sent to Singapore to reinforce the patrol of the Straits of Malacca.18

          In 1917, the Japanese Navy’s mission and activities were increased due to German unrestricted submarine warfare and commercial raider operations.In January 1917, the British Admiralty requested that a flotilla of Japanese destroyers be deployed to the Mediterranean and two cruisers sent to the Cape of Good Hope.19 In response to this request on 7 February the Japanese Navy formed the First Special Squadron which composed the cruisers Yahagi, Tsushima, Suma and Niitaka, together with the Second Destroyer Flotilla. This squadron was based at Singapore and commanded by Rear Admiral Oguri Kozaburo. The British Admiralty requested that the Tsushima and the Niitaka be sent to the Cape of Good Hope, and preparations were made for their deployment. However, on 11 March the raider Wolf entered the Indian Ocean and the British Admiralty changed its request, and the Tsushima and Niitaka remained in the Indian Ocean.

          Furthermore four cruisers or four battleships were requested for the Indian Ocean to protect Allied transports running between Australia and Colombo.20 On 26 March, the British Admiralty further requested the deployment of the Chikuma and Hirado to Australia and New Zealand to protect against the German raiding operations. The Yahagi and Suma were ordered to the Indian Ocean to continue cooperation with the British China Squadron, and the Tsushima and Niitaka proceeded to Mauritius.21

          In response to this request, the Japanese Navy added the Kasuga and Nishin to the First Special Squadron, and re-formed the Third Special.Squadron on 14 April and deployed it to Australia. It comprised the cruisers hikuma and Hirado and was commanded by Rear Admiral Yamaji Kazuyoshi. Its task was to defend the eastern coast of Australia and New Zealand.22 These cruisers escorted the British merchant ships carrying Chinese labourers from China to Europe, and Vietnamese workers from Vietnam to France from March to May. The light cruisers Izumo, Kasuga and Nisshin escorted sixteen cargo ships from Fremantle to Colombo between April and May. The light cruisers Hirado and Chikugo deployed to Australia, and the Yahagi patrolled the eastern coasts of Australia and New Zealand from May to October.23 The Third Squadron was stationed at Sydney from mid-May to December 1917. In July they rescued the SS Cumberland and in August and September, they searched for the missing SS Matunga. From September to October the Squadron searched for the commerce raider Seeadler.24
           With the decrease in the activity of commerce raiders, after December 1917, the Third Special Squadron was dissolved and the operational area of the First Special Squadron enlarged to include the east coast of Australia and New Zealand. Whenever it was thought necessary, one or two cruisers were sent. Up to October 1918, the First Special Squadron was responsible for the defence of Australia and New Zealand and of shipping between Fremantle and Colombo. The Yahagi, the last ship deployed to defend Australia and New Zealand, sailed from Sydney to Japan on 21 October 1918. The Chitose, which was to relieve her, reached Singapore on 16 November, but as the Armistice had been signed on 11 November she returned to Japan.25

Effects of the Japanese Navy with regard to Australian defence

          During the war the Japanese Navy deployed a considerable number of warships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but as none took part in direct action, there were few casualties and little damage. The only damage incurred was due to the grounding of the Nisshin and the Kasuga, while causalities included some forty-eight deaths on the Yahagi, from influenza.26 According to the Australian newspapers, the Japanese Navy made little contribution to the defence of Australia, its role being limited to the defence of shipping between Australia and Aden when circumstances required, to fruitless searches for raiders and the assistance of vessels in distress. However the German naval history gave a very different account stating that it was the fear of Japanese naval power combined with a concern to avoid a provocative clash with Japan which led to the withdrawal of the Spee Squadron from the Pacific. According to the same work it was the reconnaissance of the Japanese warships which caused the dispatch of commerce raiders to the water near Australia to end.27

         It also needs to be noted that the participation of Japan allowed the release of Australian warships for service in Europe. From early in the war until April 1917, the only Australian warships to remain in home waters were the cruiser Encounter and three destroyers. But with the arrival of the Third Squadron in April 1917, three destroyers went for repairs and were dispatched to the Mediterranean. Furthermore, in the months of May and June 1917 alone, there were twelve reports of missing ships and the sightings of strange ships.28 In this period there were usually one or two cruisers cruising around Australian and New Zealand waters. Furthermore, the Japanese Navy ignored bad weather when it aided the SS Cumberland which had hit a mine.29 The psychological impact of the presence of the Japanese naval ships should not be underestimated as it gave encouragement to the Australian population at a time when German activity was creating dismay.The Japanese Navy in fact sent warships to Australian waters ‘more than was asked of’ by the British Admirality.30

          In August 1918, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Arthur J. Balfour, remarked to the Japanese Red Cross delegation that: ‘At present England could not get along without the aid of the Japanese Navy on the sea routes linking Britain to Egypt and Australia.’31 They not only protected the sea communications between Britain and Australia, but in the Mediterranean expeditionary forces depended on the Japanese Navy. From April 1917 to the end of the war, the Japanese Second Squadron, which was composed of seventeen ships (one cruiser, fourteen destroyers and two sloops) carried out direct escort duties for Allied forces, including ANZAC troops. They escorted troop ships 348 times and the total number of escorted ships reached 788 while the total number of soldiers transported reached around 700,000. These activities saved 7,075 passengers from damaged or sinking ships.32

         The Japanese destroyers were under way 72 per cent of the time. The British record was 60 per cent, the Greek and French 45 per cent. The number of days at sea reached 25?6 days per month and their cruises averaged 6,000 miles per month. British officers credited the Japanese warships with excellent performance. The Second Special Squadron escorted 100,000 soldiers from Alexandria to Marseilles between mid-April and mid-June 1918, and also escorted Allied units from Egypt to Salonika at the end of September. These efforts may well have had a considerable influence on easing the tense military situation of the Allied armies at the time.33 The following was reported to the Admiralty by Rear-Admiral George A. Ballard, Commodore of the Malta naval base:We often have conflicts with French and Italian navies about the policy of operation. French standards of efficiency are certainly lower than British however, and Italian standards are lower still. With the Japanese it is otherwise. Admiral Sato’s destroyers are kept in a highly serviceable condition and spend at least as large a proportion of their time at sea as our own, which is far from being the case with the French or Italian vessels of any class. The Japanese moreover are very independent in all matters of administration and supply whereas the French will never do anything for themselves if they can get it done for them.

          The C-in-C Mediterranean, G.C. Dickens, reported: ‘Rear Admiral Sato has always placed the Japanese destroyers at my disposal for escort work and I find that their officers make no difficulties and have picked up their duties very satisfactorily.’34 During these operations, Japan paid a price in terms of both money and lives. On 11 June 1917, the destroyer Sakaki was torpedoed by an Austro-Hungarian submarine, and on 23 June the destroyer Matsu was torpedoed by a German submarine and twenty-two crew were wounded and fifty-nine killed, including the commanding officer.35 In the Pacific, in October 1917, the Japanese Navy sent one cruiser to Hawaii to protect the sea lanes in the northern Pacific, and carried out this mission for one year and eight months. Besides this assistance the Japanese Navy built and brought 8 destroyers (called Tribal class) to Portside for the French navy, and the Kure Naval Arsenal produced howitzers and cannons, rifles, and ammunition for Russia, Britain and France. These productions reached \9,076 million (this amount was exactly the same as the Japanese naval budget for the war) and the amount of weapons and munitions produced by the army and civil factories reached \69,664 million. On British request the Japanese Navy sent one or two cruisers from Vladivostok to Canada four different times to carry gold bricks (worth £70 million). But despite all this, however, in the course of the relationship between Australia and Japan a variety of frictions and conflicts arose.36

Wartime friction between Australia and Japan Friction arising from Japan

         According to The Royal Australian Navy 1914?1917, joint operations were conducted in an atmosphere of ‘most cordial relations’ and ‘the Japanese admirals were supplied with all necessary information’.37 However, Australian actions led to complaints from the Japanese Navy on a number of occasions. The Captain of the Minotaur was protested to by the captain of the Ibuki, Captain Kato Kanji, for not relaying an emergency message when the Emden was sighted off the Cocos Islands.38 Similarly a note of protest lodged by them about the captain of the Yahagi reported that the Australian Navy did not inform the grounded and immobilized German raider, Seeadler.39 Japanese high-ranking officers also felt that the British search for the Emden was conducted without any real plan, and Admiral Moriyama thought that Admiral Patey did not evaluate information, but immediately and indiscriminately proceeded to the place where sightings were reported.40 Vice Admiral Yamaji reported that while American activities were reported in the Australian press frequently, Japanese activities were kept as military secrets. In fact, after Admiral Yamaji’s speech on the Imperial Birthday, Japanese naval activities around Australia were finally reported on after protests by Consul General Shimizu Seizaburo to Prime Minister Hughes.

        This press article was the first on such a topic to appear in Australian newspapers. 41 Admiral Yamaji reported to the Naval General Staff that ‘Prime Minister Hughes must feel that if it became known that Australia was being defended by Japanese his previous posture towards Japan, and his “White Australian Policy” would appear as mistaken.’42 There was a certain feeling of grievance within Japan that Australia had not revised her policy of racial discrimination nor her anti-Japanese posture.Australia not only still followed racially discriminatory policies but positively limited Japanese activities despite a resolution of protest by Japan against ‘Anti-Japanese feeling and the exclusion of the Japanese in Australia and the southwestern Pacific.’43 Besides these general complaints regarding Australian attitudes, there was an incident in which undisciplined anti-Japanese action by Australians led to a sharp protest by the Japanese Navy.

         On 20 November 1917, the Yahagi was fired on by a shore battery when she entered Fremantle. A single round, the shell passed over the funnel of the Yahagi and fell only 300 metres away. On the following day, the commander of the Western Australian Naval District, Captain C.J. Clare, explained that as the Yahagi ‘had not flown the pre-arranged signal flag the shot was simply a means to warn the pilot’. This was clearly an inadequate explanation as the Yahag had radioed notice of her arrival the previous day and when approaching the port the signal station at the entrance to the harbour had flwn a buoy designation flag on its mast. Admiral Yamaji took a serious view of the matter and demanded an explanation from higher authorities. While no actual explanation was given, there was a full apology. On 25 November the Governor-General, Ronald Munro Ferguson, who was in Fremantle in connection with the conscription issue, made a personal apology. On 28 November the Naval Board expressed ‘Its deep regrets over the incident on behalf of the federal government.’ The Minister of the Navy also sent a telegram of apology expressing deep regret and stating there would be no further incidents.44

Frictions raised from Australia: occupation of the German South Sea Islands

         There was also much dissatisfaction on the Australian side. In mid-1917, the cruiser Hirdo did not sail in search of the missing SS Mutunga, because of incomplete information. Also, on the occasion of the sinking by mine of SS Cumberland, the Hirado sent divers and reported that she had been sunk by an internal explosion. After this report the Australian port authorities examined all cargoes and mailbags in every port, until they discovered she had been sunk by a mine.45 There were other causes of Australian discontent.While French, Russian and even British and Australian ships were placed under Japanese command at times, Japanese warships were never placed under foreign command. In deploying Japanese warships, even destroyers, the Australian naval board had to consult with the Japanese Naval General Staff or with the local Japanese commander.46

         However the greatest cause of Australian dissatisfaction with Japan sprang from the Japanese occupation of the German Pacific Islands. With the start of the war, Australia and New Zealand sought the chance to occupy the German Pacific Islands together with New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, which lay within their area of sea power. But they lacked the naval ships to escort transports, and the chairman of the sub-committee of Imperial Defence, Admiral Sir H.B. Jackson, wrote a memorandum about troop movements in the Indian and Pacific Ocean:47

         If these waters were known to be clear of enemy cruisers, the situation would be very different, and I would point out that the duties that occupy and fore shadow the movements of our Eastern squadron are hardly those laid down in Standing War Orders, where the destruction of the enemy warships is the first and principal duty. It is noteworthy that these have not been encountered or seriously looked for; and we seem to be asking too much from the limited force we have in those waters, and are looking ahead and planning our military expeditions without taking sufficient thought of our enemy’s naval forces. The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst may not be the only ones in the Pacific; apparently the little Geier is active in interrupting our communications and it is high time we destroyed the German communications and armed vessels of all description in these waters. Also, on 5 September 1914, Admiral Patey telegraphed to the Admiralty:Unless strong reasons to the contrary existed, Angaur and Nauru should not be occupied, but their wireless telegraph stations should be destroyed. From experience gained at Samoa, and from information received the German Pacific islands were very short of food. Occupying them will entail our feeding the inhabitants as well as the garrisons, will relieve the German of this responsibility. While Yap being larger and having submarine cable, might be occupied.48

         Already the Japanese navy occupied the German islands in the Northern Pacific on the pretext that the German navy would use these islands as bases. The occupation of the north Pacific islands aroused great problems complicated by an error in interpretation of the meaning of a telegram by George F.Pearce, the Australian Minister of Defence. On 18 August 1914 the British cruiser Minotaur bombarded Yap and on 12 September the British Ambassador to Japan, Sir Conygham Greene stated that an Australian force was to occupy Yap, so the Japanese Navy at first had no plans to possess this island. But Pearce misinterpreted Sir Edward Grey’s use of ‘Yap and others’ which meant ‘Yap and its dependant island’ to mean ‘Yap and all other German islands in the Pacific’. This changed the situation greatly. By this misunderstanding, Peace announced officially that the ‘Japanese Government 14 had intimated to British Government, that it was ready to hand over those islands, recently held by Germany but temporarily occupied by Japan to Australian forces.’49 Thus the Australian Navy sent telegrams to the Japanese Navy that the Australian expeditionary forces had set sail to Yap and Angaur.50 The Japanese Navy sent the Hirado to hand over Yap to Australia. However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kato Takaaki protested Peace’s announcement to Grey, stating that Japan’s intention related not to all the German islands but only to Yap.51 Concerning this protest, Ambassador

         Grey sent a telegram that the Japanese Navy objected to the transfer of Angaur and Yap, therefore the dispatch of Australian troops might cause friction between Britain and Japan. The Japanese occupation of Yap Island was only for military purposes and Foreign Minister Kato Takaaki also agreed that the resolution of the territorial possession could be reconsidered in order to maintain a smooth relationship between Japan and Britain. Also Churchill sent a message to Colonial Secretary Lewis V. Harcourt, that:52 We have no cruiser available for Yap at the present time and much inconvenience would be caused by changing existing arrangements. There apears to be no military reasons which require us to eject the Japanese at this juncture. I do not gather that the Australian Governments are pressing us to act. On the contrary it would seem that you were pressing them. The admiralty would strongly deprecate any action towards Japan which would appear suspicious or ungracious. They have intimated that their occupation is purely military and devoid of political significance and there I trust we may leave the matter for the present.

         Receiving these telegrams and letters, Grey cabled on the 26 October to the Governor of Australia:Co-operation between Japan and UK is mutually beneficial for both countries and the Japanese Navy’s support is sincere. Occupying the South Seas Island of the German territories is to achieve the military goal and military consideration had to be taken seriously during the war. Sending your force to Angaur and Yap Island should be cancelled as their territorial matters will be determined after the war.53 Thus through Peace’s misreading, Australia lost not only Yap, but also all of the German Pacific Islands north of the equator.

German propaganda for Australia

          The Japanese occupation of the north Pacific islands greatly changed the feeling of the Australian people. This change was used by Germany to weaken the links between Australia and Japan. A Reuter communication reported that:The occupation of Yap should not be forgotten. In the future, this island will be the first military base of a number of bases which will be used to extend Japanese absolute supremacy in the Pacific as far as the Antarctic Ocean. We have heard the idea for some decades that Australia and India under the envious gaze of the Japanese tiger. To defend ourselves against this danger Australia must remain in the hands of the white man as the old saying has it.54
This caused racial matters to once again estrange Japan and Australia.The Germans also worked through agents abroad. An article by Kayahara Kazan, who was the type of Japanese journalist who specialized as a political agitator, said in a small newspaper called the Daisan Teikoku (the Third Empire) that: ‘Our country’s policy must be to advance to the south and in saying this we do not simply mean the acquisition of small islands … The expansion of Japan will extend south from the Equator extending to Australia.’ This article was read out at the Australia Labour Party General Conference in Perth in June 1918, and also in the South Australian Parliament in July of the same year, and it inflamed anti-Japanese feelings.55

          This antipathy and sense of alarm were also used by the Australian Labour Party. As Australian foreign trade increased and a large number of Japanese ships called at Australian ports, the Australian Labour Party newspaper,Labour Calls, frequently took up the matter of Japan’s advance to the south. What was unfortunate for Japan was that race issues arose in the course of Australian domestic politics. This happened on two occasions. In October 1916 and December 1917, race issues were used to argue for sending troops overseas. In order to secure Australian participation and prestige at the postwar peace conference, Prime Minister Hughes, who had gone to Britain in 1916, had promised that a large number of Australian troops would be sent to fight in Europe. After an attempt to secure conscription for overseas service, Hughes left the Labour Party, opposed to conscription, and went over to his former adversary, the Conservative Party. Labor Calls, thereupon, used racial issues and the Japanese menace to oppose conscription:Without doubt the next war will be fought in the Pacific between the white and yellow races. Today our white comrades are fighting each other in a suicidal struggle. We should not send our youth to far off battlefields as we must prepare for the racial war to come. I will vote NO, because I believe in keeping Australia a white man’s country. YES would commit Australia to sending 16.500 men away monthly for an indefinite time … Soon … the country would have to resort to importing labour.56

False intelligence and the Japanese menance

         With the start of the war there was a temporary halt in Australian intelligence activity relating to Japan. But this activity was resumed in late 1915 by the initiative of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Australian Navy which suspected that bases were being developed in the occupied north Pacific islands for use in Japanese expansion to the south. Information was mainly drawn from employees of the Bruns Philp company which had traded in the islands in the period prior to the war, and from men aboard the SS Pukaki and the SS Jubilee, which travelled through the islands to collect labourers for the phosphate mine on Nauru. Information supplied by these people was often unreliable and at times exaggerated, especially the information from those who could not speak the local language. In the case of the Truk Lagoon, information could be exaggerated, as in the following report.57

        P. Etscheit of the Caroline Trading company reported that Truk Lagoon was in the process of development as a naval base and that there were eight 4 inch guns and two 6 inch guns together with a barracks capable of accommodating seventy-five men. Frank C. Pinching who was in the field in charge of collecting labour for the Nauru phosphate mine said that military preparations were being hurried at Truk Lagoon and that the entrances were being sealed by mines. There was a plan to lay mines in all the entrances and the mines were to be detonated from a central point if occasion arose. He also reported that he saw a considerable number of mines being unloaded from the 7,000-ton SS Ah Ping. Robert Stobo saw a freighter loaded with mines and reported that these had previously been laid in the South-Western entrance to Truk Lagoon. Thinking that if the entrances were mined then there were probably gun batteries he was asked if such batteries existed. He said that there were no guns in place but there were emplacements for guns on the islands of Uman, Wela, Tol and Yoloas. On Toloas, particularly, there were said to be underground emplacements but no one was allowed ashore there and it was not possible to verify their existence. R.D. Walton, a lecturer at a university in Brisbane, also argued that evidence collected in the period after the First World War shows that Japan was contemplating an invasion of Newcastle, which was a major centre for iron, steel and coal. In 1919 and 1920 there was the building of a photographic mosaic for use in an invasion. Between 1922 and 1924 a map and chart for invasion use was completed.58 The evidence noted by Walton is briefly outlined below.59

The procurement of photographic information (1919?1924)
        During the 1920s some forty-seven Japanese ships docked at Newcastle and the officers usually went off in groups of three or four in hired cars and photographed the important Newcastle region. Walton concluded that through this survey the Japanese Navy acquired complete and precise topographic information concerning the region.

The investigation of the coal landing facilities (1922)

        An employee of the Mitsui Bussan, named Koishikawa, often discussed arrangements to purchase coal with Newcastle businessmen but he attached such unreasonable conditions to his proposals that no business was ever concluded. He showed real interest only in the coal field and the harbour facilities in the Newcastle area. Walton concluded that the Japanese Navy was using Koishikawa to investigate the coal landing facilities which could be used after an invasion.

The acquisition of the secret landing place in Sydney (1922)
        The Kanematsu Trading company bought land on the waterfront in Sydney and it was thought that these were acquired for the secret landing of espionage personnel.

The production of an invasion chart (1924)
         The assistant Harbour Master of Newcastle reported that the Japanese crew possessed a chart carrying water depths which was unfamiliar to him.Walton concluded that by 1924, the Japanese Navy had produced a chart for use in an invasion of Newcastle.

Invasion of the landing beach (1924?1926)
        The Japanese merchant ships, SS Madras Maru (May 1924), SS Chofuku Maru (March 1925), SS Meiko Maru (March 1925), and the SS Egypt Maru (June 1926) left the usual shipping routes and approached close to the coast. It could be concluded that these vessels were making surveys of the coast for troop landings.

          The Australian intelligence organizations and the armed services thus came to collect much inaccurate and conjectural information. What occupied their time and attention were not so much the actual activities of the enemy armed services but rather Japanese activities in the Pacific together with rumours of spying within Australia. From this information they gained an exaggerated impression of Japanese intentions and the menace posed by Japan, and came to feel threatened. Influenced by this information of the Japanese menace, Prime Minister Hughes sent a long letter to Lloyd George entitled, ‘Thoughts on Australian Defence Against Anticipated Attack’. In this message he said that the Japanese-occupied islands north of the equator were extremely important to Australia from the point of view both of defence and possible offence, so all former German possessions in the Pacific should be placed under Australian control.60

         In New Zealand, Minister of Defence, Colonel Sir James Allen, reminded the Prime Minister W.F. Massey that ‘I can not understand any argument in favour of the Japanese remaining in the Marshals [sic] … it seems clear to me that it is meant as an indication that the Japanese intend to rule the Pacific Seas.’61 There was certain duplicity in the Australian stance. The Australians were prohibiting coloured immigration and monopolizing a bountiful land while in Australia’s own region there were nations suffering from poverty due to over-population. The thought that this fanatical adherence to the ‘White Australia’ policy might offer the newly powerful Japan an excuse for an invasion of Australia further increased the sense of the Japanese menace in Australian minds and gave it a more concrete form, especially after the Paris Peace Conference when Japan proposed a racial equality clause.

Australian-Japanese relations after the war

         Captain Kato, commander of the Ibuki reported that the peoples of Australia and New Zealand, at first felt sincere regard for the Japanese and sympathy to Japan in times of sorrow but they also felt the need to develop powerful independent fighting services and there can be no guarantee that there will not be an upsurge of public feeling with regard to the development of the military.62
The attitude of Australia towards Japan had indeed changed just as Captain Kato had noted in 1914. Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe, who was charged to investigate affairs in various British territories, wrote a report in 1919 that noted Japan ‘is a country likely to cause war in the future’. He advised the establishment of a joint British, Australian and New Zealand Fleet with a standard strength of eight battleships and eight battle cruisers.63

         Influenced by the above thinking, on 12 April 1920, the Council of Defence reported that Australia could not stop a Japanese invasion by seapower alone, and proposed the establishment of an army of some 180,000 men and seven divisions,64 and approved £3.6 million for ‘the maintenance of the existing Naval Unit as an efficient fighting machine’, £3.5 million for land forces, and £1.1 million for air power.65 Australia’s apprehensions caused her to approach America, who was also clashing with Japan over similar racial issues. For the US Navy, which based its war plans on the strategy of an attack on Japan across the Pacific, Australia was of value as a base for possible future operations. The US Navy planned a close approach to Australia and used the sentiments of the Australian people to help establish its network of bases in the South Pacific, in case Japan fortified its South Sea Islands.66 In July 1925, the US Navy held exercises off Hawaii, and after the exercises the US Fleet moved to test its naval deployment capability across the Pacific, conducting a ‘Non-stop Exercise’ from Hawaii to Australia. Fifty-five US combatants were welcomed enthusiastically in Australia and New Zealand.67

         Through Japanese participation in the war, German power was eliminated in the Far East and the Pacific. However for Australia and New Zealand, this simply meant that Germany, the previous source of unease,was replaced by Japan. Both Australia and New Zealand had clashed with Japan in the past over racial issues and considered her a potential enemy. After the war, the First Naval Member submitted a report of the ‘Misleading Reference to Japanese Naval Action in the Pacific Ocean during the War’ to Prime Minister William M Hughes.68 Hostile views of Japan prevailed during the war due to German propaganda of racial animosity, and anti-Japanese feelings did not diminish.


      After the war, the situation in the Pacific was greatly changed and there was no common foe to maintain the alliance. The German threat was eliminated and the nascent Soviet Union was no longer threatening India. Thus Great Britain and Australia did not require Japan’s naval cooperation. Beside this change in the world situation, racial animosities were added and Japanese spy-scares continued, and the idea of the Japanese menace was created. The history of the extensive assistance that Japan had rendered to Allied efforts was inconvenient for the anti-Japanese and navalist groups not only in Great Britain and Australia, but also in the United States. Thus Japanese services were quickly minimized and diminished in Western history.69 But there was another tendency in Australia: negative postwar assessments of Japan began to appear in some circles. On the occasion of the celebration of the Emperor’s birthday in Sydney in November 1920, political leader R.W. Caldwell stated: ‘I avail myself of this opportunity to express my deep regret and shame at the recrudescence of anti-Japanese prejudice, which has taken place in Australia since the conclusion of the late war.’70 

        Also, in December 1927 the Australian Prime Minister S.M. Bruce, in response to a message from Prime Minister Kato (Foreign Minster during the war), on the occasion of the appointment of Tokugawa Iemasa as Consul-General in Melbourne, said ‘thank Japan for the aid which she gave us during the war’. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, J.C. Coates, also replied saying that:he could not forget the deep impression made by the assistance extended by the IJN in the transporting of New Zealand troops in the early stages of the war and the fact that throughout the anxieties of the war period Japan had extended the friendship of alliance to the British peoples.71 In April 2002, in the Australian Financial Review, there was an essay entitled ‘Time to Recognize a Forgotten Ally’.72

         If past practice is any guide, this year’s Anzac Day ceremonies will once again take place without representatives from a key First World War ally. In fact, so critical was this ally’s role that without its support the events commemorated by Anzac Day might never have occurred …Needless to say, this does not justify Japan’s later barbaric treatment of Australian POWs. Once WWI ended, Japan’s contribution was promptly from Australian collective memories. The realty of international affairs is that the causes of conflicts are seldom wholly on one side or the other. As Australians prepare to commemorate another Anzac Day, perhaps the time has come to recall the significant contribution Japan once made to this country’s defence. True reconciliation is almost always a two-way street.When tension in the Pacific relaxed and when Australia and New Zealand wished to approach and deepen relations with Japan, the Japanese Navy’s assistance was evaluated and used to improve relations between Japan and Australia.

1 Jack Shepherd, Australia’s Interests and Policies in the Far East, New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1940, pp. 7?8.
2 M.A. Vienna, Shinju no Yuwaku (The Lure of the Pearl Shell), trans. Adachi Yoshiko, Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 1987, p. 62.
3 Memo by Vice Admiral A.D. Fanshawe, ‘Australia and New Zealand’s Real and Only Danger from an Enemy (21 January 1915)’, G48, Governor’s Records Classified Office File, F-4, Admiral Fanshawe, Note on the Vulnerability of Australia and New Zealand, New Zealand National Archives (hereafter cited as NZNA), Wellington.
4 Hector Bywater, Sea Power in the Pacific: A Study of the American-Japanese Problem, London: Constable, 1921, p. 21.
5 Neville Meaney, ‘Okaron to Osutoraria no Kiki’ (The Yellow Peril and Australian Crisis), trans. Akaneya Tatsuo, in Watanabe Teruo (ed.), Nichigo Kankei no Shiteki Tenkai (The Development of Relations between Japan and Australia in Historical Perspective), Tokyo: Kokusai Seiji, 1981, vol. 63, p.8.
6 Royal Australian Navy 1911?1961, Canberra: Department of the Navy, 1961, p. 7?8.
7 Gaimusho (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (ed.), Nihon Gaiko Bunsho: Taisho 3nen(Japanese Diplomatic Documents, 1914; hereafter cited as NGB: Taisho 3nen),Tokyo: Gaimusho, 1960, vol. 3, p. 628; Imperial Defence, House of Commons(17 May 1914); Robert R. James (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897?1963, London: Chelsea House, 1974, vol. V, pp. 2262?6.
8 Takayanagi Mitsutoshi (ed.), Dainihon Sensoshi, Tokyo:Sankyo Shoin, 1938, vol.6, p. 377; Kaigun Gunreibu (Naval General Staff) (ed.), Kimitu Taisho 3?4 nen Kaigun Senshi (Top Secret: The Naval War History from 1914 to 1915; hereafter cited as Kaigun Senshi 3?4nen), Tokyo:Kaigun Gunreibu, 1919, vol. I, pp. 384?9.
9 Julian S. Corbett, History of the Great War: Naval Operation, London:Longmans, Green and Co., 1920, vol. I, pp. 348?51.
10 I.G. McGibon, Blue-Water Rationale: The Naval Defence of New Zealand,Wellington: R.D. Hasselberg, Government Printer, 1981, pp. 25?6.
11 British Naval Attache in Japan, Captain E.H. Rymaer to Rear Admiral Takeshita Isamu (26 October 1914), Nichiei Kaigun Kosho Kankei Shiryo (Documents Relating to Negotiations between IJN and RN; hereafter abbreviated as Nichiei Kankei File), National Institute for Defense Studies (hereafter NIDS).
12 Telegram from the Ibuki (29 September 1914), Senji Shorui (Documents on the War), vol. 123, NIDS.
13 Kaigun Senshi 3?4nen, vol. 4, pp. 189?248.
14 Kato Kanji Denki Hensan kai (Editing Association) (ed.), Kato Kanji Taisho Den(Biography of Admiral Kato Kanji), Tokyo: Kato Kanji Denkihensan Iinkai,1941, pp. 605?15.
15 Kaigun Senshi 3?4nen, vol. 1, pp. 387?91.
16 Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 380?8; NGB: Taisho 4nen, vol. 3, pp. 1194?205; also see Jerrame Papers, National Maritime Museum (Greenwich).
17 Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis, 1911?1914, London: Thormon Buterworth, 1929, vol. 2, p. 299.
18 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 1, pp. 25?30.
19 NGB: Taisho 4nen, vol. 3, p. 99, doc. 123 (27477), Grey to Greene, 9 February 1916; Ann Trotter (ed.), British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print, Series E, Asia, 1914?1939: Japan, August 1914-May 1915, Washington: University Publications of America, 1991 (hereafter BDFA), Part II, vol. 1, pp. 116?17.
20 NGB: Taisho 4nen, vol. 3, p. 99, doc. 123 (27477), Grey to Greene, 9 February 1916; BDFA, Part II, vol. 1, pp.116?17.
21 British Embassy (26 March 1917), ibid., pp. 96?8.
22 Kaigun Senshi 4ー9nen, vol. 2, pp. 19-37.
23 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 2, pp. 43?52.; ‘Dai San Tokumu Kantai Senji Nitsusi’(War Diary of the Third Special Squadron), and also refer to Yamaji Kazuyoshi,‘Dai 3 Tokumu Kantai no Kodo’ (Operation Report of Third Special Squadron),in Yushu Kai (ed.), Dai Icihji Sekaitaisen Senpo Yoroku (Recollection of the World War), Tokyo: Yushukai, 1922, pp. 249-60.
24 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 1, pp. 39?40; vol. 2, pp. 228?50.
25 Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 42?3.
26 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 2, pp. 125, 141?51; ‘Gunkan Yahagi Ryukosei Kanbo ni Kansuru Ken (25 January 1919)’, Yahagi Senji Nitsushi, NIDS.
27 Alfred P. Friedrick von Tirpitz, Grand Admiral: My Memories, London: Hurst Black Ltd., 1917, vol. II., p. 351; German Naval Staff (ed.) (trans. General Naval Staff), Doisut Towa Kantai Senshi (Der Kreuzerkrieg in den Auslandischen Gewassern), Gunreibu, 1911, p. 138.
28 Navy Department, N20?6, Senior Naval Officer, 1913?1921: Papers Relating to Trade route Warnings, NZNA.
29 Arthur W. Jose, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914?1918: The Australian Navy, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1937, pp. 358?9.
30 Julian S. Corbett, History of the Great War: Naval Operation, London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1931, vol. IV, p. 216; also see doc. 173, Secret Pack of the Commander-in-Chief Grand Fleet, ADM 137, Box 1939, Public Record Office (hereafter PRO).
31 The Times (ed.), The Times History of the War, vol. XVIII, London: Times,1919, pp. 458?9.
32 Kaigun Senshi 4?9 Nen, vol. 2, pp. 288?313; Kaigun-Senshi Furoku Kmitu Hokan (Top Secret Supplementary File of the Naval Operation), pp. 24?30.
33 For the Second Special Squadron, refer to Dai Ni Tokumu Kantai (Second Special Squadron) (ed.), Enseiki (Expeditional Reports), Tokyo: Dai Ni Tokumu Kantai, 1919, pp. 239?40; Hirama Yoichi, ‘Rising Sun in the Mediterranean: The Second Special Squadron, 1917?1918’, in Ufficio Storico Della Marina Militare (ed.), Il Mediterraneo quale Elemento del Potere Maritimo, Rome: Commissione Italiana di Storia Militare, 1998, pp. 39?54.
34 Paul G. Halpern (ed.), The Royal Navy in the Mediterranean 1915?1918, London:Temple Smith/Navy Record Society, 1987, pp. 282, 290.
35 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 2, pp. 324?6.
36 Yoichi Hirama, Dai Ichiji Sekaitaisen to Nihon Kaigun (World War I and Japanese Navy: Relation between Military Operation and Diplomacy),Tokyo:Keio University Press, 1998, pp. 235?2251. For the Japanese contribution refer to Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese Relations (Written for the Imperial Conference, March 1917), BDFA, Part II, vol. 2, pp. 218?22.
37 Jose, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914?1918, p. 341.
38 Kato Kanji Denki Hensan kai, Kato Kanji Taisho Den, pp.600?1.
39 Yahagi Senji Nishi, 9 June 1917.
40 Kaigun Senshi 3?4nen, vol. 1, p. 354.
41 ‘Dai San Tokumu Kantai Ninmu Hokoku No. 2’, Ninmu Hokoku Tuzuri (Third Special Service Squadron’s Report), no. 2, NIDS; Empire Day, 24 May 1917, Series A2219/XR1, External Relations, vol. I, pt. 2, p. 16, Australian National Archives (Hereafter ANA).
42 ‘Dai Ichi Kodo Gaiyo, Shoken 3 (No. 1 Operation Report, Impression No. 3)’;‘Dai San Tokumu Kantai Ninmu Hokoku’, NIDS.
43 Teikoku Gikai Shogiin Iinkai Gijiroku 37?38 Kai (The Records of the 37th and 38th Imperial Diets House of Representative Committee Records), Tokyo:Nozomigawa Shoten, 1982, pp. 312?13.
44 Kaigun Senshi 4?9nen, vol. 2, pp. 60?9; Letter, Captain of Yahagi to the Naval Committee of Australia, 28 November 1917; Letter to the Minister of Defence,28 November 1917; Letter from the Naval Minister to Yahagi, 7 December 1917, Yahagi Senji Nitsuki, NIDS.
45 Jose, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914?1918, pp. 356?360.
46 Kaigun Senshi Himitu Hokan, op.cit., p. 9.
47 Jose, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914?1918, p. 50
48 Ibid., p. 72; Corbett, History of the Great War: Naval Operation, vol. II, pp.636?7.
49 NGB Tasho 3nen, vol. 3, p. 670.
50 Telegram from Naval Office Melbourne, 25 November 1914, ibid., Nichiei Kyodo File.
51 NGB: Taisho 3nen, vol. 3, p. 672.
52 Doc. (74103), Greene to Grey, 21 November 1914, G1: Governer’s Records, N18:Japanese Occupation of Former German Owned Islands North of the Equator, NZNA; Churchill to Harcourt, 18 October 1914; Gilbert Martin, Winston S.
Churchill, 2 vols, London, Heinemann, 1975, p. 203.
53 Doc. 330, enclosure doc. 329, Harcort to Governenor of Australia, 24 November 1914, BDFA, Part II, vol. 1, p. 136.
54 ‘Nihon no Nanshin’ (Japanese South Advance), The German Review of Japan No. 1 (Far Eastern Loiyd No. 43), Suikosha Kiji, vol. 13, no. 4, December 1915, p. 15.
55 Henry P. Frei, Japan’s Southward Advance and Australia: From the Sixteenth Century to World War II, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1991, p. 95.
56 Labour Call, 26 October 1916, p. 9; also 1 June 1916, p. 10; 8 June 1916, p. 3; 15 March 1917, p. 4; Refer to D.C.S. Sissons, ‘Attitudes to Japan and Defence1890?1923’, Australian National University, MA Thesis, 1956, pp. 35?7.
57 R.D. Walton, ‘Some Substance in the Secrets: The Fortification and De-fortification of the Carolines 1917?1922’, Unpublished, Brisbane, 1986, p. 3?6.
58 R.D. Walton, ‘Feeling for the Jugular: Japanese Espionage at Newcastle 1919?1926’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 32, no. 1, April 1986.
59 AA MP 1582, Series 6. Australian Satiation Intelligence Reports, Part II, 1930, 1932.
60 Frei, Japan’s Southward Advance and Australia, pp. 98?9; Ian.H. Nish, Alliance in Decline: A Study in Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1908?1923, London: Athlone Press, 1972, pp. 207.
61 McGibbon, op. cit., p.33.
62 ‘Dai San Tokumu Kantai Senji Nitsusi’, p. 241.
63 Report on the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa on Naval Mission of New Zealand (August?October 1919), vol. III, The Naval Situation in Far Eastern Waters, p. 6, p. 10.
64 See George E. Matks, Pacific Peril ? Or Menace of Japan’s Mandated Islands,Sydney: Wynyard Book Arcade, 1933.
65 Frei, Japan’s Southward Advance and Australia, p. 103.
66 Edwar S. Miller, Orange Paln: The US Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897?1945,Annapolis: US Naval Institute Press, 1990, pp. 100?21.
67 John H. Moore, ‘The Eagle and the Roo: American Fleets in Australian Waters’, US Naval Proceedings, November 1917.
68 Memorandum prepared by the First Naval Member for the Acting Prime Minister, June 1919, A2219 vol. 10, ANA.
69 Arthur J. Marder asserted in his Old Friend, New Enemies: The Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy, Oxford: Claredon Press, 1981, p. 4: ‘The Royal Navy had little reason to be grateful to the Japanese in the first World War. Japan refused to send any ships to fight Germany until 1917, when a destroyers flotilla was set to the Mediterranean, and made hay in the Far East while the British were committed in Europe, as through the seizure of German-occupied Tsingtao and German islands in the Pacific ? the Marshals, Mariana, Carolines, and Palau.’ Timothy D. Saxon, ‘Anglo-Japanese Cooperation, 1914?1918’, US Naval War College Review, Winter 2000, pp. 62?92, gives a very different evaluation.
70 Frei, Japan’s Southward Advance and Australia, p. 105.
71 Consul-General Sydney to Minister of Foreign Affairs, ‘Report on an interview where a Message from Prime Minister Kato was convoyed to the Prime Minister of Australia in Melbourne and other matters’, 18 December 1925, Concerning the exchange of Message with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, 12 January 1927; Nichigo Kankei Tuzuri, op. cit.
72 Australian Financial Review, ‘Time to Recognize a Forgotten Ally’, 19 April 2002, p. 1.