Christine Piper

Christine Piper is a mixed-race Japanese-Australian author. Her debut novel, After Darkness (Allen & Unwin 2014), is a story about a Japanese doctor interned as an enemy alien in Australia during World War 2. It won The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award and was shortlisted for the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award, and is currently studied by Year 12 English students in the state of Victoria. She also won the 2014 Guy Morrison Award for Literary Journalism and the 2014 Calibre Essay Prize for her creative non-fiction essay “Unearthing the Past,” about civilian activists in Japan and the nation's conflicted wartime memory. See: www.christinepiper.com; Twitter: @cyberpiper

Updated April 2021

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Remembering the Internment: Mary Nakashiba

Mary Nakashiba 
Born: Thursday Island, 1926 
Interned: Tatura, Victoria, 1942–44

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“I felt betrayed by my country”

Seventy years have passed since half-Japanese Mary was interned as a fifteen-year-old, but the shocking turn of events after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor is still clear to her. After being arrested in Darwin, Mary and her family were transported to Sydney by ship along with hundreds of other Japanese. “When we got off the ship, there was a crowd of people lining the harbor. They were screaming, ‘Kill them! Shoot the bastards!’ I couldn’t believe it—these were Australians, people of my own country. …

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Japanese in Australia: From Meiji to World War II

A distinct pattern of Japanese migration to Australia emerged after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Imperial rule was reinstated and Japan’s ports were opened after centuries of feudal seclusion. For the first time, ordinary Japanese citizens could go abroad.

From the 1870s until World War II, more than a hundred thousand Japanese voyaged to Australia. The sugarcane industry in north-eastern Australia attracted many Japanese laborers, as did the pearling industry along the north-western coast. Mother-of-pearl shell was highly sought after in Europe to make buttons for clothing. Like the sugarcane workers, Japanese divers and ship crew were nearly all …

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