EMBASSY OF JAPAN IN AUSTRALIA
The cards are likely to shed some light on who exactly was aboard the prison ship Montevideo Maru, sunk by a US submarine off the Philippines coast on 1 July 1942 with the loss of all 1,000 prisoners.
The precise death toll is not known, nor the identity of all the prisoners – civilians and troops who had been captured in Rabaul and were being transported to Hainan in China.
A similar handover of personal cards had taken place between Japan and the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China during the 1950s; however at the time Australia stated it did not intend to accept the cards.
In November 2010, a Japanese NGO approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointing out that the cards themselves would be of value not only to former prisoners of war, but also to their families, as the cards have historical value through their depiction of life at the time.
In March last year, the then Japanese foreign minister Maehara announced that preparations had begun for the handover to Australia of the cards and related materials.
It is hoped that this exchange of individual record cards and related materials will serve as a fitting opportunity to further promote the amiable relations between Japan and Australia.
Some 4,497 prisoner of war individual record cards and 16 related items have been handed over to the Australian government.
PNG Attitude pays tribute to our good friend Harumi Sakaguchi for the instrumental role he has played in this process and for his other work to bring comfort to the relatives of Japanese and Australian nationals who died as a result of World War II.