Japan and Australia

Courtesy Reuters

FOR a generation past, Australia has regarded Japan with suspicion and at times with alarm. Australian public men, with few exceptions, have viewed her growing strength with apprehension, and more than one important step of Australian policy has resulted from their fears. In an Australian weekly of wide circulation Japan has constantly been the subject of articles and cartoons which have depicted her as the future invader of Australia. Other papers given to sensational methods have found it easy to work up a Japanese scare. The general public, it is safe to assert, has usually been prone to nervousness of Japan.

Before the war of 1914-1915, Australia's attitude to Japan was influenced mainly by the determination to exclude Japanese workmen and settlers, and by the belief that Japan was engaged in spying on our defenses and natural resources. Australians have been accustomed to suppose that she needed an oversea outlet for her population, and that our exclusion of Japanese immigrants excited great indignation in Japan. Accordingly it has been believed that she planned a forcible occupation of Australia or of the less populated parts of it, and the presence of supposed Japanese spies seemed to confirm this fear. After the outbreak of the World War, the occupation by Japan of the island groups in the Pacific north of the equator, and the Japanese proposals at international conferences for the recognition of racial equality, as well as her maintenance of armaments which seemed too large for use in home defense, kept these suspicions active. In short, Australians have come to think that Australia had a leading place in the plans for future territorial expansion which it has been the fashion to attribute to Japan. It is the object of this article to trace how this attitude has arisen, and to discuss what justification there is for it.

Australia took little interest in Japan or the Japanese until about thirty years ago. We had been concerned with the Chinese since the days of

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