Publication of the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery Database and Website

(Photograph: Mayu Kanamori)

The Embassy of Japan to Australia provided assistance over a period of three years (2016-2018) to the efforts of Japanese experts residing in Australia to compile a database on those buried at the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery and create its associated website. Both the database and website are now completed, thus together in cooperation with the Cowra Shire Council in New South Wales, the Embassy of Japan wishes to announce the start of public access to the database and website as of the 10th May, 2019. 
 
(clicking on the link will open a new window)

The Purpose of the Japanese War Cemetery Database and Website
The graves of 524 Japanese prisoners of war and private citizens who died within Australia during the Second World War were originally located at various sites throughout Australia. However in 1964, the governments of Japan and Australia agreed to relocate and consolidate these graves in the Shire of Cowra, thus leading to the creation of the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery.  Thereafter, through the generosity of spirit of both Cowra Shire Council and its citizens, these graves have continued to be maintained with great care, and every year in August local citizens lead a commemorative service at the cemetery.  The cemetery also holds what are believed to be the graves of persons of Taiwanese and Korean origin.

Each grave has a metal plate on it engraved with the deceased person’s name, the date of their death, and in some cases, their age at the time of death. However in a majority of cases, the background history of the deceased and their cause of death remains unclear. Furthermore, in many instances uncertainty surrounded the prisoners of war and whether the name under which the deceased had been interred was their actual name or a false one. 

The compilation of this database involved analysis of records and open resources located within Australia to divide the data by the surnames. This research would also allow the relatives of those buried in the cemetery to confirm the circumstances that led to their interment in the cemetery. All this was then amalgamated into the present website (both the Japanese and English language versions). 

Expectations are that through this database and website, the background and circumstances that led to the burial of those Japanese that died during the war will be made clear, and thus deepen awareness of grass-root level relations between Japan and Australia both before and during the war. 

Project Team
The database and website were proposed and developed by a project team made up of Japanese experts residing in Australia as follows:

Dr Keiko Tamura – Research Associate, School of Asia Pacific Studies, Australian National University
Dr Yuriko Nagata – Honorary Research Senior Fellow, School of Asian Languages, University of Queensland
Ms Mayu Kanamori – Artist, writer and photographer
Ms Chie Muraoka – Designer and web consultant
Mr Hideaki Kobayashi – IT consultant

Contact
For more information about this media release, please contact the following:
Embassy of Japan, Telephone: 02 6273 3244

This database and website have been made public using servers and operational assistance provided by Cowra Shire Council. For any enquiries regarding the content of the website or its operation, please contact the following:
Cowra Shire Council, State of New South Wales, email: council@cowra.nsw.gov.au