This week, the Cowra Voices team concluded recording the last of the ‘voices’ for the storytelling app.
These are the personal stories of the people buried in Cowra Japanese War Cemetery. Some are ex prisoners of war like Tadao Minami aka Hajime Toyoshima, who was the first Japanese prisoner of war in Australia. (listen to AUDIO)
There are 524 people buried in the Japanese War Cemetery. Most are ex POWs who were involved in the famous Cowra Breakout of 1944, but there are also civilians who were interned in Australia during the war.
Their stories are often overlooked, like the story of Masu Kusano, who came to Australia when she was just 19. She lived for some time on Thursday Island, working as a prostitute. She was interned as an ‘enemy alien’ in December, 1941 when the war in the Pacific broke out, as were all Japanese in Australia. (Listen to AUDIO)
Even less known is the fact that some non-Japanese people, like Taiwanese Liong Tjwan Kang and his family, were also interned in Australia. Taiwan was a colony of Japan between 1895 and 1945, and the Kang family were arrested while living in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They were interned in a camp in Victoria until the end of the war. (Listen to AUDIO)
These stories were written by historians Dr Keiko Tamura, Dr Yuriko Nagata and Dr Shi-chi Mike Lan in Taiwan. Dr Tamura and Dr Nagata are founding members of Nikkei Australia.
Actor Kuni Hashimoto narrated some of the stories (Tadao Minami). Masu Kusano’s story was read by Cowra Voices project faciliator Mayu Kanamori, and WeiZen Ho recorded Taiwanese Liong Tjwan Kang’s tragic tale.
There are five audio stories of dead people included in the Cowra Voices app, stories that link people, stories, history and place.
Cowra Voices will be launched in August, 2019 when Cowra commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout.
Photos by Mayu Kanamori, Phil Muscatello, Masako Fukui; Text and Audio by Masako Fukui