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Matchbox from Japan

Date: before 1953
Dimensions:
Overall: 55 x 50 x 10 mm, 9.77 g
Medium: Paper, photograph
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from June Hammond
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Matchbox
Object No: 00054410
Related Place:Nihon,

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    Description
    This matchbox featuring a black and white photograph of a traditional Japanese building is part of a collection that relates to the migration and settlement of Japanese war bride Sadako Morris, who defied her family to marry an Australian soldier and migrate to Australia after World War II.


    SignificanceThis matchbox is part of a collection relating to a highly significant period in Australia’s immigration history, when Immigration Minister Harold Holt overturned the ban on entry for wives of Australian servicemen in 1952, thereby permitting the first group of non-European immigrants under the White Australia policy.
    HistoryMore than 600 Japanese women migrated to Australia as war brides after World War II. Their husbands had served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) after the surrender of Japan in 1945. At first marriage between Australian soldiers and Japanese women was prohibited. But many men fell in love and lobbied the Australian Government for change.

    When Sadako Kikuchi’s family discovered that she was secretly seeing Australian Army officer John Morris, they threatened to disown her. Strong-willed, Sadako chose to leave, moving into an apartment with John.

    Sadako met John when she was a seamstress in a Kure department store. There was still much bitterness between ex-enemies. ‘Morrisan’ and Sadako had to keep their meetings secret, using Sadako’s brother Yasuo as a go-between.

    In 1952, after intense lobbying, the Australian Government eventually gave permission for soldiers to marry Japanese nationals. Sadako and John had a church wedding in 1952. Most of Sadako’s family attended, despite their earlier opposition. Finally, in December 1953, Sadako and her two baby daughters boarded Changte bound for Adelaide. They were among the first group of non-Europeans officially permitted under the White Australia policy. While many immigrants experienced displacement, culture shock and homesickness, Japanese brides also had to endure bigotry in both Japan and Australia.

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