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Authority to marry, issued by the Australian Military Forces, 1952

Date: 1 August 1952
Overall: 330 x 200 mm, 5.94 g
Medium: Paper, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from June Hammond
Object Name: Certificate
Object No: 00054420

User Terms

    This certificate of authority to marry was issued to John Joseph Morris and Sadako Kikuchi by the Australian Military Forces on 1 August 1952. Sadako defied her family to marry John, an Australian soldier, and migrate to Australia after World War II.
    SignificanceThis certificate documents a powerful and intensely personal story of love and war, and relates to a period in which the lobbying of a group of Australian servicemen would mark the beginnings of a multicultural Australia.
    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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