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Visit of Japanese warships to Australia and New Zealand

Date: 1903
Overall: 140 x 90 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00051987
Place Manufactured:Nihon
Related Place:Australia, New Zealand,

User Terms

    This colour postcard commemorates the visit of three Japanese warships to Australia and New Zealand in April-May 1903. The card is decorated with a map of the ships' route and itinerary in Meiji period Japanese script. At the top are photographic cartouches, with a warship either side of Rear Admiral Kamimura; at the bottom left are grazing sheep and two kangaroos; and on the centre right, a palm tree.
    SignificanceVisiting naval fleets have always attracted attention and this postcard represents the visit in 1903 of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
    HistoryThe Imperial Japanese Navy sent three warships from the Yokosuka naval base under the command of Rear Admiral Baron Kamimura Hikonojo (1849-1916) on a goodwill visit of Australia and New Zealand. It preceded the signing of an Anglo-Japanese naval agreement in July 1903, and Australia's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, made it publically known that he wished the Japanese delegation to be warmly welcomed and treated as firm allies. The three ships were the HASHIDATE under Captain Idi, ITSUKUSHIMA Captain Matsumoto and MATSUSHIMA Captain Ijiti.

    The men were feted at every port and the range of activities for officers and sailors was large including civic receptions, shooting competitions, luncheons, garden parties, afternoon teas, and theatre visits, hospital visits by the surgeons on board, inspections of a butter factory, piggery, and many schools. Japanese residents hired halls to offer places of quiet and general information.

    The mission's ulterior motive is believed to have been to establish for Japan a smooth and economically viable import market for Australian and New Zealand coal.

    This article in the West Australian, 27 March 1903 shows the interest in the visit:

    Particulars are to hand by the mail, of the three Japanese warships which are due at Fremantle, on April 1. The three ships set out from Yokosuka on February 16, on their long cruise abroad. The ships are the Matsushima, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Kamimura, and the cruisers Itsukushima and Hashidate, all of the Japanese standing squadron. The fleet represents the largest ships of the Japanese navy that have ever been sent to Australia. The squadron has already visited Hong Kong, Singapore and Batavia. After Fremantle, Adelaide will be the next port of call, the ships being expected there on April 13. Thence they go on to Melbourne, arriving there on April 22. They are due at Hobart on May 6 and from there proceed to New Zealand, being scheduled to reach Wellington on May 18: Auckland will be also visited, and the squadron is to arrive there on May 26. Leaving Auckland, the ships will proceed to Sydney, where their stay will extend to June 18. the fleet subsequently returning to Japan via the Torres Straits, calls being made at Townsville and Thursday Island en route. Advantage has been taken of the opportunity on this long cruise to "school" a number of young Japanese to fit them for the higher positions in the navy, and the squadron has on board no less than 200 midshipmen - all undergoing a course of training. Interest attaches to the fleet from the fact that all three ships took a prominent part in the war between China and Japan, and one of them, the flagship Matsushima, rendered signal service during the engagements in the Eastern waters. All three ships are of the same class - sister ships, in fact - each having a displacement of 4,277 tons. The Matsushima and Itsukushima were built at La Seyne in 1891 whilst the Hashidate was constructed in Japan, being launched in the same year. They are built of steel, have a length of 295ft., and a beam of 50ft. 10in., with a draught of 21ft. 2in. They are twin-screw cruisers, with engines of 5,400 horse-power, each vessel having a speed of 17 knots. Each ship carries one 12.5 in. gun, 11 4.7in. q.f. guns, besides machine and smaller guns."

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