LISTEN: From the Pearlers to the Bankers: The History of Japanese Australians by produced by Masako Fukui on ABC RN’s Earshot program.

Image: Masako Fukui aged seven in 1969, three months after her family had arrived in Australia

Image: Masako Fukui aged seven in 1969, three months after her family had arrived in Australia

Image: Kei and Nick Fukui, Masako's parents, in Australia in 1969

Image: Kei and Nick Fukui, Masako’s parents, in Australia in 1969

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Australia’s shared history with Japan is very much dominated by the Second World War and trade. And although Japanese people have been a part of Australian society since the late nineteenth century, they have never been considered a significant ethnic group with their own Australian story. The term “Nikkei” or Japanese diaspora is virtually unknown in Australia, especially compared to North America, where Nikkei have a very vocal, visible identity.

In fact, when producer Masako Fukui put the question to her fellow Japanese-Australians, she discovered some unusual thoughts about identity, as well as confusion and even ignorance about their Australian heritage.

Stories of early settlers differ markedly from those of contemporary Japanese-Australians. And the Second World War experience has still not been forgotten by many.

As Masako Fukui talks with Japanese-Australians  – she gets a sense of a complex and hidden history and what it means to be Japanese in Australia today. Along the way she also discovers that Nikkei-Australians, from the pearlers to the bankers, do, it transpires, have much in common.

Audio download from ABC website: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/from-the-pearlers-to-the-bankers3a-the-history-of-japanese-aus/6035880