Educational resources


Stories of Japanese Australians illustrate several curriculum areas including civics and citizenship, WWII depth study, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia Cross Curriculum Priority, and the Intercultural Understanding General Capability. Two example stories summaries are linked below including primary sources from which students can recreate the historical narratives and oral histories retold by family members.

Year 5/6 HASS – Hasegawa family story

Year 9/10 WWII Depth Study – Ide family story

Ide family

Twenty-six-year-old Henry Hideichiro Ide migrated to Sydney, Australia from Saga, Kyushu, Japan in 1890.  He left behind his seven brothers and sisters to make his fortune.

Henry and Clara Ide (2nd and 3rd from left) with family, early 1920s.

Henry married an Australian woman, Clara Miles and later became naturalized. They ran a successful company importing Japanese silk for Australian businesses. As the company prospered, the Ides settled in Northbridge on Sydney’s north shore.   Their property ‘Nikko’ included a tennis court and a cherry orchard and community church services were held at the house until the local church was built.   They were one of over 300 Japanese-Australian families in Sydney.

Henry and Clara’s large family were close, enjoying trips to the beach and bush picnics together. The Ides emphasised education and sport for all their children by enrolling them at Fort Street School, the Presbyterian North Sydney Boys’ Intermediate High School and Monte Sant’ Angelo Convent Catholic School.

Henry and Clara’s third son Charlie worked as an engineer designing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and their youngest son Blow played for Australia in the Wallabies. Blow played the All Blacks in 1938 and travelling to India and England in 1939.   Blow was on tour when war was declared between England and Germany, and immediately returned home.

Nora Heysen painted women in strong roles such as driving trucks in WW2. Australian War Memorial ART24393

Nora Heysen painted women in strong roles such as driving trucks in WW2. Australian War Memorial ART24393

Henry’s son Harrie was serving in the Middle East, and Blow enlisted in the army with many of the Wallabies. Henry’s two son-in-laws, one a veteran of Gallipoli and the Western Front, enlisted as well, one in the army and one in the RAAF. Henry’s youngest daughter Tama enlisted as an Australian Women’s Army Service truck driver and his son Taki enlisted in the Voluntary Defense Corps. Clara was busy knitting and sewing with the Northbridge Soldiers Comfort Fund.

However, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and Malaya, Australia was at war with Japan.

Hay Internment camp and currency, 1944. AWM 063213

Hay Internment camp and currency, 1944. AWM 063213

Because he was born Japanese, Henry was arrested on the 25 February 1942 and interned first in Liverpool, and then 600km away at Hay POW and internment camp with Nazi POWs and Jewish German refugees.

Henry appealed his internment and a hearing was held. The Chairman asked whether Henry spoke English, which earned Henry’s reply: “Why shouldn’t I? I have been here 52 years.” Though he was deemed low risk to Australia, the authorities felt releasing him would be bad for public morale: his appeal was denied.

With two sons still working in Sydney, and public anxiety peaking with the bombing of Darwin and mini-sub attacks in Sydney Harbour, Henry’s family was repeatedly interviewed by police responding to public tipoffs of people of Japanese appearance at their house or work, though the police repeatedly reported the family were no risk. To make matters worse, the family hadn’t heard from Blow, who’d been fighting in Malaya, after the Fall of Singapore.

Henry appealed his internment again.  With Northbridge community support, he was able to leave camp in January 1943 and live under house arrest, with monthly reports from the security service.  Henry would’ve seen his son Harrie who was en route to fight in PNG. After Harrie left, the family got a telegram: Blow had become a POW of the Japanese Imperial Army. Blow survived the Thai Burma Railroad but was then being transported to Nagasaki to mine coal when US submarines sank the Rokuyo Maru carrying him and other POWs. Clambering onto a raft of debris, his friends pressed him to join them, but they reported him saying “Some of the boys have been hurt… I’m going to stick by them for a while”; they never saw him again.

Henry was under house arrest until November 1946, aged 83. After the war, the family was exempted from deportation to Japan.  The Ides moved north to Gosford, where Henry died three years later.  The Ide family still live in Sydney and Canberra and are still avid rugby union fans. Blow is remembered at the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour in Canberra.

Curriculum links:

Ide family story Primary Sources


Birthday party’, The Sun, Sunday 11 Nov 1928 , page 35.
Family photos, Ide family collection- Nikkei Australia post?
Wallabies 1939 tour footage, NFSA.



Transport driver [painting], Nora Heysen, Australian War Memorial ART24393.
Hay Internment camp [photo] 1944. AWM 063213.
Hay Internment camp one shilling note, AWM RELC02742.002.
Transcript of Henry Hideichiro Ide’s trial, NAA
Bombardier Winston Phillip James Ide Last Post Ceremony, Australian War Memorial.


Post war

 Winston Phillip James Ide, Roll of Honour, AWM


  • Blow Ide Cup?
  • Patricia Mulcare oral history recording, Nikkei Australia.

Example family story – Hasegawa


Setsutaro Hasegawa was born on 24 December 1871 in the port town of Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan, the son of a samurai family. After studying in Tokyo to be a teacher, he travelled to Australia in 1987 to study English.  However, his host confiscated his passport and books and made him do laundry, without paying him properly.

Setsutaro reported his treatment to the police, who intervened to retrieve his passport and those of other young Japanese men.  With no other skills or means to support themselves, together they started a laundry and then an importing business.

Setsutaro married an Australian woman Ada Cole in 1905 and they had three sons.  In 1913 Setsutaro made an application to be naturalized as an Australian citizen. It was rejected, citing ‘natives of Asia are not eligible’. Ada left him a few years afterwards, leaving Setsutaro a single parent. Settling in Geelong, Setsutaro successfully raised his boys, who married Australian girls and had families of their own.  But the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and Malaya in December 1941, Setsutaro and his elderly Japanese friends was arrested. Despite being almost 70 years old and infirm, he was sent Tatura Internment camp.  His daughter-in-law visited to bring him Vegemite.

The family who had been accepted for so long, now became persecuted. The laundry business closed down. Sansei children had rocks thrown at them on the way to school, despite their father, Setsutaro’s first son Leo Takeshi Hasegawa having enlisted in the army.  The vilification led Setsutaro’s second son to change his name from Moto Hasegawa to Jack Cole. Setsutaro’s third son Joe also changed his surname in the 1950s, and younger family members were warned against giving their children Japanese names. Setsutaro’ great-grandson Andrew Hasegawa notes this disconnection from Japanese names was not unusual in the Japanese community in Australia, and is the reason why there are so few people who identify as being pre-war Nikkei in Australia. However, he also notes his own father was adamant that their branch of the family would not change their name. Andrew’s interest in his great-grandfather spurred his own engagement with Japan, where he ended up living.  Marrying a Japanese woman, he has written about their daughter’s struggle with her mixed identity.

Because of his son Leo’s efforts, Setsutaro was released under house arrest in 1943. Andrew writes that “when Setsutaro Hasegawa died in October 1952, it was an era when it was easier to deny our heritage than to acknowledge it.”  Though attitudes began to change in the 1960s, he says it wasn’t until the 1990s that being part Japanese stopped being a burden.

Curriculum links:

Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia Cross Curriculum Priority

Intercultural Understanding General Capability

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