Location 10: Cowra Japanese War Cemetery – 10.3 Who’s Buried Here

Michiaki Wakaomi’s Story (Audio: 3 min 15 sec; 3.1MB)


Michiaki Wakaomi was a Japanese soldier who died in 1945, aged 27. It took almost 70 years for him to be reunited with his family. Michiaki was a son of a Buddhist priest in Nagano. He aspired to become an electrical technician but was conscripted to the army in 1939 and sent to China as a radio operator. By 1944, Michiaki was fighting intense conditions in what’s now called Papua, in Indonesia. In July, when Michiaki failed to return to his unit, he was presumed dead. His family was notified of his death, and his grave erected at his home temple.

But he wasn’t killed in action, he was captured by US Forces and sent to Australia as a prisoner of war. Michiaki spent about a year at Murchison Prisoner of War Camp in Victoria. He died of pneumonia on July 30th, 1945, just weeks before the end of the war. He was given a military funeral and his ashes buried in South Australia. In 1964, the Japanese government moved Japanese graves in Australia here to this cemetery in Cowra. And that’s when Michiaki’s remains came here to rest.

Decades later a Japanese researcher became curious about Michiaki’s unusual surname, Wakaomi. She had a friend with the same name, and her research eventually led her to Michiaki’s family in Nagano. In 2014, Michiaki’s family visited Cowra to pay their respects to their long lost relative. However, the story doesn’t end there. The family wanted to exhume his remains and take some of his ashes back to the family temple. This was the first time anyone had made such an unusual request. There was some intense lobbying before excavation of Michiaki’s grave was given the go ahead. In September, 2015, after some eight hours of meticulous digging by an archaeologist, Michiaki’s ashes were found in a box wrapped carefully in plastic. The family took part of Michiaki’s remains back to rest in his home temple. And a part of Michiaki Wakaomi still rests here, under the gum trees, in Cowra.

Written by Dr Keiko Tamura
Read by Kuni Hashimoto

Producer/Sound Design: Masako Fukui

Music Credits: Earth Prelude by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) CC by 3.0

Impact Lento by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) CC by 3.0

Photo Credits: Photo 1: Michiaki Wakaomi’s grave plate in the Japanese War Cemetery; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 2: Family offering of wooden stupa with Michiaki Wakaomi’s posthumous Buddhist name honouring the 70th anniversary of his death; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 3: Michiaki Wakaomi, 1943; Wakaomi Family Archives






英語原文 田村恵子 PhD
朗読 橋本邦彦

プロデューサー: 福井真佐子

音楽: ケビン・マクラウドの「アース・プレリュード」(incompetech.com) CC by 3.0

ケビン・マクラウドの「インパクト・レント」(incompetech.com) CC by 3.0

写真: 写真1: 若麻績通明の墓標。カウラ日本人戦争墓地にて(撮影:金森マユ)

写真2: 死後70年の供養に若麻績通明の戒名を記した卒塔婆を納める遺族(撮影:金森マユ)

写真3: 若麻績通明、1943年撮影(家族提供)


The Cowra Voices Audio Archive Project 2023

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