This photograph is dated the 21st of October, 1945. After surrendering to Australian forces, Japanese soldiers and civilians on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo prepare to leave for Jesselton (modern-day Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia) for repatriation.
As with Russia in territories annexed by the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan imported hundreds of thousands of their own people into occupied territories outside Japanese borders. These locations included Korea, China and Taiwan. There, they enjoyed a higher social standing than the original occupants.
The attack came in two waves, and hundreds of people – including civilians – were killed. It was the beginning of many Japanese attacks on Australia (there were approximately 100 more attacks), who had been involved in the conflict since the beginning of the war.
The Chungkai Camp was operated by the Japanese during World War Two, and prisoners – including soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth – were made to work on the Burma–Thailand Railway.
This “Christmas card” is in the collection of London’s Imperial War Museum, and was created in either 1943 or 1944. It depicts Father Christmas in a loincloth, carrying a sack of presents through a bamboo fence.
It was very dangerous to make images while a prisoner in the camp. One prisoner, Jack Chalker, reported his sketches of camp life being discovered by a Korean guard. Chalker was beaten for days as punishment.
Halfway through the Second World War, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States joined the conflict, American citizens and legal US residents of Japanese descent were moved to internment camps for the remainder of the war.
Construction of the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona began in May 1942.
A few months later, in the same year, the camp hosted a Christian service and then a Harvest Festival parade on Thanksgiving Day. The holiday fell on the 26th of November that year.