Soon after Japan entered the Second World War in December 1941, the Japanese living in Broome were interned as ‘enemy aliens’. Three Aboriginal women were among those who were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war.
Over 200 Japanese residents of Broome, including women and children, were interned by the local authorities in January 1942.
This document highlights that three Aboriginal women, and their children, were part of this group.
Having married Japanese residents, the women were considered to be Japanese.
Lena Matsumoto, who was of Aboriginal and Filipino heritage, is shown here on a dictation test exemption form from 1939.
She chose to go with her husband when he was interned, partly as she had no means of supporting herself and her children.
Tragically, during her internment, she was separated firstly from her husband and then from her four children.
Lena Matsumoto’s fourth child, Peter, was born in Tatura internment camp. Listen to this 2012 oral history recorded in Broome, where he reflects on his family’s experiences during internment.
Click here to read the transcript of this audio recording
After the war, the vast majority of Broome’s Japanese internees were shipped directly back to Japan.
Those who had been born here or were considered citizens were allowed to stay, though they often faced hostility if they returned to their communities.
This newspaper cutting reports on the return to Broome of the Shiosaki family. Margaret Shiosaki was another of the Aboriginal internees.