Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Darwin to commemorate the 1942 bombing which killed hundreds during World War II
- Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is visiting Darwin to commemorate the 1942 bombing
- Mr Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the city bombed by Japan in WWII
- He will lay a wreath at the city’s cenotaph and pay his respects to the lives lost
- The Darwin bombing was the first and heaviest of 64 attacks between 1942-43
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is paying a historic visit to Darwin in a powerful sign of its warm relations with Australia.
Mr Abe will lay a wreath at the cenotaph in Darwin and hold talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the city since his nation’s army bombed the city during World War II, killing hundreds of Australians.
The 1942 bombing was the largest single foreign attack ever launched against Australia.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) is paying a historic visit to Darwin in a powerful sign of its warm relations with Australia
He will lay a wreath at the city’s cenotaph with Mr Morrison and inspect a memorial of the 80-crew Japanese submarine I-124, which was sunk off Darwin in January 1942 and remains there.
The visit would also ‘recognise the importance of the reconciliation that followed between our countries’, Mr Morrison said.
‘Prime Minister Abe’s visit is deeply symbolic and significant and it will build on our two countries’ strong and enduring friendship as well as our economic, security, community and historical ties,’ he said.
Mr Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the city since his nation’s army bombed the city in February 1942 during World War II, killing hundreds of Australians
The visit would also ‘recognise the importance of the reconciliation that followed between our countries’, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
Darwin is a key part of Japan’s energy security through the recently completed $55 billion LNG project operated by Japan’s Inpex.
The Ichthys LNG venture is the biggest foreign investment made by Japan as it has moved away from nuclear power since the Fukushima disaster.
The first gas shipment left Darwin for Japan last month.
On Thursday, Inpex president Takayuki Ueda announced a $24 million package over 40 years, including benefits for indigenous education and the elderly.
He said the support of locals including the Larrakia people made Darwin a friendly location to ship gas in a stable, democratic country.
The Bombing of Darwin
- The Bombing of Darwin on February 19, 1942, was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia
- Also known as the Battle of Darwin, the attack claimed an estimated 250 Australian lives
- It was the first and heaviest of 64 raids on the city between February 1942 and November 1943
- On that day, an estimated 242 Japanese aircraft attacked the town, harbour and airfields, in two separate raids
- The aim was to prevent Australia from using Darwin as a base to invade Timor and Java during World War II
- The first raid in the morning of February 19, 1942 was led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, who had also led the first attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941
- Three warships and six merchant vessels were sunk, and a further 10 ships were damaged
- The airfield, army barracks and oil store were also seriously damaged
- The second raid later that afternoon targeted the RAAF base, causing significant damage
- 30 aircraft were destroyed, including six Hudson light bombers, two American P-40s and a B-24 Liberator bomber, and further two warships were sunk
- The raids devastated Darwin, leaving much of the city without water or electricity and forcing many civilians to flee inland
- The aftermath is often referred to as the ‘Darwin panic’ as civilians feared an invasion force, however its extremity is disputed between historians
- An outbreak of looting did occur and it was reported that 278 RAAF personnel deserted their posts, but it is argued that this was due to ambiguous orders from officials