Japanese Australians

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Japanese Australians
Total population
c. 71,013[1]
35,378 (by birth)[2]
50,761 (by ancestry)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Sydney · Melbourne · Brisbane · Cairns · Perth
Australian English · Japanese
Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin
Buddhism (26.3%) · Catholic (4.1%)
Other (12.4%) · No religion (52.6%)[2]
Related ethnic groups
Asian Australians · Japanese New Zealanders

Japanese Australians (日系オーストラリア人, Nikkei Ōsutoraria-jin) are Australian citizens and residents who claim Japanese ancestry.

Japanese people first arrived in the 1870s (despite a ban on emigration in place until 1886). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Japanese migrants played a prominent role in the pearl industry of north-western Australia. By 1911, the Japanese population while small, had grown to approximately 3,500 people. With the outbreak of outbreak of war in the Pacific in 1941, most Japanese in Australia were interned and then deported when the war ended. At the end of the war only 74 Japanese citizens and their children were permitted to remain in Australia. Not until the 1970s did the Japanese population recover to the levels at the start of the 20th Century.[3] As of 2011, of Australia's 35,378 Japan-born residents, more than 65% had arrived from the mid-1990s onwards.[2]

According to a global survey conducted at the end of 2013, Australia was the most popular country for Japanese people to live in.[4]


People born in Japan as a percentage of the population in Sydney divided geographically by postal area, as of the 2011 census.
One dot represents 100 Japanese-born residents in Melbourne

The 2011 census recorded 35,378 Japanese-born residents in Australia, with 50,761 people reporting Japanese ancestry (including those who claimed other ancestries). Of this number 29,211 reporting speaking Japanese at home. New South Wales had the largest population of Japanese born (12,108), followed by Queensland (10,317), Victoria (6,820) and Western Australia (3,564).[2]

Only 4,643 Japanese-born residents have since acquired Australian citizenship. In 2011, women represented 68% (24,146) of the Japanese-born in Australia.[2]

Over half of all Japanese-born residents profess no religious affiliation (52.6%), with Buddhism (26.3%) and Catholicism (4.1%) the most commonly identified religions.[2]


The first person from Japan to settle in Australia was recorded in 1871.[2]

Japanese only began to emigrate en masse in the 1880s following the lifing of restrictions. In Australia, the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 temporarily prevented more Japanese from migrating, but subsequent exemptions to the dictation test were applied to Japanese people mitigating restrictions.

Japanese Cemetery of Broome.

In Australia from the late 19th and early 20th Century many worked as pearlers in Northern Australia or in the sugar cane industry in Queensland. They were particularly prominent in the Western Australian Kimberley town of Broome, where until the Second World War they were the largest ethnic group. Several streets of Broome have Japanese names, the town has one of the largest Japanese cemeteries outside Japan and the creole language Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin contained many Japanese words.

Between December 1941 and September 1945, Australia and Japan were at war. On 28/07/1941, Australian military intelligence indicated that there were 1139 Japanese living in Australia and 36 in Australian-controlled territories. Under the guise of national security, 1141 Japanese civilians (almost the entire population) living in Australia were interned for up to six years throughout WWII. An additional 3160 Japanese civilians arrested in allied countries across the Asia-Pacific Region were also interned in Australia on a user-pay basis; they were accompanied by a further 600 Formosans (Taiwanese). An unknown number of Koreans were arrested as Japanese and carried Japanese names. The internment of Japanese in Australia was more racial than political, with Japanese being "evacuated" from their hometowns "for their own good" (ie, to prevent racist attacks against them by non-Japanese). Several months after the cessation of hostilities, all ethnic-Japanese internees who did not possess Australian nationality were repatriated to Occupied Japan, regardless of the locations of their previous abodes, whilst all ethnic-Formosans were repatriated to Occupied Formosa.[5]

The Japanese population in Australia was later replenished in the 1950s by the arrival of 500 Japanese war brides, who had married AIF soldiers stationed in occupied Japan.

The lifting of barriers in Australia to non-European immigration in the 1960s coincided with the Japanese post-war economic miracle which dissuaded Japanese from emigrating. Japan's increasing economic importance to Australia from the 1960s, and rising prosperity and linkages between the two countries, led to an increase in the number of Japanese choosing to live in Australia.


The Japanese School in Perth and the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre (兵庫文化交流センター)
Locations of full-time and part-time Japanese schools in Australia designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education (gray dots refer to closed schools)

Japanese international day schools in Australia include the Sydney Japanese International School (SJIS), the Japanese School of Melbourne (JSM), and the Japanese School in Perth (JSP). There are also weekend supplementary programmes in Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education.[6]

Notable figures[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Annual Report of Statistics on Japanese Nationals Overseas" (PDF) (in Japanese). Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Department of Immigration and Citizenship (February 2014). "Community Information Summary" (PDF). Department of Social Services. Australian Government. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  3. ^ Mizukami, Tetsuo (2007). The sojourner community: Japanese migration and residency in Australia. Leiden: Brill. p. 50. ISBN 9004154795. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  4. ^ 2013 End of the Year Survey - Japan WIN/GIA
  5. ^ Nagata, Yuriko (1993). Japanese internment in Australia during World War II (Ph.D). University of Adelaide. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  6. ^ "大洋州の補習授業校一覧(平成25年4月15日現在)" Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Retrieved on February 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "平成 26(2014)年度" (Archive). The Japanese Language Supplementary School of Queensland. Retrieved on April 1, 2015. p. 4.
  8. ^ "学校名称." Adelaide Japanese Community School. Retrieved on April 7, 2015. Old URL
  9. ^ Home page (Archive). Cairns Japanese Language Tutorial Centre Inc. Retrieved on April 7, 2015.
  10. ^ "学校概要" (Archive). Canberra Japanese Supplementary School Inc. Retrieved on 7 April 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sato, Machiko (2001), Farewell to Nippon: Japanese Lifestyle Migrants in Australia, Japanese society series, Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, ISBN 978-1-876843-72-4

External links[edit]