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9 - The Campaign for Japanese-Australian Children to Enter Australia

from Part III - Assimilating and Adopting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2022

Joy Damousi
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
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Summary

The themes of adoption, assimilation and whiteness merged on the question of Korean children fathered by Australian servicemen. Chapter 9 examines the vast correspondence between Australians who pleaded with the government to allow adoption of these children. The public response to the predicament of the Japanese–Australian children borne of Australian servicemen and Japanese mothers offers an intriguing narrative of post-war humanitarianism that articulates the beginning of several historic shifts. The first is the paternalistic reaction of the day promoting the traditional nuclear family life after the war, based on the victimhood and dependency of children, and romantic views of blameless childhood innocence. Children were to be ‘saved’, but any suggestion of the rights of the child had not yet entered the popular lexicon, at least not in relation to the campaign surrounding the welfare of these children. The clamour to bring Japanese children to Australia paradoxically also challenged the White Australia policy, as many raised the need for flexibility surrounding this policy to make an exception for the children. Attitudes to the plight of the children also illustrate the collaboration of both religious and secular organisations working together when these organisations did not unite on other issues and were, otherwise, philosophically and politically at odds. Humanitarian causes often brought these and other groups together, but the question of children, I argue, did so unconditionally, and this was the case with the Japanese-Australian children.

Type
Chapter
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The Humanitarians
Child War Refugees and Australian Humanitarianism in a Transnational World, 1919–1975
, pp. 248 - 268
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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