Kathleen Masuko Murakami
Kathleen was born in Singapore; however her mother was an Australian born Japanese woman. Kathleen was living in Darwin with her husband Yoshio Murakami when they were captured on the 8th of December, 1941. She spent five and a half years imprisoned in the Tatura Internment camps. Her father was also interned at the Tatura camps, and later died of illness in the camp in 1944. On September the 14th 1944 she gave birth to a son at the medical facility located in Camp 1, Tatura, known as 28 Camp Hospital. She had another child at the Mooroopna Hospital on the 1st of May 1947 and 3 months later she was released to Western Australia. Her internment was based upon her nationality – Japanese – despite having been in Australia since 1919.
The length of her internment is particularly astonishing considering there is no evidence of any wrong doing by her. It is important to understand that the civilians who were interned were done so solely because of their ethnicity. They were considered to be enemy aliens, even if they had been naturalised British subjects for years before the war.
Members of her family continue to receive negative comments about her and her family’s rumoured involvement in the war. This is a direct result of the Australian Government and its actions during WW2. A fear that Kathleen and her family were acting as spies resulted in a long imprisonment of her family including her very young children. For her family to still be accosted over events that occurred over 65 years ago should stand as a warning of the lasting impact of wrongful imprisonment.
Interestingly, although Kathleen was not a Prisoner of War, documentation from the time suggests that she was. Below is a copy of the original document from Kathleen’s internment.