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Was The Fear Of The Japanese Aggression In South East Asia In World War 2 Justified?

1910 words - 8 pages

Japanese aggression in South-East Asia sparked the Australian government's change in reliance upon Britain to the USA. Was this fear of the Japanese justified and what changes were brought about during the war years?Japan's grip on South-East Asia was getting stronger throughout 1941. Japanese troops were in Malaya and the Philippines and were getting closer and closer to Australia. The British were unable to provide support to Australia because the European war was using up all their resources. Australia had most of its soldiers in the Middle East, they had lost Britain as a protector and it made them feel very vulnerable. When Singapore fell to the Japanese on February 15, 1942, Australia ...view middle of the document...

As long as the Royal Navy in Singapore guarded the sea between Australia and any enemy to the north, Australians felt safe. As Japan's hold on the Pacific grew, so did the fear and belief that Australia would be the next target. When Singapore fell to the Japanese, 15,000 of the 130,000 captured troops were Australian. The country was faced with the fact that a distant and beleaguered Britain could be no real assistance against what was believed to be an imminent Japanese invasion.Australia's reliance on Britain was greatly tested through the Second World War and Australia began to create its own independent foreign policy, out from under the shadow of Britain. Before World War II, Australia was still considered part of the British Empire and many Australians still considered themselves British. Australia looked to Britain for its heritage and even followed them into war. On September 3, 1939, Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced, "Great Britain has declared war on Germany, and as a result, Australia is also at war". Throughout World War II, Australian and British soldiers fought together. However, with the entry of Japan into the war, Australia was fighting in two wars, the European war and its much closer South-East Asia war. It came as somewhat of a shock when Australia discovered that it was a part of the Pacific region, and not part of Europe. Australia became very aware of its isolation in the Pacific region, and when countries in South-East Asia started to turn to communism, Australia began looking for international allies that she could rely on in case of further unrest in the Pacific region and the possibility of invasion from the north. Meanwhile, Britain was also focusing more and more towards Europe and at the same time was beginning to pull out of her colonies in the East. There had already been friction between Australia and Great Britain over the return of Australian troops from the Middle East. In July 1941 Prime Minister Fadden notified Britain that the Australian troops should return home, but this was argued against by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Britain did not recognize Australia's right to an independent view, as shown in the following exchange between Australia's General Blamey and the British General Auchinlec. General Blamey: "Gentlemen, I don't think you understand the position. If I were a French or an American commander making this demand what would you say about it?' 'But you are not', Auchinleck replied. 'That's where you are wrong', Blamey said. 'Australia is an independent nation. She came into the war under definite agreements. Now, gentlemen, in the name of my Government, I demand the relief of those troops." This friction was driving a wedge between Australia and Britain, as both were fighting a war on different fronts and Britain had given priority to the European war.The fact that Japanese invasion became a real threat during the War, changed the way the country viewed itself. Australia...

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