Australia and the nature of the Japanese threat during World War 2
What was Japanese policy concerning an invasion of Australia?
What was the significance of the Battle of Kokoda in the context of Japanese Policy and the battles of the Coral Sea, and Midway?
Was the Battle of Kokoda a battle of military tactical significance?
Thesis – Although the Battle of Kokoda is an important part of Australia’s military history, it was not as strategically important as believed by many Australians and did not play a significant role in the outcome of World War 2 because, there was no real threat of an invasion of Australia; the Japanese overestimated the strategic importance of their operation; and the Japanese Army was inadequately prepared for the operation.
Australian fears of an invasion were widely held, and the government supported this fear.
Background Paper Number 6 1992. Department of the Parliamentary Library Invasions 1942? Australia and the Japanese Threat (1)
Japanese Army Operations in the South Pacific Area – Australian War Memorial 2007 (2)
Kokoda track campaign – Ergo State library Victoria (3)
Traditional view – The Battle of the Coral Sea in early May 1942 saved Australia from imminent invasion. The campaign in New Guinea’s Owen Stanley Ranges in September-October 1942 repelled a Japanese force aiming at using Port Moresby as a stepping off platform to the Australian continent. (1)
Invasion theories were widespread during 1942. Media reports reflect a fear was held by Australians that a Japanese attack on Australia was likely. Eg
a warning in the Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial on 2 January 1942 that “It is not too soon for the Australian Government to plan and prepare this people for a ‘scorched earth’ policy, guerrilla fighting, and all else that ‘total war’ entails (Sydney Morning Herald editorial 2 January 1942). NB - The fall of Singapore and Japanese bombing of Darwin occurred shortly after in February 1942.
Trove has original newspaper articles from 1942 and have printed out –
p1 Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 1942 - “A policy of “no surrender” in the most literal sense of the term is likely to be put before the people of Australia by the Federal Government, after fateful meetings of the War Council in Sydney today and tomorrow.”
17 February 1942 – the Sydney Morning Herald reported on p 5 a statement from Prime Minister Curtin – “the protection of this country is no longer a question of contributing to a world at war, but of an enemy threatening to invade our shore.”
Another Primary Source is
Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives Vol 170 p599-600 29 April 1942:
“Common sense dictates that we face the fact that Japan will do everything in an attempt to render Australia impotent as a base for an Allied offensive. The government regards an outright Japanese attack on Australia as a constant and undiminished danger.
“The land battle in Papua, along...