14 Dec 2012

New Caledonia marks plight of Japanese community

2:36 pm on 14 December 2012

The long, little-known and painful history of the Japanese community in New Caledonia is being officially marked for the first time at a ceremony today.

Japanese first arrived in New Caledonia to work in the nickel mines in 1892 and over the next 40 years about 6,000 more arrived.

They formed a well-integrated and prosperous community in the territory but this was torn apart with Japan's entry into the Second World War.

Most of the Japanese were interned, more than 1200 in Australia, while in some cases their property was confiscated and sold off.

The Japanese consul, Marie-Jo Michel, says the unveiling of the memorial is the culmination of a long struggle to promote greater awareness of the role of the Japanese in New Caledonia's development and the hardships they have suffered.

The Japanese population in New Caledonia is now about 10,000.