Interpreting Occupied Japan
The Diary of an Australian Soldier 1945 – 1946
by Basil Archer (edited and with an introduction by Sandra Wilson)
ISBN 978-0-85905-474-4, (2009), Soft Cover, 164pp, 280grams
$25.00 + POST
This is a rare account of early post-war Japan from the cutting edge of day-to-day work in the Allied occupation, by an Australian soldier trained in the Japanese language for occupation work. It provides a wealth of insights into the lives both of the soldiers in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and of the Japanese with whom they lived and worked. Basil Archer writes vividly about his journey to Japan via Morotai in Indonesia, his intelligence work as an interpreter in a country area, the places he visited and the people he encountered - Japanese, English, Scottish, Indian, American and Australian.
Basil Archer has an inquiring mind, observant eye and distinctive voice which together make his diary interesting and informative. Vivid cameos emerge of life in Japan immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Embedded in these observations are fascinating glimpses into mid-twentieth century attitudes and values. The book's Introduction by Sandra Wilson succinctly maps the historical context for readers.
--Associate Professor Lenore Layman, Murdoch University
This diary is a fascinating human and historical document. It records the experiences and observations of a sensitive and intelligent Australian interpreter who worked in immediate post-war Japan. The diary is both an engaging read and an important source of information on the character of the Australian occupation role and the development of post-war Japanese society. It also gives a valuable insight into Australian ways of thinking immediately after the war.
--Professor Robert Cribb, Australian National University
Basil Archer served in Japan during 1946 as a language officer in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. After discharge from the Army he worked for the Western Australian State Electricity Commission, then for the Government Chemical Laboratories and finally as Laboratory Manager of the Chemistry Department of Curtin University of Technology. He is now retired and lives in Perth, where he is Secretary of the BCOF Association of Western Australia.
Sandra Wilson is Associate Professor in Japanese Studies at Murdoch University in Perth. She teaches and writes about the history of modern Japan.