Online database personalises war graves in Cowra's Japanese War Cemetery

A civilian on medical duties with the Japanese Navy, Toshiji Kazamu is buried at the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery after dying from wounds suffered during the 1944 Cowra POW Camp Breakout.

Kazamu's details and those of hundreds of others are revealed in a new online database available to the public.

In a statement The Embassy of Japan said the information is now accessible to the public via the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery Database and website.

This database provides individual information on 524 graves in the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery.

Those buried in the cemetery were Japanese prisoners of war and civilian internees who died in Australia during the Pacific War.

They include 25 Taiwanese graves and one Korean grave.

The Taiwanese and Korean were buried with the Japanese because Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula were under the rule of Japan during the Pacific War.

The database provides names, birth places, occupations, military ranks and units.

In addition, reasons for internment, dates of capture, places of capture as well as movement histories, causes of death and burial histories are revealed.

"This initiative is a result of the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery Database and Website Project, which was undertaken by Japanese experts living in Australia who compiled a database of those buried in the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery," the embassy said.

"The Embassy of Japan has proudly supported this project throughout its three year duration from 2016-2018.

"We hope it will help to deepen awareness of Japan and Australia's relationship at a grass-roots level," the embassy said.

Information provided on the database includes, where possible, the date of birth, name, residence in Japan, rank, previous occupation, cause of death and capture locations for the prisoners of war buried in Cowra.

As an example Toshiji Kazamu, who died from wounds suffered during the breakout, is identified as being a "civilian on medical duties" attached to the No 8 Naval Construction Unit.

He was born in Hakodate-shi on the island of Hokkaido, Japan and lived in Yokohama before enlistment.

Captured at Depapre, New Guinea on May 6, 1944 he was five foot seven inches, 140lbs with a "sallow complexion, black hair, brown eyes, wears glasses".

Kazamu was transferred from Gaythorne in Brisbane to Cowra on July 8, 1944.

He was injured in the breakout and died at the 15 Australian Camp Hospital from a gun shot wound to the head on August 12, 1944. The records reveal he was 28.

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