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Salvage and Salvation – The Fujita Salvage Story – a symbol of peace and reconciliation

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Salvage and Salvation - an exhibition about the Japanese company responsible for clearing Darwin Harbour of shipwrecks after World War II has opened today.

The display is a part of the Territory Remembers program commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin next year.

Held at the Darwin Uniting Memorial Church, the exhibition tells the story of the salvage efforts that took place after the bombing and the peace efforts that followed.

Territory Remembers spokesman, Dr Tom Lewis said Salvage and Salvation was a symbol of the reconciliation that occurred in the aftermath of the Bombing of Darwin.

The Bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 remains the largest single most destructive attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia.

The city was bombed by the same Japanese Imperial force which devastated Hawaii.

Seventeen years later, a world-wide tender called for Salvage Company to clear Darwin Harbour of the shipwrecks that were posing a threat to the shipping channels. 

Japanese company, Nanyo Bokki Kaisha Limited, owned by Mr Ryugo Fujita, were awarded the contract. 

“While this decision was controversial to the rest of Australia, the Fujita Salvage Company was welcomed by the local Darwin community who were known for their generosity of spirit,” said Dr Lewis.

At the same time that the salvage operation was underway, construction commenced on the Darwin Memorial Uniting Church, which was destroyed during the air raids.

Encouraged by his own Christian Church back home, the Japanese Ambassador to Australia, the architect of the newly constructed Darwin United Church and his own pacifist inclination, Mr Fujita undertook to craft 77 bronze crosses from metal of the salvaged ship MV Zealandia.

“The crosses were donated to the church to be permanently displayed in a gesture of reconciliation to the people of Darwin,” said Dr Lewis.

“It was hoped the crosses and other gifts would help establish peace and goodwill between Japan and Australia.”

Salvage and Salvation is open until 27 February 2017. Exhibition Opening Times are:

  • Mon 9am – 1pm
  • Tues 11am – 1pm
  • Wed closed
  • Thurs 9am – 1pm
  • Fri 9am - 1pm.

For further information, contact the Darwin Memorial Church on 08 8981 2897. A donation to the Darwin Uniting Memorial Church is encouraged.

Media enquiries: TTR Military Historian, Dr Tom Lewis 0434 999 778.