PWFC Project News – Sydney Meeting

Masako Fukui, first published on the Nikkei Australia

On 4 May 2024, we held an in-person meeting in Sydney to discuss our partnership in Past Wrongs, Future Choices (PWFC), a seven year (2022-29) project with collaborators such as universities, museums, and Nikkei community organisations in Canada, US, Brazil, Japan, and Australia. We are one of the smallest community groups involved.

PWFC will develop multinational exhibitions, digital and educational archives, resources, publications, and documentaries related to the histories of internment/incarceration of Nikkei peoples during WWII. The goal is to inspire societies to re-examine the lessons of shared Nikkei histories, in order to create more just societies in the future. The project offers two academic and artist residencies a year and opportunities for our members to collaborate across borders. The project also supports us with an annual contribution of $5000 CAD to help us run Nikkei Australia. academic and artist residencies a year and opportunities for our members to collaborate across borders. The project also supports us with an annual contribution of $5000 CAD to help us run Nikkei Australia.

The all day meeting was held at the University of Sydney’s Law School, and 27 members attended, including six members online from various parts of Australia and Japan. If you’d like to see the agenda and notes from the day’s proceedings, they are here.

Also in attendance were Jordan Stanger-Ross, Director of PWFC and Mike Abe, Administrator. Mike flew in from Canada, and somehow stayed awake the whole day! Melissa Miles from Monash University (a PWFC partner) also attended our meeting.

Thanks to generous travel subsidies provided by the PWFC project, interstate members were able to fly to Sydney for this meeting, including four Broome members Jo-Anne Shiosaki, Philip Matsumoto, Rika Hamaguchi, and Tomoko Yamada.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the opportunity to listen to our First Nations members’ stories from Broome. Jo-Anne, Philip, and Rika shared their family histories, and members were enriched and inspired by this presentation by our WA friends.

“Philip Matsumoto described ‘living in two worlds’, which I believe encapsulated the common theme of the diverse stories shared from across the continent. Every story spoke to the resilience of the Nikkei Australian community, and the mood in the room was productive, bold, and transformational.”  – Gabriel Murphy, Nikkei Australia member

“Jo-Anne Shiosaki, Philip Matsumoto, and Rika Hamaguchi shared powerful perspectives connecting the experiences of dispossession, incarceration, and discrimination in their Aboriginal and Japanese worlds and families. I was honored to hear these Broome stories, and strongly felt their importance not only to the larger Nikkei Australian narrative, but to national truth telling. We are privileged that Aboriginal members’ experiences can be so central to the questions we explore as a group.” – Tim Steains, Nikkei Australia member

Presentations of PWFC Creative Projects: Reina Takeuchi

At the meeting, artist-researcher, dance maker and curator Reina Takeuchi gave a presentation about her creative work Field of Dreams, developed with support from PWFC.

Field of Dreams’ is inspired by her father’s eco-farm in Tokyo and explores family dynamics, post- Covid well-being, and ecology. While the work begins with the specificity of Takeuchi’s own experience as a daughter, choreographer, artist, and curator, it is a broader reflection on existential questions about our existence and the people we love.’ (excerpt from Ōranges and other offerings)

Presentations of PWFC Creative Projects: Yuki Kawakami

Yuki Kawakami also gave a presentation about the progress of her Doctorate in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, which is partly funded by PWFC. Yuki is interested in working with Nikkei Australian artists to facilitate creative interventions with material culture, archives and records related to the history of Japanese civilian internment in Australia. Her exhibition will be one of the major outcomes of the PWFC project in 2029.

Some key points from Yuki’s presentation:

  • creation of a Nikkei-Australian artist directory featuring more than 100 early to established artists, performers and creative practitioners
  • exploration of uniquely diverse Australian internment experiences

Yuki presenting, photo by Reina Takeuchi

“The meeting we had with the Past Wrong Future Choices team was a wonderful way of cementing that partnership and (re)connecting with Nikkei Australia members face to face. It was heartening to see how this collaboration with Canadian based researchers has enabled unique opportunities for members to delve further into Nikkei Australian histories and experiences. Yuki Kawakami’s PhD presentation revealed a carefully considered project exploring complex cultural and historical questions in exciting ways. I was very moved by Reina Takeuchi’s evocative project bridging Japan and Australia through family, plants, place, and the body.” – Tim Steains, Nikkei Australia member

PWFC Director Jordan Stanger-Ross summarised some of Nikkei Australia’s participation and contribtutions to PWFC in the first two years of the project. For a small organisation, our involvement has been notably significant.

“What a stimulating and informative day learning about the Japanese diaspora in Australia at the University of Sydney in early May. At a personal level I had a marvellous time meeting people I had never met before. You could feel us all bond as we share a similar heritage.” – Andrew Hasegawa, Nikkei Australia member

Our tasks and projects ahead…

The presentations and discussions during the Sydney meeting inspired us, and a number of project ideas and tasks are being discussed, or are already in motion.

  • after the presentations by Jo-Anne, Philip, and Rika, a number of members expressed an interest in making sure the unique Nikkei histories and stories from Broome are documented properly, and with some urgency. To this end, Tomoko Yamada (Broome based artist) and Masako Fukui have begun discussions with the National Library of Australia (NLA) to include Philip Matsumoto’s family histories in NLA’s oral history collection
  • in addition, Tomoko and Masako are considering running a series of academic events such as talks or seminars that explore Broome histories
  • Sophie Constable is looking into including Broome stories in school educational resources she’s developing in Australia, but also for PWFC participating countries
  • a Nikkei Australia ‘creatives group’ made up of artists, filmmakers, writers will be formed to explore creative storytelling projects about histories based in Broome, as well as other Nikkei-Australian stories
  • Mari Suzuki is in discussion with Rika Hamaguchi (both dance professionals) to run Japanese dance workshops, which Rika may incorporate into a performance at a later date. Funding applications have been discussed
  • a subcommittee to be established to manage/steer some of these project ideas. If you’d like to be part of this subcommittee, please get in touch
  • finally, keep abreast of PWFC project news by subscribing to the PWFC newsletter, and keeping an eye on Nikkei Australia social media