In 1946, a devastated and defeated Japan was occupied by Australian forces based in the prefecture of Hiroshima. Noel Huggett, a young twenty-four year old fresh from fighting the Japanese in Bougainville during the Asia-Pacific War, was part of the first group of Australian troops to arrive with the tasks of demilitarising and democratising Japan. During Noel’s time there something unexpected happened. He met and fell in love with a Japanese woman, Reiko (Ruth).
This book tells the story of Noel and Ruth’s courtship under the watchful and disapproving eyes of the Australian military, the deliberate obstructions they had to overcome to get married and begin a family and, most importantly, the continued denial of Australian citizenship from birth of their first-born child, Cathleen (Kathy).
At the heart of their problems was the White Australia Policy and its associated fears of the alien ‘other’ and racial contamination, exacerbated by the recent experience of war. Noel and Ruth’s story reveals the personal impact of such policies in their institutionalised and social forms and the lack of protection of basic human rights for Noel and his family – the right to citizenship and the right to marry the woman he fell in love with.