1942 — Japanese planes attack Darwin

The Japanese air raid on Darwin was mounted by 242 Japanese planes launched from four aircraft carriers. It was intended to soften up the air force and navy bases there in preparation for the Japanese invasion of Timor the following day. Between 9:58 and 10:40AM that day, the planes sank three warships and five merchant ships, while damaging ten more. Twenty-one dock workers were killed in the raids.

This would be the first of a total of 97 air raids against targets either in Australian waters or on the Australian mainland. Most of these were on various sites across the northern coast of Australia between Port Hedland, Western Australia and Townsville, Queensland, with the great majority of them being on military or civilian targets in Darwin. The last air raid took place on November 12, 1943, striking Parap, Adelaide River and Batchelor Airfield (all in the Northern Territory). By that time, the tide of war had turned, and Japan could no longer strike so close to Australia, although the end of the war was still nearly two years away.

Referenced in:
Tojo — Hoodoo Gurus

1980 — Paul McCartney is busted for marijuana possession in Tokyo

It was a scandal briefly, and then completely forgotten. While passing through customs at Tokyo (on his way to tour Japan with Wings), Paul McCartney was discovered to have approximately 200 grams (or 8 ounces, if you prefer) of cannabis in his luggage. He was immediately arrested, and the news made headlines around the world.

But after ten days, the sheer weight of celebrity proved too great for the Japanese government. McCartney was released from prison without any charges being laid, although he was deported from the country, completely ruining the planned Wings tour. If only this had been the worst thing to happen to a Beatle in 1980.

Referenced in:
I’ve Been To Bali Too — Redgum

1937 — The Rape of Nanking begins

In our world’s long and sorry history of warfare and strife, the Rape of Nanking, or Nanking Massacre, is one of the greatest atrocities to have ever been committed – and the continued denial by serial Japanese governments that the Rape even occurred one of the greatest hypocrisies.

The city of Nanking, which had been left very lightly defended by Chiang Kai-shek after the fall of Shanghai, fell to the Japanese advance on December 13, and almost at once, a military advance transformed into looting and arson, and shortly thereafter, into killing and raping, at first incidental, but increasingly systematised over the six weeks following the 13th.

No accurate tally of victims has ever been made, but estimates place the number of rapes between 20,000 and 80,000, many of them old women and children, and the number of murders anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000, the majority of them civilians or prisoners of war. Bodies were burned and buried in mass graves to help prevent identification, and it is believed that documents pertaining to the massacre were among those destroyed by the Japanese High Command immediately before and after their surrender in 1945.

Referenced in:
Nanking — Exodus