WAS THERE A JAPANESE INVASION PLANNED
TO OCCUR BETWEEN TOWNSVILLE
AND BRISBANE IN QUEENSLAND DURING WW2?
 

 

The Herald Newspaper in Melbourne had an article on 1 January 1946 titled "Invasion Plan for Australia" by Herald Correspondent Denis Warner, Osaka, Japan. The article claimed that a 51 year old, Mr. Ken Sato was to be appointed Civil Administrator for Australia after a successful Japanese Invasion of Australia in 1942.

The Newspaper claimed that Mr. Sato indicated that there was a Japanese Invasion Force of many troop transports and warships heading south from Japan to make a beach landing half way between Townsville and Brisbane. Mr. Sato apparently claimed that the air raids on Darwin, which had started on 19 February 1942, were "a feint to destroy shipping and planes".

Mr Sato, who could speak fluent English, visited Australia in mid March 1935 with the Osaka Mainichi sponsored Goodwill Mission. The Mainichi was a world leading newspaper. His association with the Mainichi gave him access to many locations. The Mission included Dr. Abe, Kenichi and 10 Japanese business men. The Mission itself remained in Australia for about 1 1/2 months, but Sato remained for 5 months for the purpose of gathering material for a goodwill Trade Relation booklet entitled "Japan, Australia and New Zealand" published by the Osaka Mainichi in 1936 in both an English and Japanese edition.

The article claimed that after the outbreak of the "China Incident", Mr. Sato was seconded to the Japanese Army with the honorary rank of Lieutenant-General and that he was responsible for the apprehension of many British and American foreign nationals at Nanking and Hankow.

Mr. Sato indicated that the Japanese Navy was responsible for the implementation of plans to invade and occupy Australia. He indicated that he was always at the nerve centre of the Japanese Navy.

The article indicated that Mr Sato had stated that the Japanese had realised that it would have been too difficult to move a large force south from Darwin and had then decided to attack the Queensland coast midway between Townsville and Brisbane. He indicated that communications were good and the population was sparse in that area of Queensland.

The city of Brisbane was reportedly the first objective of this so-called Invasion Plan of Australia. It was believed that Brisbane could be taken quite readily with a minimum of cost and resistance.

Sydney was the next objective and was to be attacked by land and amphibious forces. They then planned to move on to Melbourne, but by this time, they anticipated that Australia would have surrendered. Mr Sato claimed that moral in Australia was low at that time, and that Australian complaints about Britain deserting Australia was evidence of this fact.

According to Mr. Sato, things changed when orders were issued for the Japanese forces to take Milne Bay and Port Moresby. The Japanese were not willing to risk another operation in Australian while their supply lines were in peril. Again, according to Mr. Sato, the Japanese campaign in New Guinea used up all the forces originally intended for the invasion of Australia. Mr. Sato indicated that the Japanese had initially thought the Australian forces would be a pushover in New Guinea. This they abruptly found not to be the case. Despite this underestimation of the Australians fighting ability, Mr Sato indicated that the Japanese believed that Australia could be persuaded to become neutral. The Japanese propaganda machine turned itself to achieving this goal.

Mr. Sato indicated that Australians would not have been treated very harshly if we had surrendered. He seemed to know a great many leading Australians and he indicated that he was quite certain a good number of Australians would have agreed to co-operate with the Japanese.

The article stated that Mr. Sato had a "pile of information about Australia feet high." He indicated that the information had been obtained by:-

The article indicated that Mr. Sata had trained his junior administrators at the Ofuna Camp and that many ex POW's at Ofuna would remember him and his assistants.

Was Mr. Sato part of the planning for some of the invasion proposals that Admiral Yamamoto had suggested but were never approved. In February 1942, Yamamoto had pleaded with the Japanese General Staff, to land two Japanese Army Divisions on the northern coastline of Australia which was very poorly defended. They were to follow the north-south railway line to Adelaide, thus dividing Australia into two fronts. Once Adelaide had been taken, a second force would land on the south east coast of Australia and drive northwards to Sydney and southwards to Melbourne. The plan was opposed by General Tojo, the Prime Minister of Japan and not approved by Emperor Hirohito.

Following the publication of this article on 1 January 1946, Mr. J.B. Chifley, the Prime Minister of Australia wrote to General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan on 21 January 1946. MacArthur immediately ordered an investigation by his military intelligence group. 

Mr. Sato was interrogated by US military intelligence in the presence of Major R. L. Hughes of the Australian Service Mission. They wrote a report dated 2 March 1946 detailing their interrogation of Ken Sato. General Douglas MacArthur, then wrote to Mr. Chifley on 5 March 1946, attaching a copy of the report by the interrogation officer, which contained the results of the interrogation of Mr. Ken Sato and listed the Australians with whom Sato claimed acquaintance. 

The report indicated that Sato was Kennosuke Sato, who was connected with the International Section, Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. He also wrote under the nom de plume of "Amanojaku". He had been educated at Washington Grammar School, San Francisco. He also attended University of Southern California, University if Illinois, University if Chicago, worked on a Ph. D. at Columbia in 1921 and attended University of Berlin in 1922 and 1923.

Sato had visited Australia in 1934 with the Osaka Mainichi sponsored Goodwill Mission. The Mission included Dr. Abe, Kenichi and 10 Japanese business men. The Mission itself remained in Australia for about 1 1/2 months, but Sato remained for 5 months for the purpose of gathering material for a goodwill Trade Relation booklet entitled "Japan, Australia and New Zealand" published by the Osaka Mainichi in 1936 in both English and Japanese edition.

After Pearl Harbor Mr. Sato continued to work for the Osaka Mainichi for 6 or 7 months. The Japanese Navy then approached TAKAISHI, Shingoro, the Mainichi President, requesting that Mr. Sato be loaned to the Australian Section of the Japanese Naval Intelligence Staff. After a discussion with Sato, Takaishi then "ordered" Sato to work with the Australian Section of the Japanese Navy.

The Australian Research Section was called the "Tokyo Gimusho" and was attached to the 8th Section (Yatchika) of the Navy General Staff. The Australian Research Section dealt with the affairs of the British Empire. Captain (later Admiral) Chudo, Kanyei was in charge of the 8th Section and according to Sato was originally responsible for the establishment of the Australian Section. 

Sato indicated that the newspaper had misquoted him.

Ken Sato had a close professional connection with Charles Cousins.

Title
Request by Australian Commercial Counsellor, Tokyo,for information concerning a Mr Ken Sato.
Series number
A432
Control symbol
1949/544
Contents date range
1949 - 1949
 
Access status
Open
Location
Canberra
Barcode no
209189
Title
Pre-war activities of Japanese in Australia. Investigations by United States Intelligence in Japan (Ken Sato)
Series number
A5954
Control symbol
428/3
Contents date range
1945 - 1946
 
Access status
Open
Location
Canberra
Barcode no
649030
Title
Ken Sato [Correspondence with the Japanese Consul General in Australia] [6 pages; box 5]
Series number
C443
Control symbol
J141
Contents date range
1935 - 1946
 
Access status
Open
Location
Sydney
Barcode no
312607
Title
Ken Sato [Correspondence with the Japanese Consul General in Australia] [Box 1]
Series number
C443
Control symbol
I
Contents date range
1935 - 1946
 
Access status
Open
Location
Sydney
Barcode no
311506

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Rod Miller for his assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"The Brisbane Line"
by Hugh MacMaster 

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

"Australia @ War" Research Products

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

Disclaimer

Please e-mail me
any information or photographs


"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 26 January 2004

This page last updated 16 January 2017