ARAKI & COMPANY PTY LTD
WAS IT A COVER FOR JAPANESE SPIES
DURING WWII?

 

 

Mr Tsurijiro Araki, the Australian representative of Tushima & Co., Japan dealt in Australia as an Indent merchant through companies registered as Araki & Co. Pty Ltd in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Mr Araki held almost all the shares. The few remaining shareholders and the leading employees in the Company were Japanese. Amongst the other non-employee shareholders of Araki & Co (Brisbane) Pty Ltd were:-

Jiro Mutaguchi of Japan (Director)
Toju Takatsuka of Aluka St., Rose Bay, Sydney (Director)
Schoichi, Nakanishi of Melbourne (Director)

A Dossier on Saburo Tsuchija (or Tsuchiya) states that Araki & Co (Queensland) Pty Ltd of Eagle Street, Brisbane was looked upon as the unofficial Japanese Consulate for Brisbane. Many persons suspected of espionage had passed through the Brisbane office of Araki & Co.

Saburo Tsuchiya was the company Manager of Araki & Co in Queensland. He had arrived in Sydney, NSW on 1 October 1929 on the "Tango Maru". Saburo lived at "Dudley", Doris Street, West End, Brisbane. Commonwelath Investigation Branch in Brisbane were aware that Saburo had attended lectures of the Rationalists Society.

Japanese Spy Professor Ryonosuke Seita arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on the "Canberra Maru" on 14 March 1938 and soon after visited the Consul-General in Sydney and reprimanded him for his failure to correctly instruct one, "Doi" (possibly Kenze Doi) to keep in touch with Seita. Kenze Doi was employed as a clerk by Araki & Co in Brisbane and travelled about Queensland more than was considered necessary.

Employees of Araki & Co (Brisbane) Pty Ltd in 1939-1940 period were:-

Saburo Tsuchiya (Manager)
Tetsuji Fujita (Sub Manager)
Eileen Kelly (Clerk)
Thomas Strover (Traveller)
Joice Demsey (Clerk)
Trevor Trew (Assistant)
Kenze Doi (Clerk)
Elma Bloxom
V. Spence
J. McLean
J. Grant

There is a NSW Security Service file dossier in National Archives Australia on Tetsuji Fujita.

On 17 June 1941 several of 11 cases with a total cargo space of 135 feet shipped by Araki at Sydney per S.S. "Caradale" as "drapery" were observed, on unloading at Brisbane, to be damaged and to contain rubbish, this appearing through the damaged boards.

The steamship company telephoned Araki & Co. to protect themselves against a claim for damages. Araki & Co refused to discuss the contents of teh cases, but later wrote a letter relieving the Steamship Company from responsibility, and stating that the cases had been shipped as drapery in error as they had been forwarded for use in making shelves. The freight paid was 5/2/2d, although the value of the cases could not have exceeded 2/15/-. Fearing pillage, the Steamship Company informed the police who visited the wharf, but found the cases removed.

Another consignment of nine cases shipped as "drapery" by Araki & Co in Sydney was examined fully on 23rd June on unloading from S.S. "Carlisle" in Brisbane. These were light repacks of Japanese origin with markings of figures and "Sydney" overmarked with other figures and "Brisbane". The cases had average dimensions of 2' x 2' x 3'6" and each was packed with various rubbish including paper, cardboard and folded and flattened zinc case linings presumably to give weight to the case. One case contained two old inner balloon motor tubes. Full freight had been paid.

On 27 October 1941, the Major in charge of the Brisbane Security Service wrote that all of the stock and office furniture of Araki & Co's Brisbane office had been shipped to Sydney. A Carrier Company, Jackson & Spring, had carried out the removal from September 1941. There were 3 shipments totalling 11 tons. The last shipment of mostly books and office furniture had been in the previous few days. The office furniture and fittings were then stored by Jackson & Spring in Sydney.

Mr Araki's business had been overdrawn at the Yokohama Specie Bank by 150,000, with repayment being guaranteed in Tokyo. He also had an overdraft of 6,000 at the Bank of Australasia against Bond Warrants formerly averaging 15,000 but increasing to 26,000 in June 1941. His Bond Warrants at the Australian bank had then dropped to 1,949 and it was understood that his overdraft there had been greatly reduced.

In his personal life Mr. Araki was an extravagant spender and gambler. He had drawn up to 26,000 per annum from his business for private purposes. His income tax was 30,000 in arrears. He made generous presents to his staff. Although he mixed with suspected Japanese in Sydney and had himself been under suspicion for some time, there were no know definite facts against him.

Saburo Tsuchiya was interned on 8 December 1941 in Sydney and taken to Liverpool Internment Camp. He transferred to Hay Internment Camp on 16 December 1941. He was repatriated to Japan on 16 August 1942. He was living at 2 Fisher Avenue, Vaucluse, Sydney at the time of his capture. His business address was listed as Warwick Building, Hamilton Street, Sydney.

Toju Takatsuka was interned in Sydney on 8 December 1941 and taken to Liverpool Internment Camp. He transferred to Hay Internment Camp on 16 December 1941. He was repatriated to Japan on 16 August 1942. He was living at N.9 Churchill Norwich Road, Rose Bay, Sydney at the time of his capture. Toju had originally arrived in Australia on board the "Tango Maru" on 7 July 1918 in Brisbane.

 

NOTE:- For the record an NAA file shows that a Mr. Jiro Mutaguchi arrived in Sydney on an aircraft from Japan on 24 August 1962. Wonder if it was the same person? Similarly a Mr  Toju Takatsuka arrived in Sydney per aircraft VH-EBJ on 17 July 1963.

 

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