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Unscrambling acronyms: Australia–Japan relationsBookmark

Learning area: History
Year level: Year 10
Country: Australia, Japan
General capability:

This learning sequence explores significant international relations between Australia and Japan as understood through a collection of major treaties, organisations and rulings.

After unscrambling the acronyms, students take on the role of an historian to offer a considered understanding of the continuity and change evidenced by these formal relations between Japan and Australia during and after WWII.


  1. The bombing of Darwin in May 1943 brought World War II to the shores of Australia. Brainstorm everything you and your class members know or think they know about this significant event in Australia’s history. Use collaborative software such as PadletGoogle Docs or PrimaryPad to collate everyone's ideas.
  2. View The Bombing of Darwin video by the ABC commemorating the 70th anniversary. Continue to use the collaborative software and make notes of any new information. Read the article entitled The Japanese bombing of Darwin, Broome and northern Australia.
  3. In table groups develop questions you would now like to investigate. Use historical concepts of 'continuity and change', 'cause and effect' and 'significance' as prompts when developing questions relating to Australia–Japan relations since World War II.


  1. Since the end of World War II, Australia and Japan have had many interactions as nations. Acronyms such as SCAPANZUS, NARAICJ stops JARPA II and JAEPA often make sense to those 'in the know', but could be confusing if a person has to learn them all at once. In this activity, you can work individually or collaboratively to explore what these acronyms stand for and investigate some of the most important international relationships between Australia and Japan.
  2. Download the Spreadsheet (to work alone or in a small group) or import it into Google Apps to gather the information for the first four columns collaboratively.
  3. Do further research to find out what the impact or outcome of the actions/treaties might have been.
  4. Take on the role of an historian to present your argument explaining how each action/treaty chronologically promoted continuity or changed the relationship between Australia and Japan. Be as comprehensive as you can in supporting your argument with specific evidence gathered from primary sources.


Australia–Japan relations have changed since the end of World War II. The story of salvaging ships sunk in Darwin Harbour during the Japanese bombing in WWII highlights one interaction less formal than the treaties, organisations and rulings you have just studied.

  • How is the video on salvaging wreckage from Darwin Harbour a good symbolic representation of Australia–Japan relations since hostilities ended in World War II?
  • To support you to reflect on your learning, write a reflection on this period of world history exploring your ideas, learning and insights.
  • What have you learned about yourself as an historian and the nature of making historical interpretations?
  • How would you characterise Australia–Japan relations? Is there a common thread or story that you uncovered that helps shape an understanding of these 70 years of interactions?

It is recommended that teachers preview websites and videos to ensure they are suitable for their students before they are used in class. Content accessed via these links is not owned or controlled by Asia Education Foundation and is subject to the terms of use of the associated website.

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