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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr FORDE - Whilst I cannot give ' a definite date for the repatriation of these men, I am able to announce that as the result of representations made by the Commonwealth Government, the very good news has been received from General MacArthur that eight additional liberty ships will be made available to transport the remaining Japanese prisoners of war from Rabaul to Japan. It. is estimated that all the Japanese will be removed from the New Guinea area by the end of August. As the only reason for keeping Australian troops at Rabaul is to guard Japanese prisoners of war, as soon as the Japanese are repatriated all the Australians will be able to return home, with the exception of a small number required to maintain materials and equipment awaiting shipment to the mainland. Before this good news was received, it was estimated" that there would still be 10,000 Japanese at Rabaul at the end of the year. That estimate was based on " lifts " of 22,300 that are being carried out by existing shipping. The addition of eight liberty ships is a most generous gesture by General MacArthur, and is in' keeping with the spirit of co-operation that he has always shown towards the Australian Government.

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