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Australia Allows Divers Access to Japanese WWII Submarine

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Good news for recreational divers! After gaining approval from authorities in Tokyo, Australia announced that it will allow them to explore the wreckage of one of the Japanese midget submarines that invaded Sidney Harbor in World War II, some 70 years ago. The policy is not meant to arouse old feelings of anger or fear, but instead give viewers the unique opportunity to have an up-close look at an artifact that has long been of great historical importance.

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Diver access will be on a shot basis, which means that the move is strongly supported by the Commonwealth and therefore the Japanese governments alike.

The lethal assault came in 1942, after a Japanese reconnaissance flight reported Allied warships were docked in Sidney harbor. Three miniature submarines, each carrying a two-man crew, were dispatched, attempting to sink the U.S. However, they were detected and attacked, with two of the crews scuttling their boats and committing suicide. The third submarine tried to torpedo the heavy cruiser USS Chicago, but instead sank the Australian ferry HMAS Kuttabul, resulting in 21 deaths.

The Allies managed to recover the scuttled vessels, while the third one slipped out of the harbor and it was only in 2006 when it was discovered by scuba divers off Sydney’s northern beaches. The craft is believed to contain the remains of the entombed bodies of two Japanese sailors, as well as their personal items, including samurai swords, board games and good luck charms.

Long-range cameras have been put to monitor the exclusion zone around the submarine and anyone who dares to damage the wreckage or remove anything will face penalties up to A$1.1 million.

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