Australia’s proactive participation in the US-led occupation of Japan is a pivotal chapter in the national narrative of engagement with Asia. The documentary and literary record bequeathed by the Australian occupying force is deeply contradictory. The official policy of non-fraternisation (indicated by the ‘six inch rule’) was compromised by degrees of intimacy which enabled post-war reconciliation with Japan. Yet many ‘occupationnaires’ relished exercising power over a despised people and luxuriated in the comforts of occupier. Australia’s role in Japan is a salutary case study of the neo-colonial discourses of foreign occupation, and of Australian regional ambivalence. This article has been peer-reviewed.