235 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1107 LONDON, 20 December 1940


Japanese Ministry at Canberra.

Legation at Tokyo will have advised as to the career and personality of Mr. Kawai [1], but you will no doubt wish to have the Foreign Office view of him. Following based on talk with Dening and Ashley Clarke of the Far Eastern Department.

Clarke was in Tokyo from 1934 to 1938 and met Kawai there and later in London. Dening, who is an Australian, with long consular experience in Manchuria, knew Kawai well when he was 'Secretary for Foreign Affairs' of the Kuangtung leased territory, at the time of the Manchurian incident. He emphasized that Kawai is an ardent nationalist; by no means a negative diplomatist, as witness his book 'The goal of the Japanese expansion', a strong apologia for Japanese policy in China. While he was 'quite ready to try and slip one over', Dening found him 'more or less straight forward'.

He had good manners and is 'correct'. He is not one of the more aggressive type of the Nationalist school of diplomatists; as Foreign Office spokesman in Tokyo he made fewer 'gaffes' than either Amau or Suma. His term at Foreign Office ended for reasons of internal politics, not foreign affairs.

During Kawai's visit to England last Spring, Foreign Office went out of their way to look after him and show him what he wanted to see. They were on the whole disappointed with his response. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs saw Kawai and they discussed political parties in Japan and the Tientsin question.

Kawai was evidently reticent and Lord Halifax said afterwards that he felt little wiser at the end of the interview. Kawai, however, seems to have been impressed by his visit to England and the Foreign Office were gratified later when, just before the fall of Paris, he had a long distance telephone conversation from Berne to the Japanese Press in which he expressed views that 'British determination had been really strengthened', that 'even occupation of London would not mean England's eclipse and the war would therefore be protracted', and that 'there is no room for compromise'. (Yomiuri [2] June 11th).

This was apparently Kawai's first visit to England. Though he lived in United States for some years, [both] [3] as Third and First Secretary at Washington Embassy, his English is poor.

Ashley Clarke's view of him is that he is rather slow moving and unimpressive, especially having regard to his career and succession of highly important posts which he has held starting with Consulate-General at Canton and later Shanghai.


1 Japanese Minister designate to Australia.

2 Yomiuri Shimbun, a Tokyo daily newspaper.

3 Corrected from the London copy on file AA:A2937, Legations:

Exchange of Ministers with Japan.

[AA:A981, JAPAN 120, i]