252 Sir Robert Craigie, U.K. Ambassador to Japan, to Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Dispatch 27(2/381/41) (extract) TOKYO, 21 January 1941

I have the honour to report that the following appointments in the Japanese Diplomatic Service were announced in the official gazette of the 9th January:-

Mr. Tatsuo Kawai, to be the first Minister to the Commonwealth of Australia; and Mr. Shinichi Chiba, to be Minister to Portugal.

2. There is, I think, no doubt whatever that the delay in appointing a Minister to Australia was due to the fact that the Government were considerably embarrassed by the selection of so eminent a person as Sir John Latham to be the first Australian Minister in Japan. Rules of precedence in this country are very rigid and it would have been almost impossible for any Japanese who had previously occupied posts corresponding to those which have been held by Sir John Latham to have accepted an appointment as Minister. It was for this reason, no doubt, that an attempt was made to secure the services of Mr. Koichi Saionji, whose prestige as the grandson of the late Prince Saionji would have gone far to compensate for his age (as stated in my telegram No. 1984 of the 7th October, he is only 35) and lack of diplomatic experience.

Unfortunately Mr. Saionji found it impossible to accept the post.

3. The selection in his stead, however, of Mr. Kawai is very disappointing. During his term of office as official 'spokesman' of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he displayed on several occasions open hostility to our attitude as regards Japanese actions in China and he was unpopular amongst the foreign newspaper correspondents owing to his somewhat rough manner and indifferent command of English. On the other hand the position of 'spokesman' is one which is reserved for marked men and some of his predecessors, e.g. Mr. Shiratori, have since attained positions of much importance. [1]


1 The U.K. Foreign Office gave a copy of this dispatch to S. M.

Bruce, High Commissioner in London.