323 Sir John Latham, Minister to Japan, to Sir Frederick Stewart, Minister for External Affairs

Dispatch S-22/1/41 TOKYO, 26 February 1941

I have the honour to report that I have seen Mr. T. Kawai [1] on several occasions. At first he may impress you as a very reserved and possibly suspicious man, but I think that a great deal of this is due to shyness and to his difficulty in renewing his acquaintance with the English language.

2. People who knew him when he was spokesman for the Foreign Office regarded him then as a truculent person, very pro-German and anti-British. Although I have had only a short acquaintance with him, I venture to think that his attitude as spokesman was probably dictated by the nature of his duties, and that he has mellowed to a considerable extent since. After some acquaintance with him I have found him to be quite pleasant personally.

3. He is, I believe, really anxious to achieve success in Australia by promoting good relations with Japan.

4. I have talked to him quite frankly on the attitude of Australia towards Japan. I have said that Australia is prepared to be friendly, but will certainly resent and resist any suggestion of foreign control or leadership whether by Japan or any other power.

I have warned him that any scheme for including Australia in any 'East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere' led by Japan will not only have no sympathy or support in Australia, but will simply not be tolerated in Australia. I have tried to make him understand how close and how real the bond between Australia and Great Britain and the rest of the Empire is. I have told him that the Three Power Pact was and is, in all its particulars and from every point of view, strongly disapproved in Australia, and that the action of Japan in joining our enemies has naturally caused a deterioration in the relations between Australia and Japan.

5. Last night I went over this ground at my house, where I entertained him with a number of other gentlemen at dinner, and I concluded by expressing the hope that he would remain in Australia for a long time because that would mean that the Three Power Pact had not come into operation, so that Australia and Japan could still be friends. I said that if it did ever come into operation his mission and mine would cease forthwith.

6. There are some people here who entertain the idea that it would be possible to divide Australia and Great Britain so that Japan could go to war with Great Britain without going to war with Australia. I do not think that after my conversations with him Mr.

Kawai will have any illusions of this character. I have explained to him that in this war everything that Australia values is at stake and that Australians would never think for one moment of submitting to Hitler.

7. I think it will be found that if Mr. Kawai is treated in a friendly manner he will be glad to reciprocate. As to trading matters, to which I am sure he will devote a great deal of attention, I have said to him that as far as Australia is concerned war considerations must come first.

J. G. LATHAM

1 Japanese Minister designate to Australia.

[FA:A4231, TOKYO, 1941, DISPATCH S-22/1/41]