379 Sir John Latham, Minister to Japan, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 169 TOKYO, 2 April 1941, 6.55 p.m.

Vice-Minister [1] sent for me yesterday and gave me long message from Matsuoka [2] asking for my assistance to his appeal that Wilhelm Herman Solf be released from internment in Australia and either be allowed to return to Germany or to stay in Japan for duration. Appeal based on Matsuoka's affection for Solf's father former German Ambassador here. [3] If granted guaranteed no publicity here. Presume Australia will act according to British instructions as Self received from Great Britain.

If Australia has any discretion in the matter recommend strong recommendation for release on grounds that Matsuoka most influential in Japanese policy, that he is very sentimental, that he would be greatly gratified by bringing this matter off by his personal influence whereas refusal would produce a quite exaggerated effect.

Suggest that possibly matter might be managed as an exchanging of a number of prisoners, publicity being suppressed on grounds of national interest.

I suggest, however, that in the first place you should direct me to reply that request is receiving consideration with a desire to accede to it if possible but that difficulty of doing so has been gravely increased by Matsuoka's determination that Japanese people pray for German victory. British Ambassador [4] agrees with message and has cabled London.

LATHAM

1 Chuichi Ohashi.

2 Japanese Foreign Minister.

3 Wilhelm Solf senior was German Ambassador to Japan from 1920 to 1929.

4 Sir Robert Craigie.

[AA:A3830,1941,829]