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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 28, 1985

CABLE NO. 5689, AMBASSADOR MATSUNAGA TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER, 'PROBLEM OF THE RELEASE OF THE AMERICAN HOSTAGES'

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    A telegram from Japanese Ambassador Matsunaga to the Foreign Minister summarizing a meeting between the Ambassador and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs McFarlane about the American hostages in Lebanon.
    "Cable No. 5689, Ambassador Matsunaga to the Foreign Minister, 'Problem of the Release of the American Hostages'," July 28, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, File No. 2017-0630. Translated by Stephen Mercado. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/270615
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Number: R103250

Primary: North American Affairs Bureau Director-General

Sent: United States, July 28, 1985, 23:30

Received: MOFA, July 29, 1985, 12:31

To: The Foreign Minister      

From: Ambassador Matsunaga

Problem of the Release of the American Hostages

No. 5689 Secret Top Urgent

(Limited Distribution)

1. At three o’clock on the afternoon of the 28th, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs McFarlane called on me at the Ambassador’s Official Residence and had a short meeting with me. A summary of the meeting’s main points are as follows.

(1) First, Assistant to the President McFarlane spoke as follows:

This morning (around nine o’clock, local time), President Reagan made a telephone call to Prime Minister Nakasone, personally thanking the Prime Minister for the gracious inquiry about his health. The topic then turned to the problem of the release of the seven American hostages still in Lebanon. The Prime Minister said, together with again expressing his sympathy to the United States Government, that the Government of Japan would be happy to be of service if there were anything it could do in regard to rescuing the hostages. In reply, President Reagan requested that they please do so. In light of the importance of this matter, I have come here to inform you, who has just returned from Tokyo, of the President’s suggestion. The United States Government would be truly thankful if the Government of Japan would make a move. I have come here to discuss with you arrangements. Fortunately, Minister Abe recently made an official visit to Syria and engaged in a very useful exchange of views. Furthermore, as seen in the success of Majlis Speaker Rafsanjani’s visit to Japan, it is without a doubt that Japan is more credible than the United States for Syria and Iran. For that reason alone, the United States has hope for Japan’s efforts.

(2) I then said that, while I did not at the moment have a concrete idea of what the Government of Japan could do, I thought that it may wish to try gathering information from Syria and Iran and exploring various possibilities. For that, I said that I thought Tokyo would need data on the seven persons concerned. I further said that it would be beneficial to ask for information – to the extent it posed no problem – on the attempts to date by the United States Government to rescue them.

Assistant to the President McFarlane further spoke as follows:

To date, we have been able to confirm at least, through an American who attempted to contact the Kamal [TN: sic, possible error for Amal] faction, that the seven persons were in good health for the time being. The level of this contact has been low, however, and there has been no progress in the problem of their rescue. The United States Government has, of course, requested the aid of the Syrian government to rescue the hostages. The government has given a positive response. Even so, there has been no perceptible movement. Syria for a time thought that terrorism had a positive impact on its relations with Lebanon and Iran, but recently there has been a change in this perception and there is visible a situation in which Syria does not always welcome terrorism. Consequently, we would appreciate it if the Government of Japan were to attempt something on the basis of this situation. I would like to give you, Mr. Ambassador, the names and other data for the seven hostages when I see you tomorrow, the 29th, at the White House.

(3) I replied that I did not know what the Government of Japan was able to do or whether it would succeed, but that I hoped at least that it would be able to prove useful to the United States Government. In any case, I said that I wished to report to Tokyo immediately the matter of the Assistant to the President’s visit here.

2. In this connection, if there is anything I should know, I request a reply by telegram by the time of the meeting tomorrow, the 29th (scheduled for 13:30 in the afternoon, local time), with Assistant to the President McFarlane. (End)

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