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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 05, 1985

CABLE NO. 394, FOREIGN MINISTER TO THE AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, 'PROBLEM OF THE RELEASE OF THE AMERICAN HOSTAGES (MAIN POINTS OF REMARKS, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR PRIME MINISTER’S SPECIAL ENVOY)'

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    A draft telegram from the Foreign Minister of Japan to the Ambassador to Syria that discusses the main points for discussion regarding the Special Envoy Nakayama’s visit to Syria. The document discusses the release of the American hostages in Lebanon and the TWA Flight 847 hijacking incident of 1985.
    "Cable No. 394, Foreign Minister to the Ambassador to Syria, 'Problem of the Release of the American Hostages (Main Points of Remarks, Questions and Answers for Prime Minister’s Special Envoy)'," August 05, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, File No. 2017-0631. Translated by Stephen Mercado. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/280679
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Number: 066185-001

Draft Telegram

Drafted:  August 5, 1985

Primary: First Middle East Division Director

To: Ambassador to Syria      

From: Foreign Minister

Problem of the Release of the American Hostages (Main Points of Remarks and Questions and Answers for Prime Minister’s Special Envoy)

No. 394 Secret Urgent (Priority Processing) Q55ID

Re: Outgoing Telegram First Middle East Division Director’s No. 394 Separate Telegram

Problem of the Release of the American Hostages

(Main Points of Remarks)

1.  The great efforts that your country made for the release of the hostages in the TWA incident and the utmost effort that your country is making now for the release of the seven American hostages held in Lebanon are truly encouraging.

Our country’s government and people have a great concern for these incidents and highly appreciate your country’s realistic and responsible attitude.

2. Our country, the same as yours, strongly opposes terrorism and keeps always in mind from a humanitarian point of view the resolution of this hostage problem as soon as possible.

3. Prime Minister Nakasone, too, having received Minister Abe’s report, is fully aware that there are many difficult problems in the release of the foreign hostages in Lebanon, including the seven Americans. He looks forward to your country’s humanitarian efforts for the release of the hostages bearing fruit as soon as possible and sincerely hopes for your country to continue making its utmost effort. He would be grateful if you would let us know henceforth as well of information related to prospects for their release and other matters.

4. [TN: all of section 4 blacked out]

(Main Points of Questions and Answers)

1. (If asked whether our request is based on a request from the United States)

It is true that the United States is greatly concerned and frustrated over the matter of the hostages, but this request of ours is one that Prime Minister Nakasone is making on his own judgment and initiative.

[TN: First version, crossed out, reads: “The United States is greatly concerned and frustrated over the matter of the hostages, and this frustration of the United States has an undesirable effect globally as well. Our side’s request, from the viewpoint of our country’s national interest in light of Japan-US relations, is one that Prime Minister Nakasone is making on his own initiative.”]

2. (If asked whether we are making the same approach to other countries)

We have made a similar approach to the Iranian government.

3. (If asked regarding our side’s view concerning the US move related to suspending use of the Beirut airport)

Our country thinks it necessary to consider carefully the measure of closing the Beirut airport. Our country has heard that the Lebanese government is strengthening the Beirut airport’s security measures; we hope that this is realized immediately. Also, we hope that effective measures for the prevention of hijackings will be issued from the ICAO [International Civilian Aviation Organization] and other forums.

4. (If there is expressed the view that the seven American hostages prevent the United States from retaliating for the TWA incident)

Our side has always held the position that retaliation by force does not contribute to the resolution of problems. If necessary, we intend to appeal to the United States as well not to carry out retaliation by force.

5. (If it is said that it is regrettable that Israel has not carried out the release of the Shia prisoners)

(1) We are aware that Israel had planned, before the TWA incident took place, to release the Shia prisoners. On this basis, Israel has released over 400 of them and, we think, is going to release the remaining prisoners.

(2) If the release of the prisoners is delayed, we would wish to suggest to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that they appeal to Israel and the United States for their immediate release.

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