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August 8, 1985

Briefing Material for the Prime Minister: Problem of the American Hostages in Lebanon (Dispatch of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy)



(Briefing Material for the Prime Minister)


Problem of the American Hostages in Lebanon (Dispatch of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy)


August 8, 1985

Second Middle East Division


1. Special Envoy Nakayama’s Schedule


August 6 – 9: Tehran

August 10 – 12: Damascus

August 14: Return to Tokyo


2. On the 5th, we instructed the Ambassador to the United States to inform the United States regarding the dispatch of the Special Envoy in this matter. Ambassador Matsunaga informed President’s Assistant McFarlane and Secretary of State Shultz. The other side responded as follows:


(1) President’s Assistant McFarlane


He expressed appreciation and thanks for the Government of Japan’s prompt measure. He said that he would report it at once to the President.


(2) Secretary of State Shultz


He highly praised the Government of Japan’s efforts at the time of the TWA hostage incident and expressed hope that its present efforts would be successful. He firmly believes that the Government of Japan’s efforts will contribute to the resolution of this situation.


3. Situation of Meetings in Iran


The response of the other side to the Special Envoy’s request that Iran exercise its influence for the release of the American hostages is as follows. (The Special Envoy [TN: portion blacked out] communicate the Prime Minister’s private intentions. [TN: portion blacked out])


(1) Deputy Foreign Minister Ardebili (August 6)


(a) Japan and Iran reject international terrorism but differ in defining terrorism. Iran does not see as terrorism the large-scale, illegal activities of a great power in a third country, nor does it criticize as terrorism the actions of individuals or certain groups for the just recovery of their rights. However, the exchange of views on the premise of this difference in views is useful.


(b) Iran rejects connection in any form to the problem of the American hostages. Iran has only limited influence in a third country. The resolution of the TWA Incident took place within a special international environment. Iran cannot exercise a decisive influence. Even if one hoped for a result this time similar to that of the TWA Incident, there is no guarantee for its realization.


(2) Majlis Speaker Rafsanjani (August 7)


Iran, too, considers the problem of the hostages in Lebanon to be a very important one. If the TWA Incident is resolved, Shia prisoners (300 persons) in Israel will be released. President Reagan promised this to the President of Syria, which is why Iran and Syria made efforts for the incident’s resolution. However, the United States has not kept its promise. The message to Prime Minister Nakasone: “The United States should have Israel release the Lebanese held there and keep the agreement in the TWA Incident.” So long as the United States does not keep its promise, Iran can say nothing to Lebanon. Only once what has been promised is carried out will Iran be able, together with Syria, to undertake some action and exercise some influence for the release of the hostages.  


(In addition, Majlis Speaker Rafsanjani expressed doubt, saying that there were unclear aspects to the goals and actions of the United States in Lebanon and that perhaps the hostage problem was a stratagem of the United States to achieve some goal in Lebanon. (End)

These briefing materials for the Prime Minister of Japan about Special Envoy Nakayama’s recent trip to Iran and Syria include the Special Envoy’s schedule and a response from Iran stating they will not use their influence to assist in the release of American hostages in Lebanon unless United States releases Lebanese hostages held in Israel.

Document Information


Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, File No. 2017-0631. Translated by Stephen Mercado.


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