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August 12, 1985

Cable No. 664, Ambassador Kato to the Foreign Minister, 'Problem of the Release of the American Hostages (Second Meeting of Special Envoy Nakayama and Foreign Minister Shara)'

Number: R109444

Primary: Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau Director-General


Sent: Syria, August 12, 1985, 22:45

Received: MOFA, August 13, 1985, 05:03


To: The Foreign Minister      

From: Ambassador Kato


Problem of the Release of the American Hostages (Second Meeting of Special Envoy Nakayama and Foreign Minister Shara)


No. 664 Secret Top Urgent

(Limited Distribution)

Re: Outgoing Telegram No. 663


On the morning of the 12th, there was a sudden request from Foreign Minister Shara for another meeting, so Special Envoy Nakayama visited him. From 9:30 in the morning, for approximately an hour, there was a meeting between him and the foreign minister. A summary of the meeting’s main points follows below. The meeting took place without an interpreter. It took place with only three persons present: the Special Envoy, Foreign Minister Shara, and me.


Foreign Minister: How was your impression of your meeting with the President?


Special Envoy: I am grateful for his speaking very frankly with me and for promising to do his utmost for the release of the hostages and take action for the release of the Lebanese prisoners in Israel.


Foreign Minister: It is gratifying that relations between Japan and Syria, which for a long time had been quiet, this year at a stroke became invigorated with the mutual visits of the foreign ministers and your present visit, Special Envoy, to our country. I am sorry to have troubled you by asking you to have a discussion late last night with President Assad and to come here suddenly today. President Assad both recognizes the profound significance of your mission and has highly appraised your character and ability.


Syria hopes for Japan to play an even more active role in this region and wishes to support this. We think it necessary to strengthen the Syria-Japan relationship in strengthening relations of economic cooperation in parallel with the political dialogue. In regard to the hostage problem, Syria opposes terrorism against “innocent” civilians and handles it from a humanitarian point of view of sympathy for the hostages and their families.


On the other hand, Syria is forced to spend large sums on the military to oppose Israel’s policy of expansion. At the same time, we must work to stabilize and improve the lives of the people. Economic aid from other countries, then, is needed. However, we do not wish to accept aid from a superpower with prejudice and ulterior motives or from a country seeking to give economic aid from self-serving motives. Syria desires aid from Japan, which has no prejudice. We are happy and gratified with the concrete results on the issue of economic cooperation at the time of Minister Abe’s visit here. So, Special Envoy, what are your thoughts on the future development of economic cooperation with Syria?


Special Envoy:  [TN: First part of section blacked out] Personally, I think that achieving this is possible.  


Foreign Minister: Is the new aid, as a general framework, the items that Minister Abe promised to positively consider?


Special Envoy: Yes, that is right.


Foreign Minister: Would you be able to meet the Economic Minister?


Special Envoy: I have no authority to go beyond this and negotiate. I have some concern of possibly inviting misunderstanding in meeting the Economic Minister, so I would like to refrain from doing so. On this matter, I would like to reach agreement with you on the principles only.


Foreign Minister: Understood. Once our side has discussed this matter with the Economic Minister, I would like once again to convey the Syrian side’s idea via the Japanese Embassy here.


Special Envoy: (1) The Syrian side promises to work for the release of the hostages as quickly as possible.


(2) [TN: section blacked out]


Foreign Minister:  Fine.


Special Envoy: I would like you to please understand in regard to the hostage problem that timing is important and that the faster their release, the greater the effect.


Foreign Minister: I fully understand that point, so please do not worry.


Special Envoy: I think that there will be several paths for the resolution of this matter, so reaching a resolution will be difficult if this matter leaks. Accordingly, I would like both the Japanese and Syrian sides to take care for this not to leak.


Foreign Minister: I agree. I appreciate your visit here and would like henceforth to stay in close contact. (End)


[TN: line filled in by hand] Division Director Ijuin contacted (August 13, 07:10)

A telegram from Ambassador Kato to the Foreign Minister summarizing a meeting between Special Envoy Nakayama and Foreign Minister Shara on the future of the relationship between Japan and Syria and the American hostages held in Lebanon.

Document Information


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


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