Tatsuo Kawai - Ambassador To Australia

Ambassador To Australia

Kawai's appointment to his new position as Japan's first Ambassador to Australia was officially announced on 2 January 1941; he arrived in Australia on 13 March of the same year. Kawai developed a close friendship with future Prime Minister of Australia John Curtin. In early 1941, when Curtin was still Leader of the Opposition, they reached an agreement to boost trade and to allow Japanese access to iron ore in Western Australia in exchange for Japan "guaranteeing Australia's safety". In July 1941, Time quoted Kawai as saying he was tired of hearing the word "drive" to describe Japan's intentions and that territorial expansion was an old-fashioned phrase.

He was the guest of honour at a formal dinner held by Curtin in Perth and dined privately with the Curtins many times. He was also a guest at The Lodge after Curtin became Prime Minister, and at the opening of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on November 11, 1941. He sent a telegram to Curtin expressing his sympathy at the loss of HMAS Sydney on December 1, 1941, only days before Australia declared war on Japan. Some authors believe that the telegram was sent on 27 November 1941, based on the number "27" that appears in the first line of typed text. This appears not to be correct. The entry "X 15 SYDNEY" identifies the Office of Origin, the numeral "27" the number of words used (H M A S amounting to four words), and the entry "11-57 AM" is the time the telegram was lodged. These entries coincide with the headings above them.

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