Monday, April 26, 2010

Japanese mystified by Duke's visit to Tokyo

April 26, 1940

The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, president of the German Red Cross, arrived from San Francisco last night, and "is bustling around Tokyo today leaving cards at the residences of the imperial princes and members of Cabinet."   According to the New York Times,  "there is a certain atmosphere of mystery" regarding this visit, the "second he has made since February."
The official reason given for the Duke's visit is  to "present Chancellor Hitler's  congratulations on the 2,600 anniversary" of the Japanese empire, but the Japanese public are wondering why Prince Carl Eduard did not present the greetings in February.  
The official reason given is that the Duke only received the instructions during his visit to the United States.  When he was in Tokyo in February it "was freely rumored that his mission was to present the German Army's felicitations to the Japanese army."
But the duke did not make any public announcements during the February visit, and there remains much speculation on why he chose to make a second visit to Japan.   Many are wondering if the first visit was "merely exploratory" or was there "resentment over the manner in which the Soviet-German pact was negotiated? 
Whatever the explanation offered, the visit apparently "became necessary."  The Japanese celebrations are considered a "purely national event," and no invitations were extended to foreign envoys.  No celebrations are being "held during the Duke's stay."
The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha will have an audience with Emperor Hirohito on Tuesday, which will be followed by a luncheon at the palace, which will also include "high palace officials," and the German ambassador, Eugen Ott.
Some believe that these two appearances are gestures "intended to mollify Japanese resentment  at the twist German policy gave to the anti-Comintern axis last year.  The Duke's meeting with the emperor and the luncheon "doubtless will be accepted by Berlin as evidence that Japanese anger is abating.
But Japan could hardly have refused to receive a prince "whose government caused him to make two journeys for the purpose of presenting congratulations."
Carl Eduard is a not a "political personality and the absence of an official suite precludes the idea that he has come to submit political proposals," but it is hoped that he  will be able to improve relations between Germany and Japan.

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