Robert Craigie (diplomat)

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Sir Robert Leslie Craigie, GCMG, CB, PC (6 December 1883 – 16 May 1959) was the British ambassador in Japan from 1937 through 1941.[1]

Career as Ambassador[edit]

In July 1939 took part in negotiations with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Hachiro Arita, leading to the acceptance of the Craigie–Arita formula, by which the British government agreed not to resist Japanese actions in China, while not recognizing their legality.[2] In July 1940, following the arrest of several British nationals in Japan, suggested to the British government to arrest some Japanese nationals in British territory, against whom a case could be made in court as a move to prove Japanese subversive intentions against the UK.[3]

On the morning of 8 December 1941, he received from Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Shigenori Togo an official document, stating that negotiations with the US government had failed, but without mentioning any war between the Japanese and the British governments.[4]

As one of the Allied diplomats interned in Japan until agreement was reached for their repatriation he observed the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942. Initial reports said that it was a "practice raid" but one staff member (Pleasant) was sure from the start that it was a real raid, and won several bets from sceptics. Craigie said that Japanese staff had been amused at the embassy’s air raid precautions as the idea of an attack on Tokyo was "laughable" with the allies in retreat, but the guards now showed "considerable excitement and perturbation." Several false alarms followed, and in poorer districts people rushed into the streets shouting and gesticulating, losing their normal "iron control" over their emotions and showing a "tendency to panic". The police guards on allied and neutral missions were doubled to foil xenophobic attacks; but the guard on the German mission was "tripled"! [5]

On 30 July 1942, Craigie and staff left Japan on board the Tatsuta Maru, returning to Britain via Lourenço Marques in East Africa (today Maputo, Mozambique).[6]

After returning to Britain in 1942, claimed that a more conciliatory policy towards the Japanese government would have postponed the outbreak of war in the Far East, and would have allowed the British government more time to prepare for such a war.[7]

In 1945 served briefly as the chairman of the United Nations War Crimes Commission.

Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Robert Craigie, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 8 works in 10+ publications in 1 language and 200+ library holdings.[8]

  • Behind the Japanese mask (1945)
  • Ten years in Japan: a contemporary record drawn from the diaries and private and official papers of Joseph C. Grew, United States ambassador to Japan, 1932-1942 by Joseph Grew; foreword by Robert Craigie (1944)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ian Nish. (2004). British Envoys in Japan 1859-1972, pp. 140-156; Hoare, James. (1999). Embassies in the East: the Story of the British Embassies in Japan, China, and Korea from 1859 to the Present, p. 214., p. 214, at Google Books
  2. ^ "Japan-Great Britain: Formula" Time. 31 July 1939.
  3. ^ National Archives, War Cabinet 217 (40), p. 182, Catalogue Reference CAB/65/8/29, August 1940.
  4. ^ Iguchi, Takeo. Takeo Iguchi, "Controversy over Japan's Surprise Attack on the United States and Britain in December 1941," Asiatic Society of Japan. 22 March 2004.
  5. ^ Craigie, Robertt (1945). Behind the Japanese Mask. London: Hutchinson & Co. pp. 146, 147.
  6. ^ Hackett, Bob and Sander Kingsepp, "Kokansen, Stories of Diplomatic Exchange and Repatriation Ships," 27 March 2010.
  7. ^ Lamb, Richard. Letter: "Churchill's wartime rights and wrongs," The Independent (London). 20 January 1993.
  8. ^ WorldCat Identities: Craigie, Robert Sir b. 1883


External links[edit]