In World War II, Japan and the European Axis powers had to communicate over strategy and other things. Also, their diplomats must have had to go to their own countries sometimes. After the USSR entered the war, how was this done? Was this not a major problem for the Axis Powers?

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    Underwater telephone cables, coded radio messages, etc.
    – Luke_0
    Oct 7, 2012 at 19:35
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    @Luke Since all these things could easily be disrupted by the enemy powers, how safe was this? And what about traveling?
    – Arani
    Oct 7, 2012 at 20:13
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    Radios were encrypted. Underwater telephone cables were less safe, but were difficult to find.
    – Luke_0
    Oct 7, 2012 at 20:29
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    @Luke: Do you have any reference that there has ever been an Axis-controlled underwater cable route between Germany and Japan?
    – nic
    Oct 9, 2012 at 3:45
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    Not between Germany and Japan, but between Hong Kong and Saigon and Hong Kong and Singapore. Read Operations Sabre and Foil here.
    – Luke_0
    Oct 27, 2012 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


In addition to the other excellent answer, let me note that the Axis fought two very different and separate wars which required little coordination.

E.g., German raiders operating around Australia were a minor thing: they could get logistical support without additional communication (yes, I know that Kormoran sunk before the Pearl Harbor attack).


the envisioned German-Japanese economic relations were never able to grow beyond mostly propagandistic status. The British kept control of the Suez Canal and submarines with very small cargo capability remained the main method of contact. With the loss of North Africa and the heavy defeat at Stalingrad, Germany was in a defensive posture by early 1943, and never regained the initiative.

See World War II: Yanagi Missions -- Japan's Underwater Convoys for the full list of subs and their cargoes which consisted of armament samples, blueprints and raw materials - in addition to diplomats and mail.


Diplomats enjoy certain immunities. When accredited as such, they can travel, except in "enemy territory," without interference (unless declared persona non grata), and only the least "civilized" countries will violate the sanctity and privacy of diplomatic pouches.

It was possible for Japanese diplomats to travel through the Soviet Union rather than for German diplomats, because technically, the Soviet Union and Japan were at peace, even though their respective allies were at war with the other. Hence, most of the communication between the Axis powers in World War II was done through Japanese diplomats based in Europe.

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    Was this not harmful to the Allied war effort? If so, why did the other Allied countries not object to this?
    – Arani
    Oct 13, 2012 at 19:28
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    Do you have sources?
    – Luke_0
    Oct 13, 2012 at 21:05
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    @Arani: America's Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson famously said, "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail." He refused to open, or allow the opening of intercepted Japanese cables that would have warned the U.S. about Pearl Harbor.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:11
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    Definitely, no, -1. Diplomats of the enemy states are usually not allowed to pass the territory of their enemy's state. Only evacuation of the diplomats is possible (Soviet diplomats were evacuated from Germany and German ones from the USSR). This does not conflict with the diplomatic rules. Allowing german diplomats to pass the USSR to meet the Japanese is nonsense!
    – Anixx
    Dec 11, 2014 at 1:41
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    @Anixx: Added (correcting) qualifiers to my comments.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 11, 2014 at 14:23

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