The two sides did nevertheless make it clear over the weekend that they would continue high-level negotiations aimed at reaching some sort of settlement of the treaty and territorial issues. Ivanov’s trip to Tokyo, for example, was said to have been devoted in large part to preparing the way for Boris Yeltsin to travel to Japan for the next Russian-Japanese summit. Obuchi has already extended an invitation to Yeltsin to visit Japan in April, and Japanese officials are clearly hoping that the Russian president will make the visit at that early date.
The two sides set a schedule for high-level contacts over the next several months. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, who cochairs a joint Russian-Japanese economic cooperation commission, will travel to Japan on March 14-17. Ivanov and Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will then meet on April 1-2 in Tokyo. There they will oversee discussions on economic cooperation on the Kuril Islands and related border issues under the aegis of two intergovernmental commissions. The two sides also made a commitment to continue an ambitious schedule of military contacts which began last year (Russian and Japanese agencies, February 20-22).
With regard to Yeltsin’s trip to Japan, however, the Kremlin has remained noncommittal about setting a specific date. That is most likely because of the Russian president’s continued fragile health. But it may also be related to a desire by Moscow to put off what could be a contentious–or at least unproductive–meeting. As both Russian parliamentary and presidential elections approach, and as time grows short before the 2000 peace treaty deadline, Tokyo’s efforts to move the treaty and territorial negotiations forward has taken on a note of urgency. Russian officials, however, have displayed little of that urgency, and in their public statements have tended to focus on questions of substance rather than timing.
PRIMAKOV SAYS GOVERNORS SHOULD NO LONGER BE CHOSEN BY POPULAR VOTE.