As Natsukawa was winding up hisvisit to Russia, news agencies in Moscow reported that the Kremlin intendsto offer a preliminary response later this month to a Japanese proposal onthe status of the disputed Kuril Islands. The proposal–made by JapanesePrime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to President Boris Yeltsin during theirApril summit in Kawana, Japan–reportedly calls for the transfer of at leastthree of the four disputed islands to Japan following an undeterminedtransition period. Russian sources had reported earlier that Moscow intendedto respond during a planned visit by Hashimoto to Russia this fall. Now,however, Moscow apparently intends to take a first swipe at the issue duringa June 22 meeting in Tokyo of a bilateral commission tasked with drafting aRussian-Japanese peace treaty. (Kyodo, June 5-6)
On June 6, meanwhile, Japanese State Minister Muneo Suzuki announced that heintends to visit one of the disputed islands, possibly as early as thismonth. Suzuki, director general of the Hokkaido and Okinawa developmentagencies, will reportedly visit Kunashiri for three days in late June orearly July. If the visit takes place, Suzuki would become the first Japaneseminister to visit the islands officially since they were seized by Soviettroops at the close of World War II. (Kyodo, Itar-Tass, June 6)
TATARSTAN’S PRESIDENT LASHES OUT AT NATIONALIST WING.