Japanese news agencies reported late last week that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has rejected a Japanese proposal which calls for the eventual return of the four disputed Kuril Islands to Japan. Yeltsin reportedly delivered the message to the Japanese during a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi last November. According to Russian news agencies, the Japanese NHK television network reported the story on February 25. The Japanese newspaper “Yomiuri Shimbun” reported a day later that it had obtained a copy of the Russian proposal which was made during the November summit.
Both countries have pledged to keep secret their negotiations on a peace treaty and on the territorial dispute, but leaks to the press have not been uncommon. Indeed, the “Yomiuri” report on February 26 appeared to corroborate earlier reports–also the result of leaks to the press–that the Yeltsin proposal to Japan called for the two countries to negotiate a peace treaty while putting off discussion of the territorial dispute until a later date. The proposal also apparently called, as has been reported, for joint economic development of the islands (Itar-Tass, February 25; Kyodo, February 26).
YELTSIN TO THE HOSPITAL, PRIMAKOV ON VACATION, BUT THEIR BATTLE CONTINUES.