Tokyo has reportedly moved in recent days to calm the diplomatic furor which arose last week following two separate Japanese newspaper reports which focused on the Kuril Islands territorial dispute and Russian-Japanese peace treaty talks. The first report, published on January 6, alleged that Tokyo was preparing a new proposal calling for Moscow to transfer two of the four disputed islands to Japan. The second, published a day later, said that Japan intends to reject a recent Russian proposal which, in effect (and if press reports are to be believed), would defer any settlement of the territorial issue while promoting the peace treaty talks (see the Monitor, January 7-8).
According to Russian sources yesterday, however, Tokyo has officially denied the veracity of either of the reports and has reaffirmed its intention to respond to the Russian proposal, as planned, during the next Russian-Japanese summit, tentatively scheduled for spring or summer. That commitment reportedly came during talks in Moscow on January 8 between Japan’s ambassador to Russia, Takehiro Togo, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin. The Japanese ambassador had been invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry to provide an explanation for the unexpected Japanese newspaper stories.
Russian Foreign Ministry sources said yesterday that the Moscow meeting reaffirmed that Russia and Japan will continue a “constructive attitude and intend to develop the positive trends which emerged in Russian-Japanese relations last year.” The two sides will get a chance to exercise that constructive attitude on January 21, when two subcommissions–one dealing with Russian-Japanese border issues and another with joint economic activities on the disputed Kuril Islands–meet for the first time in Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is to follow up those talks with a visit to Japan in February (Itar-Tass, Xinhua, January 10; Russian agencies, January 11).
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