Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 121

Little information was available of a meeting in Tokyo on June 22 of the Russian and Japanese diplomats tasked with drafting a peace treaty between the two countries. Both sides did indicate, however, that discussion at the meeting did not extend to the main stumbling block to fully normalized relations between Russia and Japan–the territorial dispute over the four South Kuril Islands. A Russian diplomat said that the talks had focused instead on the drafting of not merely a peace treaty formally ending World War II between the two countries, but of a broader document that would also set out relations of cooperation and friendship in the next century. That language would suggest that the two sides worked on a proposal made by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto during their April summit meeting (see the Monitor, April 20, 21, 23, 29, also May 5, 8, 12).

During that meeting, Hashimoto reportedly made a proposal of his own. In it, the Russian-Japanese border was to be redrawn in a fashion that would eventually bring at least three of the four Kuril Islands under Japanese control. Japanese and Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Minoru Tamba and Grigory Karasin, who head the effort of drafting a peace treaty, reiterated yesterday that Moscow will respond to Hashimoto’s proposal during a planned visit by the Japanese leader to Moscow in October.

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, meanwhile, is scheduled to make his first visit to Japan in mid-July. Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and his Russian counterpart, Yevgeny Primakov, are expected to confer in late July at an annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Security. (Kyodo, Itar-Tass, June 22) Those talks are part of a larger schedule of intensive contacts between Russian and Japanese officials that are aimed at ensuring the two sides reach agreement on a peace treaty by the year 2000, a goal set earlier by Yeltsin and Hashimoto.