Looking back at the Moscow G-7 Summit, Japanese officials and analysts say that Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto raised the subject of the Kuril Islands territorial dispute with Boris Yeltsin, but wisely chose not to push the Russian president for a decision. "Russia for the time being will not have enough room to become positive in its approach toward Japan because of its domestic situation," a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying. Analysts and officials in Japan, pointing to Yeltsin’s earlier commitments on the issue, believe that the Russian president’s reelection would provide the best chance for Tokyo to gain its desired resolution of the territorial dispute. They also argue that Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov is likely to be less receptive to Tokyo’s wishes.
Hashimoto was described as happy to return to Tokyo with a promise from Yeltsin that Moscow would no longer dump radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan. The two also discussed a pact that would regulate fishing in the water around the disputed territories. (IPS, April 22) The continuing volatility of that issue was apparent when a senior Russian government official criticized Japan April 22 for what he said was Tokyo’s unwillingness to reach a fishing agreement. (Interfax, April 22)
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, spoke with anticipation of the arrival in Moscow April 27-29 of Japanese National Defense Department head Hideo Usui. The talks in Moscow will be the first between the defense ministries of the two countries. Usui is scheduled to meet with Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev, General Staff Chief Mikhail Kolesnikov, and First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin. No documents are expected to be signed. (Itar-Tass, April 23)
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