Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 138

Japan’s ambassador to Russia, Takihiro Togo, reiterated in Tokyo yesterday that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s recent resignation would not upset plans for the country’s foreign and prime ministers to visit Russia this fall. Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, who is considered one of several leading candidates to succeed Hashimoto, is scheduled to visit Russia in September, while Hashimoto was to follow in October. Political leaders in both Russia and Japan have expressed concern that the departure of Hashimoto, who oversaw a warming in relations with Russia, could slow diplomatic momentum between the two countries. In his resignation speech, Hashimoto warned against this possibility. Togo appeared to reconfirm that view yesterday. He suggested that the new Japanese cabinet would maintain the existing schedule of diplomatic contacts with Russia. (Itar-Tass, July 19)

In Moscow, meanwhile, Russian government sources said on July 17 that Hashimoto would be welcome to visit Russia unofficially even after he steps down as prime minister. The sources suggested that Hashimoto was likely to remain a player in Japanese foreign policy making even after his departure from government, and that continued contacts between Hashimoto and Moscow might help maintain friendly relations. (Russian agencies, July 17) Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko was in Tokyo last week. While there, he received assurances that Tokyo was determined to maintain improved relations with Russia and would also continue to support Russian economic reform. (See the Monitor, July 14-15)