Official sources in both Moscow and Tokyo have indicated over the past two days that the outcome of today’s Duma vote on Sergei Kirienko as prime minister would not affect the upcoming Japanese-Russian summit. The informal meeting will take place, as re-scheduled, this weekend. Speaking to reporters yesterday, a Japanese deputy foreign minister said that "the [Russian] president is determined to pay a visit to Japan." A day earlier, Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky had also said that President Boris Yeltsin intended to travel to Japan for the weekend talks. The meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto was to have been held on April 11-13, but was postponed due to Russia’s domestic political turmoil. Yeltsin is scheduled to depart Moscow for Japan tonight.
In remarks clearly aimed at getting the informal summit off on the right foot, Hashimoto yesterday suggested that Japan is prepared to de-emphasize discussion of the disputed Kuril Islands in order to allow relations with Moscow to move forward in other areas. Japanese leaders have thus been reluctant to embrace that formula — one that advanced by Russia. The Japanese prime minister also said that he had been doing everything possible to implement the "Yeltsin-Hashimoto plan," which was agreed upon in Krasnoyarsk at the last summit meeting between the two leaders. The plan’s primary aim is to boost economic contacts between the two countries. (Itar-Tass, Kyodo, April 16) That too has been a goal generally stressed more by Russian than by Japanese officials.
This weekend’s discussion agenda is certain to be a busy one. It may, according to one Russian source, include talks on the creation of a new, quadripartite security dialogue involving China and the United States along with Russia and Japan. Masahiro Akiyama, the deputy minister of Japan’s Defense Agency, reportedly proposed the four-nation security dialogue during a visit to Moscow earlier this year. (Itar-Tass, Kyodo, April 16)
Yastrzhembsky, who also has a role coordinating foreign policy in the Kremlin, said yesterday that he would begin a tour of Russia’s Far Eastern Sakhalin region on April 20, at the conclusion of the Hashimoto-Yeltsin talks. He is also to visit one of the disputed islands. Yastrzhembsky’s trip, originally scheduled to precede Yeltsin’s planned April 11-13 visit to Japan, will allow him to investigate the progress of federal programs related to the disputed islands’ economic development. It seems likely that he may also consult with officials in Russia’s Far East, several of whom have warned the Kremlin against making any concessions on the Kuril Islands territorial issue. (Russian agencies, April 16)
U.S. Acts Against Russian-Iranian Missile Cooperation.