Amid the tumult surrounding Russia’s recent government reshuffle, Acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov gave assurances on March 27 that Russian President Boris Yeltsin will travel to Japan as planned for an informal summit meeting on April 11-13. Nemtsov co-chairs a joint Russian-Japanese economic cooperation commission and oversees Russia’s economic contacts with Tokyo. He had "no information," he said, "that Yeltsin would not leave for Japan in the event that [Russia’s] Duma does not approve Sergei Kirienko for the office of prime minister." He also said that Moscow is continuing to prepare actively for the April summit. The Kremlin, he added, foresees no complications that might threaten the trip. (Russian agencies, March 27)
Left unsaid in Nemtsov’s remarks was the possibility that, in addition to the government’s problems, Yeltsin’s recent poor health might also be a concern in planning the long journey from Moscow to Japan. The April summit will be the second informal — "no neck-tie" — meeting between Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Russia is especially hopeful that it will further economic cooperation with Japan. Tokyo, in turn, is looking especially for progress on resolution of the Kuril Islands territorial issue, which could clear the way for a peace treaty formally ending World War II for the two countries.
Yeltsin’s surprise dismissal of the government on March 23 was the cause of at least one awkward moment last week. On March 27, the Japanese Ambassador to Russia said that former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin would not be visiting Japan as planned in June. The visit would have been the first for a Russian prime minister, and was seen by both sides as yet another indicator of warming relations. The Japanese ambassador said that Chernomyrdin might still visit Japan, but the trip would come later and would be conducted on an unofficial basis. (Itar-Tass, March 27)
Spring Wind 98 Military Exercise: Trapping the Invader.