Putin Meets Kawaguchi Today

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to hold a working meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in the Kremlin on October 14th, according to deputy head of the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko.

Moscow does not expect that these negotiations will lead to a breakthrough in bilateral relations. Experts suggest that the Putin-Kawaguchi meeting is "a kind of a good will gesture" toward Japan.

According to experts, "the Russian president is ready to meet the newly appointed Japanese Foreign Minister who is still little-known in the international arena and to discuss the prospects of Russian-Japanese co-operation provided that Tokyo's attitude to this process is corresponding." RIA Novosti's interlocutors recalled that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was due to visit Russia early in January 2003. The experts pointed out that the visit would be held on the Japanese initiative and that Moscow welcomed it. Russia believes that due to "the vacuum in relations", the Japanese leadership withdraws into itself and loses contact with reality.

Experts say cautiously that the current stage in bilateral relations is "not the most favourable." According to them, the "mutual understanding and reciprocal movement" which seemed to have appeared under former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, especially after the informal Irkutsk summit, "were lost for the fault of Japan".

Experts note that populism both in domestic and foreign policies makes the Japanese leadership pursue a hard line on the Kurils issue. Tokyo forgets that any discussion of this vexed question must take place in a corresponding atmosphere - one of encouraging cultural and business exchanges, expansion of economic and investment co-operation. At the same time, the Japanese leadership keeps to hold back, restricting itself to "the well-known techniques of brainwashing for public opinion and journalists," RIA Novosti's interlocutors added.

According to the experts, under such circumstances Moscow is not "very much interested in Tokyo." They recalled that today Russia was "not dependent on the Japanese loans, the bilateral turnover is minimal, while Japan's investment activity has significantly reduced.

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