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behalf of his government that Japan could not recognize the Soviet side's reasoning to the effect that from a legal and historical point of view, the four islands belonged to the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev observed that the atmosphere of relations was changing. The dialogue was becoming constructive, and a mechanism of working groups to conclude a peace treaty had been created. [Ed. note: Excerpts from two of these meetings in 1988 and 1989 can be found below in this issue of the CWIHP Bulletin.] He said, I am for strengthening the shoots of trust and turning cooperation into friendly relations. I am for advancing the process of mutual understanding without excluding (from consideration] any issues. In this context, he stated, I consider my visit to Japan to be crucial.
As can be seen, a nuance, a new note, appeared in this conversation: not to back off from any issues; any of them could be the subject of discussion, (and, of course, this implied!) they could not be considered to be definitively closed.
[The role of the Japanese Ambassador Edamura is discussed.]
In the evolution of the relations between the two countries, two episodes were significant, and I cannot omit them. They were different in their character, but they both signified an approach" by Gorbachev to solving the Soviet-Japanese problem.
The first was his meeting with Ikeda in July 1990. He is a person who is famous not only in Japan. For many years, he has headed the religious-enlightenment organization "Soka Gakkai," which has a far-flung network of cultural, academic, and university centers on every continent. It devotes huge resources to the task of spiritual renewal and moral self-affirmation for thousands and thousands of people of different nationalities and creeds. It is, in its own way, a unique system which, it would seem, could have been created only by the Japanese and which embodies all of the characteristic particularities of that nation.
Ikeda for a long time had wanted to contact Gorbachev, seeing in him a “new beginning” in world politics which introduced goodness and moral principles into it. V.I. Dunaev once again helped to "bring them together."
The meeting took place in the Kremlin in one of the reception halls which was next to Gorbachev's office.
Ikeda brought a whole "team" of people with him, twelve in all. Mikhail Sergeevich had some of his close advisers and Vladislav Ivanovich (Dunaev) with him. The very ceremony of greeting was unusually warm and somehow merry. The interlocutors right away took up an “intimate,” frank discussion which had, it would seem, no practical business goals.
Gorbachev talked in detail, without hiding anything, about the situation in the country at that moment-it was
When the time for Gorbachev's visit was finally settled, there took place very energetic, somewhat nervous and not entirely successful diplomatic moves by both sides, especially by certain Japanese circles which had factored the visit into their domestic political game. In this sense, the visit of the General Secretary of the LiberalDemocratic Party of Japan, Ozawa Ichiro, at the end of March 1991, is curious. Gorbachev knew of this party's role in defining and carrying out state policy in Japan. He even once joked that the LDP ruled Japan even more than the CPSU in its time did the Soviet Union.
When they met in the Kremlin in the presidential office, Gorbachev defined the format of their conversation as follows: we will talk as "the leaders of the ruling parties about what we will do in the future, about how to build our inter-state relations." I hope, he went on, that we will conduct the conversation so as to prepare the visit of the president of the USSR to Japan to make it a success both for you and for us, as well as for the entire world. We must not lose touch with the domestic component of policy in each of our countries, nor with the worldwide context. For a long time everything was simple and clear: we presented each other with ultimatums - and that was all. And what became of it? We proved that we can live without one another and have managed to do so. But what is the sense of such an approach? If we seriously think over the entire path that has been taken, there can be only one conclusion: it would be better if we had cooperated during the whole period of time that has now been lost.
Gorbachev drew some comparisons. The USSR's relations with other neighboring countries in the East have moved forward. Relations with China, he said, were developing happily. We have begun diplomatic relations and a new level of contacts with South Korea, not to mention India, the ASEAN countries, and Indonesia. [Relations with the United States have progressed so far that changes have become possible throughout the entire world.
My term in office will soon run out, he went on. However, so far I have not done anything for SovietJapanese relations. But it is not I who is at issue here. After all, the USSR and Japan are two great neighboring states, two great peoples. And that obliges me and us to do something together.
Ozawa in reply emphasized, incidentally, that, if it really were possible to establish new mutual relations between Japan and the USSR, it would truly be a huge contribution not only to the improvement of the political
and economic situation in the world, but also to strengthening and assuring a stable peace for the whole planet.
It was clear that Ozawa's appearance in Moscow was not accidental. It was the result of serious forethought in Japanese ruling circles. Both in the government and in the political parties, evidently, they wanted to know in advance what Gorbachev would come with. And, naturally, Ozawa wanted to be the first to bring back something fundamentally new. Being present along with V.M. Falin (he was the leader of the International Division of the CC CPSU, and the meeting was conducted, as it were, along party lines) at this meeting—which was very diplomatic in form but substantial and fairly frank, I would argue that Gorbachev's position distinctly showed more movement on this occasion than in previous negotiations with highly placed Japanese figures. I will try to illustrate this, relying on my record of the conversation.
Gorbachev again—this had become a rule (with him]—appealed to the experience garnered by the USSR and Germany. We went by the path of increasing our cooperation, Gorbachev told Ozawa. It could hardly be thought that the Soviet Union would have come to such an understanding of the issue of relations with Germany at some other time and without what we had gone through together with Europe and with the Germans. Both we and the Germans said: let history take care of itself. As a result, a solution appeared. [Ed. note: It is interesting to compare the paucity of documented literature on Russian/ Soviet-Japanese postwar relations, compared to that on the German question.)
I interpreted these words as a confirmation of my inner conviction that Gorbachev was inclined to resolve the issue. To resolve it-granted, through compromise, but in any case in such a way that it would also satisfy the Japanese. Already there was no suggestion that the issue itself did not exist, as had been the assertion in Gromyko's time, and as it was at first under Gorbachev. The problem was recognized and, this meant, it would have to be resolved. Gorbachev also proposed to resolve it within the framework of his “philosophy" of gradual movement along the lines of an all-around improvement of relations, while ever more closely including in the process everything that was connected with the islands....
In the end, after a long and roundabout discussion from both sides, Gorbachev posed the question directly: you advocate cooperation and expect courageous steps. What do you have in mind? That was the very question Ozawa was waiting for. He said the following: the entire Japanese people expects a visit from the President of the USSR. We hope that he will turn a new historical page in our relations and will lend them a new, close character. But there are problems. I think that you understand that I am talking about the four islands—Kunashir, Iturup, Habomai, and Shikotan. We are waiting for a recognition in principle from you of our country's sovereignty over these islands. I want to assure you that from the point of view of material, practical gain, these islands mean little to
Japan. This problem is a matter of principle which touches the entire people, the foundation of the entire nation.
Gorbachev once again returned to his conception: the problem was born of a historical process. And history in one way or another will resolve it. I always say: let's get away from the old position. Let's meet each other halfway. I don't see any other way. I am revealing to you our approaches on the ways to move forward.
And he went on: in recent years, the attitude toward the Japanese in our society has significantly changed. It has become very positive. But at the same time, the (public opinion) surveys both on Sakhalin and in the Khabarovsk region do mean something. Everything is interconnected, and everything cannot be changed at once. I understand: the Japanese people do not feel any better for this, and you cannot discard the problem of the islands. For that reason, we must agree to cooperate and at the same time to conduct negotiations on a peace treaty. Both processes will cross-fertilize one another and bring about a positive result. Here history must take care of itself. Perhaps it is very close, and perhaps far away. Look at how rapidly everything happened in Germany.
Taking heart from these hints, Ozawa once again went on the attack and wanted to get a more definite (response), if not a final revelation of Gorbachev's intentions. The matter was concluded in the following passages.
Ozawa. Well then, are we to wait 50 to 100 years?
Gorbachev. I think that life will make that clear. But if (our) alienation continues, then the resolution of any issues is problematic. I am proposing what will help to resolve all the issues. And life changes the times. If we want to ennoble our relations in the future, to deepen trust, then this is just what is needed. I am convinced that this is a realistic prospect.
Ozawa. I do not fully understand what you just said. What concretely stands behind that?
Gorbachev. I have told you the most important thing. Of course, that will have to take some sort of political form. It will also take into account the problems which you are bringing up. What I am saying does not remove those problems. In Tokyo we will discuss the entire complex of issues without exceptions. As for what we will be able to agree on and what solutions we will come up with, we shall see.
Ozawa left the conversation, judging by everything, both inspired and puzzled. Because very soon thereafter, there began a flurry of activity. Calls came in from [Ozawa) himself and from his entourage with the request for a repeat conversation with Gorbachev. It was unheard of for Gorbachev, once he had concluded a conversation and said all that he wanted to, right away to return to what had been gone over. But this time he made an exception, once again considering and respecting the specifics of the Japanese case.
Ozawa made a lengthy apology and explained that he had not had time to say everything he had come with from Japan, and that he thought that he had not been able to
articulate his position in full.
But, obviously, something else was at issue. Having contacted Tokyo or consulted with his entourage, he came to the conclusion that he had not fulfilled the task which he had set himself, or which had been set for him before his departure for Moscow: he absolutely had to bring back some sort of definite answer. Evidently, this was important for some sort of internal configuration of political or party forces in Japan. That is my guess. Ozawa began by making an exposition of a concept which, it seemed to me, had been agreed on in Japan before his conversation with Gorbachev. There were three points in it: “We agreed that the conversations with the President will touch on the following three points in the framework of the issue of the “northern territories."
To recognize the validity of the joint declaration of 1956 and to take it as the basis for beginning new negotiations on a peace treaty.
To confirm that in the future, what is meant by the territorial issue between the USSR and Japan is a resolution of the fate of the other two islands—Kunashir and Iturup.
The negotiations which will begin after the visit will touch on, along with all of the other issues, a definition of the status of Kunashir and Iturup. Although it is difficult to specify the precise period of time during which the negotiations will take place, both sides are assuming the necessity of completing them before the end of this year, and, more precisely, in the fall. It was assumed that I would give you an explanation for the reasons for setting such time constraints during the meeting with you."
At this point, Ozawa suddenly hinted that in the case of such a resolution, Japanese firms would be ready to render substantial economic aid to the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev reacted first and foremost to this hint, saying that he was not inclined to and could not conduct a discussion according to such a plan: you give us something and in turn we will give you what you want. That is not a conversation which we can have with you. You are a politician. You are an energetic person and I understand that you want a concrete result. But the approach: "you give—I give" is entirely unacceptable not only between Japan and the Soviet Union, but in general terms as well.
Gorbachev reacted as follows to Ozawa's three-point formula.
Unfortunately, he said, I cannot give a concrete answer to all of these points. I consider that we are not yet ready for concrete solutions. The general course of events and the situation itself have not yet brought us to that point. I consider that the main task both of your visit here and of my visit to Japan is to prepare the conditions for moving our relations onto a new level, to give a powerful impulse to their development. On that new basis, we can begin a discussion of the entire complex of issues, including a peace treaty and, in this context,—the location of the border.
By saying this and this is also worth establishingGorbachev recognized that there was as yet no final internationally recognized boundary between the USSR and Japan. I well understand, he added, the temper of public opinion in Japan and the link between it and your position. But in the Soviet Union, the authorities must also take public opinion into consideration now.
However, this did not satisfy his interlocutor. Ozawa moved the conversation onto the following plane: he said in so many words, we will not announce your concrete decision. That will remain between us. But let us already agree on what you will be willing to agree to during your visit to Japan.
Gorbachev rejected such an approach. I once again advocate—he said,-beginning to move and moving forward consistently. We will still think about it and work out formulations. I hope that you have grasped and have correctly understood our stance. There will be no surprises; of course, some sort of formulations will be worked out. Nuances are possible.
At that point, 1-and not only I, but everyone who participated from our side in Ozawa's visit-came to the conclusion that in the second conversation which [Ozawa) had insisted on, he had “spoilt Gorbachev's mood” before the visit [to Japan]. M.S. had been put on his guard. If his other official partners during the visit to Japan were also going to act in this way, he would end up in a very awkward position. They were putting pressure on him. And his “forward movement” on the “main issue" would be judged from this point of view, both in the USSR and in the world as a whole.
And so, we approached Gorbachev's visit to Japan, which began on 16 April 1991....
1 Chapter Ten, “The Japan Visit” (Nihon homon), was written especially for the Japanese edition of A.S. Cherniaev, Six Years with Gorbachev. 2
Ed. note: Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro was in Moscow to attend Konstantin Chernenko's funeral. 3
Ed. note: In 1986, Fuwa Tetsuzo was Chairman of the Presidium of the Japan Communist Party. 4
Ed. Note: Nakasone in a meeting with Gorbachev two months later used the exact same phrase. 5
Ed. Note: In April 1991, during Gorbachev's visit to Japan, Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki referred to this “lost opportunity” and Gorbachev snapped back: “I am afraid the second chance will also be missed.” It was. For more information on the Tokyo visit, please visit our website: cwihp.si.edu. 6
Ed. note: Ikeda Daisaku—the head of the Soka Gakkai, the largest of Japan's post-war "new religions.” With close ties to the Komeito (“Clean Government") Party and six million adherents, it is a political, as well as spiritual, force.
Basic Contents of the meeting of the working group
on peace treaty issues.
Tokyo, 20 December 1988
At the beginning of the session I.A. Rogachev and T. Kuriyama [both Deputy Foreign Ministers] exchanged greetings.
Kuriyama. I understand the meeting of this group in the following manner: on the instructions of our (Foreign] Ministers, we have formed a working group with the aim of opening a new page in Japanese-Soviet relations through the efforts of both sides. I would like us, in the course of the group's work, to have a frank discussion in friendly circumstances, as we did at yesterday's meeting of the ministers.
I would like to propose the following order of work for the group. We have approximately 1.5 hours of time before 12 noon, and we would like to use it with maximum effectiveness. In the first half of our meeting, based on the conversation between the ministers yesterday, I would like to make a series of additions to what Mr. Uno said, as well as some elucidations of our position on the territorial issue. If you do not object, I would also like to hear your opinion on the given issue.
Yesterday Mr. Shevardnadze put forward a very interesting proposal on the creation of a continuously active group on the issues of the peace treaty which will study the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty, and in the second half of our meeting we would like to exchange opinions on this issue.
Rogachev. I would like to note that the atmosphere at yesterday's consultations of ministers and at today's meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR with Prime Minister Takeshita was peaceful and benevolent (and), one could even say, friendly, and to express my confidence that our discussion today will proceed in the same circumstances. Moreover, we have experience conducting such discussions with you (personally), and I always recall our previous meetings with satisfaction.
We are ready to hear out your additional comments (raz'iasneniia) on the issue which interests you, and afterward we will make some comments from our side.
In short, we agree to the order of work which the Japanese side is proposing to us.
Kuriyama. Then permit me briefly to make an exposition of our comments, which are based on what Mr. Uno said at the second round of negotiations, and also take into account what was said yesterday by the Soviet side. Above all I would like to bring the principled position of our side to your attention.
In Mr. Gorbachev's speech in the UN, he mentions the possibility of developing Japanese-Soviet relations on the basis of mutual advantage and friendship, and emphasizes that such a development of Japanese-Soviet relations will benefit not only the cause of peace, stability and prosperity
of the countries in the Asian-Pacific region, but also throughout the entire world. In order to take advantage of such an opportunity, we consider that it is crucial for us to resolve the territorial issue, to conclude a peace treaty, to normalize in full our relations and thereby to approach the achievement of those potentialities as much as possible.
In light of previous experience we do not think that it will be easy to come to agreement on a resolution of the territorial issue, which constitutes the single obstacle on the way to the conclusion of a peace treaty. However, the constructive changes which have been observed of late in the USSR's foreign policy give us hope that a fruitful dialogue on this issue will be conducted between our countries.
In connection with this, permit me to touch on some more concrete points. First, I would like to dwell on a couple of antebellum realities about which Minister Uno spoke yesterday. The historical facts of the 90-year period from the 1855 treaty to 1945 convincingly show that the four islands whose return our country is demanding differ from the southern (part of] Sakhalin and the Kurile islands, which Japan renounced in the San Francisco treaty. They also convincingly show that these islands were never under the control of your country and that it never had pretensions towards them. In this way, these four islands have received, through a peaceful process, recognition by the international community as a part of Japanese territory.
In order that the Soviet side understands us correctly, I would like to note that our frequent mentions of and references to the treaties of 1855 and 1875 are made not to dispute the period during which they are in effect, but with the aim of reminding you that, beginning from the 1875 treaty, there were a succession of disputes between Japan and your country on the issue of the geographical composition of the Kurile islands and to show what the historical understanding of and relationship toward the four islands was. Precisely for these reasons, both the government and the people of our country are convinced that we have just grounds for demanding the return of the four northern islands from your country.
Secondly, the occupation of the four islands by Soviet troops, which was accomplished over the course of the month after 15 August 1945, when Japan had accepted the Potsdam declaration, is nothing other than a territorial expansion through the use of armed force, and in conditions when Japan had unequivocally denied any intention to continue the war. At the same time, I cannot but note that as a consequence there have been no signs that the Soviet Union's occupation of the four northern islands might be recognized in the international arena.
As for the issue of post-war realities, we, as the side which suffered defeat in the Second World War, have accepted and accept these realities, but (do so] within the confines of the agreed norms of international law.
In my opinion, the post-war realities consist of the following facts.
First is the San Francisco peace treaty. As Minister
Uno stated yesterday, the Japanese government's principal position consists of the fact that Japan will not demand the return of the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands, which it renounced in that peace treaty.
Secondly, the Japanese-Soviet Joint declaration of 1956. The contents of the 9th article of the Joint Declaration is well known to all present, and I think there is no need to set it out again.
Thirdly, the Japanese-American security treaty.
The security treaty, which was concluded by Japan to guarantee its security, has a deeply defensive character, and the fact that the USSR, referring to this treaty, in a unilateral fashion changed its attitude toward the territorial issue as expressed in the 9th article of the Joint Declaration, and, figuratively (obrazno) speaking, "took the four islands hostage," in our view is not compatible with the principle of leadership by (doing) right (verkhovenstvo prava), towards which the USSR has of late been striving.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact the presence of NATO does not pose an obstacle to normal relations between the Soviet Union and European countries which are members of that bloc. I think that the security treaty should have the same influence on Japanese-Soviet relations that the treaty on the creation of NATO has on the relations between the USSR and European states.
Yesterday Mr. Shevardnadze referred to the letters which were exchanged between the plenipotentiary of the government of Japan S. Matsumoto, and the first deputy minister of foreign affairs of the USSR, A.A. Gromyko on 29 September 1956. In regard to this, I would like to say that it is difficult for us to understand what was said yesterday by the minister of foreign affairs of the USSR.
In the course of the whole period of Japanese-Soviet negotiations at that time, the Soviet side insisted that it would resolve the territorial issue by transferring the islands of Habomai and Shikotan to Japan, although the Japanese side insisted on the return of all four islands, including the islands of Kunashir and Iturup. Because of this
very issue, an agreement was not reached and it was not possible to conclude a peace treaty. That is a wellknown fact, which no one can deny.
The principled position of our side is that the negotiations on the conclusion of a peace treaty should be conducted on the basis of a recognition of the JapaneseAmerican security treaty and the confirmation of the understanding of 1973 between the leaders of our two countries on the fact that the problems left unresolved from the Second World War include the issue of the four islands (and should be conducted) in keeping with the ninth article of the Joint Declaration of 1956.
On that I would like to conclude the statement of our position and am ready to hear out your opinion on the Soviet side.
Rogachev. Thank you, Mr. Kuriyama. We have listened to your thoughts and comments with great attentiveness....
The USSR's position on the issue of a peace treaty with your country has been stated by us more than once. We considered and [still] consider that it is important to conclude a peace treaty that would make our relations stronger and more stable.
In connection with this there arises the issue of the contents of a treaty. Many issues which are usually the subject of such a treaty have already been resolved and fixed in a whole series of Soviet-Japanese agreements and in other documents, including the Joint Declaration of 1956. Besides this, it is necessary to keep in mind another factor as well, that much time has passed since the restoration of diplomatic relations between our countries.
In view of the aforementioned particularities, it seems to us that the peace treaty should first generalize and sum up the post-war development of Soviet-Japanese ties, and secondly, should define the basic principles underlying mutual relations between the two countries, the main directions and reference points for their further forward movement.
In other words, we see this document as being allembracing, complex, and encompassing all spheres of relations between our countries. And namely the political, economic-trade, scientific-technical, fishing, and other spheres, and, of course, one of the composite parts of the treaty would be the location of the border.
I want to emphasize that the peace treaty is a complex of issues and not some single, separable issue.
Yesterday the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR made an exposition of our thoughts in connection with the historical points which you mentioned today. We consider that the excursion into history which Mr. Uno made yesterday and which we heard from you today, is useful.
A comparison of your and our evaluations of the events of the distant and recent past show that you and we differently interpret these historical events.
It is very important that neither side become emotional about this, but instead try to comprehend historical lessons and take them into account in building our future relations.
You believe that the historical facts bear witness in favor of the correctness of your position, but we have another point of view—we believe that an historical approach bears witness to the justice of our position.
You say that in the treaties of 1855 and 1875 it was made clear that the islands of Habomai, Shikotan, Kunashir and Iturup are not included in the Kurile islands, but we consider that in the aforementioned treaties there are no articles which geographically define a concept of the “Kurile islands" and for that reason your understanding of these treaties is insufficient (ne sostoiatel'no).
Although the USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke about this yesterday, for my part I want again to draw your attention to the fact that there is a whole series of works by Russian and Japanese scholars which bear witness to the fact that priority in the discovery, study and integration [osvoenii] of the Kurile islands, including their southern