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Stalemate in an Era of Change:
New Sources and Questions on Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Soviet/Russian-Japanese Relations by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa
ew archival materials from the Soviet Union, In a series of articles and monographs, he has succeeded in China, and Eastern Europe have significantly revising the traditional official views on the Soviet
altered previous conceptions of the Cold War. Japanese Neutrality Pact, Stalin's Kurile operation, and Soviet-Japanese relations, however, have made little Soviet policy toward the San Francisco Peace Confer
10 progress. Not a single article focusing on Soviet-Japanese
Those archives that Slavinskii has examined relations has, until now, been published in the CWIHP remain, however, inaccessible to foreign scholars. Bulletin. Nor has Cold War coverage in Diplomatic
Because of the inaccessibility of archives, we still do History or the H-Diplo internet discussion group extended not know answers to crucial questions about Soviet/ to Soviet-Japanese relations. The most recent monograph Russian Japanese relations. What was the major motivaby Vojtech Mastny that cast a wide net over archival tion of the Soviet government when it was approached by materials in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe reveals the Japanese government to mediate the termination of war no new materials on the rivalry of the two giants on the in April 1945? What was the relationship between the remote shores of the Pacific. 2 Although Michael
U.S. decision to drop the atomic bombs and Stalin's Kurile Schaller's monograph and Marc Gallichio's article shed operation in the summer of 1945? Did Stalin expect the light on important aspects of American foreign policy United States to occupy all or at least some of the southern toward Soviet-Japanese relations, especially during the last Kuriles during the last stage of the Pacific War? Why did stage of the Pacific War, their sources come exclusively it take two years after the occupation of the southern from United States archives3 Many monographs pub- Kuriles for Stalin to annex the Kuriles to the Soviet lished in English in recent years have illuminated very territory? Why did the Soviet government decide to little of the fundamental questions that have vexed Soviet- participate in the San Francisco Peace Conference and in Japanese relations during the Cold War. 4
the end not to sign the treaty? How did the power struggle Needless to say, the most serious stumbling block that within the CPSU affect its negotiations for normalization has prevented rapprochement between the Soviet Union of relations with Japan? How did the Gaimusho and the and Japan has been the Northern Territories dispute, and U.S. State Department exchange information during the precisely on this issue there has been what might be called Soviet-Japanese negotiations for normalization of relations a “conspiracy of silence" with regard to government in 1955-56? Why did the Japanese government reject archival sources.5 Archival materials related to the Andrei Gromyko's overtures in 1972 to settle the territorial Northern Territories question have been systematically question on the basis of the 1956 Joint Declaration? Why excluded from the Japanese foreign policy archives that did the Soviet leadership fail to display a more flexible have been declassified by the Gaimusho (Ministry of attitude toward Japan on the territorial question during the Foreign Affairs). The Soviet/Russian government has second half of the 1970s, when it took the Chinese threat been equally protective in guarding the secrecy of its seriously? Why did the Japanese government fail to policy on the territorial question, although there have been appreciate the domestic difficulties that challenged attempts to publish archival sources on some aspects of Gorbachev and Yeltsin? Why did Gorbachev refuse to Soviet-Japanese relations, notably the Neutrality Pact make any concessions on the Northern Territories quesnegotiations of 1941, the Malik-Hirota negotiations in tion? Why did Yeltsin cancel his planned trip to Tokyo in June 1945, and the Moscow negotiations for normalization September 1992? To answer these questions, we must of relations in October 1956.6 To make matters worse, push forward research in Japanese, Russian, and US some of the most important U.S. documents that should archives, and pressure those governments to release those illuminate the background of this dispute are still classified materials which remain classified. “due to the request of a friendly country (i.e., Japan).”7 The publication of the documents in this issue is a The recent valiant attempt by a trilateral project headed by small step toward opening substantial archival evidence on Graham Allison, Kimura Hiroshi, and Konstantin Sarkisov, Soviet-Japanese relations. These documents shed light on to overcome this obstacle has not been successful.8
some important aspects of Soviet-Japanese relations under Interestingly, two of the most valuable recent works on Gorbachev and of Russian-Japanese relations after the this subject rely heavily on British archives. 9
collapse of the Soviet Union. The only scholar, who has had systematic access to
Soviet-Japanese relations in the Gorbachev era Soviet archives is Boris N. Slavinskii of Moscow's
represented an anomaly in international relations. While Institute of World Economy and International Relations. all major powers in the world drastically improved their
relations with the Soviet Union, Japanese relations remained stalemated because of the long-standing territorial dispute preventing the conclusion of a World War II
a peace treaty. Gorbachev's historic visit to Japan in April 1991 did not produce a major breakthrough. How can we account for this failure?
Soviet-Japanese relations under Gorbachev experienced a pendulum movement: a positive movement was always pulled back by a negative one. In the end, neither side was willing to make a leap to settle the territorial dispute. As soon as Gorbachev assumed power in March 1985, he met Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro at Konstantin Chernenko's funeral, and signaled his intention to end the frozen state of Soviet-Japanese relations. Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's visit to Japan in January 1986 was an important turning point. The mechanism of bilateral dialogue that had been disrupted under Brezhnev was restored. Later, in his 1986 Vladivostok speech, Gorbachev declared his intention to seek a more conciliatory Asian policy and to join the Asia-Pacific region as a constructive partner. Both sides began preparations for Gorbachev's visit to Japan in late 1986 or in the beginning of 1987.
This trip never materialized. Instead, after the Japanese government tightened up the COCOM regulations under U.S. pressure as a result of the 1987 Toshiba incident-in which the Toshiba Machine Company admitted selling highly sensitive technology to the Soviet Union—the Soviet government expelled a Japanese diplomat, prompting the Japanese government to retaliate with a similar action. Soviet-Japanese relations returned to the deep-freeze again.
It was not until mid-1988 that both sides began gingerly to mend fences again. Former Prime Minister Nakasone met Gorbachev in July, and the frank exchange of opinions between Gorbachev and Nakasone created a momentum for improvement. In September, Gorbachev delivered his Krasnoiarsk speech in which he declared his intention to improve relations with Japan. In December, Shevardnadze made his second trip to Tokyo. One of the major achievements at the ministerial conference was the creation of the Working Group for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty. For the first time since the end of World War II both sides established a mechanism through which to create a favorable environment for the conclusion of a peace treaty.
Nevertheless, the creation of the Working Group did not lead to a settlement of the territorial dispute. On the contrary, the negotiations revealed irreconcilable differences. During the crucial two years of 1989-90, when the revolutions swept away the East European Communist regimes and reunification of Germany was realized, the Soviet Union and Japan stood at a standstill unable to resolve the territorial dispute. By the time Gorbachev finally came to Japan in April 1991, his authority within the Soviet Union had deteriorated to such an extent that he was not in a position to offer any compromise that would
Why were the Soviet Union and Japan unable to exploit the opportunity developed at the 1988 foreign ministerial conference? The documents introduced here illuminate the problems in Soviet-Japanese relations at this critical stage. The first set of documents are the minutes of the first two meetings of the Working Group as recorded by the Soviet foreign ministry officials. A careful examination of what was discussed reveals a number of important facts.
First, although we have a number of documents stating the official positions of both governments, rarely do we see a document in which both the Russian and Japanese sides confront each other behind closed doors. Here, we read, for the first time, how both sides presented their views at the negotiating table. In other words, we have the most direct positions that each government presented to the other. Although there are few surprises in both positions, there are some important revelations. For instance, in the first meeting, the Japanese side officially renounced its claim over Southern Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands north of Uruppu. Furthermore, at the second meeting, despite its militant tone, Soviet chief negotiator Igor Rogachev tacitly conceded that Stalin's failure to sign the San Francisco Peace Treaty was a mistake.
Second, there are some discrepancies between what was reported in the Japanese media and what actually happened at these meetings. The Japanese news coverage of these meetings was usually based on the official statements and briefings conducted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry (Gaimusho) officials; and therefore, it reflected, intentionally or unintentionally, the Gaimusho's bias. In both meetings, for instance, the Gaimusho kept silent about Rogachev's disagreement with the Japanese geographical definition of the “Kurile” islands, an official position that has been challenged by some Japanese scholars as well.11 Likewise, from what was reported in Japanese newspapers, it is difficult to discern the atmosphere of the negotiations, but a reading of the second meeting clearly indicates that Rogachev's disposition, buttressed by well-researched legal and historical arguments, put the Japanese on the defensive. These documents remind us, therefore, that one has to treat the Japanese press coverage critically, particularly when it is filtered through the Gaimusho's briefings. In the March 1989 meeting, Rogachev himself offers some harsh criticisms of this aspect, claiming:
Third, the exchange of arguments and counter
arguments that the Japanese government had presented at arguments at the Working Group indicates how widely the Working Group meetings during the Gorbachev period. respective positions on the territorial issue differed. The This was, however, an internal paper. It is doubtful that the Working Group meetings were used, not to seek a mutu- Russian government conceded all these points to the ally acceptable compromise, but rather for the two sides to Japanese government during the official negotiations with present ultimatums to each other. Each time one side Japan. Since we have no access to the minutes of the made a point, it was rejected by the other side at the Working Group meetings after the collapse of the Soviet following meeting, citing legal and historical justifica- Union, we do not have a definitive answer as to where the tions.
Thus, the Working Group meetings served only to Russian government currently stands on these questions. harden disagreements and hostility rather than formulate The second group of documents includes various concessions and compromises. As of spring 1989, there position papers prepared by different organizations and were no grounds to expect a major breakthrough from a experts for the parliamentary hearings on the “Kurile Gorbachev visit to Japan.
question" prior to Boris Yeltsin's scheduled trip to Japan to This brings us to the fourth point. One is puzzled, as
meet Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi in September 1992. were the Gaimusho officials at the time, by the contradic
If Gorbachev failed to achieve rapprochement with tory signals that came from the Soviet side. If the Soviet Japan, Yeltsin has been equally unsuccessful in dealing government agreed to establish a Working Group designed with Japan. Despite initial euphoria following the collapse to produce a peace treaty, thus implying flexibility, then of the Soviet Union, rapprochement on the territorial why did it take a rigid stance on the territorial issue? In
question proved elusive. Contrary to the expectations of fact, Rogachev's position did not even consider adopting Yeltsin and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze, any of the compromise solutions advocated
who spearheaded Russia's negotiations with Japan, there reform-minded Russian Japanologists, who took advantage emerged strong domestic opposition to any putative of glasnost to voice views divergent from the official compromise on the territorial issue with Japan. In fact, the position. Did the Foreign Ministry simply not consider
"Kurile issue” became a hotly debated issue in the summer these compromise solutions? Was there internal disagree
of 1992, a few months prior to Yeltsin's scheduled ment? Or was the tough position presented here a tactical September visit to Japan. Eventually this stumbling block ploy, a necessary step toward future concessions? Where derailed Yeltsin's scheduled trip to Japan, which was did Gorbachev stand on this matter at the time? All these ultimately cancelled. questions cannot be answered definitively by analyzing
On 28 July 1992, a powerful opposition group within these documents alone.
the Parliament organized parliamentary hearings on As for Gorbachev's position, one is struck with the
Yeltsin's forthcoming visit to Japan. Prior to these consistency with which he held his view on the territorial
hearings, Oleg Rumiantsev, the Secretary of the Constitu
tional Commission, who masterminded the hearings, question throughout his tenure of office. From his meeting with Foreign Minister Abe Shintaro in May 1986 through
requested various organizations to submit their position his meeting with Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki in Tokyo in
papers on the “Kurile” issue. The documents in the second April 1992, he steadfastly maintained that the Soviet
group are translations of some of these positions papers. 13 Union was not in a position to make any territorial
One can see from these documents that the views concessions to Japan's irredentist demand. It was not that
expressed by various organizations and individuals varied
widely. While the Second Department of the Asia-Pacific Gorbachev could not accept a compromise solution during his visit to Japan because of the domestic pressure, as is
Region of the Russian Foreign Ministry took a most often believed, but that Gorbachev himself was the major
sympathetic view of the Japanese official position, Kiril stumbling block to such a compromise. One important
Cherevko (Institute of History), a noted historian on source describing Gorbachev's view on Soviet-Japanese
Soviet-Japanese relations, and V. K. Zilanov, who reprerelations in general and on the territorial question in
sented the State Committee of Fisheries, took the opposite particular is the supplement made by Anatolii Cherniaev to
view, recommending that no concessions be made to
Japan's irredentist demands. 14 The Institute of World the Japanese version of his memoirs, Shest' let s Gorbachevym (Moscow: Kultura, 1993), which was
Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), headed
by Vladle published under the Japanese title, Gorubachofu to unmei
Martynov, organized a team of specialists on o tomonishita 2000 nichi (Tokyo: Uchio shuppan, 1994).
Soviet-Japanese relations, and submitted a position paper.
Its recommendation fell somewhere between these two Excerpts from this additional chapter, previously unavailable in English, are provided below.
extremes, but stood for the acceptance of the 1956 Joint Finally, a question can be raised about the relationship
Declaration. The resolution of the Sakhalin Supreme
Soviet also indicated that the local voice increasingly between the Soviet position enunciated by Rogachev here and the official position adopted by the Russian govern
asserted its influence. It is likely that these recommenda
tions were also sent to Yeltsin. When Yeltsin said that he ment after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As the Russian Foreign Ministry document introduced in the
had fourteen options with regard to the territorial question, second group indicates, Moscow accepted almost all the
perhaps his statement reflected the truth.
Eventually, Yeltsin canceled his trip to Japan, thus, forfeiting the opportunity to create the foundation for gradual improvement of relations, if not for a quick resolution to the territorial question. Five years later, we are still waiting. The documents introduced here illustrate the complexities of the political dynamics under which Gorbachev, and then Yeltsin, had to operate. They also show how unrealistic it was for the Japanese government to press hard on Yeltsin to accept Japan's sovereignty, residual or otherwise, over the entire four islands.
Needless to say, these documents expose merely a tip of the gigantic iceberg of information which is still hidden under the sea of secrecy. They illuminate only a few tiny spots in recent Soviet/Russian-Japanese relations. Also the manner in which these documents have fallen into my hands—not through the open, systematic, institutional approach, but through coincidence and accident is not reassuring. Of course, having only one side's account leaves many doubts that can only be fully answered by comparable openness on the Japanese side. Even the Russian materials lose much of their importance, unless they are placed in the appropriate archival context. Nevertheless, I hope that the publication of these sources will stimulate further openness, research and collaboration among scholars and governments in order to move the historical study of Soviet/Russian-Japanese relations further into the mainstream of scholarly inquiry.
(Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994); and Joachim Glaubitz, Between Tokyo and Moscow: the History of an Uneasy Relationship, 1972 to the 1990s (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995). Two excellent monographs dealing with specific aspects of Soviet-Japanese relations are: Gilbert Rozman, Japan's Response to the Gorbachev Era, 1985-1991: A Rising Superpower
Views a Declining One (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992) and John J. Stephan, The Russian Far East: A History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), but because of the specific aspects to which they are devoted, new archival evidence on Soviet-Japanese relations does not emerge in these books.
In Japanese, there exist collections of documents: Shigeta Shigeru and Suezawa Shoji, Nisso kihonbunsho shiryoshu (Soviet-Japanese Basic Documents Sourcebook) (Tokyo: Sekai no ugoki sha, 1988); Hopporyodo mondai taisaku kyokai, Zoho kaitei: Hopporyodo mondai shiryoshu (Northern Territories Question Sourcebook: Revised and Enlarged}. (Tokyo: Hopporyodo mondai taisaku kyokai, 1972). See also the joint publication by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, Nichirokan ryodomondai no rekishi ni kansuru kyodo sakusei shiryoshu: Sovmestnyi sbornik dokumentov po istorii territorial'nogo razmezhevaniia mezhdu Rossiei i laponiei (Joint documentary compendium on the Russo-Japanese territorial issue's history) (Tokyo and Moscow: Nihonkoku Gaimusho and Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Rossiiskoi Federatsii, 1993). In Russian, Sbornik not i zaiavlenii pravitel’stv SSSR, SSha, Kitaia, Anglii i drugikh stran po voprosu mirnogo uregulirovaniia dlia laponii: iul 1947 g.-iul 1951 g (Moscow, 1951); Sbornik osnovnykh dokumentov po laponii, 1951-1954 (Moscow: Ministerstvo inostrannykh del, 1954); Sbornik osnovnykh dokumentov po voprosam sovetsko-iaponskikh otnoshenii, 1954-1972 (Moscow: Ministerstvo inostrannykh del SSSR, 1973), but the first collection was published in only 100 copies, and the second and the third volume 300. All collections are classified, and inaccessible to outside scholars, although I have had access to the third volume. 6 Za kulisami Tikhookeanskoi bitvy: (lapono-sovetskie kontakty v 1945 g.): Stranitsy istorii,” Vestnik MIDa SSSR, October, 1990; “K politike SSSR na Dal’nem Vostoke v preddverii nachala Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny: Kontakty I.V. Stalina s politikami Kitaia i laponii," Diplomaticheskii vestnik No. 23-24 (1994): 7178; “Soglashaetsia na peredachu laponii ostrovov Khabomai i Sikotan,” Staraia ploshchad': vestnik arkhiva Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii, No. 6 (1996): 107-137. 7
For instance, the Japanese government sent seven volumes of documents dealing with territorial questions to the U.S. government during the occupation period. Of these the volume dealing with the Northern Territories has not been declassified. 8
Graham Allison, Hiroshi Kimura, and Konstantin Sarkisov, Beyond War to Trilateral Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: Scenarios for New Relationships between Japan, Russia, and the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, Harvard University, 1992), Appendix D, and F-N; Peter Berton, The Japanese-Russian Territorial Dilemma: Historical Background, Dispute, Issue, Questions, Solutions, Scenarios: White Paper (Cambridge, Mass.: Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1992). 9 Tanaka Takahiko, Nisso kokko kaiku no shiteki kenkyu: sengo nissokankei no kiten: 1945-1956 (Historical Studies of the Development of Japanese-Soviet Diplomatic Relations: The
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa is Professor of Russian History at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is the author of The February Revolution: Petrograd, 1917 (Seattle, 1981) and co-editor of Russia and Japan: An Unresolved Dilemma Between Distant Neighbors (Berkeley, CA, 1993).
1 Cold War International History Bulletin, 1-9. (Ed. note: On the other hand, several articles and documents have touched on Japan and its place in the Cold War. For an example in this issue, Bulletin 10, see Zhai Qiang's article on the second Chinese nuclear test.) 2
Vojtech Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). 3
Michael Schaller, The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Marc Gallichio, “The Kurile Controversy: U.S. Diplomacy in the Soviet-Japanese Border Dispute, 1941-1956,” Pacific Historical Review, LX, No. 1 (February 1991). 4
Myles I. C. Robertson, Soviet Policy toward Japan: An Analysis of Trends in the 1970s and 1980s (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Harry Gelman, Russo-Japanese Relations and the Future of the U.S.-Japanese Alliance (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 1993); Charles E. Ziegler, Foreign Policy and East Asia: Learning and Adaptation in the Gorbachev Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); William Nimmo, Japan and Russia: a Reevaluation in the Post-Soviet Era
Starting Point of Post-War Japanese-Soviet Relations, 1945-56) (Tokyo: Yuhikaku, 1993); Fiona Hill, “A Disagreement between Allies: the United Kingdom, the United States, and the SovietJapanese Territorial Dispute,” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, 14, No. 3 (Fall 1995).
Boris Slavinskii, Sovetskaia okkupatsiia Kuril'skikh ostrovov, avgust-sentiabr' 1945 goda: dokumental'noe issledovanie (Moscow, 1993); Pakt o neitralitete mezhdu SSSR i laponiei: diplomaticheskaia istoriia, 1941-1945 gg (Moscow: BBK, 1995)——Japanese translation, Kosho: nisso churitsu joyaku (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1996); “San Frantsiskii mirnyi dogovor,” Znakomites' laponiia, No. 5 (1994): 53-59; No. 6 (1994): 50-58; No. 7 (1995): 74-81; and No. 8 (1995): 56-61. 11
Notably Wada Haruki and Murayama Shichiro. See Wada Haruki, Hopporyodo mondai o kangaeru (Considering the Northern Territories Question) (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1990); Murayama Shichiro, Kuriru shoto no bunkengakuteki kenkyu [Documentological Research on the Kurile Archipelago) (Tokyo: Sanichi Shobo, 1987). 12
The Japanese side rebutted Rogachev's argument at the third Working Group meeting held on 29 April 1989, in Moscow. Although the minutes prepared by the Soviet Foreign Ministry
are not available to me, the Japanese argument was reported in detail in Hopporyodo, No. 234 (20 May 1989). But the coverage in Hopporyodo does not say a word about the Soviet reaction to Kuriyama's presentation. 13
In addition to the documents translated here, the documents I obtained included other interesting materials from various experts and organizations. I should add, however, that I did not receive position papers prepared by the General Staff and the Pacific Fleet. The General Staff's view was later publicized in a Russian newspaper. See “Glavnyi shtab VMF soglasen s genshtabom,” Nezavisimaia gazeta, 30 July 1992. 14
Cherevko's view in the classified document differs vastly from the view he expressed in an open publication. He and Konstantin Sarkisov were responsible for publishing a hitherto unknown archival document demonstrating that Nicholas I's instruction to the Russian chief negotiator, Artem Putiatin, clearly took the position that Etorofu was under Japan's sovereignty. Konstantin Sarkisov and Kiril Cherevko, “Putiatinu bylo legche provesti granitsu mezhdu Rossiei i laponiei,” Izvestiia, 4 October 1991.
The Last Official Foreign Visit by M.S. Gorbachev as
President of the USSR: The Road to Tokyo!
by A.S. Cherniaev
and more frankly with them. But just as soon as things got to the main point which had frozen our relations for decades, Gorbachev clammed up. For him from the firsthe spoke both to me and in the Politburo about this—the issue of the islands had been resolved. In general terms, the post-war settlement of state borders was considered to be axiomatic. And Gorbachev took this entirely from his predecessors (although with the Japanese islands, the issue was more complicated; the demarcation (of borders) had not been formulated according to international-legal procedure)....
ot counting a visit to Spain (already after the
[October 1991) International Conference on the Near East, M.S. (Gorbachev's] visit as head of state to Japan in April 1991 was his last. He had planned to do this throughout almost all the years of perestroika: [Japanese Prime Minister] Nakasone, meeting with him in Moscow in 1985,2 extended an official invitation, which afterwards was confirmed by all of the Japanese political figures with whom M.S. met.
Although at the moment of this visit, Gorbachev had the huge “capital” of his policy of new thinking at his back, it (the trip) turned out to be almost the least effective in a practical sense. Overcoming the "main obstacle" in Soviet-Japanese relations was, so to speak, within arm's reach. But... objective circumstances, as well as subjective ones, prevented this.
But everything (should be told) in order.
I was not yet serving “under Gorbachev” when his first contacts with the Japanese took place—in 1985. Then, after all of his meetings with people from “capitalist countries” came under my supervision, I soon began to note that he was showing definite preference toward the Japanese.
Delegations from Japan continued to arrive, and almost every one of them requested an audience with Gorbachev. I noted that he refused almost none of the Japanese, no matter what their level. And he spoke more
(There follows a discussion of V.I. Dunaev's role in drawing Gorbachev's attention to the Japanese issue.)
Thereafter, I drew Dunaev into the preparation of the majority of the materials connected with our policy on Japanese affairs. Later, he played a large role in establishing the first contacts between Gorbachev and Roh Taewoo, the President of South Korea.
Beginning in 1986, when I (Cherniaev] became an assistant to Gorbachev, I was present at practically all of his contacts with the Japanese and took notes.
My first impression from his entirely well-wishing conversations with them was not very reassuring. The first two conversations recorded in my notebooks are discussions with one of the leaders of the Japanese Communist party. I do not want to say that Gorbachev in some way