Yoshiro Mori: the meeting of the heads of the Russian Federation and Japan — great progress

In December last year a meeting was held between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Putin. The parties agreed on joint economic activities on the four Northern Islands, however, progress on the territorial problem was not. Even representatives of the ruling party say that the majority of Japanese are extremely disappointed. However, according to the former Prime Minister of Japan Yoshiro Mori (Yoshiro Mori), who was in confidential relations with President Putin and took an active part in the Russian-Japanese negotiations, significant progress has been. We talked about the key points of the meeting with Mr. Mori, who met with Putin as Japanese politics and who is considered a key figure of the Russo-Japanese diplomacy.

Reiti Honda (Ryoichi Honda), Hokkaido Shimbun: 15 and 16 December last year in Sochi and Tokyo hosted a meeting of heads of Russia and Japan. The sides agreed to start discussion of joint economic activities on the four Northern Islands in a form that will not hurt the legitimate positions of both sides. However, there are many obstacles to this project: what will be the legal structure and so on.

Mori Yoshiro (Yoshiro Mori): the Negotiations of bureaucrats is always an advance and a setback. Bold decisions can only take policy. Heads of state meet because there are obstacles from the conservative officials. According to the scenario, such issues should be resolved at the level of foreign Ministers or their deputies. Only God knows whether negotiations are successful or not. This theme does not move from a dead point for 70 years. I wish parties used their intelligence and all was well. In this time it has announced its willingness to give a real start, isn’t it?

Prime Minister Abe said he wants to return bilateral relations to the stage of the Irkutsk Declaration, which you signed with President Putin in March 2001.

I think he has gone much further. Then we agreed to discuss the issue of affiliation of Kunashir and Iturup, and now the Russian side expressed its readiness to discuss the joint activity on the four Islands, including Kunashiri and Etorofu. This is the most important point. This became possible due to the fact that Putin and Abe talked for 95 minutes alone in a hot spring in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Putin said that in the end, it is important to sign a peace Treaty. Abe said he wants to fix it, and called to the Cabinet of the Deputy foreign Minister of Japan Takeo Akiba (Akiba Takeo) and Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Igor Morgulov to make the document. Sergei Lavrov wanted to prevent this, however, Putin intervened.

— Nevertheless, the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of Russia should transfer Shikotan island and Habomai, but this time about it speech did not go.

Of course, Abe wants to Habomai and Shikotan returned to Japan. I think the Japanese media had expected that the first will return only two Islands. So they wrote about the fraud on the part of Russia. However, Russia has not backed down. The responsibility for the lack of the phrase lies on the Japanese side.

What does that mean?

In November, the General Secretary of the national security Council of Japan, Shotaro Yachi (Shyotaro Yachi) visited Russia. The Russian side asked him a question: if you give two Islands, there will be American military bases? Mr. Yachi did not deny such a possibility. He had to say the following: “Such issues are decided by the Prime Minister, which is the main responsible person in the government. The issue of creation of databases is solved at the level of the governments of Japan and the United States. Japan will take into account the relationship with Russia.” However, the Secretary General is not flexible, so he could not say that. Because he has such a character, I’ve been told Mr. Abe that it may have a negative impact on the negotiations.

— After you left the post of Prime Minister, negotiations have stalled. Meanwhile, when you met with Putin, you each time confirmed the Irkutsk Declaration.

— I said that based on the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956 and to make a start on it. I maintained friendly relations and have an impact to our statement will not go away. If the opponent was not Putin, and another man, the statement could forget.

— The first time you met with Putin in April 2000 in St. Petersburg.

The first meeting we held one-on-one. Putin asked me was whether my father was in Siberian prison. My dad, Shigeki, long time worked as the mayor of the city of Neagari, located in Ishikawa Prefecture. He was Chairman of the Soviet-Japan society and Ishikawa made a great contribution to the development of relations between Japan and the Soviet Union: the twin cities of steel Kanazawa and Irkutsk, as well as Niagara and Shelekhov. After his father’s death a resident of Shelekhova made a grave in the Japanese style asked to be part of the remains were buried there. I took the remains of her father, and it was my first trip to the Soviet Union. After the service in the Russian Church the father was buried under volleys of honor. I was shocked: I didn’t think the mayor of a provincial town would be buried with honors. I told Putin about it.

— Thanks to this you have strengthened trust?

Yes. I thought that when I die, maybe my son will take my ashes. If that happens, I will rest in Russia. When I said this to Putin, he was very touched. Because he worked in KGB, he gives the impression of a cold person, but this happens with him during official conversations. When talking with Putin about something personal, it’s completely different. I have often thought about what he is feeling and what he thin person.

— For example?

— You can give an example from his December trip to Japan. In the center of judo “Kodokan” Putin waved his hand to the people carrying it in front of the Elevator, and then, when the doors were closed, he opened them with his hands, stepped out of the Elevator, came up to me and hugged me by the shoulders. Putin told me: “Yoshi, come soon to Moscow. We have a lot to talk about”. He talked little with me during this trip, so may have done so because they thought that was wrong. This is very similar to him.

— By the way, in a recent interview you talked about your will…

— I am unable to overcome cancer. To be honest, I could not be in February of last year. In March of the year before I had the surgery, and then took three kinds of carcinostatic funds, but they do not help. The doctor said prepare for the worst. However, I was offered to test a new drug and I agreed, because already prepared himself for death, and thought that if it works, I will benefit other people. The effect struck me: I felt much better. So I think about my will. Now writing a book. It’s called “Testament”. Write in it a lot about the Olympic issue. I asked to have it published after my death.


Man and woman meet, fall in love, they begin a relationship, they get married… the Relationship between countries like this. If one of the parties wants to get married, and the other is not, nothing happens.

Mr. Maury calls a meeting of heads of Russia and Japan, held in December last year, “kick-off Declaration”, aimed at signing a peace Treaty. When compared with the marriage, it is a statement about relationships. Mr. Mori, the mediator or relative assist? That’s up to him, but the key to that will tie the relations between Japan and Russia, is also in his hands.


Yoshiro Mori was born in 1937 in the city of Neagari. Graduated From Waseda University. He worked as a journalist of the newspaper “Sankei” and the Secretary of the Deputy of Parliament. In 1969 he was first elected member of the house of representatives. He held the posts of Minister of education and Minister of foreign trade and industry. Since April 2000 for one year was in the position of Prime Minister. In November 2012 left the political circles. He is currently the President of the organizing Committee of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and also the President of Rugby Union of Japan.