It seems yesterday’s post was well timed. The Japanese media is now reporting (日) that former prime minister and recenty retired LDP elder Mori Yoshiro is currently preparing to fly to Moscow to meet with President Putin ahead of Noda’s visit in December. One government official has denied that this has anything to do with the government, with it being suggested the meeting is simply a catch up between old friends. It is certainly true that Mori and Putin have close personal connections. Mori was, for one, the Japanese PM at the time of the singing of the infinitely sensible Irkutsk Declaration in 2001, which reconfirmed the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration signed on the eve of normalization in 1956. The original declaration committed the two sides to signing a peace treaty which would in turn result in the return of two of the southernmost Kuriles, Habomai and Shikotan, to Japan.
Along with Suzuki Muneo, Mori has the necessary personal connections to facilitate a positive outcome if the Japanese government is open to it. Thus, giving the timing, it is hard to believe this is a mere coincidence. It is also very interesting that Mori has come out and reprimanded (日) LDP President Abe for focusing too much on getting Noda to call an election this year, something which could certainly interfere with any progress on Russo-Japanese relations and would limit Noda’s credibility in any discussions.