Tokyo finds snub by Russian envoy regrettable

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Mar. 5 that Tokyo regrets a visit to Switzerland this week by Viktor Ilyushin, Russia’s first deputy minister, because it was made immediately after he canceled a visit to Japan due to domestic reasons.

Ilyushin had planned to visit Tokyo from Feb. 28 to Mar. 9 for the second meeting of the Japanese-Russian joint committee on trade and economic ties, but he suddenly canceled out last Feb. 26. Ilyushin informed Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda of the cancellation by phone Feb. 26 and told him he could not leave Moscow because of domestic reasons.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hiroshi Hashimoto said that although the Japanese government expressed regret to the Russian government, Tokyo has not received a satisfactory explanation of Ilyushin’s change of itinerary. However, the spokesman brushed aside speculation that bilateral relations between Japan and Russia may worsen because of the incident.

He said that Japan is willing to deepen and strengthen relations with Russia.