Yeltsin to soak up Japan culture

by Sayuri Daimon

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin will make a weeklong visit to Japan beginning Monday, and he is likely to boast his improved health while here by eating well and taking in a hot spring resort.

Government officials said Wednesday that Yeltsin will arrive aboard Russian President Vladimir Putin’s jet.

While the date of his meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has not yet been fixed, Yeltsin, who suffered from heart attacks and other ailments due to heavy drinking, is likely to have a relaxing time with his old friend and one-time counterpart, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

After taking a sightseeing tour of Tokyo, he will be joined by Hashimoto for dinner Tuesday evening at a restaurant in Tokyo’s Akasaka district.

“Boris loves ‘toro’ (fatty tuna) very much,” Hashimoto said. “I’m sure he will order it this time, too.”

The last time Yeltsin visited, Hashimoto ordered a dish of toro for the president. After finishing his plate, Yeltsin remarked to Hashimoto with a smile, “Since you live here, you have more chances to eat this, don’t you?” Hashimoto recalled that Yeltsin then swiftly exchanged his plate with Hashimoto’s, which still had some pieces of tuna on it.

On Wednesday, Yeltsin will fly to Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, to stay at a fancy hotel with spas, according to the officials.

It is still uncertain whether stalled bilateral issues, including talks over the return of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido and the pursuit of a formal peace treaty, will be taken up.