Japan will pay close attention to Russian President Boris Yeltsin when he remarks on a bilateral territorial dispute in a speech to the Russian Parliament in early May, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said April 23.

Hashimoto made the comment during a meeting with Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi and New Party Sakigake chief Akiko Domoto. The two parties are non-Cabinet allies of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Hashimoto briefed the two leaders on his informal weekend summit with Yeltsin at the hot springs resort of Kawana, Shizuoka Prefecture.

During the summit, it is believed that Hashimoto offered a compromise to a long-standing territorial row over a group of islands north of Hokkaido. Under the proposal, Moscow would continue to retain the four islands for a transitional period — if it confirms that they are under Tokyo’s sovereignty.

In addition, Japan and Russia would pursue negotiations to draft a demarcation line between the two countries. Yeltsin is expected to mention the dispute when he delivers the speech, Doi quoted Hashimoto as saying.

Hashimoto has declined to elaborate on his proposal, saying that it is a sensitive matter. Asked when the Diet will start discussions on the proposal, Hashimoto replied that Japan should calmly await Russia’s reaction, Doi said.

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