Muneo Suzuki, Representative of the New Party Daichi
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation
If one wants to know about how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will strike what his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin describes as hikiwake, or a draw, over the territorial row over the Northern Territories and sign a peace treaty, one might have to talk to Muneo Suzuki.
Suzuki, the head of New Party Daichi, has become an unofficial consultant for Abe on this issue. The former Liberal Democratic Party lower house lawmaker from Hokkaido has cultivated connections and history dealing with Russia since the time he served as head of the now-defunct Hokkaido Development Agency.
He seems to have maintained the ties even after he was arrested and served his prison term over political fund graft involving projects in the Northern Territories, which is administered by Russia as the Southern Kuril Islands.
Signing a peace treaty with Russia is one of Abe's goals to settle Japan's postwar historical issues. For the last 71 years, peace treaty negotiations have been rocky, making virtually no progress.
Abe is showing extraordinary enthusiasm to move things forward with Russia, which is under international sanctions for annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. In May, Abe visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in the southern Russian resort town of Sochi. Abe even seems willing to break with Japan's diplomatic tradition by giving METI Minister Secretary Hiroshige Seko the additional portfolio for the development of economic relations with Russia.
His effort paid off as Putin is finally set to visit Abe in the prime minister's home prefecture of Yamaguchi in December. Expectations are high that the negotiations might make some progress.
Suzuki will talk about the peace treaty negotiations and possible solutions for the territorial dispute.
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