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The Japanese government said this Tuesday not been informed that a pro-Russian Japanese deputy is in Moscow, something unprecedented since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, refusing to comment on the visit.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said deputy minister Andrei Rudenko and Muneo Suzuki, a deputy from the opposition populist Japan Innovation Party, met on Monday.
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“The government was not informed by Mr. Suzuki about his visit to Russia,” said the Japanese executive’s spokesman, Hirokazu Matsuno, at a press conference. Tokyo condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the start and adopted sanctions against Moscow, along with Western allies.
Japan advises all citizens not to travel to Russia “for whatever reason”, said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, suggesting that this advice also applies to members of parliament. “We are not in a position to comment on the reason for Deputy Muneo Suzuki’s visit to Russia and the details of his agenda,” Yoko Kamikawa added.
The deputy left for Moscow on Sunday “for an inspection trip“, his secretary, Shinji Akamatsu, told the France-Presse news agency this Tuesday, adding that he was making the trip “in the name of his own vision of the national interest”. The trip caused some strangeness within the party itself, which said it planned to summon Suzuki upon his return to give explanations.
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In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted Muneo Suzuki’s “important contribution” to the development of Russian-Japanese relations, regretting that this long-standing bilateral cooperation is “now being deliberately destroyed” for the sanctions adopted “to please the United States” and for the “anti-Russian orientation of the collective West”. Muneo Suzuki, 75, has long been known as an advocate of closer relations between Moscow and Tokyo.
He was also accused and convicted of corruption in the early 2000s, having been forced to leave the Liberal Democratic Party (conservative right), the main political formation in power.
But this past did not prevent him from becoming an informal diplomatic advisor to the then Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in the 2010s, when the latter sought, once again, to strengthen ties with Moscow.
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