A pro-Russian Japanese senator visited Moscow, a first since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia last year and which took the Japanese government by surprise, which criticized Tuesday, October 3, this personal initiative.
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The Russian Foreign Ministry reported a one-on-one meeting on Monday between Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko and Muneo Suzuki, a senator from the opposition populist Japan Innovation Party.
The government has not been informed by Muneo Suzuki of his visit to Russia," Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday. Tokyo has strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine from the beginning and has adopted sanctions against Moscow like its Western allies.
Japan advises its citizens against travelling to Russia
Japan therefore advises all its citizens not to travel to Russia "for any reason," said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, suggesting that this instruction also applies to parliamentarians.
We are not in a position to comment on the reason for Senator Muneo Suzuki's visit to Russia and the details of his agenda," Kamikawa added.
The senator left Sunday for Moscow "for an inspection trip," his secretary Shinji Akamatsu said Tuesday, adding that he was making the trip "in the name of his own vision of the national interest." But the move also embarrasses his own party, which has said it plans to summon Muneo Suzuki on his return to explain himself.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed Muneo Suzuki's "important contribution" to the development of Russian-Japanese relations, while regretting that this long-standing bilateral cooperation is "today deliberately destroyed" by the sanctions against Russia adopted by Japan "to please the United States" and by "the anti-Russian orientation of the 'collective West'".
Politician with a sulphurous past
The 75-year-old Suzuki has long been known as a proponent of strengthening Russian-Japanese relations. He was also charged and convicted of corruption in the early 2000s, which forced him to leave the right-wing conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's main ruling political party.
But this sulphurous past did not prevent him in the 2010s from becoming an informal diplomatic adviser to then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when the latter again sought to warm ties with Moscow.