Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visited Russian President Boris Yeltsin unofficially in Krasnoyarsk, Eastern Siberia, on these two days. Prime Minister presented a "Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan," a 6-point economic cooperation program to help Russian transition to a market economy, to which President agreed.
The two leaders also agreed that, on the basis of the "Tokyo Communique" of 1993 to solve the problem of rule over the 4 "Northern Islands" and conclude a peace treaty between the two countries, both will do utmost to arrive at that goal --- a big one step forward towards complete normalization of the two countries' mutual relationship --- by the end of the 20th century.
This day is "Culture Day" in Japan, a national holiday, and Japanese who have long and significantly contributed to the nation's culture are decorated by Prime Minister.
Because this year falls on the 60th anniversary of this ceremony, awardees will receive "Cultural Medals" from Emperor hereafter. Awardees 1997 were Setsuro Takahashi, 83, a lacquer ware artist, Soshitsu Sen, 74, the leader of a Japanese tea ceremony school, Masatoshi Koshiba, 71, a physicist, Teruaki Mukaiyama, 70, a scholar of chemistry, and Hirofumi Uzawa, 69, an economist.
They each received a medallion from Emperor and a scroll from Prime Minister R. Hashimoto.
The honor of the Order of Merit is given in this season each year.
The First Order of Merit went to 13 Japanese this year and the rite took place on the morning of Nov. 5 at the grand hall of Imperial Palace.
Honorees 1997 were: Kunio Tanabe, 84, ex-Director General of Prime Minister's Office, who was decorated most honorably with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun, and 12 recipients of the First Order of the Sacred Treasure including Teruyuki Akema, 72, Chairman of Tohoku Electric Power; Seiichi Ohori, 72, an ex-justice of the Supreme Court: and Hiromori Kawashima, 75, Commisioner of the Central League of Japanese professional baseball.
They were individually decorated by Emperor and given a scroll of recognition by Prime Minister Hashimoto.
In the afternoon of the same day, Prime Minister gave Second Orders of Merits to others at the same place.
To visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri (President of the Council of Ministers), Prime Minister Hashimoto requested handover to Japan of the 5 aging members of "Japanese Red Army" who were sentenced to servitude and are detained in Beirut.
He also reassured the visitor of the "unfailing" Japanese commitment to restoration of war-torn Lebanon and pledged to send his Government staff to Lebanon for detailed talks.
Mr.Hariri expressed thanks for Japanese financial aid to date and told Hashimoto Lebanon supports Japan as a candidate for membership in the UN Security Council.
Prime Minister Hashimoto met Second Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen of Cambodia at his official residence. The Cambodian leader said about First Prime Minister Ranariddh being tried in military court:
"I would see to it that if he comes home and is judged guilty, my government will acquit him in a general pardon and open the door for him to return to political activities."
Welcoming Hun Sen's decision, Hashimoto promised Japan's "utmost effort" to give about \900 million to Cambodia, as has been requested, to supervise Cambodia's next general election.
Prime Minister Hashimoto flew by the Government plane to Riyad, Saudi Arabia, for talks with King Fahd.
He was received by Prince Abdulla‚ˆ at the airport, underwent a welcome ceremony and then met King at his palace.
Hashimoto requested extension of the Japanese contract to tap the oil field of Kafuji (which is due to expire in year 2000) and also agreed with King on a broad range of mutual cooperation, e.g. environment protection, cultural exchange and sports.
He was on way home on Nov.10.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng flew in as a Japanese Government's guest for discussion with Hashimoto.
Li recognized the results of the Japanese-Russian "summit talks" in Siberia and, in return, Hashimoto spoke highly of Chinese "summits" with Russian and US presidents.
They agreed on promotion of "defense staff exchange" and Li offered to support Japanese position at the global Kyoto Meet on prevention of global warming on the premise that "Japan consider developing countries' situations."
Chinese Premier then requested Hashimoto that in 1998, the year that marks the 20th anniversary of Japanese-Chinese peace treaty inked in 1978, Japanese Crown Prince visits China.
Twenty-seven of the non-Japanese participants in the tour aboard "The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth [24th]" paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hashimoto after (starting on Sep. 22 and) touring Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines on Nov. 12.
Hashimoto encouraged them, youth of 10 countries including Japan, to "remember this experience of yours, become a bridge between Japan and Southeast Asia and contribute to whatever fields of activities you will do in the future."
Russian Foreign Minister E. M. Primakov met Hashimoto at his official residence.
On the heels of a talk with his Japanese counterpart Obuchi on the progress made between top leaders of the two countries towards a peace treaty conclusion, the two agreed on starting a regular discussion among 2 (tops) + 2 (foreign ministers).
Hashimoto said, "we will keep promises," in his repeated overture to conclude a peace treaty with Russia.
Brugarian President Petar Stoyanov visiting as a state guest met Prime Minister Hashimoto at the Guest Palace at Akasaka, Tokyo, and agreed on a range of matters relating to Japanese economic cooperation and strengthening of mutual relationship.
Hashimoto pledged to subsidize Burgas Port expansion program with ´14.3 billion and invite 300 young Brugarian men and women.
Prime Minister R. Hashimoto discussed on Asian currency crises with visiting President of the Philippines Ramos Fidel V. at his official residence.
President Ramos emphasized his country's bid to cooperate closely with other Asians likewise troubled.
"What we must do is issue a definite message to the market players. Let us work together at APEC and other international venues."
The Government Reform Council's intensive sessions from Nov.17 (presided by Prime Minister Hashimoto) prolonged into midnight Nov.21, comparing notes with the ruling coalition parties, and concluded its recommendation package except for separation of the Finance Ministry's financial and monetary functions and promotion of the Self-Defense Agency to a ministry status.
The Council decided on reorganizing the existing 22 Government ministries and agencies (including one directly reporting to Prime Minister) into 13 new ones.
As for strengthening Cabinet's functions, the Council recommends a new law to strengthen Prime Minister's right to present a motion, adoption of the rule of majority vote in Cabinet's decision making, and also institution in the "Cabinet's Office" to be newly set up 4 expert councils --- on economy & finance, science & technology, hazard prevention, and equal opportunities for men and women.
Referring to environment and scientific technology that they think will shape "Japan as it should be in the 21st century," the Council decided on creation of an Environment Ministry, and, provided that it be led by a council on total science, creation of a "Ministry of Education, Science and Technology" to encourage the nation's academism and creative basic research efforts.
A formal ceremony to mark this occasion was conducted by the Government at the Okinawa Convention Center at Ginowan City, Okinawa.
Present there were Prime Minister, Speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Okinawa Governor, US Ambassador and about 700 others.
Prime Minister Hashimoto disclosed his government's intention to form a "Plan to Promote Okinawa's Economy in the 21st Century" by springtime, 1998.
As for the matters of US military bases in Okinawa, he expressed his determination to work on to reshuffle and trim these facilities.
First making that point clear, Hashimoto described the proposed relocation of the helicopter base from Futenma to offshore Nago as "virtually the only possible alternative" and requested Okinawa's understanding, particularly Nago people's.
APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) to further accommodate free trade and investment activities in these regions gathered its constituents' reps in Vancouver, the Canadian "hub" on the Pacific Coast.
On the heels of a 3-day session among trade and foreign ministers from 18 countries and regions, Prime Minister R. Hashimoto, President Bill Clinton and President Jiang Zemin (of China) joined the occasion on Nov.24-25 and had unofficial "summit talks."
For the first time ever since APEC's start in 1989, Asian currency problems were discussed about among other key issues.
As for the pending issue of admitting new APEC members, the meeting passed Japanese motion for Russian membership.
Hashimoto also proposed a "Kyoto Initiative" for developing countries to close successfully the Kyoto conference on global warming. Other attendees unanimously accepted it and spelled it out in Vancouver Declaration as "Support for Success."
After attending the APEC convention in Vancouver, Prime Minister R. Hashimoto made a formal visit to Canada---the first such visit by Japanese premier in 8 years.
At the reception at Ottawa Airport, he called on Canadians:
"It was 120 years ago that the first Japanese emigrants to Canada arrived. Through a long history, your country and ours have established a mature mutual relationship. I hope my visit this time will somehow help it develop into a new century."
On the following day, Nov.27, Hashimoto paid a courtesy call on Governor General Le Blanc and then met Prime Minister ChrŽtien in the Canadian parliament building.
Aware of the international agreement being signed in Ottawa (on Dec.3-4, 1997) on the banning of land mines against men, Hashimoto disclosed to his Canadian counterpart a Japanese intention to spend ´10 billion over the next 5 years to help remove land mines and assist victims of mines blasts.