Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, on a whistle-stop tour of Japan's western cities Friday, put a brave face on the lackluster outcome of his summit talks and said Moscow and Tokyo face many more meetings to get things right.
Gorbachev left Tokyo for the ancient capital of Kyoto by bullet train and on arrival told the city's business and political leaders: "We have only just begun and we must think more deeply about this, and we need to talk much, much more."The Soviet leader, who kept his luncheon hosts in Kyoto waiting 45 minutes, acknowledged many problems remain before Japan and the Soviet Union can formally sign a peace treaty ending World War II and put relations on a proper, warmer footing.
"We must deepen trust between Japan and the Soviet Union. Economic cooperation must take place, only then can relations between our two countries improve.
"The Soviet-Japan summit formed a platform for political negotiation and economic cooperation. We still have to deal with a World War II legacy, that of the problem of the peace treaty," he added.
Gorbachev had left Tokyo empty-handed after a gruelling summit in which the two sides could agree only to continue talking on a territorial dispute that blocks warmer ties.
Japan had made it clear that if Gorbachev failed to hand back four small islands the Soviet Red Army overran at the end of World War II, he would not receive the urgent large-scale economic aid he sought.
Tokyo was true to its word.
When the Soviet leader, pleading huge domestic pressures, ruled out returning the islands - the nearest one visible from Japan's northeast coast - the cash box lid slammed shut.
The impasse seemed likely even before Gorbachev left Moscow.