'We plan to convey this to our foreign allies,' said Mr Kato. 'I think they will understand.' Mr Yeltsin caught Japan by surprise on Wednesday when he cancelled the visit four days before he was due to arrive.
It had become evident that the visit was doomed to failure because of differences over the islands, off northern Japan. Moscow calls them the southern Kuriles, Tokyo says they are its Northern Territories. Mr Yeltsin clearly blames Japan for the postponement. 'Japan has been too categoric about the islands,' he said yesterday.