‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ Arriving in Kansai Area


OSAKA — Dmitry N. Gorbunov, the new Soviet Union consul general here, plans to promote his country’s versions of openness and economic restructuring in the Kansai area.

“Glasnost” and “perestroika,” as the two concepts are respectively dubbed in the USSR, will help strengthen Soviet economic and cultural ties with Kansai’s leading cities, Gorbunov said in a recent interview.

“Consul relations between the Soviet Union and Japan are developing faster than political relations,” he said, “and they also involve Kansai.”

The regional port cities of Osaka and Kobe are vital trading partners for the Soviet Union, according to Gorbunov.

Almost 100 Soviet ships entered Osaka Port last year on trade, while about half that many came into Kobe Port, he said.

Cultural ties, such as “sister cities” programs linking Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka with Kiev, Riga and Leningrad, respectively, have been formed, Gorbunov said.

The diplomatic atmosphere in the Kansai area appears to be less formal than in Tokyo, he added. “You feel more at ease here than in Tokyo when you are visiting some official institution.”

On Japan-Soviet relations as a whole, Gorbunov was less optimistic.

The recent mutual expulsion of Japanese and Soviet diplomats indicates that the relationship is “not getting better,” he said.

He did express hopes for future summit talks in Washington, between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and [U.S.] president Ronald Reagan.

“All of us…hope that a summit meeting between our two leaders will take place this year. I think that the (Sept. 17) meeting between Secretary of State (George) Shultz and Minister of Foreign Affairs (Eduard) Shevardnadze will pave the way for this,” said Gorbunov.

The new consul general has worked in the Soviet Foreign Ministry since 1961.

His experience includes a stint as attaché to the consul general in Sapporo from 1967-71. He also worked at the Soviet embassy in Tokyo from 1977-84.