Gorbachev's fall from power was greeted with only a muted official response from the Japanese government. Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu declined to comment, and Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama said in a press conference only that "we hope from the heart that there will be no impact on Gorbachev's policy of glasnost and perestroika. "
Japanese officials said they would continue efforts to sign a peace treaty that would include the return to Japan of four islands, now under dispute, that were occupied by the Soviets at the end of World War II.
Privately, though, Japanese officials expressed pessimism over the potential for bringing the Soviet Union into the world economy. "This closes the curtain on six years of perestroika ," said Kinya Niiseki, a former Japanese ambassador to the Soviet Union.
Observers said one positive impact of the turn toward conservatism in the Soviet Union would be a reaffirmation of Japan's defense relationship with the United States. "They (the Japanese) must be ever so thankful now that they still have us and that the relationship is still solid," said one U.S. official in Tokyo.