Host: As this is your first televised interview in Japan, could you say a few words about bilateral relations and prospects for their development?
Vladimir Putin: We in Russia have an extremely high opinion of relations between our two countries. We are convinced that Japan is one of Russia’s main partners in the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world. It is our opinion that bilateral relations should develop in line with the specific agreements that have been reached to date. Japan can become one of our economic and political partners. The development of international relations, Japan’s growing political might and Russia’s interests are closely interwoven. Given the global and regional situation, Russia has an unbiased interest in Japan’s growing economic and political might. Russia would like Japan to be a powerful and influential factor in international politics. A powerful Japan is a highly important factor in achieving a global balance in those areas where problems still exist. In this connection, Russia will, of course, be interested in expanded relations with Japan. I believe my good and trustful relations with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori that were established during our April 2000 meeting in St Petersburg can help this process move forward. Although Mr Mori is a tough and straight-to-the-point negotiator, he is a very pleasant man to deal with; and I hope we will get to see each other in Japan, at the Millennium Summit in New York and at regional events. Right now, we are preparing for the main event, the Japanese President’s visit to Russia in early September 2000.
Host: Thank you. And now I would like to ask you a personal question. I have heard that you practice judo, and would like to know what, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of this martial art. I have practiced judo myself, and I know that the second character “do” of the word “judo” implies the existence of some philosophical concept. So, do you perceive judo as a sport or as a philosophy?
Putin: First of all, I want to say that judo has become quite popular all over the world. The International Judo Federation now has representatives in 150 countries. The Japanese people have therefore made a substantial contribution to world culture. I know that many people in the world are grateful to the Japanese for that, and one of those grateful people is sitting in front of you.
Judo is primarily a sport that requires exceptional fitness, will power and determination.
You have also mentioned the philosophical aspect of this sport. You have said the character “do” hints at its philosophical essence. As I see it, both parts of the word “judo” have a philosophical meaning. If I understand it correctly, the character “ju” means “soft”, and the word “judo” means “soft way”. One can therefore say that judo is an entire system of beliefs. But any philosophy indicates one’s world outlook and system of beliefs concerning man and his place in the world. In this sense, judo is a philosophy that accurately and clearly reflects its priorities. If judo is the soft way, then this philosophy prefers evolution to revolution. It teaches us to use and cherish what we have. This concept can also be used in international relations. If we value the potential which we have accumulated and use everything that is available in dealing with both our country and our partners, we shall be able to jointly and gradually ensure the result we
all would like to achieve.
Host: What are your favourite judo techniques?
Putin: The back throw (Tsuri-Komi-Goshi) and body drop (Tai-Otoshi).
Host: The people of Okinawa are looking forward to your visit to the island. Thank you very much for this interview.