Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone (right) are seen with other former officials in Moscow in January 1989. In a 1988 meeting with Nakasone, Gorbachev acknowledged the need to resolve the dispute with Japan over the sovereignty of a group of islands off Hokkaido, recently declassified diplomatic records show. (AP via Kyodo)

TOKYO — The office of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida released the following statement on Sept. 1 regarding the death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Aug. 30 at age 91.

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Upon learning of the passing of the Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, I would like to express our sincere condolences on behalf of the government and people of Japan.

As the top leader of the Soviet Union, President Gorbachev played an important role in overcoming the division in Europe as well as the East-West confrontation after World War II. During his time as president, the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to reduce nuclear weapons for the first time in history, and brought the Cold War to an end.

As for his relations with Japan, during his trip to the country in 1991 as the first-ever head of state to visit from the Soviet Union, he visited Nagasaki, and even after stepping down from the presidency he visited Hiroshima in 1992. As a world leader who advocates for the elimination of nuclear weapons, he made great achievements.

President Gorbachev was a man of action with a great strategic vision who played a significant part in above-mentioned fields, and I would like to express my deepest condolences to his family and to the people of the Russian Federation in memory of his achievements.

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