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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands before their bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017.   © Getty Images
International relations

Island dispute with Russia tests Abe's diplomatic skills

Can Japan's leader resolve the territorial spat his father couldn't?

GAKU SHIMADA, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that strengthening Japan's ties with its closest ally, the U.S., will lead to better ties with China and other nations. But there is one country where this strategy is unlikely to work: Russia.

That fact is a major thorn in Abe's side. The prime minister's diplomatic legacy would be sealed if he could resolve the dispute over islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Kuril Islands.

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