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Putin is using the Northern Territories to test Japan-US ties

Abe's desire to resolve WWII-era dispute plays into Russian leader's strategy

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, wait for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a hotel in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Dec. 15.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Punctuality is not one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's strong points, as the numerous global leaders he has kept waiting over the years can attest.

Yet his tardy arrival in Japan on Dec. 15 was surprising, even for Putin. He touched down at Yamaguchi Ube Airport nearly three hours behind schedule, keeping Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waiting for the start of their two-day summit in his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.

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