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Politics

Abe woos Putin with strategic intent in mind

Japan's proposals on Northern Territories connected to balance of power in Northeast Asia

| Japan
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin head for a media briefing following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 27.   © Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clearly has his heart set on closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Japanese leader's visit to Moscow on April 27 marked his 17th meeting with Putin, a remarkable total even in this era of incessant summitry. Abe is also not shy about demonstrating his personal enthusiasm for the relationship. In public, Abe makes a point of calling Putin by his first name. Putin is also the only foreign leader to have been hosted by Abe in his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.

More noteworthy, Abe has a tendency to describe the relationship with Putin in poetic terms. In a September 2016 speech in Vladivostok, Abe provoked jests about a "bromance" when he told Putin: "We could walk into the virgin forest of the taiga in the light of the sun's rays and push through the foliage." Similarly, on April 27, he claimed: "On the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit and mutual trust, Vladimir and I want to walk hand-in-hand on the path to concluding a peace treaty," in reference to one that would formally end World War II between the two countries.

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