The timing of the Ukrainian crisis could not have been worse for Japan,… So far, Japan’s reaction has been lukewarm compared to the response of the United States and the European Union. But should the crisis deteriorate further, the G7 members may choose to resort to harsher sanctions. Doing so may upset the cautious diplomatic game Abe has been playing with Russia. In his second term as prime minister, Abe has made Russia a focus of his personal diplomacy. He has met with President Vladimir Putin five times, more than with any other foreign leader… All of Abe’s diplomatic manoeuvres have been directed at a very tangible goal — that of renewing talks on the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia over the so-called Northern Territories (referred to in Russia as the Kuril Islands).

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