The much-heralded visit of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to Japan on December 15 and 16 facilitated a great deal of bonding and camaraderie between the two leaders. The Russian president was invited to a hot spring with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his hometown in southwest Japan. However, there was nothing in the way of diplomatic breakthroughs on key issues, including sovereignty over the disputed Kuril Islands and a long-awaited peace treaty formally ending the Japan-Russia conflict of World War II.

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