YOKOHAMA — Prime Minister Naoto Kan may have heaved a sigh of relief as he managed to meet bilaterally with his Chinese and Russian counterparts during an Asia-Pacific economic summit, going into damage control mode after the two countries challenged his government over territorial rows.

While signs are emerging that Japan may exit from crisis mode in managing its relations with China and Russia with the bilateral summits, the Kan Cabinet still needs to recover domestic public support that has been impaired by what is perceived as "weak-kneed diplomacy" amid rising nationalistic sentiment in Japan.

Of a series of bilateral summits on the fringes of the weekend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit he chaired in Yokohama, Kan was especially encouraged by U.S. President Barack Obama's assurance that Washington supports Tokyo and remains committed to Japan's defense.