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Japan began exercises Monday with the U.S. Army in Hokkaido, a day after it started naval maneuvers with Russia 800 km away off the coast of Vladivostok.

The drills illustrate the balance Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must strike between his attempts to mend relations with Russia and the need to bolster his country’s alliance with the United States as a backstop to a more assertive China in the region.

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