Despite ongoing pressure on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday welcomed President Vladimir Putin — the first visit by a Russian leader in around 11 years — as he sought to make a breakthrough in a postwar territorial row that has left the countries without a peace treaty.

Abe is an outlier among G-7 leaders, spending a good deal of political capital in efforts to forge a personal rapport with the Russian leader as part of wider hopes to settle the territorial dispute over four islands off Hokkaido — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — that were seized by the Soviets near the end of World War II.

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