The summit talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not end in hikiwake, or a draw, as Putin once phrased it.

Abe scored no tangible points in a diplomatic judo match over the sovereignty of the four disputed islands off Hokkaido, and the leaders only agreed to start talks on holding joint economic activities on them.

Despite Abe's clear enthusiasm for tackling the issue, there were already signs that little progress would be made on signing a peace treaty that hinges on the dispute.