Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he has earned U.S. President Donald Trump's backing in seeking closer ties with Russia in a bid to resolve a long-standing territorial row over islands off Hokkaido that Japan wants returned.

"President Trump understands Japan's (policy) to promote dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the territorial issue," Abe told a TV program after returning from the United States, where he held his first summit with Trump on Friday and Saturday in Washington and Florida.

Trump has adopted a softer stance toward Russia than his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was at odds with Putin over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.