Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, praised the launch of several new economic projects on Saturday in Osaka, but failed to reach any major breakthrough in a long-standing territorial dispute — a huge setback for Abe, who has invested a significant amount of political capital in the issue.

In a news conference after the meeting, conducted on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Abe said the two agreed to "continue negotiations" over the dispute of the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, called the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern Kurils in Russia.

Abe, however, didn't mention any specific progress in the territorial talks, merely saying "the outline of the issues we should overcome are now becoming clear" — almost the same phrase used by Foreign Minister Taro Kono after he met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on May 31 in Tokyo.