President Obama is worried about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s upcoming trip to Russia, according to the Asian Nikkei Review:
[S]ources quoted Obama as urging Abe to give up his Russia trip for now, citing Russia’s differences with the United States over the handling of the Ukrainian and Syrian issues. […]One source said Abe “will push through with his trip to Russia in May whatever the United States says” and that Abe told Obama that resolving the territorial dispute will contribute to stability in the East Asian region.
Abe has been working on improving relations with Putin, hoping to achieve some sort of agreement over the longstanding Kuril islands dispute. Abe currently chairs the G-7, and, last month, he used his position to suggest the influential economic consortium consider restarting talks with Russia. The Kremlin has been making friendly noises toward Tokyo as well: In a move seen as designed to appeal to Japan, Moscow condemned North Korea’s January nuclear test in unusually harsh terms.But the real story here is simply this: lame duck President Obama isn’t commanding much respect from America’s allies.