TOKYO Russia appears to have snubbed a Japanese attempt at puppy-love diplomacy by declining a gift of a dog for President Vladimir Putin at a summit next week with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Japanese government had planned to present Putin, widely known to be a dog lover, with a male Akita as a companion to Yume, a female of the same breed that Japan gave him in 2012.
But a Japanese legislator said Russia had turned down the offer.
“Unfortunately, we heard from our counterparts, and our hope to present a bridegroom was dashed,” House of Representatives member Koichi Hagiuda said in a blog post on Friday, without giving a reason for the rejection.
Abe and Putin will meet in Japan on Dec. 15-16.
They are expected to work towards reviving security talks and joint naval rescue training halted after Russia annexed the Crimea region in 2014. The two sides are also set to sign some business deals.
A territorial dispute over a group of islands has bedevilled relations between the two countries since the end of World War Two.
Putin is known to be an animal lover who has been photographed riding horses, swimming with dolphins and cuddling a leopard.
In addition to Yume, which means “dream” in Japanese, he is the owner of Buffy, a male Bulgarian Shepherd given by Bulgaria’s prime minister in 2010.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Robert Birsel)