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Russia, Japan agree to set up $1 billion investment fund

MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV

TOKYO — Japan and Russia will create a $1 billion fund to invest in joint energy and infrastructure projects over the next five years, the leaders of the two countries said in Tokyo Friday at the end of meetings that looked cozy but fell well short of Japanese expectations.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been hoping for progress on a territorial dispute that prevented them from signing a peace treaty at the end of World War II, but instead had to settle for giving money to Russia for economic projects.

‘‘It would be naive to think we can solve this problem in an hour, but there is no doubt that we need to look for a solution,’’ Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a news conference with Abe at the end of two relatively short meetings Thursday night and Friday.

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The Japanese prime minister said both sides needed to be flexible. ‘‘We need to work towards a breakthrough so that we don’t disappoint the next generation,’’ said Abe, who addressed his counterpart by his first name, a surprisingly informal gesture in Japan.

It was the leaders’ 16th meeting since both returned to office in 2012, and there was a clear camaraderie between them. Putin praised the sake and hot springs in Abe’s hometown of Nagato, where the two leaders met Thursday, while Abe said the meeting in Japan was worth the wait.

Relations between the two leaders had been somewhat constrained by the deterioration in ties between the United States — Japan’s key ally — and Russia in recent years. Putin arrived in Japan just as President Obama said the United States would retaliate against Russia over its cyberactivity during this year’s election.

However, the election of Donald Trump, who has openly praised Putin and promised much warmer U.S.-Russian ties, has given Abe a green light to pursue closer links with Moscow.

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