Asahi front-paged a report saying that it has learned from former Vice Foreign Minister Saiki that the Abe administration decided to keep Japan’s discussions with Russia on the Northern Territories separate from international sanctions on Moscow and informed the U.S. government of this policy immediately after Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014. The paper wrote that Prime Minister Abe sent Saiki to Washington in April 2014 to hold consultations with then Deputy National Security Advisor Blinken and that the U.S. official showed some understanding toward Japan’s policy. According to a GOJ source, Abe explained Japan’s policy to President Obama when they spoke over the phone in February this year and to Vice President Biden when they met in New York in September about the decision to invite President Putin to Japan in December. The paper wrote that Abe informed Washington of his policy at an early date based on the judgment that it would be necessary for Japan to gain American understanding for inviting Putin to Japan. The paper quoted another GOJ source as saying that there are deep-seated concerns in the State Department and elsewhere in the USG about rapprochement between Tokyo and Moscow.