Diplomacy goes to the dogs

Diplomacy has never been quite this adorable.

The Akita puppy is only the third such dog to be given by Japan to an international figure.

Japan and Russia are trying to heal age-old wounds today caused by the countries’ long-standing World War II territorial dispute, and it appears that all it takes to improve diplomatic relations is a cute, cuddly puppy.

The Japanese Akita Prefecture announced June 19 that it has decided to give one of the region’s iconic Akita dogs to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a symbol of goodwill between the two nations.

“The puppy can bring Japan and Russia closer together despite the fact that there are a number of unresolved issues between the two countries,” says Akita Prefecture Governor Norihisa Satake. “I hope issues between Japan and Russia are solved,” he adds.

A spokesperson from the Akita Prefecture explains that the gift is meant as a well-deserved token of appreciation after the Russian Prime Minister’s assistance following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster last year.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda approached Putin at the G-20 Summit in Mexico and told the Russian leader about the 2-month-old red-and-white haired female Akita puppy. Putin, known as a dog lover, gladly accepted the generous — and super cute — offer, and is set to receive his new pup by August of this year.

The puppy will join Putin’s two other dogs: a black Labrador Retriever named Koni, given to Putin in 2000 by a Russian army general, and 2-year-old Bulgarian Shepherd Buffy, which Putin received as a gift from the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Putin’s new Akita pup is only the third Japanese Akita to be gifted to an international figure. In 1937, American Helen Keller received an Akita from Japan. When the dog died unexpectedly, Keller received a second Akita two years later.