05:39 GMT +313 November 2019
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin during the training session with members of the Russian national judo team, January 8, 2016

    Black Belt Diplomacy: Abe Wants to See Putin, Mongolian Leader on Judo Tatami

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    2017 Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Vladivostok (28)
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    Do we have a new take on diplomacy? Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mongolian leader Khaltmaagiin Battulga and Tokyo's Olympic champion have a judo demonstration with each other.

    Speaking during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia’s Far East, Abe said he would love to see the judo master Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, also a judo black belt, come to Japan for some demonstrative grappling.

    Abe added that he himself would watch from the sidelines, as he does not practice judo and does not want to get injured.

    The Olympic gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita was also present at the forum and speaking directly to him, the Japanese prime minister said, “Yamashita-san, can you not invite the two presidents with black belts to Japan, via the Japanese judo federation? That way Mr. Yamashita and the two presidents could demonstrate kumite [training against adversary in martial arts]. What do you think? It could be interesting,” Abe said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
    © AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool
    Putin and Abe’s last meeting in Japan ended with a judo exhibition at the renowned Kodokan Judo Institute in downtown Tokyo. 

    It is well know that the Russian president is an avid judo enthusiast and has expressed his love and respect for it on multiple occasions.

    But do not rush to buy tickets. Abe's initiative should not be taken literally, according to the Kremlin spokesman.

    “There was such a proposal. We have yet to understand how metaphorical it is. Taking into account the explicit and even friendly character of the contact, one can assume that the proposal was aimed to show a positive development of Russian-Mongolian and Russian-Japanese relations, positive dynamics in the relations among the countries in the region that are interested in developing the Far East … I would not treat that literally, that is rather a proposal full of metaphorical meaning,” Dmitry Peskov said.

    Putin has even released his own instructional judo video, in which he explains the philosophy of the martial art and depicts the fundamental holds and techniques.

    Earlier, the leaders of Russia and Japan held a joint press conference on the sidelines of the Third Eastern Economic Forum in the city of Vladivostok.

    The two-day EEF  started in Vladivostok on Wednesday, drawing over 3,500 participants from more than 50 countries.

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    2017 Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Vladivostok (28)

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    judo, forum, invitation, sports, politics, Eastern Economic Forum, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe, Dmitry Peskov, Russia
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