TOKYO - Russia has turned down Tokyo's latest attempt at dog diplomacy ahead of a summit between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month, an aide said, as the two leaders look to end a decades-old territorial row. Japan had planned to give the Russian president -- who is known for being a canine lover -- a male Akita when he visits Japan on December 15 and 16, which will include a trip to Abe's home state of western Yamaguchi.  It was hoped the dog could accompany a female of the same breed named "Yume" -- which means "dream" in Japanese -- that Tokyo had presented to Putin four years ago as a thank you gift for Russia's help after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. "Unfortunately, we received a reply yesterday that they will not take him as the bridegroom," Koichi Hagiuda, one of Abe's close aides, said in a blog Friday.

At the much-anticipated summit -- and Putin's first such visit since 2005 -- Japan is hoping to make progress on a territorial dispute over the status of four Pacific islands near its north coast, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.