What country’s leader is the target of a myste-rious sniper who attempts to throw the world economy into turmoil? A former military police officer, entrusted to investigate the case by a senior U.S. military officer, reasons that it could not be the leader of either Canada or Japan.

The observation is included in “Personal,” a novel by popular U.S.-based author Lee Child. It is his latest to be translated into Japanese by Hiroaki Kobayashi and published by Kodansha Ltd. With all due respect to the leaders of countries treated as small states, it cannot be said with certainty that what the character said next is wrong: “You wouldn’t recognize the guy [as the leader of a nation] if you saw him in the grocery store ... France. The UK, too.”

In the book, that leaves the statesmen of the United States, Germany and Russia as figures who have strong influence on the global economy. When your columnist was reading around this part of the novel, the news of a summit between the leaders of Japan and Russia came in.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to rebuild his country’s economy, which hit bottom at one point, now seems to have the approval of the international community. His repeated reelection, despite various dubious rumors, is based on this. In what circumstance might he make a decision that could undermine his country’s economy?

I am thinking about the return of the northern territories. It is said that Japan and Russia have agreed to start the farming of sea urchins and the greenhouse cultivation of strawberries as part of their joint projects in the islands. Japan does not want to see anything else taken away. Results that will not allow Japan to be ridiculed as a “small country” are desired.

This is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s May 29 issue.Speech

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