This article examines the impact of Japan on U.S.-Soviet relations during Richard Nixon's first term as U.S. president. Drawing heavily on recently declassified documents pertaining to back-channel negotiations between Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, and Soviet Ambassador Anatolii Dobrynin, the article explains why no Soviet-Japanese rapprochement proved feasible even during the height of East-West détente. The enduring hostility was in contrast to the realignments of the other major powers during this period.

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