Japanese Tourism Official Pins Hopes on Joint Isle Development with Russia (News)


Rausu, Hokkaido (Jiji Press)—Ikegami Miho, who works at a tourism association in Hokkaidō, pins high hopes on possible joint development between Japan and Russia of the four northwestern Pacific islands at the center of a bilateral territorial dispute.

Ikegami Miho, at center, poses with other Japanese visitors and Russian hosts at a home in the Kunashiri town of Furukappu (Yuzhno-Kurilsk) on May 20. (Courtesy Ikegami Miho; © Jiji)

"I hope to operate a tourism program making the most of the nature there," said the 37-year-old chief of the secretariat of the Shiretoko Rausu Tourism Association in the town of Rausu, after visiting one of the four Russian-held islands under a bilateral visa-free exchange program.

The association's operations include providing information on tourism boats for whale and dolphin watching in waters near the Shiretoko Peninsula, where Rausu is located.

On May 19–22, Ikegami was part of a group of some 60 Japanese people who visited Kunashiri, one of the four islands, under the exchange program mainly covering former island residents. The group attended a meeting with local residents on proposed Japanese-Russian joint economic activities on the four islands.

The visa-free exchange program started in 1992. Ikegami joined the visit for the first time to see nature and tourism resources in Kunashiri with her own eyes.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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