Ex-Residents Visit Family Graves on Disputed Islets by Air (News)
Kushiro, Hokkaido, Sept. 23 (Jiji Press)—Former Japanese residents of disputed Russian-held islands visited family graves there on Saturday after traveling aboard a chartered plane from Hokkaidō.
This marked the first air trip by former islanders to any of the four northwestern Pacific islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan. It was planned as a day trip, but bad weather prevented the participants from returning home within the day.
A team of some 70 people, also including relatives of the former residents and Japanese government officials, left the Nakashibetsu airport in Hokkaidō early Saturday morning. Nakane Kazuyuki, state minister for foreign affairs, was among the participants.
The plane unloaded former islanders and some other people on Kunashiri, one of the four Japanese-claimed islands, before taking the remaining participants to Etorofu, another island in the chain.
During a memorial ceremony held on Etorofu, team leader Iwasaki Tadaaki
said, "We'll do our utmost to strengthen the movement to demand the return of our territories."[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]