Ex-Residents of Disputed Islets Visit Graves by Air Again

Politics

Tokyo, July 23 (Jiji Press)--Former Japanese residents of Russian-held islands off the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido visited family graves there by a chartered plane during a two-day trip through Monday.

The air trip by former islanders to Kunashiri and Etorofu, two of the four islands seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II and called Northern Territories in Japan, is the second of its kind, following the first one in September last year.

The Japanese government hopes to organize a similar air trip next year and later, aiming to move territorial talks forward with Russia by cooperating in projects involving the Northern Territories.

But at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disclosed that Russian authorities seized satellite-based mobile phones from mainly government officials accompanying the former residents during the trip.

"This act was unacceptable from the Japanese government's legal standpoint and very regrettable," Suga said, stressing the government has already lodged a protest with the Russian side and demanded early return of the handsets.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press