Japan to Start Trial Tour to Russian-Held Isles on Wed.


Tokyo, Oct. 7 (Jiji Press)--Japan's government said Monday a trial sightseeing tour to two of the four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands at the center of the two countries' decades-old territorial row will take place between Wednesday and Oct. 16.

The tour, part of Japan-Russia joint economic activities in the disputed islands, will be joined by around 50 Japanese people, including members of the public who made bookings through travel agencies and officials of the Foreign Ministry, according to the announcement by the ministry and the Japan Tourism Agency.

The four islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, are Shikotan, the Habomais, Etorofu and Kunashiri.

After touring locations including Nemuro, a city in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, near the island, the participants will visit Kunashiri from Friday to Sunday and Etorofu on Oct. 14-15. On the two islands, they will go to various locations, such as a volcano and graves for Japanese people who died there.

The tour, which will utilize an existing visa-free system, was agreed on at a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. It will be the first time for Japanese people to visit any of the disputed islands for sightseeing without a visa from Russia, according to the Japanese ministry.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press