Ex-Residents of Russian-Held Isles Pray for Ancestors from Ocean

Society

Sapporo, July 23 (Jiji Press)--Former Japanese residents of Russian-controlled northwestern Pacific islands claimed by Japan mourned their ancestors while aboard a ship on Saturday as a visa-free visit program sponsored by the Japanese and Russian governments has been suspended amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The offshore memorial service, which started on the day, will take place a total of 10 times until Aug. 10 in a joint program by an association of former residents and the prefectural government of Hokkaido, northernmost Japan. It is the first offshore memorial program arranged by the Hokkaido government for former residents of the islands.

In Saturday's voyage, participants prayed for their ancestors when the ship was returning to a port in the Hokkaido city of Nemuro due to bad weather.

Under the program, the Etopirika ship, which has been used for the visa-free exchange program, will travel on two courses--one going close to Suishojima, an islet in the Habomais, and the other going near the island of Kunashiri. Both courses depart from and arrive at the Nemuro port.

A total of about 330 former residents are slated to participate in the project.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press