The Hokkaido government has decided to assign a new bureau chief in FY17 to better handle the “joint economic activities” on the four Northern Islands agreed upon by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin at their summit meeting in December. The government will also be reorganized in anticipation of the expansion of personnel exchanges between Hokkaido and the Northern Territories.
According to the Hokkaido government, it will create a new bureau for joint economic activities in April. The chief and officials of this bureau will provide information to Hokkaido companies interested in doing business and investing on the four Northern Islands and coordinate with the national government on the demands of local companies. This bureau chief will also be responsible for economic exchanges with Russia.
A forum for discussion will also be created in one city and four towns in the Nemuro area, where many former islanders live, in order to make sure that their wishes are reflected in the Japan-Russia negotiations. Since many aging former islanders wish to be able to visit graves freely on the Northern Islands, Hokkaido will also lobby the national government on operating flights between the Northern Territories and Hokkaido.