The Japanese government has begun final coordination to send a joint government-private sector fact-finding team to Sakhalin from May 30 to June 1 in preparation for “joint economic activities” with Russia in the Northern Territories. Fact-finding on the four Northern Islands is expected to be delayed to late June or later.
The team will consist of special adviser to the prime minister Eiichi Hasegawa, officials of the Foreign Ministry and other relevant ministries, and representatives of private companies. They are scheduled to meet with Sakhalin Governor Oleg Kozhemyako and hold discussions with officials of local companies regarding concrete proposals for joint economic activities and the sites to be visited on the four Northern Islands.
The Japanese government had originally planned to send a team that would visit the islands of Kunashiri and Etorofu from May 30 to June 4.
However, Russia objected to Japan’s plan to use a 10,000 ton-class commercial ferry for the trip. For this reason, Japan turned to negotiating with the Sakhalin Oblast, which has jurisdiction over the four islands, for the fact-finding mission.
The Japanese government wants to embark on fact-finding on the four islands as soon as late June, if possible. It will renegotiate plans for this visit, including using “Etopikari,” the ship used previously for visa-free visits by former islanders to the four Northern Islands. (Slightly abridged)