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Japan to survey disputed isles to advance joint activities with Russia

TOKYO — Japanese experts will carry out an on-site survey of disputed islands controlled by Moscow but claimed by Tokyo later in October, aiming to make a reality promised joint economic activities with Russia, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Friday.

 

“(Japan) hopes to make a plan for the islands jointly with Russia and settle the row with a mutually agreeable measure to eventually realize the signing of a (postwar) peace treaty,” Kono said.

 

Through the joint activities on the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group, Russia hopes to attract investment to the underdeveloped region off Hokkaido, in Japan’s north.

 

It will be the second time since summer that the Japanese government has dispatched to the islets a group of experts from the public and private sectors.

 

The group, headed by Eiichi Hasegawa, a special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to visit the disputed islands for six days from next Thursday, Kono said.

 

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abe agreed to conduct joint economic activities on the disputed islands in five areas — aquaculture, greenhouse farming, tourism, wind power, and waste reduction.

 

The long-standing territorial row concerns islands that are named the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. They were seized by the Soviet Union in the days soon after Japan’s World War II surrender in 1945.

 

The dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty.

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