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Japan plans test tour to Russian-held isles

The Japanese government has drawn up the itinerary for a trial sightseeing tour to Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.


The tour will form part of the countries’ joint economic activities on the islands.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June agreed to test a tour to the islands.


Japan’s foreign ministry and tourism agency officials agreed with their Russian counterparts that tourists from Japan and government officials will travel to the islands next month. The visit to Kunashiri and Etorofu between October 11 and 16, is part of a visa-free exchange program between Japan and Russia.


The group numbering about 50 people will set sail for Kunashiri by boat from Nemuro Port in Hokkaido. They will visit a Russian Orthodox church and a museum, as well as a popular tourist destination by the beach known in Japan as Candle Rock.


On Etorofu, they are scheduled to visit a hot spring as well as a scenic coastline known for its white cliffs.


The Japanese government hopes to clarify issues it faces to promote joint economic activities with Russia, as well as give a boost to the prospects of signing of a peace treaty with the country.


Japan calls the Russian-held islands the Northern Territories. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

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