By Yu Tamura
MOSCOW – On Jan. 22, the government of the Sakhalin region in the Russian Far East, which effectively controls the Northern Territories, announced that it will earmark 7.4 billion rubles (roughly 13.1 billion yen) this year to develop the Kuril Islands (the Chishima Islands that include the Northern Territories), the Interfax news agency reported. The total amount is twice as much as last year, indicating Russia’s intention to accelerate the “Russianization” of the Northern Territories.
The report also said this year’s budget will be spent on building residences on Kunashiri and Shikotan as well as improving the transportation network connecting the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.
Since 2016, Russia has been making serious efforts to develop the Northern Territories based on the “Kuril development plan” designed to develop social infrastructure on the four northern islands and their vicinity.
Meanwhile, the Japanese and Russian governments held a comprehensive bureau-chief-level task-force meeting with the participation of relevant government agencies in Moscow on Jan. 22 ahead of the full launch of joint economic activities on the Northern Territories. The two sides confirmed their plan to make arrangements focusing on the tourism industry and also discussed a legal framework for “human transit.”