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Japanese minister to visit Russia’s Kuril Islands

August 14 2013, 16:02

Ichita Yamamoto, Japan’s state minister in charge of territorial issues, will visit Russia’s Southern Kuril islands on September 19-23, writes Russia Today.

Yamamoto will hold discussions with local officials and inspect infrastructure, Kyodo reported, citing a government source as saying Wednesday.

He will travel to the islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and as the Northern Territories in Japan, along with former Japanese residents under a visa-free program aimed at promoting exchanges with Russian islanders.

Russia and Japan have long been in a dispute over sovereignty over the South Kuril Islands. The disputed islands, which were annexed by Soviet forces during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II, are currently under the Russian administration as South Kuril District of the Sakhalin Oblast, but claimed by Japan, which refers to them as the Northern Territories, arguably being part of the Nemuro Subprefecture of Japan's Hokkaidō Prefecture.

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