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Japan Seeking to Make Russia Lift Visa Restrictions on Travel to Southern Kurils

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Japan’s government wants to agree with Russia on giving all Japanese citizens the possibility of visa-free travel to the Southern Kuril Islands, Japanese media report.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at the Lower House's plenary session following a North Korean nuclear test, at the National Diet in Tokyo on January 6, 2016. - Sputnik International
This is Why the Japanese PM Is 'Obsessed' With Resolution of Kuril Islands Issue
TOKYO (Sputnik) – Japan could raise the issue of visa-free travel for all Japanese to the Shikotan, Habomai, Iturup and Kunashir islands during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan, planned for December 15, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Saturday.

Currently, only Japanese citizens who had previously lived on the islands, or their relatives, can visit the area without a Russian visa.

Japan and Russia never signed a permanent peace treaty after World War II due to a disagreement over four islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan the Northern Territories. The disputed islands, located in the Sea of Okhotsk, were claimed by Soviet forces at the end of the war.

Putin met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 2-3, discussing the territorial dispute between the two countries.

Abe said earlier this week that Japan would insist on its sovereignty claims over the four islands.

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