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    First Visa-Free Flight From Japan to Russian Kuril Islands Again Delayed

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    Asia & Pacific
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    The first ever visa free charter flight from Japan to Russia’s Southern Kuril Islands, initially set to take place on Sunday, was postponed for indefinite time due to weather conditions, the flight organizers said.

    NAKASHIBETSU (Japan) (Sputnik) — The flight was initially scheduled for 8.30 a.m. local time on Sunday (22:30 GMT on Saturday), but was delayed due to heavy fog. The flight was rescheduled for Monday's morning, however, the weather conditions did not improve.

    The flight organizers did not provide any specific information of the potential time of the flight.

    According to Sakhalin Hydrometeorological Center, the fog is likely to clear away on Wednesday.

    On Saturday, Japan's Nakashibetsu settlement on the Hokkaido island hosted a ceremony devoted to the first flight between Japan and Southern Kuril Islands, which is expected transfer 70 islands’ former residents who wish to visit ancestral graves there.

    Japan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi said during the ceremony that the launch of the flight was a "big step" toward improvement of conditions for the Japanese to visit the islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories.

    A plane of Russia's Far East air carrier Aurora is set to leave Hokkaido for Kunashir. The flight program also includes visiting the Iturup island.

    On April 27-28, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Russia and held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which the sides reached an agreement to provide an opportunity for former Kuril Islands' residents to travel to the islands by plane without visas.

    Related:

    Japan Hosts Ceremony Devoted to First Flight to Southern Kuril Islands
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    charter, Japan, Russia, Kuril Islands
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