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    VLADIVOSTOK, February 4, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The Festival of Culture of the neighbour Japanese island of Hokkaido is going on today on the Sakhalin Island in the Russia's Far East. Apart from workers of culture, a gubernatorial delegation from Hokkaido has arrived on Sakhalin. On Wednesday, at a meeting with the Sakhalin region governor, Ivan Malakhov, the guests discussed the results of the five-year cooperation between the Russian and Japanese regions.

    The participants in the meeting stated that this cooperation was growing stronger. Since 1999, two regular ferries, running between the ports of Sakhalin and Hokkaido, carried about 3,000 passengers and more than 28,000 metric tons of cargo. Two regular aviation routes are also functioning between the Sakhalin capital of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and the northern Japanese island.

    According to the Sakhalin governor, the Hokkaido Business Centre and a branch of the Association for Developing Trade in Hokkaido Products are successfully functioning on Sakhalin. The two islands are cooperating also in the sphere of environmental protection. For several years now Japanese language contests have been organised at the Sakhalin State University, and a permanent exhibition devoted to Hokkaido has been opened in the local museum.

    At the meeting with the Sakhalin governor the sides also discussed the programme for the development of the islands in the next five years. It is planned to approve this programme later, at the time of the visit to Sakhalin by Hokkaido governor Harumi Takahashi.

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