07:53 GMT +323 June 2018
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    Japanese Politician: Moscow, Tokyo Need Visa Waiver Program for Kurils

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    Russia and Japan need to establish a land visa-free regime on the disputed Kuril Islands, apart from the existing exemption on the sea, in order to let joint economic activities develop, Muneo Suzuki, head of the Hokkaido-based New Party Daichi and an unofficial adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Russian affairs, told Sputnik.

    "Already now, there is a functioning visa-free regime on the sea that is not harming any side. Japanese seamen work in the Russian waters. Now we should apply the same practice also on land. If we manage to be that flexible, we will help the joint economic activities happen," Suzuki said.

    The politician noted that he himself visits the four disputed Southern Kuril Islands (or Northern Territories, as they are referred to in Japan — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai rocks), every year by sea without having to make a visa.

    "When I visit them, it always comes to my mind that the processing of domestic waste is not fully developed there. Because of that, beautiful climate and nature of the islands suffer and lose their beauty. Therefore, I hope that Japanese technologies will be applied as soon as possible in order to preserve those beautiful natural conditions," Suzuki said.

    Russia and Japan are reportedly seeking joint economic activities on the disputed islands in five fields: agriculture, cultivation of vegetables in greenhouses, organization of tourist trips, hydropower, and waste recycling.

    In May, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow and discussed joint economic activities of the two countries on the Southern Kuril Islands, claimed by both countries. They agreed that a Japanese business mission would visit the islands in July or August this year.

    The Kuril Islands are the subject of a long-standing territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. The latter lays claim to Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets. The dispute has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty after World War II.

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    economy, technology, development, joint projects, business, visa regime, Muneo Suzuki, Kuril Islands, Japan, Russia
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