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YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, April 24 (Itar-Tass) – Summertime visa-free trips between Russia’s Southern Kurile Islands and Japan begin Tuesday, Gennady Novokhatny, the director of Kurile-Japanese Center of the Southern Kurile District told Itar-Tass.
The Japanese motor ship Etopyrica, which has been included in the scheme of passenger transportation between Russia and Japan, will bring a group of Japanese experts who engage in organizing visa-free trips.
Construction of the Etopirika rounded up in March 2012 especially for the program of visa-free exchanges between the Kurile islands and Japan.
The ship has a water displacement of 1,124 tons and a length of 66.45 meters. It was designed to carry 84 passengers aboard.
The first group, which is due to arrive from Japan Tuesday, will consists of 37 people
The ship will visit the islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup, and Zelyon. April 28, it will return to Hokkaido, Novokhatny said.
The first group of people living in Southern Kuriles and going to Japan under the terms of visa-free cross-border exchanges June 4. It will have 50 members.
Visa-free trips between the Kurile Islands and Japan started out in 1991. Since then, more than 8,000 people living permanently on the Kurile Islands have visited Japan and more than 18,000 Japanese citizens have visited the islands.