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TOKYO, March 21 (Itar-Tass) – A regular round of Russia-Japan two-day consultations to coordinate visa-free travel between the two countries began in Sapporo on Thursday, an ofifcial at the Sapporo-based RF Consulate-General has told Itar-Tass.
The sides are to fix the composition of groups to visit Kuril Islands and Japan within the framework of this bilateral program. Consultations on visa-free trips for the residents the South Kuriles and Japan are held on a regular basis and trips are usually made in a period from May to October. Last year, the Japanese side even built a special motorship, the Etopirika, for these purposes.
In 2012, visa-free travel exchanges between the two countries began in May, and the first 50-member group of Kuril residents visited Japan in June. Visa-free exchanges of this kind have been practiced since 1991, with more than 8,000 residents of Iturup, Kunashir, and Shikotan visiting Japan and over 18,000 Japanese traveling to the Russian islands over the period.