YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, November 18. /TASS/. In 2016, 802 Japanese citizens have visited the Southern Kuril islands according to the visa-free exchange plan, Principal Adviser of the Second Asian Department of the regional Economic Development Ministry Oksana Rimskay-Korsakova told TASS on Friday.
“This year weather conditions do not facilitate the visa-free exchanges. Several visits have been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, while sometimes people had to cut their stay on the islands,” Rimskay-Korsakova said.
The Japanese and the Southern Kuril residents usually discover each other’s culture during such trips. This year the Southern Kuril residents requested the Japanese to share the secrets of their traditional cuisine.
“In 2016, 14 delegations consisting of 282 members have visited Japan. The Southern Kuril residents usually travel to Japan in order to get medical treatment. Besides that, there were some experts exchanges involving wildlife specialists, volcanologists, doctors, historians and culture experts. Due to adverse weather conditions, a Russian youth delegation’s visit to Tokyo had to be cancelled,” Rimskay-Korsakova noted.
“A visit to the Akita Prefecture was the most exciting. Residents of the Kunashir and Shikotan islands had a chance to know more about the Japanese traditional way of life, visited a dahlia garden and an apple orchard as well as learned to cook the traditional Japanese dish kiritanpo (freshly cooked rice formed into cylinders around Japanese cedar skewers and toasted over an open hearth),” Rimskay-Korsakova added.
The visa-free exchanges between the permanent residents of the Russian islands of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan, and Japanese citizens, have been carried out since 1991 in accordance with an agreement clinched by the two countries’ foreign ministries. Over this period, more than 21,300 Japanese citizens have visited the Southern Kuril islands while over 9,600 Kuril residents have travelled to Japan.