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Abe says flight to South Kuril Islands to be launched for former residents

April 27, 2017, 20:28 UTC+3

A decision will provide the former residents of the islands with an opportunity to visit their ancestors’ graves

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MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Tokyo and Moscow have agreed to launch a flight to Russia’s South Kuril Islands for their former Japanese residents, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"A decision has been made to provide the former residents of the islands with an opportunity to travel there by plane, so that they could visit their ancestors’ graves," Abe said. He was hopeful that the former residents would have an opportunity to visit their ancestors’ graves on the Kunashir and Iturup Islands in June.

The Japanese media said earlier that the two countries were considering the possibility to launch charter flights between Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island and Russia’s South Kuril Islands.

Russia and Japan have been holding consultations since the mid-20th century in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan has laid claims to the four southern islands.

Moscow has been repeatedly pointing out that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands is based on international law and cannot be questioned.

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