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Japanese business delegation heads to Russia’s Kurils after one-day delay — agency

The departure was delayed due to bad weather

TOKYO, August 17. /TASS/. A delegation of Japanese businessmen and officials has set off on a business mission to Russia’s Southern Kuril Islands on Friday after a one-day delay, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

A ship carrying the delegation was to leave the Japanese port of Nemuro in the Hokkaido prefecture late on August 16. However, the departure was delayed due to bad weather.

The business delegation, led by Special Advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister Eiichi Hasegawa, has about 50 members, including representatives of Japanese companies, specializing in aquaculture and seafood sales. It also includes Nemuro mayor Shunsuke Hasegawa, who was earlier denied entry to the Southern Kuril Islands.

The delegation is set to arrive at the Kunashir Island later in the day. Its participants are expected to examine the island’s agricultural infrastructure and assess opportunities for aquaculture projects and for growing vegetables and strawberries. Besides, the Japanese delegation is also set to study opportunities for developing regional tourism.

This is the third visit of a Japanese business mission to the Kuril Islands. An agreement on it was reached at the Moscow talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 26.

The two countries are currently in consultations on issues of joint economic activities in southern Kuril Islands. It is planned to carry out joint activities in five areas, namely aquaculture, greenhouses, tourism, wind energy, and waste recycling. Such activities are seen by the sides as a step towards a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. However, according to the Japanese side, the sides have different approaches to how such projects should to be implemented. Russia thinks it should be done under its laws, while Japan insists on creating a special legal system in the region.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership of the Southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated on numerous occasions that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands cannot be challenged.