VLADIVOSTOK, September 5. /TASS/. Although Russia went out of its way to exclusively agree on visa-free travel to the Kuril Islands for Japanese citizens, Tokyo is not issuing visas to residents of Russia’s Crimea, and Moscow finds this perplexing, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.
He noted that on humanitarian grounds, Russia did the former residents of the southern Kuril Islands a favor by meeting their requests to visit these territories, and what’s more in an "exclusive manner". "Not everyone knows it and not everyone grasps the subtlety of this exclusive right. It lies in the fact that we are not just creating the opportunity for Japanese citizens to visit these islands, but we are doing it in a visa-free fashion. It has a political component, because the Japanese state does not want its citizens to apply for visas to these islands. We understand the sensitivity of the situation and we are merely accommodating a request," Putin explained.
"Of course, we find it strange that Japan, for example, refuses to issue visas not to a specific citizen, but, let’s say, to all Crimeans. Where is Japan and where is Crimea?" the Russian president pointed out.
Putin noted that when visiting Japan several years ago he publicly spoke about the history of the Kuril Islands. "Many years ago, Russia considered them as its own on absolutely legal grounds and transferred all these islands voluntarily as a sign of friendship with Japan at the Russian emperor’s decision," Putin highlighted. After that, the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 and World War II broke out. "The history here is complicated and contains multiple components, but there is a humanitarian factor," the Russian president stressed, noting that "these issues have not been settled yet, and it is necessary to do everything so that people who have contacts on these territories do not feel like victims of geopolitical events of the past years.".