TOKYO, August 11. /TASS/. A group of former Japanese citizens of the Southern Kuril Islands has returned to Japan after the third visa-free trip by a charter flight to Kunashir and Iturup, NHK TV channel reported on Sunday.
The delegation consisted of nearly 70 people, including staff members of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The flight was performed by a special plane of Russia’s Aurora airline.
The group of citizens arrived at Mendeleyevo, an airport in Yuzhno-Kurilsk, on Saturday morning. Some of them stayed on Kunashir, while the others flew to Iturup. The goal of this trip is to visit the graves, access to which had been earlier closed.
In September 2017, Russia and Japan launched the first charter flight to the Southern Kuril Islands for their former residents. An agreement on that was reached at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held in Moscow on April 27, 2017. Last year, this visit was held on July 22. This year’s visit to the graves coincided with celebrating Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirit of ancestors.