Visa-Free Isle Trip Accord with Japan Valid: Russian Ministry

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The northern territories, with the Nemuro Peninsula seen in the lower left

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A 1986 Tokyo-Moscow agreement allowing visa-free trips to the northern territories by former Japanese residents for visits to their family graves there remains effective, the Russian Foreign Ministry has indicated.

The ministry revealed this on its website.

The visa-free visit program has been suspended due partly to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Japanese side has not shown any intention of officially requesting the resumption of the program, according to the ministry.

Restarting the program is “one of the top priorities for Japan’s relationship with Russia going forward,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference in Tokyo Tuesday.

“We strongly hope that the situation will turn around as soon as possible to allow the restart,” the top government spokesman said.

The northern territories were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II. A territorial row over the islands has been preventing Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.