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TASS: Moscow Designates Group Campaigning Return of Northern Isles as ‘Undesirable Organization,’ Prohibiting Activities in Russia

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The northern territories as seen from above the Nemuro Peninsula of Hokkaido on January 2019

The Russian Justice Ministry has designated a Japanese group called “Hoppo Domei,” which is campaigning for the return of the Russian-held northern territories, as an “undesirable organization,” banning its activities in Russia, Russian news agency TASS reported Tuesday. The move is apparently an attempt to rattle Japan ahead of Northern Territories Day on Wednesday.

In April last year, Russia also designated the League of Residents of Chishima and Habomai Islands, which consists of former residents of the Chishima Island and Habomai group of islets as an “undesirable organization.”

In March 2022, following sanctions Japan imposed against Russia after its aggression against Ukraine began, Russia immediately responded by declaring a unilateral suspension of a visa-free exchange program, which allowed mutual visits between Japanese and Russian residents of the northern territories as well as open visitation program, under which former Japanese islanders can visit the territories with simple procedures.

Due to their designation of “undesirable organization,” members of the two groups may not be able to enter the northern territories even if the visa-free exchange program is reinstated in the future.