Hokkaido-Southern Kurils visa-free program suspended

Visa-free travel between Japan’s Hokkaido and Russia's Southern Kuril Islands has been suspended indefinitely.

Visa-free travel between Japan’s Hokkaido and Russia's Southern Kuril Islands has been suspended indefinitely.

The reason is the stalling interdepartmental coordination of the 2015 visa-free travel plan, chairman of the regional commission on visa-free travel Dmitry Khan told Interfax.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry's Third Asia Department told us on Thursday that the incomplete interdepartmental coordination of the 2015 plan of visa-free exchanges with Japan required adjustment of the dates of the first two visits by Japanese delegations scheduled for the periods from May 15 to 18 and from May 19 to 22. We are also asked to postpone the visits of Russian citizens [Kuril Islands residents] to Hokkaido in the period from May 18 to June 16 to Japanese clinics for medical examination," he said.

It has been proposed to postpone the visits.

"We are expecting the Russian Foreign Ministry to say when the visa-free travel plan will be coordinated so that we can make decisions on the next visa-free trips and adjust the dates of the postponed visits," Khan said.

An annual plan of visa-free exchanges is coordinated each March at consultations between the Sakhalin region and Japan's Hokkaido (the number and time of visa-free visits paid by both sides). The plan is submitted to the Russian and Japanese foreign ministries for approval.

The 2015 regional consultations coordinated visits of more than 1,100 Japanese citizens (29 delegations) to the Middle and South Kurils and 360 Russians (residents of the Middle and South Kurils) or 16 delegations to Japan.

 

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